Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Monument in Kyiv: For Vyacheslav Chornovil

Well, I was going to post some pictures, but the battery on my camera just died. I am writing from an internet club in Kyiv.

I arrived today, and will be heading tomorrow to Lviv and then to Kolomyja, locale of this year's annual Festival of Hutsul Music and Dance.

Earlier today I was strolling downhill from the Arsenalna metro station toward European Square, past the Rada and Marijinskyj and CabMin and the hill on which we once had banged oil-barrel drums, when I came upon a spot where a bunch of people were gathered. Turns out that today was the unveiling of Kyiv's newest monument--in honor of Vyacheslav Chornovil.

Unthinkable before the OR.

I arrived just in time to see a black mercedes limousine pull up and a fellow with highly recognizable silver hair get out--Moroz. He got out of his car about 30 paces from where I was standing with a bunch of others, across the street from where the new monument is located. The area around the monument to be unveiled was cordoned off with fences. There were metal detectors at the entrances to teh area, and plenty of security guards, as well as lots of nonuniformed but menacing-enough looking guys standing alongside the road, all in formation. I noticed Yanuk already standing there, kind-of off to the side of the monument but still front and center enough. Yushchenko arrived shortly thereafter, and I heard someone nearby ask, "Is he late?" I didn't hear the answer and had no idea myself for what time the unveiling was scheduled.

The people standing across the street outside the protected zone were of various sorts, but a lot of them were holding Narodnyj Rukh signs. They were a mellow bunch. I was surprised that no one shouted hin'ba (shame) when Moroz arrived. A lady was walking around handing out a poster with faces of current political and business figures making up the shape of Ukraine and with the title, "Our Ukraine?" She also handed out a newspaper that had on the front cover a picture of Yu giving a lecture. In the image, Yu is pointing to a board on which is written, "Bandits will sit in jail." However, at some point in the lecture, he apparently had crossed out bandits and written "coalition."

There were speeches--Tarasjuk, I think made the first speech. Actually, I don't remember who made the first speech, but I do remember Tarasjuk's arrival, 'cause he was late and some of the folks I was standing among (the spectators and journalists/fotographers who had no press passes) were commenting. Yu made expected, uninspiring comments delivered in a dry manner. Then they unveiled the monument, which looked nice enough. I will have to go sometime and get a closer look at it. I am rather happy that Lviv is now not the only major Ukrainian city with a monument to this important figure.

Moroz left after some very brief mingling, and right after him went Yanukovych. Moroz went by car, while Yanukovych headed off uphill on foot with his retinue--apparently walking back to work in the building outside of which so many people had banged drums, hoping to forever drive him out of any high-level steering position in Ukraine's political system.

I turned to my neighbor and said, sarcastically of course, "The Ukrainian nationalists have left so soon!" Someone else overheard, and said back, "Well, what is Yushchenko still doing there?" That started people debating. Yu good, Yu bad. I listened for a while to the debate among spectators and also, Yu at this point was answering questions from the press. However, I was extremely hungry for lunch, and so I decided to hit the road for a Dva Husja when the fellow standing next to me started complaining that the trouble with Yu is that he has let all the Jewish oligarchs back in power. He said this while holding open that image of Ukraine with the 100 faces (the poster doesn't have that many faces, but Korrespondent's "100 most influential Ukrainians" issue is selling at newstands) the lady had handed out earlier. I am pretty sure that they are not all Jewish on that poster.

