March 12, 2007 (the date of publication in Russian)

Anatoly Grigorenko


Ukraine's "orange" idols overload the West with personal problems


Five years ago, a group of Kiev intellectuals established an NGO named "Sacher-Masoch Foundation". The humorists improvised an ideological base for a real phenomenon of social psychology. One of them, sociologist Vladimir Nebozhenko, explained to this author that self-perception of a victim is very typical for a Ukrainian liberal nationalist. Even in case a Ukrainian romantic intellectual is the real author of his people's problems, as well as of his own, he would portray himself as an object of an evil conspiracy from outside, and moreover, would derive a special kind of perverted pleasure from this despair.

In November 2004, this ironical skepticism seemed to be overcome with the powerful revolutionary spirit of the Maidan. The "orange" political garland, supplied from the battery of the West's sympathizing smile, illuminated the Ukrainian dream with magic light, and endowed Ukraine with a mission of igniting the hearts of other peoples of the former USSR, itemized as "captive nations" for fifty years.

Still, the romantic light faded away less than within a year, while the sympathizing West seemed to have forgotten its own compliments and promises. In their negotiations with international financial authorities, Ukrainian officials had to face the most unfriendly and formalistic counterparts.

From the viewpoint of the West, the situation looked a bit different. The international "color revolution" designers, who supplied their Kiev clients even such an extravagant legal instrument as a third round of elections with a new cast of election judges, have made a really formidable advance payment. The clients were expected at least to keep themselves in power, to overcome personal contradictions, to use their popularity for crushing the influence of shadowy clans, to establish a capable government, to build up an efficient counterbalance to Moscow, and thus really serve as an attractive example for others.

However, the "orange" pancake rolled into a clump, with extremities of unsatisfied ambitions sticking out in various directions. The Western patrons appeared unable to separate these sticky intertwined tentacles from one another. When this clump, after some gyrations, eventually fell right into the lap of the very former Premier Victor Yanukovich – the very person, whose political ascent the "orangists" were destined to prevent, Western observers correctly suspected Moscow of sophisticated string-pulling but that was too late. Yanukovich re-emerged as Premier, with broader duties (owing exactly to the "European-design" reform of management), right by the opening of the G-8 summit in St Petersburg. The failure of the "orange project" thus burst right into the face of George W. Bush.

No wonder that this miserable outcome of the costly and long-prepared national-revolutionary campaign could not inspire the Western patrons for new excessive spending. This fact plunged the morale of romantic Kiev nationalists back into their usual condition of auto-aggressive pessimism. Such symbols of revolutionary endeavor as the heavy-fisted Klichko brothers, more skilful in boxing than in politics, and rock star Ruslana Lyzhichko, who fascinated the Eurovosion's jury in 2005, seemed to have melted down. The militant "Pora!" ("High Time!") movement, the motor of the "orange" revolt, has shrunk into a stoicist "Popular Self-Defense", whose scarce rallies in Ivano-Frankivsk, the cradle of the Ukrainian dream, are followed with sorrowful accords of "Jeremiah's Weep", a presently popular rock team.

Each of the former political idols of Maidan is today seeking for a convenient occasion to portray him as pitiful as possible before the patrons' eyes. In Germany, the presently powerless president Victor Yuschenko complains of Moscow's unfair conditions of gas transit. In Washington, ex-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko points at domestic corruptionists. In a chorus, the disgraced "orangists" bemoan the victims of the 75-year-ago famine a result of a drought across the whole Western USSR, described as a sophisticated conspiracy of Joseph Stalin, targeting exceptionally the Ukrainian nation and therefore, making it an object of a genocide as tragic as the Holocaust and the 1915 carnage of Armenians. "Golodomor", the egocentric definition of this historical episode, has become a kind of password in Ukrainian diplomacy.

This monotonous groan would not sound so disturbing for the West if the failed idols did not blame the West for their failures. Yuschenko, speaking for Financial Times Deutschland, today complains that the transition from a presidential to a parliamentarian republic (borrowed by the "orange" bosses exactly from Germany) "has ruined the political balance". Yury Lutsenko, the demoted Interior Minister, tells his audience from the anti-government "Self-Defense" that "Europe is building a new iron wall at Ukraine's borders".

