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April 05, 2007 (the date of publication in Russian)

Ilya Kwetny and Anton Krayev

THE CORNERED ADVENTURERS

Maidan-2 as a joint project of Dick Cheney and Yulia Timoshenko

PARTNERSHIP FOR USURPATION

George W. Bush and Victor Yushchenko have something common in their political fate. The two figures are certainly unequal, given the inequality of their states in scale and influence, but almost geometrically similar.

The rule of both started with inadequately high expectations. In both cases, the hopes and illusions rested rather upon superficial features of appearance than on reliable awareness of their capabilities. For political technologists, who had become a self-sufficient social class by the end of the last century, only superficial is significant in the skill of "man-making" – even such details as first names. The name George was considered perfect for impressing Georgia, along with other dependent East European states. The name Victor seemed equally encouraging for the selected leader of an unstable Ukraine.

Subclinical defects were revealed only when they came to the surface and became visible to everyone. The US leader, regularly falling from his bike and choking himself with a cracker, displays classical epileptic petit mals. In his turn, the Ukrainian leader, covering with strange scab shortly before his inauguration, exemplifies a similarly obvious deficiency of immunity.

Medical problems of this kind are not necessarily fatal for a politician. At least two Russian monarchs were epileptic but their disease was compensated with extraordinary political and military skills. With Bush and Yushchenko, the case was different: the spectacular problems of health coincided with striking lack of any talent, which naturally forced other influentials to take charge for most important state decisions (though even this did not save both presidents from ridiculous situations).

In late March, George W. Bush received a new series of political slaps in his face. Firstly, Azerbaijan displayed categorical reluctance to allow NATO forces to use national airdromes for "a case of emergency", which meant, too definitely, an air attack on Iran. The second blow from inside was delivered by the US Congress, which voted for an accelerated military withdrawal from the bleeding but still uncontrolled Iraq. The third public assault originated from the human rights community, which would not tolerate Bush's personal meeting with Russian general Vladimir Shamanov, "the butcher of the freedom-loving Chechnya".

Victor Yushchenko, the recent idol of the November 2004 "Orange Revolution" in Kiev (which coincided with the US presidential elections), found himself "a sovereign without a kingdom" by March 2007 as well: his people was disappointed; his parliament, the Supreme Rada, was disobedient; his attempts to flirt with a range of state leaders from Lech Kaczynski to Ehud Olmert aroused more grins than glory.

Most of the Russians, as well as the Ukrainians, regardless from political views, believed in the first days of April that after a lot of flirting efforts, Yushchenko managed to gain a resolute support personally from the head of the American state. Still, the following political stalemate questioned this conclusion in a few days.

As a matter of fact, on the day when Victor Yushchenko declared his commitment to dissolve the Supreme Rada, the official Washington was not displaying any interest in seeing such sport. The government of Ukraine, headed by Victor Yanukovich once the very target of the "Orange Revolution", was expecting a visit of Carlos Gutierrez, head of US Department of Trade, who was going to meet with the key economic ministers, including Yanukovich's strongest ally and Yushchenko's arch-enemy Deputy Premier Nikolay Azarov. Days before, the World Bank's president personally promised excessive loans to Ukraine's government; the first of the twelve billions of US dollars was already allocated.

Under those encouraging circumstances, illustrating international recognition of Yanukovich's government and promising a real investment boom, Yushchenko was not expected to spark political instability. Desperate moves were not typical for him, generally. Even when the issue of Rada's dissolution was already on the table, experts would not believe it was possible. Hours before Yushchenko announced his ostensibly resolute move, Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya, the leading analytical paper with a US background, warned the President from this decision, substantiating its legal doubtfulness in details. Kost Bondarenko, a highly respected Kiev expert, bluntly said that Yushchenko just has got no guts for such a venture.

At the same time, leading Democratic congressmen argued that their own President, George W. Bush, has similarly got no guts to launch trhe so-called "Bite" operation against Iran. Russian liberal observer Pavel Felgenhauer ridiculed those unnamed analysts from the Russian military intelligence who expected the "Bite" operation to start in a matter of few days. The author described this forecast as an intended "hoax", invented by the intelligence agencies themselves in order to justify new military expenses.