Off to Lviv and then to the festival.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

From an Email on Moroz, the Left, Lutsenko, Ty and Ljubi Druzi

Trust me that I understand 100% the predicament of a disaffected Leftist--plenty about the Left in the US and the West in general is far from satisfactory, and the history of Western European social democrats (stooges of colonialism) and communists (stooges of the USSR) leaves much to be desired. The only respectable ones have been fringes of the fringe, such as the autonomia in Italy, etc. When it comes to Ukraine, well. . .Oleskandr Moroz and the rest of the Socialists who went with him just obliterated my hope that there was emerging a mainstream, left-wing party in Ukraine worthy of respect and support--and I think some long-time observers of Ukraine might consider me foolish to have even considered this Moroz-led Socialist Party as having such potential. Also, Yuri Lutsenko, now a former member of the Socialist Party, is troubling me. Quick background: Lutsenko was an OR leader-turned-pretty-good-Minister of the Interior (by Ukrainian standards) who was brought into government by Ty, and who was left in his position when Yu fired Ty. Which Yu did, if I may digress, like a little boy fighting with a little girl on a playground because the little girl had "bigger balls" than the little boy, who then felt he had to prove that he was more powerful just by virtue of having balls that he nonetheless didn't know how to use effectively. This is a crude way to put it, of course, but. . .I suggested, at about this time last year, that many "analysts" of Ukraine were producing post-lapsarian narratives in which Ty was the Eve in the Garden of the Orange Revolution. To my mind, her treatment by Yu and the Our Ukraine good ol' boys since her sacking vindicate the observation--for Yu i joho ljubi druzi, Ty has been something of an Eve they have been desperate to keep out of their garden.

Btw, the above statements are based on some recent observations of real playground dynamics. In our neighborhood park, Julija and I often encounter Nastja, one tough little 5 yr old girl who is always doing, and proudly saying that she can do, whatever the boys do. Yesterday she asked her grandmother for her cane because one of the boys in the playground had hit her and taken something from her; babushka smiled as she let Nastja run off with the cane and proceeded to chase the boy all over the playground! Later, recalling the event to my Julija's mama, I thought out-loud that Ty should have been given such a stick in the Ukrainian playground. Ty's trouble, however, was that she had Yu to look to for assistance instead of the backing of granny-grandaughter solidarity. I hope that my Julija grows to be a bit like Nastja, and that she takes on some of the fighting spirit with which her namesake is karmically endowed. But I do digress.

My trouble with Yuri Lutsenko is that he pledged he would not, under any circumstance, work in a Ya cabinet but has now decided to stay in his post with Ya as his boss. Perhaps his mouth ran ahead of his mind a few times (he made this claim more than once), but in the context of Ukraine's politics, this does not look good--he looks like all the rest of the bad politicians who do things for power rather than principle and who therefore consistently make contradictory statements and acts. I do, however, appreciate that he resigned from the Socialist Party after Moroz's perfidy--I am now, btw, certain that Moroz is a svoloch. So no conclusions, yet, about Lutsenko: I will give him a chance. Is he being pragmatic, trying to have a positive impact? It is, indeed, very important that a pro-OR (i.e., a pro-democratization) person remain Interior Minister (to my mind it is already clear that the Regions have made no conversions). However, is it perhaps it is the fact because he, allegedly, was good at getting-nothing-much-done under Yu (if that is true) that makes him trustworthy to Ya [corrections inspired by comment]? The to my mind rather cynical Maksymiuk (cheif of RFE's Ukraine desk) suggested so in the article I posted earlier to my blog. So. . .is Lutsenko, or is Yu, responsible for the failure to bring a single high-profile case to court since the OR? Is Lutsenko a stonewalling Interior Minister, an outsider to the ideals of the OR who pretended to be an insider and who is secretly working for his own agenda, whatever that may be, a la Oleksandr Moroz? Or is he simply hungry to keep power after having gotten a taste of it? I don't know. I don't want to expect the worst of most or all Ukraine's politicians, but recent events pretty much demand that one should.

