After returning to Kiev last week from a business trip, I wrote an article about how today's Ukraine is surprisingly reminiscent of Georgia one year ago. The rating of the president was quickly declining. He was infringing the Constitution and butting heads with the opposition. The only thing left in his power to do was to send the police onto the streets, and start spraying gas, like Saakashvili. But the article was outdated before it even went to print. Ukraine did spray gas... but this time, the other way around. Last Saturday, Ukrainian nationalists marched through the center of Kiev to praise the Ukrainian insurgent army. The police took to the streets to control the masses, but the members of the march sprayed them with gas.
It's hard to get your head around this one without a few shots of vodka. Everything was so much simpler in Georgia. There was the president and the opposition. Everyone was screaming back and forth. Someone was calling Russia an aggressor, and the others said the Big Bear had loved the country and left... But the political debate was far more harmonious than the cacophony streaming from Ukraine. In one ear, Kiev was screaming "Victory Day!" and in the other, "Glory to UPA!"
"Yushchenko, Ne Tak!"
And so, what do we really know about Ukraine today? We know Ukraine is Ukraine, and an independent state, which Russians seem to understand better than Ukrainians themselves. We know the country's president is Viktor Yushchenko, while the prime minister is Yuliya Timoshenko. We also know another series of parliamentary elections are to be held on Dec. 14. It seems these elections are becoming an annual event in Ukraine, and they don't change the situation at all. Censuses in the media bear witness to this fact. So whichever way you bend the stick, it looks like the general population thinks the next prime minister will again be Yuliya Timoshenko...
What else? We know that some Ukrainians want to join NATO. Other don't. Adverts and posters promoting the organization adorn street lanterns and building-sides in Kiev's residential district. We all thought President Yushchenko was Ukraine's biggest advocate of teaming up with NATO. He seemed to want to anyway. But after causing the latest political crisis in Ukraine by once again dispersing parliament, he has inadvertently shut the door to NATO for Ukraine in the near future.
This seems like the most illogical step Yushchenko has taken since he came to office. It's hard to understand why he called for new elections if his rating has fallen from 67 percent in 2004 to around 5 percent in 2008. Anyway that I looked at the situation, whether through the eyes of a cashier at Bessarabskiy Bazaar, or a taxi driver stationed off Kiev's main avenue, Khreshchatik, the state of the nation seemed as if it could easily be summed up as: "Yushchenko, Ne Tak!"
"Listen, your president isn't an idiot to call for new elections if he thinks he will lose," I told various people in Kiev — deputies, political scientists, and journalists.
In answer, they said in chorus: "What do you mean he's not an idiot?"
There are two options. The genuine state of affairs is being kept secret from Ukraine's president, and he doesn't actually know how people feel about him, or Yushchenko knows something that we all don't, and he's acting according to a plan developed by the U.S., where he has flown to twice over the last week.
In order to understand Yushchenko's actions, I turned to 6 experts from the country: one dissident, two politicians, and three political scientists. This is what I learned.
Andrey Ermolaev, Director of the Social Research Center, Sofiya:
"The president wound up in a very critical situation. His political course took several hits that were observed by both politicians and voters alike. What he's trying to do at the moment is make a quick and radical change of plans that will allow him to keep his post as president — or else he'll be left bankrupt, putting away pennies in the pension fund."
Oleg Tyagnibok, Head Ukrainian Nationalist and Leader of the Svoboda Party:
"He doesn't have any other choice. Otherwise, an impeachment process would begin in parliament. Maybe they would let him sit out his term, but he would be deprived of all his presidential authorities, and Yushchenko would be made an English queen. He'd only be able to attend banquets and hand out medals."
Mikhail Pogrebinskiy, Director of the Kiev Political and Conflict Research Center:
"Timoshenko is a bone stuck in his throat. He needs to get rid of her because her presidential rating is 25 percent and his is only 5 percent. For Yushchenko, the most important thing is to stay around a second term — not an invitation to join NATO. He explains this as follows: 'I'm the only one who can save Ukraine.' He thinks God elected him.
Vladimir Malinkovich, Dissident:
"He's not a dictator. He's worse. He's a beekeeper playing the messiah."
Aleksandr Golub, Chief Editor of Kommunist Newspaper:
"His actions can be explained by his personal idiosyncrasies. This man reacts radically to any negative information about himself. If people want to stay on his team, they have to kiss up to him. I'm sure he doesn't know what his real ratings are at the moment."
Vladimir Kornilov, Director of the Ukrainian Branch of the CIS Institute:
"Yushchenko is obviously planning something so he'll come out the savior of the nation. It's as if he needs to do something extraordinary to boost his ratings. For example, this could be provocation against the Black Sea Fleet. The local police in Sevastopol won't execute these kinds of commands, but he could always send in the police from Lvov."
Читать русскую версию: Независимость по-украински: Наступаешь на одни и те же грабли, а русские уже ни при чем
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Независимость по-украински: Наступаешь на одни и те же грабли, а русские уже ни при чем.Вернувшись на прошлой неделе из командировки в Киев, я написала текст, который устарел еще до публикации, о том, что сегодняшняя Украина удивительным образом напоминает Грузию, только год назад: президент, рейтинг которого стремится к нулю, нарушает Конституцию и бодается с оппозицией, осталось только вывести на улицы народ, пустить, как Саакашвили, газ и начать терять территории. Съемка: Сапожникова Галина