The logic of the desperate national romantics is becoming odder than ever before: exposing their own (Yanukovich's) government of corruption, involvement in crime, and backdoor deals with Moscow, they go on demanding that Ukraine be urgently integrated in this doubtful shape into the Western community.

The romantics, who failed to divide power among three persons, are now blaming anybody but themselves. Blaming the West as well, they simultaneously demand that the patrons intervene on their side or rather, of a particular personal side. While Victor Yuschenko is interested in building up a stronger coalition around himself in the existing Rada (Parliament); Yulia Tymoshenko insist on the Rada's extraordinary re-election (which could benefit her, but not the discredited Yuschenko); Yury Lutsenko, the current chieftain of the "street opposition", declares the extraordinary elections "constitutionally illegitimate", and at the same time, promotes a hardly more legitimate "people's march on Kiev".

In Ukraine, both the US State Department and the European Commission have found themselves in a very inconvenient situation. Various Western institutions and foundations, with a lot of experience in political string-pulling across seas and deserts, would prefer to arm another guerilla army in Nicaragua or Afghanistan than to dig in the mess of the post-orange Ukraine's power and property brawl, where none of the egocentric and fractious actors can even define what he wants, embezzling advance payments with embarrassing carelessness, but never being satisfied with most generous assistance.



The misanthropy, reigning in Ukrainian liberal media, is charged with two obsessions the envy towards Russia (also over its advantages in the relations with the same West), and the relevant disappointment with the leaders of their own.

Any success of Russian diplomacy reverberates with a hysteric in the ranks of Kiev's liberal nationalists. The latest pretext for this envy was the Russia-EU statement on relief of visa regime which indicated that in this competition, the maliciously autocratic Moscow has also surpassed the impeccably democratic Kiev.

Yury Lutsenko, complaining of "a new iron wall", meant exactly the EU visa restrictions. It is true that the EU-Ukraine draft agreement on relief of the visa regime is not yet ratified by the European Parliament. Moreover, Belgium and the Netherlands have introduced new barriers. Since March 1, every Ukrainian applicant for entry in these countries has to pay an additional sum of E25 to a special bureaucratic body, named Center of Application Management. "A student from Algeria needs only two documents to visit France, while a student from Ukraine needs to collect a heap of papers as thick as a volume of Taras Shevchenko", complains Bogdan Borodiychuk from Persho Jerelo agency. "The only exception is Poland, but with its acceptance into Schengen Agreement, obstacles may emerge in Warsaw as well".

In Europe, the bias towards Ukraine is interpreted in traditionally well-oiled but vague formulations. Still, the background of this bias is well known at least from the recent series of reports about Ukrainian organized crime, surfacing in German media months after the "orange revolution".

In the US State Department's annual report on the human rights situation, published in early March, Ukraine was blamed not for an assault on the president's personal rights but for a high frequency of sexual harassment of women and children. Among other shortcomings, the report mentioned "corruption of higher education" and "extortion in the sphere of law enforcement". A number of examples of stalled criminal investigations included the notorious Gongadze case. The brutal assassination of freelance journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2001 was heavily politically exploited by the "orangists" who laid responsibility upon the "dictatorial regime of Leonid Kuchma". Still, the new powers failed to investigate the case, which remains a mystery for an ordinary Ukrainian.

The collapse of the investigation in screened with a campaign of commemoration, in which Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky, a protégée of Word of Faith "Church", is most active. In particular, he ruled to rename the Prospect of Soviet Ukraine into Gongadze Prospect. In addition, the Kiev Administration, ignoring protests of the journalist’s mother, initiated a competition for a monument of an "innocent victim" of, allegedly, the infernal Moscow.

The Ukrainian liberal elite is falling over itself to please the West. Still, its advertising campaign does not approximate the "orangists" expectations, instead isolating them even more in the West, as well as at home.

Today, the irritated liberal press demands that the head of state finally define the vector of national development "towards Europe, or towards Asia".

Meanwhile, such post-Soviet states as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, have efficiently arranged a multi-vector foreign policy, arranging fruitful partnership both with European and Asiatic states. The contraposition, induced by liberal authors, is too obviously biased.

Ukraine's problem is not in the inability to choose between the "Western and Eastern vector", but in the defective character of both. A full-fledged foreign policy vector is supposed to start from a precise locus from the supreme political authority. Today, it is still unclear who manages the situation in Ukraine the Prime Minister, the President's Secretariat, the oligarchs who easily managed to adjust themselves to a new political situation, or their political partners.

