April 14, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)
THE HOUSE WITH CHIMERAS
How many Ukraines are going to join NATO?
"LACK OF DOMESTIC SOLIDARITY"
Vladimir Nebozhenko, an ironist from Kiev who once proposed to establish a "Sacher-Mazoch Foundation" to conceptualize Ukraine's image of victim, missed the point last month comparing Ukraine to Kosovo – though this parallel with a minor, backward and undereducated region much annoyed local nationalist romantics. In fact, Ukraine's political perspective is worse. While the integrity and security of an Albanian-dominated Kosovo is enthusiastically protected by Western institutions, Ukraine, with its questionable share of ethnic majority and borders, expanded for the last time in 1954 (later than the official foundation of Kosovo as an autonomy within Yugoslavia), resembles rather the second largest Balkan republic after the first division in 1992, and the most miserable one, named Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Leonid Osovalyuk, Counsel of Ukraine's Embassy in Moscow, was too careless to blame Russia's Foreign Ministry for reluctance to disavow Vladimir Putin's "indiscreet" off-mike remark in his talk with George W. Bush in Budapest: "See, George, Ukraine is not a state. One part of it is Eastern Europe, and the other was donated by the USSR". The politically incorrect statement was not the most offending interpretation of Ukraine. That was obvious even from the subsequent discussion on the website of Echo of Moscow, the web agency that interviewed Mr. Osovalyuk. Its Ukrainian readers, using perfect and spicy Russian, calculated not two but five Ukraines from the historical standpoint.
The assumption that for practical use, it would be more expedient to have several Ukraines, is not a new speculation. The very fact of special attention of NED activists towards the Crimean Tatar minority in Ukraine's east, as well as sponsoring Greek Catholic activities in Ukraine's west, suggests that the option of division of the second largest Soviet republic had been envisaged by its patrons since the time of Balkan wars if not earlier.
The helpless speculations of President Victor Yushchenko over the hypothetic All-Ukrainian Church sound the more ridiculously the more helpless is Mr. Yushchenko himself. Alexander Morozov, the former financial director of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Party and the subsequent CEO of National Savings Bank, recently described "Mr. Yushchenko's reincarnation into somewhat resembling his predecessor Leonid Kuchma". In fact, Mr. Yuschchenko was put into Mr. Kuchma's shoes by his own political backers from Washington, right during the glorified 'orange revolution" when Ukraine, with a great contribution of Eurocommissar Javier Solana, was reshaped into a parliamentary republic.
It is noteworthy that the 2005 "orange revolution" was coined on the pattern of the 1998 Belgrade Spring, a "popular unrest" operation organized at the time of Mr. Solana's service as NATO Secretary General.
The ranks of Freedom House, the central organizing agency of the "orange revolution", include such educated cadres as Nadya Duke and Adrian Karatnycky. These persons, as well as then-FH Chairman and longtime CIA Director James Woolsey, are much more informed of Ukraine's history than the geographically dumb George W. Bush. Their level of political experience is definitely high enough to realize that a parliamentary model, imposed on a linguistically, ethnically, and confessionally heterogenic state is a mortal threat to its existence.
Curiously, the same Mr. Solana explained to Reuters last week that Ukraine was not allowed to enter NATO's MAP program exactly due to "immaturity" of its political system and incapability of its leaders for a constructive policy. As he explained, "Ukraine lacks a political system corresponding with the desire of some of its leaders (sic) to join some international organizations". Moreover, as the ex-Secretary General explained, this "lack of domestic solidarity" undermines economic growth that is "insufficiently low for the country's potential".
Certainly, Mr. Solana, as well as his NATO successor Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, promised comprehensive assistance to the desperate Ukraine, emphasizing in the next phrase that "it would be too much to demand from member countries a so high reward before Ukraine had completed the necessary preparation work". He meant not NATO but EU members Ц as well as EC spokesperson Christiana Homan. The remarks of both EU officials actually represented a response to Mr. Yushchenko's optimistic promise that Ukraine is going to become an associate EU member as soon as in September.