Come to think of it, I had a similar crisis of uncertainty when the semi-progressive Senator Paul Wellstone (from the state of Minnesota) declared that he would run for a second term. Wellstone had pledged he would not run for a second term while campaigning for his first; the pledge was part of his populist attack on "career politicians." I was happy when he said he was going to run again--I agreed with him that he was needed in the Senate as the most progressive senator in the time of the GW onslaught. So maybe Lutsenko is taking a similar position. I want to believe him. But I will have to let his further actions speak. (Wellstone, btw, in the context of the US Congress, was almost a Communist--or, um, that's what his detractors said, conditioned as they were by the fact that the US consensus is so far to the right that anyone with a left toe is a Communist, but now I preach to the choir. Two great books from which to derive talking points to counter the BS about a contemporary liberal, let alone left, bias/consensus in the US are this and this. The first book is excellent in its analysis of how, even in more domestically liberal times, the US consensus has usually been much to the Right of the European, continental consensus. The title of the second book has inspired me to ruminate on taking its title and rewriting its theme as What's the Matter with Donbas?--a book to explain the similar dynamic in Ukraine as in the US whereby people vote for and/or support politicians and businessmen who ultimately stand against the common interest.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Good, Old-Fashioned Democracy?

from Kyiv Post

Many analysts have reacted positively to the confirmation of the new Yanukovich government, welcoming the end of over four months of political turmoil. But, when looking past the short-term goal of so-called “political stability” to Ukraine’s long-term development, the formation of the government causes a number of concerns.

On August 3, US State Department Spokesman Scott McCormack suggested, “”Mr. Yanukovych has come to the prime ministership in the old-fashioned, democratic way. He worked hard for votes, he campaigned, he politicked.” Yes – and no.

It is true that Yanukovich’s Party of Regions ran a superb Western-style political campaign, based on the advice of several US Republican Party strategists. The party placed first in the parliamentary election, with 32 percent of the vote. And, in the end, Yanukovich negotiated well with the president to secure his job.

But the formation of the coalition that allowed Yanukovich to be in that position had as much to do with the physical blockading of the parliamentary rostrum, and the reported providing of “incentives” to MPs, as with “politicking.”

Almost immediately after the former “Orange” parties announced their own majority coalition, which would have nominated former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Party of Regions began blocking parliament. They blocked work for 10 days, assisted by at least one non-MP “hired gun.” The unknown man was filmed physically defending the rostrum from those attempting to unblock it.

During that time, the Party of Regions was able to “convince” the Socialist Party, the smallest member of the “orange coalition,” to switch allegiances. The Socialists did so spectacularly during the election of the parliamentary speaker. The party provided no notice to its previous coalition partners, thus violating Ukraine’s parliamentary procedures.

Given the long history of bribery in Ukrainian politics, it was not surprising when a television camera captured Party of Regions deputy Andriy Kliuyev on the parliamentary floor making what appeared to be a gesture of counting money while speaking to the head of the Socialists (although the Socialists deny receiving money). It also was not surprising for journalists to overhear a deputy from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc ask Kliuyev sarcastically whether they could “get” a committee membership for three million dollars since they missed the chairmanships “for 10.”

There may be a reason why Kliuyev has been called the “money man” in Ukraine’s domestic press. But one thing is certain – those watching the parliamentary majority’s creation saw very little that resembled Western-style parliamentary politics.

The inclusion of certain individuals in the new cabinet does little to assuage concerns. Andriy Kliuyev was named Deputy Prime Minister for the Energy Sector. This is the same post Kliuyev held in the 2004 pre-revolution Yanukovich government. In fact, the new Yanukovich cabinet includes several individuals from that time, which is the period when the questionable gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo was formed.

RosUkrEnergo, which controls Ukraine’s gas contracts, has been severely criticized by Western officials for its lack of transparency. Charles Tannock, a British European Member of Parliament suggested that the use of RosUkrEnergo in gas agreements with Russia suggests “there is a possibility of political corruption.” He and other Western officials have urged Ukraine to remove RosUkrEnergo from all gas transactions.

Yulia Tymoshenko had vowed to do this. During her tenure as premier, the company was investigated by the Secret Service for money laundering. “It is a front company,” she charged, designed to enrich certain Ukrainian officials. After her dismissal, the probe was shelved. Now, the new cabinet can be seen as a sign of support for the intermediary.

