Monday, April 09, 2007


"Suddenly, Ukraine faces another stark choice: Dismiss the government and Parliament and hold new elections, or see the country's independence surrendered bit by bit. There is renewed talk, too, of violent civil unrest. None of this should be surprising, given how our corrupt rulers systematically incite regional and ethnic hatred.

Some say that President Viktor Yushchenko's decision last week to dismiss Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's government was unwarranted. They are wrong: Yushchenko's actions were necessary because the Yanukovich government, in clear violation of the law, was preparing to mount a constitutional coup that would have stripped the president of his remaining supervisory powers over the army and police. Either the president acted now, or Ukraine would return to the absolute rule of criminal clans that existed before our Orange Revolution in 2004....

Ukraine's neighbors should now help us by offering support and hope. Europe must send a clear signal that Ukraine, unlike Czechoslovakia to Neville Chamberlain in 1938, is not some faraway place of which it knows little, but rather an integral part of the European project.

After all, the European Union is first and foremost a community of democracies: If Ukraine can aspire to membership, any oligarch or criminal politician who undermines that prospect will have to face the ire of all Ukrainians. Moreover, all of Europe needs a truly democratic Ukraine. New elections to secure our democracy are the only way forward, both for us and for advancing Europe's interest in seeing that genuine democracy takes root in the nations of the former Soviet Union
" (in Yulia Tymoshenko was Viktor Yushchenko's first Premier in 2004-2005.

The political 'crisis' in the Ukraine has moved forward. The Duma or Parliament, which is dominated by the 'pro-Russian', premier, Viktor Yanukovych has voted to only agree to new Parliamentary elections, unless and until Presidential elections are held at the same time, in a narrowly passed measure which has no force of law. According to the resolution, the Yanukovych bloc has declared that: 'we are not against early elections, we are against calling elections illegally' ( The crisis originating when the 'pro-western' President, Viktor Yushchenko decided last week, after a long series of both political and Parliamentary defeats to call for new elections to the Parliament (for the background to the crisis, see a series of intelligent articles in the Financial Times,

The question that however needs to be asked is: is this 'crisis' anything more than the usual parliamentary power plays, between differing Ukranian factions? Or does it herald a more substantive conflict, in which a Yanukovych, et. al., are attempting to reverse the course set by the 'Orange Revolution' of 2003-2004? While one is tempted to endorse the employment of the Borges metaphor for the current conflict,it is perhaps a bit too neat a description. While, no doubt all the current factions in the Ukraine, Yanukovych, Yushchenko and Tymoschenko are in some measure corrupt and tied up with criminal elements, that is not perhaps the key variable in differentiating them. Without gainsaying all of the negative characterizations made of both of them: Yushchenko and Tymoschenko, do represent, in a strange and perverted way perhaps, the future, a better future for Ukraine and its na Yanukovych and its circle. It is not a mere question of one side being 'more' or 'less' corrupt than the other. In places such as Kiev (or not too many years ago,Paris, Roma or Washington DC), one will not be able to choose sides based upon any honesty-dishonesty criterion. What however does differentiates the two sides is that one faction (Yushchenko and to a lesser extent Tymoschenko) are harbingers, albeit in a distorted fashion, of European norms in business and politics. While the other faction (Yanukovych) for good or for ill, represents elements in the Ukrainian elite, which are tied up with old Industrial, Donbas, indeed basically Sovietskaya Vlast, models of politics and economics. Of course with a thin patina of post-Soviet respectability. A model, which may perhaps still function in say Central Asia (sans the industrial element), or to a much lesser extent even in Moskva or Minsk, but, which to my mind, seems downright dysfunctional or at best a retarded element for Ukraine in the future.

So, what we are witnessing is a mixture of political intrigue among (basically similar) factions, and, indeed a structural crisis in Post-Soviet Ukraine. It is not
a question, qua, Mme. Tymoshenko's narodnkii rhetoric that her and Yushchenko forces are any less 'corrupt', or more 'popular'. Indeed, in some areas (such as joining NATO), it is Yanukovych's forces who hold the more popular position in the country. Even joining the European Union, is no longer the vote winner that it once seemed, back in 2003-2004, among Ukraine's people. However, the opposing forces are not to be represented by questions of who is 'more democratic' or more 'popular'. And, indeed, there is an argument to be made that by decreeing early elections for the Duma, Yushchenko, is indeed violating the constitution. And, perhaps the Ukrainian Supreme Court will indeed find that the President has acted unconstitutionally. That however is not the key variable here. What is key I would argue is that one side of the political equation (Yushchenko) is aligned with the forces of the future, while another (Yanukovych) is aligned with the forces of the past.

The winner will decide if Kiev and the Ukrainian narod as a whole will more quickly or more slowly catch up to Europe. One hopes that for the sake of its people that the winner in Kiev is the future not the past.


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