In early March, Ukrrudprom, the official website of Ukraine's metallurgic community, reported that Rinat Akhmetov, the richest person of Ukraine, is going to sell Pavlodarugol, a leading coal mining enterprise, to an unidentified Russian investor. According to another version, Mr. Akhmetov is in the process of negotiations with Mittal Steel, which already owns the largest Ukraine's steel producer, Kryvorizhstahl.

Uncertainty of this kind is as typical as it had been for the period of Leonid Kuchma's "dictatorial" rule. The larger is the deal, the more strategic it is for Ukraine's economy and security, the less transparent are its circumstances and real sides. Political uncertainty is expedient for shadowy dealers.

According to recent reports, the only submarine of Ukraine's Armed Forces is sold to an Indonesian investor. The mysterious purchaser is unknown to the business community, not speaking of the public. Months later, it may appear that most of the money has sunk on some offshore accounts, bypassing the national budget. More months later, the issue may be raised in the Supreme Rada, conveniently used in the political brawl, and eventually die out for some bureaucratic reason. One can just imagine how much murky dealers have capitalized from the complete paralysis of the General Prosecutor's Office in the first half of 2006, when Ukraine had two General Prosecutors one appointed, and another proving illegitimacy of his dismissal in court.

The desired "multi-vector foreign policy" is actually replaced with a surrogate of economic openness for shadowy economic interests of any origin. In early 2006, ORD website, reportedly supervised by Yulia Tymoshenko's political ally Alexander Turchinov, exposed a special partnership between Victor Yuschenko and Yussef Hares, a businessman from Syria with supposed Iranian connections. Enjoying a status of a special economic advisor, the mysterious Arabic middleman, ostensibly majoring in entertainment business, was reported to be involved on large-scale smuggle across the non-recognized Transdniester and the Ilyichovsk seaport near Odessa.

A real multi-vector policy is not a chaotic sequence of deals with any side but a thoughtfully and rationally elaborated comprehensive design, requires an articulated foreign policy strategy. While the country's decision-making authority remains undetermined, such a strategy is unavailable.

A victory always has many authors; a failure has got few. The former international sponsors of the "orange revolution" are now laying the responsibility for the Ukrainian failure upon one another. While European analysts view the Kiev anarchy as a reflection of political brawl among the Washington patrons, Judy Dempsey from International Herald Tribune blames Brussels for inability of developing "a strategy of support for Ukrainian reforms".

However, every misfortune has a positive side. While top politicians avoid responsibility, professional political analysts capitalize from the troubles of the Ukrainian people as conveniently as in the times of the USSR. At the same time, Kiev, in its present irritatingly uncertain and unreliable shape, is well predictable. Ukrainian authors, blaming Yuschenko for spending budget money for useless diplomatic trips, are essentially right: his desperate attempts to improve his political image are as fruitless as his rival Yulia Tymoshenko's agitation for extraordinary elections of the Rada. Vladimir Malinkovich, one of the most competent Ukrainian experts, believes that neither Washington nor Brussels is interested in a change of the status quo until the 2009 presidential elections.

This reluctance from change has produced a specific form of a diplomatic ritual, in which every detail of procedure is utterly polished and entirely predictable. The mantra of "Ukraine's European choice" is soothingly lingering above American and European reception halls, while in smaller neighboring offices, unimpassioned clerks are calculating the balance of expenses and incomes. This balance is not in Kiev's favor.



In this humiliated shape, Ukraines excusing and flattering elite is a good object for carrot-feeding. Carrots appear before its eyes, but promptly jerk backwards to an unreachable distance, as it is quite easy to find a lot of explanations for not keeping promises. The negotiations on Ukraine's entry in the EU are complicated with new conditions, and those with "conditions of conditions".

The official pretext for Victor Yuschenko's March 8 visit to Brussels was the EU-Ukraine agreement on "intensified partnership" (in Ukrainian language, this verbal combination sounds somewhat odd). Alexander Chalyi, deputy head of President's Secretariat, triumphantly reported that his boss "managed to meet with all the heads of European states for one day", and characterized his tour as "a new breakthrough".

