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The Consul General of Ukraine in Barcelona Oleksandr Khrypunov booed at EuroMaidan

Today, (February 23, 2014) the consul general of Ukraine in Barcelona, Oleksandr Khrypunov (Олександр Вікторович Хрипунов), who previously showed in many ways his support to the corrupt and oppressive regime of Yanukovych has appeared at the EuroMaidan in Barcelona. He started reading a pre-written speech expressing the condolences to the victims of Maidan but was interrupted by the angry protesters. Just few days ago (on February 21, 2014) in a one of the main national newspapers in Spain, El Periodico, appeared an article in which the consul general of Ukraine, Oleksandr Khrypunov, described the EuroMaidan protesters in Kiev as ultra nationalist and nazis who are the sole responsible for the unrest. Ukrainians in Barcelona want his immediate resignation. During few other earlier protests in front of the Ukrainian Consulate in Barcelona which were organized in solidarity with the first victims in Maidan, Oleksandr Khrypunov, refused to appear in front of the protesters to express condolences to the victims and referred to the victims as criminal (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0gRACcgxXo also read here).

Soon after the video was posted online, an anonymous person with the nick name “sasha Costa” has published the first comment. The comment had criticized the protesters referring to them as betrayers, and waste of Ukraine who serve to the Spanish king, pay their taxes to Spain and implying that they are spoiled because they only know to complain for abroad but do nothing for their country. While piling these negative critics to the protesters, in his comment “sasha Costa” has also sympathised the consul, and asked people watching the video for understanding and empathy.

I answered the comment with detailed arguments against the sasha’s statements. Later followed two more comments by sasha Costa. In the following comments sasha took it more personal with me and he even did a free psychological profile for me. Unfortunately, besides leaving my last comment unanswered, sasha decided to delete his comments and because of youtube’s recent change of the comment system all comments were since they were replies of the deleted comment. Luckily, I could recover all of them except, the second comment of sasha Costa. I include them below. As you will see, the profile of the contents by sasha Costa, suggest that sasha Costa is either the consul or a close person to the consul.

[Comment by sasha Costa – 1]

Посмотрев это видео вывешенное (судя по его имени и внешности) кавказцем и который на ломаном английском распыляется перед толпой дезертиров которые греясь под Испанским солнышком высказывают свое недовольство демонстрируя свою тупость и жадность – большинство которых работают на испанцев и платят налоги Испании, половина (если не все) из которых отреклись от своего Украинского Гражданства давая клятву королю испании, а теперь обмотавшись Украинскими флагами и на английском языке, на главной площади Каталонии, требуют (провокационно используя факт о принятых тогда правительством законах ) чтобы Украинец который работает для них и для Украины был с ними за одно и даже чтобы он уволился…

мне как Украинцу который гордится своим народом, стало очень стыдно и обидно за Украинцев в Испании так как они совсем не похожи на тех которые стоят на Майдане. Это видео это пример того что до Европы вам очень далеко хотя вы в ней и живете, это пример того что вы не умеете конфликтовать и только хотите чтобы было по вашему (а это жлобство и та же диктатура), это пример тому что вы не умеете мыслить и видеть причинно-следственные связи и т.д.

Единственное что меня порадовало это тот факт что Украине, как стране, действительно будет проще стать Евро-Державой если большинство ее отбросов будет продолжать жить за границей.

Слава Украине!

[Answer by Ferad Zyulkyarov – 1]

Sasha, since you have understood my "broken" English I have no doubt that you would be able to read it. I feel needless to answer your rhetorical comment. First, I would like to facilitate my ethnicity so that you don’t try to guess – I am Turkish.

At Placa Catalunya, the only betrayer that I could tell immediately was Oleksand Khrypunov. All the rest were people with dignity who came there to shout against the terror that one notoriously corrupt and oppressive regime did and also to honor the memory of the victims who died at Maidan. Some of these people at Placa Catalonia were immigrants from Ukraine who left their country because of their systematic humiliation, pervasive corruption, unfairness, poor life standard, inequality, poor welfare, malfunctioning judicial system and many more. Others were local as well as tourists passing by who gave their support against the tyranny just like many other people did around major European capital cities.

The consulate in Barcelona with the head Oleksandr Khrypunov is well known for being corrupt and systematically mistreating and humiliating the people who call for its services. The staff of the embassy, like scavengers, uses every opportunity to get the maximum advantage from the poor Ukrainians who seek any type of a consular service.