Thus, Mr. Osovalyuk should blame rather Mr. Solana and Mrs. Homan than Vladimir Putin for blatant political incorrectness. Delivering their remarks, they could realize that the misfortunate Yushchenko did not seriously mean what he was promising: he just had to somehow display his efficiency to his deteriorated electoral base.
This odd verbal unrestraint of Western Europeans who usually think more before speaking than Eastern Europeans, indicates again that Ukraine, in its present shape, is not very precious for the Euroatlantic circles Ц or precious negatively, meaning that Ukraine would be more convenient if it did not exist.
Putin's remark was rather a useful contribution to George W. Bush's knowledge of geography than an intention to snub Ukraine, already snubbed from all sides. In case Mr. Putin would like to contribute to Mr. Bush's historical knowledge as well, he would quote "The Baptized Celestial", a book of memoirs authored by Andrey Belyi (Boris Bugayev), a poet and essayist of the early XX century, describing the circle of St. Petersburg University scholars then busy inventing a self-sufficient identity for Ukrainians and Byelorussians, decades before the foundation of Freedom House.
The solemn promise that once, Ukraine will find itself within NATO, lacks an important detail: namely, which of the four of five Ukraines is meant. In fact, for a military strategist, the post-Soviet space, as any assailable territory, is just a territory, not more Ц single but divisible, as Andrey Sakharov's widow Yelena Bonner once said about Russia.
A SPLITTING HEADACHE
The fact that George W. Bush's visit to Kiev on his way to the NATO event in Bucharest did not symbolize Washington's great concern of Ukraine was not a secret for local observers. In his coverage of the Bush-Yushchenko meeting in the Presidential Guesthouse known as "House with Chimeras", Ukrainskaya Pravda's observer Vasily Zorya describes "a formalistic transit drop-off with a politically motivated top-up".
In this place, Bush sincerely revealed the motive behind his "political top-up", addressing Yushchenko and probably being sure that local journalists don't understand English. He explained that his arrival was indispensable for the political campaign of Republican nominee John McCain that would gladly capitalize from 2 millions of votes of the US Ukrainian diaspora.
Ostensibly, there were no grounds to worry for the diaspora vote: Ukrainian emigrants traditionally prefer Republicans to Democrats. The problem is that politically, US Ukrainians are more conservative than Mr. McCain, and don't quite share his approach towards minorities and Middle East policy. Thus, the nuisance of pre-election message traditionally becomes a headache for the incumbent President.
This headache is several decades old. Since President Dwight Eisenhower carelessly moulded the Captive Nations Committee from promiscuous activists, Ukrainian intellectuals kept bombarding the White House with dozens of complaints (on KGB and one another), financial requests, and resolutions demanding to denounce the 1933 Holodomor (Hunger Torture). The famine of 1933, resulting from drought spreading also across Russia, was interpreted as Joseph Stalin's sophisticated method of ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians (according to a popular verse "Summer Comes after Winter, Thank Comrade Stalin for That"). The demand to recognize the natural disaster as ethnic genocide continued even after the heavily advertised propagandist movie on the subject, "The Crops of Sorrow", was exposed by Village Voice magazine as a piece of forgery concocted by "a well-known swindler, convinced felon Robert Greene". The demand to equalize the Holodomor to the Holocaust resulted in a bitter brawl with the Jewish community, which correctly reminded of the collaboration of Ukrainian nationalists with the Nazi. Russian-Ukrainian poet and painter Taras Shevchenko, idolized as the founding father of the Ukrainian nation both by Soviet and American propaganda, was sadly watching the hullabaloo from DuPont Circle, Washington D.C., while the Holodomor claque was extorting another statue from Washington authorities, supposed to depict the people perished with famine. Finally, the authorities arrived at a compromise, donating the diaspora a copy of the Tiananmen "Goddess of Democracy".