Actually, the outcome of the tour should be rather characterized as a rupture (between the real and the desired), which is spectacularly broadening. According to the explanations made by EU Commissar Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the agreement on intensified partnership is going to be struck not today but in the best case in October, at the EU-Ukraine summit. Moreover, this document is going to be signed "in the framework of European Neighborhood Policy". Thus, Ukraine is even not supposed to be queuing for EU membership.

It was true that in Brussels, Victor Yuschenko had an opportunity to communicate with EU heads of states not because each of them was longing to see him but on the occasion of the session of the EU Council's meeting on energy policy, which Yuschenko used to remind of Ukraine's existence. Or, rather, of himself as, according to EU specialists, his visit was a "merely propagandist" effort. "Yuschenko was trying to demonstrate that he is yet at Ukraine's helm, but I'd be very surprised if any of the European leaders believes in this version", says Amanda Okcakoca, expert of European Policy Center, in her March 9 interview to BBC.

According to this expert, it is well known in the European community that Ukraine's policy is 90% determined by the prime Minister, and the EU institutions don't intend to interfere in the conflict between Ukraine's branches of power: "Hasn't Mr. Yuschenko personally asked Mr. Yanukovich to take charge of the Government?"

A week earlier, ex-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko, addressing the selected audience of CSIS's experts in Washington, also hoped to achieve understanding of the subtleties of Ukrainian policy. However, her arguments were hardly comprehensible for the audience. When she declared that Ukraine needs a new Constitution, she was asked to explain which parliament is supposed to approve it the present, or the new one, elected in the supposed extraordinary race.

The next argument on the advantages of the so-called imperative mandate was even harder to grasp. For the well-established US system of public policy, a "flight" of MPs from one party to another is equally untypical and unproblematic. Still, Mrs. Tymoshenko intended to assure the US strategists that a ban for this "flight" is vitally necessary exactly for the reason that "in Ukraine, there are no classical political parties. Instead, there are parties of leaders; therefore, not all our political cadres are immaculate".

A fair logic suggests a right opposite argumentation: in case a party emerges around a certain political figure, and not around some vague "Democratic" or "Republican" principles, the inter-party vagrancy should be rather an exception than a rule. Nevertheless, Yulia Tymoshenko persistently demanded that the decision makers of a different society, different state, and different hemisphere penetrate into the logic of her own, as well as into her personal problems of keeping her party cadres together.

From Vladimir Malinkovich's viewpoint, the notorious "Law on the Imperative Mandate", earlier passed by the Supreme Rada, was so important for Mrs. Tymoshenko that she even agreed for an "exchange": her faction voted for Victor Yanukovich's draft "Law on the Cabinet of Ministers", which even more restricts the duties of President (Victor Yuschenko), while the Prime Minister's faction, Regions of Ukraine, agreed, in their turn, to vote for her "Law on the Imperative Mandate".

The background of the “orange ladys” fad over the imperative mandate is hard to comprehend for most informed US analysts, even in an effort of an "intensified" brainstorm. The relevant logic, incorrectly and contemptuously identified as "Byzantine", is too sophisticated. It is really hard to guess from the first attempt that actually, the really sensitive "mandate battleground" lies not even in the Supreme Rada but in the Kiev City Council, where Mrs.Tymoshenko's faction, chaired by an ambiguously reputed financier Mikhail Brodsky, is in a clash for influence (upon the city budget and control of real estates) with the dominating alliance, loyal to Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky. This brawl, in the ex-Premier's imagination, is to be as important for the US establishment as the problems of the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The conflict, which absorbs so much passion and time of the "orange lady", is actually unfolding in a small room in one of Kiev's district courts, where three judges, according to the Tymoshenko party's version, are corrupted by Mr. Chernovetsky. The recent session of this court of twelve persons nearly ended with a physical fight, when the three suspects tried to leave the room. The hectic atmosphere really requires intervention from outside, which a district squad of police could easily accomplish without any need in reinforcements.

But unfortunately, the police today is not under the lady's command, and she urges the American superpower to interfere into the local judicial scandal. Even imagining a platoon of paratroopers, descending upon the Podol District Court of Kiev on a command from the White House to protect the lady's particular interests from the ominous Mr. Chernovetsky (who, by the way, was brought to power by activists of the very "Word of Faith" charismatic church which was instrumental in the "orange revolution"), one could hardly imagine a US military commander who would physically pressure the judicial branch in the interests of a party. That would be too exotic even in Honduras or Haiti.