Sasha, what Ukrainian are you if you are writing even in Russian? :) The Ukrainian diaspora (in Barcelona) had contributed to Ukraine and the Maidan in Kiev with concrete actions such as donations, publicity, as well as people who participated at the front lines in Maidan. Even if this might not be appreciated by you or many like you, the contributions of these were sincere and it was best possible that they could do. Unlike you and people like you, who like to talk only after the events these people acted during the events. Sasha what is your contribution and merit for Ukraine?

[Comment by sasha Costa – 2]

Unfortunately, I could not recover this comment. However, as far as I remember, in his second comment sasha Costa explicitly attempted to defend the consul. He has said that his contribution to Ukraine and the Ukrainians are his comments that he hopes that people will read and understand the situation that the consul is at. Also, sasha Costa has explained that he writes in Russian instead of Ukrainian with the hope that he can reach a broader audience.

[Answer by Ferad Zyulkyarov – 2]

Sasha Costa, I am somehow very suspicious that you are the very same consul or some close friend of him and my suspicion is not based on your nick name. Anyway, this does not matter at all.

Sasha, I don’t care much if my grandparents will understand me or not, though I have utter respect to them. Most likely, as you say, they would not understand me. Of course, this is very normal. Most likely I will not understand my grandchildren either (nor you).

Sasha, the only good think what the consul can do is to resign. The sooner the better. Rest assured that people do not see on him the scapegoat to vent out their rage. People do not want him (Oleksandr Khrypunov) because of very concrete reasons. People do not want and like him because he is the head of a corrupt institution – the consulate. People do not want him because he mistreats and humiliates them. People do not want and like him because he is a hypocrite (have a look at how Oleksandr Khrypunov refers to the protesters in an interview to El Periodico). Simply, it is not only that Oleksandr Khrypunov closed his eyes to all this horrible events in Kiev, but it seems that he even supports them. This is not what a consul is supposed to do. Moreover, his name is missing in this list here http://ukrdiplomat.wordpress.com. Oleksandr Khrypunov, betrayed the Ukrainians in Spain. He must go on his own, ashamed and with the little dignity that he has left. Oleksandr Khrypunov, should take an example of his colleagues like Andriy Berezniy.

Sasha, I want to return to your first comment, regarding to the people in Placa Catalunya whom you referred to as betrayers, losers, greedy, and who do not do anything for their country, serve and pay their taxes to Spain. Did you know that the money which Ukrainian expats send home via bank transfers only constitutes 4% of the Ukrainian economy and thus makes them the main investors in Ukraine?

[Comment by sasha Costa – 3]

По профессии я психолог, и одного видео мне достаточно чтобы поставить вам диагноз, причем бесплатный: у вас явно выражений синдром неполноценности и это очень видно в вашей манере выражаться и жестикулировать, и по этому вы при каждой вам данной возможности всячески пытаетесь опровергнуть этот факт и занимаетесь разной ерундой.

Я предполагаю что если у вас есть девушка или парень ( по вашей внешности сложно определить) то я уверен что вам у вас же дома не дают вам сказать ни слова, хотя я тоже думаю что часть проблемы вполне может тянутся из генетики.

Поэтому вам мой профессиональный совет: то время которое вы тратите на ваши провокации потратите в первую очередь на себя, станьте и почувствуйте себя полноценным человеком, потом наладьте дела у себя дома, потом в Турции где проблем не меньше, только потом если на это у вас хватит времени (в чем я сомневаюсь) занимайтесь проблемами других стран, так как в Украине к вашему сведению есть грамотные люди которые и без Турков разберутся со своими проблемами.

Был бы я Хрипуновым, и зная контингент публики, я бы вообще к вам не вышел, и думаю что это была его ошибка которая ему тоже послужит уроком.

[Answer by Ferad Zyulkyarov – 3]

+sasha Costa I enjoy reading your comments! I would like to inform you that your psychological profile is a non-sense. It is a nice story without any grounds. Just think a bit, is it possible that a person who feels unconfident/inferior/insecure (неполноценный) would be able to say a word in the middle of 500+ crowd and at the very center of Barcelona.

If you had tried to answer the simple question “Why I spoke there and why these people gathered at Placa Catalunya?” you would not say all these irrelevant comments. I will answer. The people gathered at Placa Catalunya because of the many reasons that they don’t like in Yanukovych’s government. For example, one thing these people including me do not like is the protesters at Maidan being heinously gunned by snipers and automatic machine guns. Do you think this is correct? I spoke against Oleksandr Khrypunov not because of any weaknesses but because I truly believe that he and the staff at the consulate does not do their job correctly – I find them corrupt, arrogant, unwilling to help the Ukrainians.