Ukraine’s new Minister for Coal and Mining, Serhiy Tulub, served as Yanukovich’s Minister for Fuel and Energy in 2004, when RosUrkEnergo was formed. Even more, Yuriy Boyko, the former head of Ukraine’s state gas company Naftohaz in 2004, will now serve as Fuel and Energy Minister. Boyko sat on the original “coordinating council” of RosUkrEnergo. The international watchdog Global Witness questioned the “curious relationship” between RosUkrEnergo, Naftohaz and Boyko and asked who profited from it.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s new First Deputy Prime Minister will be Mykola Azarov, a man known during the Kuchma administration for his use of the tax police against the political opposition.

As head of the Tax Administration, Azarov is heard on the “Gongadze Tapes” – secret recordings of President Kuchma’s conversations in 2000. These tapes were authenticated by the United States FBI. Most individuals heard on the tapes, including then-Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, have said the conversations in question did take place. Kuchma and Azarov have not, but they seem to correspond with real events.

In one conversation, a man identified as Azarov discusses his attempt to pressure Boris Feldman, a wealthy banker and supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko. On the tapes, Kuchma is heard to tell Azarov, “Put him in a cell with convicts. Let them pound him.”

Three months later, Azarov explains that Feldman will go to prison. “We agreed with the Luhansk court …,” he says on the tape. “I have talked about adding a charge. We have discussed this with the judges there, whom we can manipulate.” Feldman spent three years in jail before another court threw out the charges.

Under Azarov’s direction, the tax administration also opened investigations into the work of the US-based organization Freedom House and the US-owned newspaper Eastern Economist. Many Ukrainian organizations critical of Kuchma also endured excruciating tax investigations during Azarov’s tenure.

Now, Azarov is the second most important man in the cabinet. Though it includes reformers, its overall make-up and the tactics used to form the coalition, should give pause to those worried about corruption or possible oppression. Any resurgence of RosUkrEnergo may concern Europeans focused on energy.

As usual, the country appears to be heading in two directions at once. Despite concerns for the future, Ukraine conducted a free and fair election. All politicians expressed their opinions throughout the coalition formation. Perhaps most important, this government, unlike Yanukovich’s first, will be actively monitored by a real opposition.

The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc refused to participate in the government, suggesting that it could better serve Ukraine as a watchdog. Tymoshenko’s new inter-party opposition may include disaffected members of President Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party, which officially joined Yanukovich’s government. The President has welcomed the creation of the opposition and pledged to protect it.

In fact, protecting the opposition should be one of the president’s most important goals, given possible questions about the new cabinet [just how effectively we can expect Yu to this, I wonder?]. Will this government truly be able to meet Western standards of democracy and transparency? Ukraine will need its opposition to ensure that they do.

The author, is a Senior Fellow at Boston University’s Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology & Policy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

RFE's Maksymiuk Says Ya's New Cabinet Favorably Distinguished from Those of Yekhanorov and Tymoshenko

Jan Maksymiuk comments. . .from RFE here.

WHO IS IN NEW CABINET? Ukraine's tortuous, four-month-long
process of forming a new government ended on August 4 with
the confirmation of Party of Regions leader Yanukovych as
new prime minister.
The Ukrainian parliament also endorsed a new Cabinet of
Ministers, in which the Party of Regions will control some
major portfolios concerning the country's economy.
Yanukovych will have four deputies, as he had in the
cabinet he oversaw during his previous stint as prime minister
in 2002-04. Mykola Azarov will serve as both first deputy
prime minister and finance minister, as he did during
Yanukovych's first term. The three deputy prime ministers will
also take on additional roles. Andriy Klyuyev will be in
charge of the fuel and energy sector, Dmytro Tabachnyk will
oversee humanitarian and social issues, and Volodymyr Rybak
will head the Construction Ministry. Azarov and Klyuyev are
among Yanukovych's oldest and staunchest allies. Azarov is
generally seen as a technocrat. As head of the State Tax
Administration in 1996-2002, he was repeatedly accused by
the opposition of applying fiscal and tax pressure on