Vladimir Malinkovich believes that the US leadership looks at Mrs. Tymoshenko with caution because of the "smell of adventurism" she exudes. However, the latest voyages of the "orange" politicians strike the Western audience not with a spirit of adventure, which they would rather greet, but with ultimate inadequacy, which paradoxically combines exaggeration of one's influence with demonstration of one's haplessness. The lack of confidence to such politicians probably implies a chronic headache of a foster father, wondering how to get rid of a fosterling.



According to Ukrainian media reports, Victor Yuschenko has got most serious grudges towards France in the issue of the desired EU entry. While Germany's delegation at the EU Council agreed at least to reflect Ukraine's "entry expectations" in the session's official materials, the French minister on European affairs, Catherine Colonna, responded with a categorical "no".

As Judy Dempsey emphasizes in her piece, the European community is divided today not only with the issue of integration of new members. At the EU Council, contradictions broke out on a rather ideological issue. The sides hardly managed to reach concordance on the definition of alternative energy. In this debate, exactly France's view is understandable for Ukraine's industrialists, while Germany and Denmark, displaying political sympathy to Kiev, challenge the present and potential EU members with a number of restrictions, turning very problematic for their economies.

According to the blueprint entitled "Europe's Energy Policy", by 2020, at least one fifth of energy, produced in the EU as a whole, should be generated from recyclable sources. This definition used to encompass mainly low efficient but environmentally hazardless wind-power and solar generators. But the French representatives insisted that nuclear energy be included in this list as well. Such a non-traditional approach contradicts to the Alpha and Omega of European environmentalism.

The major share of EU's $500 million, earmarked to Ukraine for "advancement of reforms", is destined exactly for development of solar and wind power generation, as well as for prevention of the so-called "environmental challenges". According to the EU documents, those measures are supposed to drastically reduce emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which allegedly causes global warming. For Ukraine, with its large-scale but non-modernized heavy industry, the fulfillment of those conditions means closing of dozens of thousands jobs, as well as abandonment of powerful and reliable energy sources.

Like in the visa issue, the only proposed alternative, left for Ukraine today, is partnership with Poland, once CMEA's major industrial member where nuclear energy is treated, until today, without obsessive superstition, and where the EU bureaucracy's chicanery has evoked a steady nausea. Still, the political alliance with Poland may turn serious tensions with both Moscow and Central Europe primarily, due to Poland's willingness for deployment of US anti-ballistic weapons on its territory.

In his talk with Lech Kaczynski, Victor Yuschenko did not display much enthusiasm over partnership in ABM deployment, (though recognizing Warsaw's "sovereign right" for accepting this "privilege"). Mr. Yuschenko naturally concerned of the dominating anti-American sentiment in the Ukrainian population. After John Rood, US Deputy Secretary of State, in his March 2 speech in Washington (curiously coinciding with Mrs. Tymoshenko's visit), characterized Ukraine as a partner of the United States in the ABM issue, the Supreme Rada's Majority demanded explanations from the President. On March 9, Kaczynski officially postponed his visit to Kiev till autumn.

However, the presidents of Poland and Ukraine are expected to meet in Warsaw in the framework of the International Petroleum Summit, focused, in particular, on boosting deliveries of oil and gas along international corridors, circumventing Russia. Still, it is already known that Azerbaijan treats the relevant projects with doubt, considering high costs of transport of Caspian oil via Odessa to Plock and Gdansk. In the Ukrainian elite, however, grudges usually surpass common reason, while tactical calculations dominate over strategic benefit.

Being once again fascinated with transit advantages, which can be made use of exceptionally under the conditions of exorbitant world oil prices, Ukraine risks finding itself alone with a broken trough, as it happened with an ambitious housewife in Alexander Pushkin's popular tale. Who is going to be blamed in case of one more costly miscalculation? Anybody but the Kiev elite, repeatedly rejecting the logic of common reason, and obeying to the self-destructive impulses, well described by Lviv-born author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

Where is this ending and stumbling route of the Ukrainian establishment going to end? Most probably, eventually at the same Eurasian Economic Community, if Russia does not define its sphere of political and economic influence with some different term by that time. It is equally true that it will be the Russian Federation which is going to pay back the aggregate costs of industrial attrition and human exhaustion, and to take charge for the revival of Ukraine's industrial, energy and defense potential, carelessly embezzled by the idols of the November 2004 "orange revolution".

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