Sasha, why do you recommend me to not get involved with the problems of Ukraine? Do I bother you? What would you recommend me if I were an Ukrainian?

Sasha, why do you say that if you were Oleksandr Khrypunov, you would not show up at Placa Catalunya to READ your speech? What would be the reason – 1) the speech, 2) the people, 3) the victims whose memory was honored, 4) you yourself (the consul)? Please, can you elaborate?

Sasha, why do you sympathise with Oleksandr Khrypunov? Do you think that he is right?

Vodafone ADSL Turbo 35Mb/s in Spain – Speed Test

For some time I have changed my ADSL internet provider to Vodafone.

I have contracted the marketed ADSL Turbo – which promises download speed up to 35Mb/s and upload speed up to 3.5MMb/s.

Here is my actual speed results which I got from http://www.speedtest.net.

Download speed: 30.3Mb/s

Upload speed: 4.65Mb/s

 

Vodafone ADSL Turbo Speed Test

 

Well the download is not 35Mb/s but it is still good. I mostly care for the upload becaus which seems to be good. Typical ADSL providers offer upload speed up to 1Mb/s which is quite a junk – especially these days when we share quite a lot of home media files. Overall I would say I am quite satisfied for the price quality – probably it is the best on the market as of today.

How much tax do we pay?

In 2011 every Spaniard who has an income pays on average 1000 Euros tax per month. In other words, to pay his/her taxes to the government an average Spaniard works:

  • 2.17 days a week; or
  • 13 days a month; or
  • 5.2 months during the year.

How was this tax calculated?

The average gross salary per month for 2011 in Spain is calculated to be 2292 Euros.

The tax to be paid for 2292 Euros is 711 Euros with average tax rate of 30.03%.

Then the net income for 2292 Euros becomes 1581 Euros. But the story about the taxes did not end.

Every time when we buy something we pay value added tax (VAT). The base VAT rate in Spain is 18%. If we assume that we spend all our income (we eventually spend it by buying car or house). When calculate the 18% VAT on the net salary of 1581, the additional tax paid for VAT is 285 Euros. Now the total amount paid in tax sums up to 996 Euros which I have rounded to 1000 at the beginning.

Where does this money go?

The money paid in tax goes directly to the government’s budged. Then they are distributed to the public sector and services such as:

  • Free healthcare
  • Free/subsidized education
  • Police
  • Military/Army
  • Church
  • Public administration – such as people working at the town hall
  • Etc.

All of us pay tremendous amount of money to the government and to pay this money we essentially work for the government. Therefore, all of us should be acknowledged that when it comes time to use the services from the government we should insist for the best quality possible because we already paid a lot for it. It is pity that most civil servants do not realize their responsibilities to the people (tax payers) and abuse with their money as if they are nobody's and magically appeared from somewhere.

Minimum warranty period for consumer goods in Spain is 2 years

The minimum warranty period for consumer goods in Spain is set by law to be 2 years (for new products). In case of second hand products it is minimum 1 year.

Consumer goods are defined to be movable goods for private consumption/use such as:

 

  • Optical instruments and equipment, photography, watches and music
  • Tools, knives, cutlery and other common metal manufacturing
  • Furniture, home furnishings, accessories and household goods
  • Appliances, electrical, electronic and computer and software
  • Vehicles and spare parts
  • Toys, games for recreation and sport
  • Dwelling

For reference http://cec.consumo-inc.es/cec/secciones/ayuda/Derechos/Espana/Derechos/Garantias_es.asp

The problem is that many companies for example, Dell, HP, Apple, Canon and many others write in the warranty card of the warranty period of the purchased items is 1 year which violates the already set law buy the state. If your purchased item breaks between the 1st and 2d year after you have bought it and the seller refuses to repair it for free  then you should show the seller the text from the link above.

 

Protests at the day of the elections in Barcelona

Although the police banned the protests for the day of the local election in Spain they still continue. People are angry on government’s measures to fight with the economic crisis in the country. These measures favor the business and the rich companies by cutting from the social welfare and people’s social benefits such as healthcare, public service, retirement etc.

In Barcelona the main stage of the protests is Placa Catalunya. Mostly young people are gathered here to protest the politicians who do not care of the. There are set camps in the middle of the square and posters all around with messages criticizing the government and demanding social centric approach for the crisis solution. The protesters were organized in a community way providing cleaning, cooking and other basic services for long stay at the site.