businesses linked to political opponents
of former President
Leonid Kuchma.
Klyuyev is a wealthy businessman with interests in the
machine-building sector who led Yanukovych's campaign team in
the 2004 presidential election. He was rumored to be the
main player
behind the falsification of election results in
favor of Yanukovych
, although those rumors have never been
confirmed by investigators.
The Party of Regions' quota of ministerial posts also
includes Minister for Liaison with the Verkhovna Rada Ivan
Tkalenko, Labor Minister Mykhaylo Papiyev, Environment
Minister Vasyl Dzharty, Coal Industry Minister Serhiy Tulub,
Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko, Economy Minister
Volodymyr Makukha, and Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers
Anatoliy Tolstoukhov. Virtually all of the Party of Regions'
ministers have considerable experience in serving in senior
government posts [and what did they do as they gained
considerable experience? What are they
experienced and good
at doing?
] This favorably distinguishes [huh?!]
Yanukovych's cabinet in comparison to that led by Yuliya
Tymoshenko in 2005. Her cabinet to a large extent consisted
of Orange Revolution personalities with little or no
experience in government [this seems right, but Ya's
experienced crooks are favorable?]
It can be expected that the new Ukrainian cabinet should
easily be able to agree on a basic set of economic reforms,
which will be needed to continue the current positive trends
in the economy. After all, it was under Yanukovych's
premiership in 2004
that Ukraine posted impressive economic
growth of 12 percent. [What?
One of Yu's major claims in 2004
was that it was his premiership that set the stage of Ya's
] However, a disturbing feature of Yanukovych's
cabinet is that -- as in virtually all former Ukrainian
cabinets -- there is no clear separation between politics
and business
. Many cabinet members have vested interests in
different business spheres. This could become a seed of future
conflicts in the uneasy "coalition of national unity," which
includes not only ministers from the largely oligarchic Our
Ukraine, but also from the Marxist-Leninist Socialist Party.
In accordance with the constitution amended in 2004,
President Viktor Yushchenko nominated the foreign minister and
the defense minister, Borys Tarasyuk and Anatoliy Hrytsenko,
respectively. Both politicians are strongly supportive of
Ukraine's integration with Euro-Atlantic structures and were
delegated by Yushchenko to assure the public both at home and
abroad that Ukraine's pro-Western course will not undergo any
significant changes under Yanukovych's premiership.
Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Socialist Party
member who is now independent, is also seen as a Yushchenko
man in the government. Lutsenko, an iconic leader of the
Orange Revolution, is widely seen as an uncompromising
custodian of the "Augean Stables," to which Ukraine's
notoriously corrupt police force is sometimes compared.
In accepting his post, Lutsenko asserted that he sees the
possibility of implementing the president's policies in
Yanukovych's cabinet. However, most Ukrainians have apparently
not yet forgotten that he completely failed to implement a
major tenet of the Orange Revolution -- "bandits will go
to jail" -- in the preceding cabinets of Yuliya Tymoshenko
and Yuriy Yekhanurov. No major investigation by the Interior
Ministry into corruption or election falsification has
resulted in jail terms. It is hard to imagine that Lutsenko
will be more successful now that some of the "bandits" have
returned to the government.
[Did he fail or did the people he was working for fail?
Is it his failure or failure of Yu's leadership?]
Our Ukraine, which has yet to sign a formal coalition
accord with the three other parties in the cabinet, is
represented by Justice Minister Roman Zvarych, Family
and Sports Minister Yuriy Pavlenko, Emergency Situations
Minister Viktor Baloha, Culture Minister Ihor Likhovyy,
and Health Minister Yuriy Polyachenko. Taking into account
that the Verkhovna Rada is headed by Oleksandr Moroz of the
Socialist Party and all deputy-prime-minister positions are
filled by people from the Party of Regions, it is clear
that the pro-presidential Our Ukraine has no major
post in the government. This is the price Our Ukraine had
to pay for its clumsy
coalition negotiations following the
March 26 parliamentary elections
and its protracted
hesitancy over whom it likes more [true]
--Tymoshenko or

