Monday, September 19, 2005

Tymoshenko: Eve in the Garden of the OR?

So much of the "narrative" on the situation in Ukraine since last Spring and on the current crisis has been so one-sidedly for Yushchenko and his team, and so one-sidedly critical of Tymoshenko (Aslund, Lavelle, some other Ukraine bloggers, etc.), that I am beginning to wonder whether or not a kind of postlapsarian (after the fall from Eden) narrative informs much of the thinking:

Tymoshenko the Eve (the passionate, the irrational, the populist) who is ruining the (male, liberal, temperate, rational, technocratic, instrumental, etc.) Garden of the Orange Revolution?

Be sure to read Kuzio in the next post below, if you have not already (Kuzio is among the most balanced, least postlapsarian thinkers on the situation. . .)


Anonymous said...

"and so one-sidedly critical of Tymoshenko"

why? because she deserves the criticism both for her actions as PM and her actions now, as opposition leader.
she is not "Eve" nor "Leia" nor "goddess" nor "princess". but she is Yulia Tymoshenko. and right now she is cozing up to the Russians.
why has Poroshenko not been the recipient of such criticism as directed at Yulia? Simply because the attacks on him have yet to be authenticated (in her case as PM there is no need to do so) and his actions since have not been towards propelling his own political star at the cost of Ukraine.

Stefan said...

I agree that she is not a princess, but only if we mean something eminently good by "princess." She is a gas princess. She also, no doubt, has a lot of bones in her closet, as they all do. Don't tell me that Poroshenko, nor Lytvyn, don't have something wicked to hide--say, on some tape recordings made in Kuchma's office. Tymoshenko also is a liar--about her income and about her wealth. But then so many elites in Ukraine, and elswhere, even in the good ol' USA (even if it is much more difficult there to lie), are. . .

Anyway, you are right that she deserves criticism. No doubt, she has made errors.

But so has Yushchenko. So has Poroshenko. So have the whole lot of them. She is no more guilty than any of the others, as far as I am concerned. That's my point. No, she is no princess, just as much as Yushchenko is no saint. But to single her out thusly? Whatever. That is making her out to be Eve, and Yushchenko a saint ressurecting the OR. . .it is not that simple.

The failure to get much of anything done these past 8 months or so since the inauguration is not solely her fault. That is my point: Yushchenko is as much at fault for having had set up two parallel governments and not making the decision that he is now trying to make--between Poroshenko and free-market ideology and Tymoshenko and populism. Poroshenko is as much at fault for his obstructionism, for his getting in the way of her work, and for lobbying his interests against hers. They both done it--that is clear from thge press.

Furthermore, Yushchenko is engaging in the media circus just the same as Tymoshenko. Poroshenko does not have to, since he has Yushchenko doing it for him: To paraphrase the president, "I am confident that the allegations will be proven false." In eastern Europe, as many have commented, all that is the flexing of the presidential muscles: Courts in Ukraine have not yet changed much and thus will take this as a hint of where to find guilt.

Poroshenko is more "pro-Russian" than Tymoshenko. I have no idea what you are talking about when you say she's "cozing up" to the Russians. A big part of the crisis deals with major disagreements over how to deal with Russia. Poroshenko and many othres fear that she is too radically anti-Russian. So do you presume that strong, populistic, anti-Russian stance really is just some trick of hers, a cover behind some actual pro-Russian stance? Or perhaps you are talking about her relation to Berezovsky? Well, then you need to look more into who Berezovsky is.

Or are you talking about her meeting with Yanukovych? Yushchenko also met with him and is courting plenty of Kuchma-era politicians.

It is a big mess with plenty of blame to go all around. I am sure they are all corrupt, in one way or another. But that is not the point.

Corruption? What is corruption, anyway? It is utopian to think that corruption will end. Someone recently wrote, and I agree, that the issue is not to end it, but to channel it into the good of society; i.e., corruption can not be ended but must somehow legitimated, which means controlled so that it is not a pariah on society, but in some kind of weird, dialectical apotheosis comes ito the service of society. That is what a good democracy does.

Now, then, when it comes to the Nikopol plant, Tymoshenko intervened to make sure that the company was not sold off to Russian businessmen and that Pinchuk did not get a hefty sum for it. Yushchenko agreed that the court ruling finding that Pinchuk did not receive his shares legitimately was itself legitimate. But Poroshenko lobbied for Pinchuk and pushed for the Russian investors anyway. As Tymoshenko herself put it, "I want to reiterate,” what is at stake is, “either half a billion dollars for Viktor Pinchuk which Russian business men will 'pay in cash,' as they say, or 2.5 billion for the Ukrainian budget. These are the scales on which all this hangs." And what did she want the money for?

"If this (the reprivatization of Nikopol) happens this year, the budget will get an additional 2.5 billion hryvnyas, which we can then channel toward reimbursing people for their lost savings, for which people are already waiting for 14 years."

She wanted to fund her populist program and promise to make good on OR promises.

Both quotes are from this interview (
with RFE.

So maybe she used her executive muscle to impress upon the courts the idea of to whom the plant should go (just the same as did Poroshenko-remember that Yushchenko had said that the plant was illegitmately Pinshuk’s, but Poroshenko pushed for Pinchuk anyway. . .). And for whom did she lobby? The Pryvat group, a native Ukrainian group that runs one of the more reputable banking systems in Ukraine, thus doing good by Ukraine. Does not sound so bad--unless I have got it wrong about the Pryvat group.

And oh—the strike that supposedly shows that the attack on Pinchuk was bogus. Hm. I am inclined not to believe in the genuineness of strikes in eastern Ukraine, much like I was disinclined to believe in the genuineness of those who came to demonstrate in Kyiv in support of Yanukovych. Pay-offs of money and vodka to exercise political muscle is not convincing. But I am sure that there were those who did sincerely strike (and demonstrate during the OR) no doubt, in favor of Mr. Pinchuk. But that makes me want to ask—in the spirit of the great book by Thomas Frank about why so many American working class people vote against their own best interest entitled, What’s the Matter with Kansas—what’s the matter with “Donbas?” Pinchuk certainly does not have their well-being in mind.

Thus, if Tymoshenko used some muscle, perhaps one can think to offer a more generous interpretation: perhaps this is corruption that one can argue is not just in the service of one's cronies, but in the service of Ukraine. Supporting businesses doing more or less legitimate business in Ukraine and thereby keeping native control over valuable industries sounds like a good thing.

But maybe I am way off on that.

Anonymous said...

this is interesting - you are a fan of Tymoshenkos and in reaction to proper criticism you have receeded into a blame all parties involved attitude. Now regards to the blame all parties involved - I agree but I believed in this from the beginning and never put anyone up on a pedestal, as it seems you may have, nor did I buy into anyone's hype.

"for whom did she lobby?"
she lobbied for her homeboys - plain and simple and it makes no difference whether they are RU or UA clan/mafia/oligarchs - because the only difference is current citizenship which would not be difficult to change. In regards to her programs - Nikopol should have been placed on open sale - and so even more money would have been received for it (rather than giving it to her backers) and the state would have had more $ for social programs.