Indeed, it is the time when the government of Spain and also other governments around the world start listening to their people but not the banks. Instead of making laws that will make the people poorer and banks richer they should shut down the blood sucking banks and ill-fated companies and return people’s rights and freedom of political and economic control.

AENA – Air control strikes in Spain for 2011

Before planning your trip you should know when air traffic controllers plan their strikes.

The syndicates of air traffic controllers has presented a notice of strike. The notice was submitted to the Ministry of Labor in Spain on 08.03.2011. The strike is intended to be against the privatization of AENA.

The dates which has been requested for strike are:

  • April – 20, 21, 24, 25 and 30 
  • May – 2, 14, 15, 19 and 20 
  • June – 13, 23 and 30
  • July – 1, 2, 3, 4, 15 and 31
  • August – 1, 15, and 31

These dates are not final and it may happen that the syndicates agree for the demands of the air traffic controllers and no strike happens.

 

And my opinion on this matter. I don't know what these people want actually. They are very well paid and want more. In December 2010, air controllers had an unofficial strike which caused huge damage to the Spanish economy. This strike was because the state restricted air controller extra hours thus limiting their upper bound income from 500 000 Euros to 250 000 Euros which they could potentially earn doing extra hours. Yes, indeed it hurts to be able to get half as much as before. But still their salary stays to be crazy number compared to the Spanish salaries.

Now an air controller who reads this message can put an argument saying that their job is very responsible because of taking care of thousands of passengers. Indeed it is important but not so important that air controllers cannot be replaced by other people. I personally believe that many people with decent education can do this job and therefore I don't see a reason air controllers earn 250 000 per year while most of the engineers in Spain earn about 30 000 per year (this is 8.3 times less). 

 

Reference in Spanish – Los sindicatos de AENA convocan 22 paros en los días clave de vacaciones

Low cost flights to Lviv

Unfortunately there are not many low cost flights from western Europe to Ukriaine. Usually you may end up paying a regular flight fare at the range of 400 Euros or more. But if you search for a bit more around you might be able to combine multiple low cost flights.

Soon I had to go from Barcelona to Lviv. Here is how I managed to fly low cost. 

1. RyanAir from Barcelona to Venice-Treviso – 32 Euros

2. WizzAir flight from Venice-Treviso to Lviv – 61 Euros

3. RyanAir flight from Venice-Treviso to Girona (Barcelona) – 10 Euros

Total: 103 Euros :)

WizzAir, flies to Lviv and Kiev from Venice-Treviso. You can try to combine your trip in similar way with other low cost airlines. But be careful to be at least 2-3 hours between the flights in case the first flight has some delay.

Also, Lviv is a very very nice city with very nice people. I strongly recommend you to visit it. There are some photos I took from Lviv which you can see at my flickr.

feradz - View my 'Lviv' set on Flickriver

Avoid Being Ripped Off for Spanish NIE Number – How to Apply

I have just seen one Google advertisement of an agency that offers their services for helping foreigners to issue NIE – Número de Identidad de Extranjero – number. The subject agency charges the insane 165 Euros + Expenses for a NIE number application on your  behalf.

The agency shows that the normal procedure is very complicated as it requires waiting on queues, involves notary, lawyers and other bureaucracy. And to safe you all these "complicated" paperwork, the agency offers you a service to apply for NIE number on your behalf and obtain the NIE number in 2 weeks – for 165 Euros + Notary Expenses.
 
Actually, the application process is very simple and very fast and costs about 6 Euros (which I believe the subject company will charge it to you as an extra fee). When you come to Spain, what you need to do is:
2.       Go to any bank, show them the NIE application form. The person will understand that you want to pay the fee for it. Take the receipt.
3.       Check from internet at which police station you need to submit this form (Where to apply for NIE). Non-EU citizens sometimes may need to wait on a queue about 1-2 hours. The usual waiting time for EU citizens is about 10 minutes. The reason for this is that places to apply for NIE numbers are different for EU and non-EU citizens.
4.       At the time of application, you will be immediately issued the NIE number.
 
If you want for any reason to apply for NIE number without coming to Spain, you can do it through the Spanish embassy in your country. Call the embassy and ask them how you can do it. I believe it will be cheaper than 165 Euros + Expenses. But anyway, I don’t see a reason why one would need a NIE number without ever coming to Spain.