Our Ukraine supported Yanukovych for prime minister on
August 4 only half-heartedly: just 30 of the party's 80
lawmakers voted in Yanukovych's favor. It appears that the
cohabitation of Our Ukraine with the Party of Regions in the
ruling coalition -- irrespective of whether it will be
formalized or not -- will not be easy. There seems to be a
pervading mood of frustration and political
failure among a
majority of Our Ukraine leaders and rank-and-file
The Socialist Party is represented in the new
cabinet by Education Minister Stanislav Nikolayenko and
Transport Minister Mykola Rudkovskyy. While Nikolayenko
is seen as a good specialist in education and his
reappointment was to be expected, Rudkovskyy's main
contribution to Ukraine's transportation system seems
to lie in his fondness for driving expensive cars and wearing
smart suits. The political affiliation of Agroindustrial
Complex Minister Yuriy Melnyk and Industrial Policy Minister
Anatoliy Holovko is not clear. Theoretically, they should
belong to the quota of the Communist Party, which brings 21
votes to the coalition. But Melnyk is known for his
anticommunist views and pronouncements. Some Ukrainian media
suggest that the Communists exchanged their cabinet
portfolios for an undisclosed sum, which was paid by some
unidentified sponsors.
On the whole, Yanukovych's cabinet seems to be more
carefully assorted in terms of professionalism [with a
bunch of professional crooks and liars, a justice minister
who is a liar and weasel, and other questionable fellows]

than those of Yekhanurov and Tymoshenko. But it is too
early to predict whether the new government will become
an immediate success or can contribute something substantial
to bridging the east-west divide in the country, as some
commentators expect.
In actual fact, neither the 2004 Orange Revolution nor
the 2006 parliamentary elections have brought any
significant changing of the guard in Ukrainian politics.
Instead, it is the country's voters who seem to have
undergone an important transformation. They are now more
politically active and more inclined to judge their
political leaders by deeds rather than pledges. And if
the trend of Ukrainian voters keeping a watchful eye on
their government continues, their chances of seeing a
change in their political elite might improve.
(Jan Maksymiuk)

[He's also a bit too silent here on the new Energy
Minister Yuri Boiko for my liking; see this and this]

Monday, August 07, 2006

New (to me) Ukraineblog

I just discovered and am enjoying this Ukraineblog.

Here is a sample:
Where does the government-opposition fault line lie? Is it in terms of issues, in terms of the election results, or in terms of fear of losing power? If NSNU’s joining the “anticrisis” coalition is about national unity, then why does it split the Orange Revolution — the very engine that brought NSNU to power? Two steps forward, three steps back. Welcome to the schizophrenic world of the Orange Counter-Revolution.

Anyway, the talks will resume Tuesday, August 1. This day will mark the 15th anniversary of the notorious “Chicken Kiev” address Bush Sr. delivered during his visit to the capital of then Soviet Ukraine. For those who vaguely remember it,listen to this: “Freedom is not the same as independence; Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism." Can anybody imagine that this piece Moscow-centric garbage that flies in the face of Wilsonianism actually came from the pen of Condi Rice?

Karmically speaking, the Universal exemplifies the worst of branding choices, considering how the UNR had fared. Why not call it the Universal of National Utopia? The UNR government, run by Socialists, had naively relied on the assumption that the dictatorship of the proletariat would not attack a socialist democracy.

Ukraine remains one of the few nations in the democratic universe where the opposition and the government can’t settle their identities. The Snoozes (NSNU) seem to be lost in the Peter Pan-like fantasy of squaring the circle, keeping the West while shacking up with the PRU. It’s this misguided dreaming, not the Regs’ (Regionalists) dominance itself, that makes this country vulnerable to outside influence.
From this post here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Looks Like The Good Ol' Boys are Back

Remember when Interior Minister Bilokon boasted before the 2004 elections that the militsija would celebrate Ya's presidential victory with three days of drinking? Well, the good ol' boys are back; got this from abdymok:
asked by reporters on aug. 4 how yanukovych planned to celebrate his re-appointment as prime minister, party of regions spokesmen replied, “по-мужски” (in a manly way). asked what that meant, they elaborated: “нажраться, подраться и кого-нибуть выебать” (eat too much food, have a fist fight, and fuck someone).
Bob also reminded me of this:

further degrading the image of yanukovych [in the lead-up to the 2004 elections] as the “people’s choice,” was the assignment for police officers to guard each of the 6,000 billboards nationwide on which the prime minister’s campaign poster appears.

the reports stated that the measure was enacted in order to protect the posters – and the prime minister’s image – from vandals. heavy criticism of this maneuver later led to denials from the prime minister’s office that this was indeed the case.

