Corruption: FIFA vs. Ukraine
by William Skink
The Guardian has some of the latest updates regarding the FIFA scandal after Sepp Blatter resigned a few days ago, including an FBI investigation into Blatter and Interpol issuing red notices for former FIFA executives. Quite the mess if you’re a soccer fan.
I’m not, and really could care less about this scandal. I see this through the lens of geopolitics, which I think is a much better way of understanding what is going on. Corruption? Ha, the United States comes off as immensely hypocritical when it selectively goes after corruption for its own political reasons.
To contrast this FIFA scandal, let’s take a look at recent developments in Ukraine.
Because it’s not in America’s interest for these developments to be making big, splashy headlines, it’s sources like Robert Parry at Consortium News we must rely on. And Parry doesn’t disappoint. The latest? President Poroshenko has appointed the Neocon darling, ex-Georgian President Saakashvili, to “govern” Odessa. Yes, that’s right, the corrupt ex-prez of Georgia, who picked a fight with Russia by attacking Russian peace keepers in South Ossetia, has been given Ukrainian citizenship and control of this ethnically Russian province. And instead of a media feeding-frenzy, the compliant NYT actually tries to justify the coup government’s penchant for appointing foreigners to top-level positions. From the link:
New York Times correspondent David M. Herszenhorn justified this imposition of a newly minted Ukrainian citizen on the largely Russian-speaking population of Odessa by saying that “the Ukrainian public’s general willingness to accept the appointment of foreigners to high-level positions underscores the deep lack of trust in any government after nearly a quarter-century of mismanagement and corruption.”
But Herszenhorn made no apparent effort to gauge how willing the people of Odessa are to accept this choice of a controversial foreign politician to govern them. The pick was made by President Petro Poroshenko and is just the latest questionable appointment by the post-coup regime in Kiev.
For instance, shortly after the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the new U.S.-endorsed authorities in Kiev named thuggish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk in southeastern Ukraine. Kolomoisky, regarded as one of Ukraine’s most corrupt billionaires, ruled the region as his personal fiefdom until he was ousted by Poroshenko earlier this year in a dispute over Kolomoisky’s use of strong-arm tactics to maintain control of Ukrainian energy companies. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine’s Oligarchs Turn on Each Other.”]
Poroshenko also has granted overnight Ukrainian citizenship to other controversial foreigners to hold key positions in his government, including Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, an ex-U.S. State Department official whose qualifications included enriching herself through her management of a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund for Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine Finance Minister’s ‘American Values’.”]
Before this fugitive from his own country—wanted for human rights violations and embezzlement—had his political career resurrected by a corrupt Ukrainian billionaire, he was chilling in Brooklyn, living a charmed life:
Mikheil Saakashvili, who served as the president of Georgia for nine years before being voted out in 2013, now lives a charming existence in a cozy Williamsburg high-rise, rumored to be the same building where Tumblr founder David Karp resides. When he isn’t riding the L train to Cafe Mogador or making poignant observations about his fellow Brooklynites (“[Hasidic Jews] walk around in these big hats!”), Saakashvili spends his time plotting his return to Georgia, a move he thinks will be made possible by growing anti-Putin sentiment.
Of course, there is that pesky indictment for allegedly using the country’s money to pay for stuff like Botox and art created using the body of a naked lady, but that’s nothing an enterprising hipster ex-president can’t get past.
Anyone who thinks this country gives two shits about corruption hasn’t been paying attention. Corruption is everywhere, so when it’s used as an excuse to go after an organization like FIFA, astute observers understand there are deeper motivations at play.