Quantity develops into quality. Washington officials, spending hours and days settling internal brawls among émigrés from UACC and UCCA, deserve sincere compassion. Years before Ukrane's declaration of independence, they could guess that the long-desire statehood was likely to become a subject of brawl between rivaling nationalist clans. These expectations came true immediately, when the space, liberated from Soviet imperial tyranny, promptly filled up with fighting factions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Popular Rukh with All-People's Rukh, Autocephalic Ukrainian Orthodox Christians and Ukrainian Greek Catholics, as well as rivaling supervisors of money allocated for victims of the Chernobyl Plant catastrophe. No wonder that even a careless Bill Clinton hurried to guarantee a non-nuclear status for the unreliable statehood Ц implemented, as everything else here, by means of bribing.
Agreeing to promote the reputedly pro-Russian Leonid Kuchma to the President's post in 1994, Washington consciously conceded half of control of Kiev to Moscow. However, the headache promptly returned to a full extent. Getting increasingly bored of the combination of extortion of rescue and its immediate embezzlement, Washington eventually signed an "orange revolt" recipe. It is noteworthy that local confessional minorities were not exploited for this purpose Ц not due to piety towards Ukraine's integrity but rather due to pragmatic calculations of the aftermath. Today, when the post of Kiev Mayor is a subject of contest between Word of Faith preacher Leonid Chernovetsky and Evangelist pastor Alexander Turchinov, this neglect is discernible for anybody except the Kiev establishment itself.
The ambitious Evangelistic preacher is even less capable in city management than the incumbent sectarian. However, that is not the point, whatever the perplexed bureaucrats of from Yushchenko's secretariat might think. The local neo-Protestants are convenient for the option of chaos in the area, as they could at least provide some relatively plausible monitoring from the House with Chimeras, while the chimerically megalomaniac and sticky-handed establishment is regarded as utterly unreliable, as their human properties practically excepts the major virtue of good agents of influence who are supposed to be instrumental.
WHY UKRAINE IS NOT RUSSIA
A year before being kicked out from his office, Leonid Kuchma issued a book of memoirs entitled "Ukraine is Not Russia", presenting the first copy to Boris Yeltsin in exchange for a fatherly glass of vodka. The truth of this title was revealed days after the "orange revolt".
If you ever tried to make a brick out of porridge, you can realize the problems of Washington patrons. After the hasty surrender of Mr. Kuchma, the supervisors of the "orange revolution" encountered a more splitting headache than before. They were naive enough to assume that the nation, now declared as completely free from the "Kremlin tyranny", will now bear responsibility for its own affairs without monthly complaints and quarterly extortion of assistance.
Could they guess that the first post-orange month was going to be marked with murders of two ministers and one top banker, and the ninth month Ц with a desperately bitter brawl between Mr. Yushchenko and Mrs. Timoshenko, the rivaling teams besieging the US Embassy in Kiev at daytime and at night?
Some Russian analysts compared the political effect of the "orange revolution" with August 1991 in Moscow. The second largest post-Soviet state was believed to pass through the temporary parliamentary rule, being eventually replaced with a kind of local Yeltsinism. But Ukraine is not Russia, and Kuchma is not Gorbachov. Not using any of the trumps he had in his hands, he gave away his country to persons comparable to Yeltsin's radical liberal rivals of 1991, Yury Afanasiev and Yelena Bonner who then chaired the Democratic Russia movement.
This half-forgotten political name surfaced, as a chimera, at the recent meeting of Russian liberal intelligentsia in a prestigious Angleter Hotel in St. Petersburg, who assembled for the purpose of selecting delegates to the chimerical National Assembly, existing in the imagination of autistic chessplayer Garry Kasparov. Even the correspondent of Mr. Kasparov's own web agency could not help quoting repeated appeals of the moderator to "cease the brawl". Still, the observer modestly omitted the fact that the event ended with no result: the flock of outflanked promiscuous liberals failed to agree on the candidatures.
In the same audience, dissident veteran Vladimir Bukovsky declared that the only possible method for Russian liberalism is an "orange revolution". Luckily for the administration of the prestigious hotel, the Russian clones of Yushchenko and Timoshenko had not yet developed the Supreme Rada skills of upsetting tables and smashing mikes. Idle tourists, strolling across St. Isaac Square, remained unaware of the last fight for the sucked orange, desperately fought meters away, behind the soundproof doors Ц for the orange that was clinically recognized in Bucharest, on April 3, 2008, as irreversibly rotten.
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