In the late summer of 2004, either in August or September, I was on the same bus route from Lviv to Pidhajtsi (a 2 1/2 to 3 hr trip) that I had, by then, been on a # of times when I spotted a giant poster of Yanukovych placed in the center of each of the major Lvivska and Ternopilska oblast towns through which we passed--thus, in the towns of Peremyshljany, Berezhany, and then in Pidhajtsi, but also in a number of villages along the route. I was rather shocked, and thought to myself, "Well, those won't last long without being defaced." Once in Pidhajtsi, I learned that the two-story-tall poster of Ya in the center of town was being guarded at night by a policeman. And indeed it was. Parked right there every night in front of the poster was a car--not the usual, marked, car of the militsija, but a car nonetheless.

"Nu, Stefane, rozumijesh? Admin resource! (Well, Stefan, understand? Administrative resources!)," I was told.

It became a local tradition to walk past the poster giving it the finger or the sign of the thumb pressed between the index and middle fingers. People cursed at it, spit at it, shouted at it as they passed by. If Ya could only comprehend how ridiculous he looked, standing there in the center of a town of people who despised him.

Pidhajtsi county of the state of Ternopil had the highest votes for Yu as well as the highest voter participation in the 2004 elections in Ukraine. The Pidhajtsi region has a long and colorful history of fervent Ukrainian nationalism (all the pluses and minuses of that history). It was a hardcore OUN-UPA center. Nearly everyone in the Pidhajtsi region has relatives that were and/or who have continued to be active participants in the Ukrainian nationalist cause. In this context, that Ya poster guarded by a militsijoner or policeman could not have announced any more clearly the utter shamelessness and the Soviet mentality of Ya and gang, as well as their total contempt for the Western Ukrainian people.

Late one night some boys finally succeeded in throwing some paint bombs at the poster. A chase ensued, but the lazy police who were roused from a half-asleep stupor did not catch them.
It was almost sad when the poster was taken down. It had become such a rallying point for townsfolk, and a fun little tradition to curse the bastard, almost as though in person.

The good ol' boys are back--well, they basically haven't gone anywhere since the OR, except the few that have either run away or killed themselves--and their talk about national unity is bullshit, and I am not convinced that they've been "tamed" or will be "tamed" in the coming process. . .

And oh, most folks in Pidhajtsi, I am told, supported Ty in the parliamentary elections and continue to support her bloc.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Yu Finally Takes A Stand?

From my perspective, whether this is the beginning of the beginning or the beginning of the end of a budding Ukrainian democracy (I have no answer myself on this question), it need not have gone this way, and Ya need not have to have the chance to become PM again. Yu i joho ljubi druzi have been a colossal disappointment.

I talked with Oksana today in Pidhajtsi and she spoke of tremendous disappointment. Her brother had gone to Kyiv to picket the parliament and demonstrate for new elections.

Here is an article from Kuzio which I copy here because I liked his points about Yushchenko, but which I reproduce here with a bunch of omissions of statements regarding the West (Kuzio in this article is far too idealistic for me about Western democracy). Read the full article here if you haven't already.

The Non-Listening President

One of the most surprising aspects of the Viktor Yushchenko administration has been its unwillingness, or disinterest, in public relations and public opinion, whether in Ukraine or abroad. The Yushchenko administration and Our Ukraine ignored public opinion in Ukraine among Orange Revolution supporters, and that of the USA and the West in general, which called for a revived Orange coalition following the March elections. A coalition was only put together on the eve of the June deadline but it immediately collapsed and led to the current political crisis.

In ignoring domestic and foreign public opinion and advice, the Yushchenko administration has boxed itself into a corner. The two choices facing President Yushchenko are both unpalatable; proposing Viktor Yanukovych as Prime Minister or dissolving parliament and holding new elections. The first would be to make Yushchenko a lame duck president and the second would make Our Ukraine a lame duck political force.

The Orange Revolution did not have to develop this way if the president and Our Ukraine had upheld one of the central ideals of the Maidan. When Ukrainians went on to the streets in the Orange Revolution they sought to change their relationship with their rulers.

The post-Soviet relationship had continued the Soviet approach of the ‘new class’ living in a different world to its ‘subjects’. The Orange Revolution was a call for the ruling elites to treat its ‘subjects’ as citizens.


A central component was to be that the ruling elites would listen and act in line with public opinion. But Yushchenko has failed to become a listening president.

Orange Revolution supporters were never told why the ‘bandits’ (commonly understood as former President Leonid Kuchma and his senior officials) never met any justice and are in parliament today heading key committees? When the newly free media asked awkward questions, such as why Roman Zvarych could be Justice Minister without legal training and after falsifying his CV or questions regarding the president’s son, they were told to stop asking them or were condemned.

President Yushchenko never explained why he had to remove the Yulia Tymoshenko government, after saying three weeks earlier that it was the ‘best government in Europe’. Similarly, Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov never explained why the bad oligarchs had suddenly become ‘good national bourgeoisie’?

Every poll that followed the March elections showed that an overwhelming majority of Orange Revolution voters in Our Ukraine, the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc and the Socialists wanted to see a revived Orange coalition. Yet, Our Ukraine and President Yushchenko took credit for holding Ukraine’s first free election while, on the other hand, ignored the fact that Our Ukraine had come third.

Ukrainians also flocked to the Orange Revolution because they believed that Yushchenko, and other Orange leaders, were different. The September 2005 crisis, drawn out coalition negotiations following the 2006 elections and the July crisis have proven to many Ukrainians that this Maidan assumption was wrong.

Our Ukraine and Socialist politicians have not proved they are different to those under Leonid Kuchma. Only the Tymoshenko bloc has stuck to its stance of refusing to talk with Yanukovych.

If Our Ukraine had come first in the Orange camp in the 2006 elections, as they expected, there would have been an Orange coalition established in April, with Yekhanurov as premier. The only reason for the drawn out talks, and ignoring of Orange opinion, was President Yushchenko’s and Our Ukraine’s dislike for Tymoshenko, who had a right to claim the post as her bloc had come first in the Orange camp.

Instead of listening to Orange voters, Our Ukraine (presumably with the president’s knowledge) negotiated simultaneously with its Orange partners and the Party of Regions. This dual-track duplicity, coupled with the drawn out talks, only served to reinforce the view that the Orange camp was hopelessly divided.

In the foreign arena, the Yushchenko administration has also ignored public opinion and public relations. This is surprising as during the 2004 elections the Yushchenko camp had by far the best public relations exercise in the West.

The ‘pro-Western’ President Yushchenko and Our Ukraine ignored US and NATO advice following the March elections, which linked a revived Orange coalition to a NATO Membership Action Plan and NATO membership (without supporting any particular candidate for Prime Minister).

The only conclusion one can make is that personal animosity towards Tymoshenko became a more important policy than listening. . . [What follows is more talk about how Yu should have listened to the West and hired Western PR firms, etc.--these comments seem unnecessary to me. It would have sufficed for Yu to have listened more to his own constituents--which I take to mean the people who stood in the streets for ideals he claimed to represent, the so-called Orange demonstrators and pro-democracy voters. But again, go here to read the whole article.]

The return of Yanukovych as prime minister would be proof of Yushchenko’s failure to implement the core values of the Orange Revolution in becoming a listening president. He should have implemented what he promised on the Maidan.