Still, two US fighters invaded Iran's air territory hours after Yushchenko's statement. Hours beforre, US Vice President Dick Cheney cracked upon the "irrational" Congress, urging the congressmen to "close this political circus". Was that just a coincidence?

The political brawl in Washington focused, like two years ago, on the military and diplomatic lapses of Bush's Administration did not seem to allow the US strategists to concentrate on such a "small change" as Ukraine. Even the émigré audience, addressing Professor Taras Kuzio, a prominent figure in the American Ukrainian community wondered: "Does not the White House have any problems at home?"

Still, the first official response to Yushchenko's decision came from Washington. Though the words of State Department's spokesman, Sean McCormack, sounded conciliating, it was obvious that Washington was monitoring the events in Ukraine with especial attention.

When the embarrassed Kiev experts tried to reach the key figure of the Yushchenko-advocated extraordinary re-election of the Rada, Election Commission's chair Yaroslav Davydovich, they were told that this person had not yet returned from Washington. Officially, Mr. Davydovich was taking part in an international event of the International Association of Electing Authorities, entitled "Each Voice Is Precious". The summit hosted representatives of dozens of states. Still, Mr. Davydovich was an exception, deserving a personal meeting with US Vice President Dick Cheney on March 28.

Curiously, the whole scene of the Ukrainian opposition was set into motion immediately after this personal talk. Next morning, a large-scale anti-Government rally was convened in Ivano-Frankivsk under command of Yury Lutsenko, the former "orange" Interior Minister, today's chairman of "National Self-Defense Movement", the successor of the glorious Pora!. Simultaneously, ex-Premier Yulia Timoshenko returned from Paris; she was in such a haste that even ignored the possibility of a personal talk with hopeful French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

On the same day, March 29, columns of buses with well-prepared "orange" activists started their route from Western regions to Ukraine's capital. Politically, they were dominated with Yulia Timoshenko's "parish". It was Yulia Timoshenko who challenged the hesitating President on March 30 from the improvised tribune of Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti): to dissolve the Rada immediately, or to face simultaneous parliamentary and presidential re-elections.

Ariel Cohen, senior analyst of the conservative Heritage Foundation, categorically denied any involvement of the official Washington in the Kiev destabilization, in his interview to Vesti, a major Russian TV channel. His assessment was half-truthful, half- fraudulent.

Unlike the "Orange Revolution", the "second Maidan of April 2, 2007, was not a project of the State Department. It was a joint venture of two persons: Dick Cheney and Yulia Timoshenko, who met in Washington a month before the events.

These two persons are also strikingly similar. They are both politically cornered, and both enough capable of taking charge for key strategic decisions over the heads of their states’ leaders.

These two even speak the same political language. Both Cheney and Timoshenko accuse their parliaments of "usurpation of power". Both threaten their audiences with "the Russian menace". Both choose exactly a scenario of usurpation, according to the principle: a thief is the loudest to cry "Stop thief!". Both rely on unlawful methods of policy, successful only in case technologies of mass manipulation are involved.

 

A CONVENIENT EXCUSE

While most of the Moscow and Kiev expert communities shared skepticism over a new coup d'etat, Victor Yanukovich's team perceived the threat quite seriously. Already on March 29, Timoshenko's activists on the Maidan encountered an exceeding number of "recruits" from eastern regions, arriving by buses and trains. Alexander Moroz, chairman of the Supreme Rada the person whose political choice was decisive in Yanukovich's second ascent to the Prime Minister's post urgently returned from a trip to China. The Premier himself immediately established a direct dialogue with top figures of the European Community. The first political response to Victor Yushchenko from the Rada, which refused to obey, was the decision to re-establish the "pre-orange" cast of the Central Election Commission. The MPs well realized where the strings were pulled from.

The decision to address the European Community was quite reasonable. The least interested side in the Kiev destabilization was Europe, the major consumer of Russian gas, shipped predominantly across Ukraine. No wonder that such a reputed liberal as Sergey Golovaty, elected Vice President of PACE, immediately chose Yanukovich's side in the conflict. No wonder that major European papers displayed not a bit of revolutionary delight over the "new Maidan".

This reaction of European politicians and media could be well foreseen by President Yushchenko as well. It was his native country to face much more financial problems than the $60bln expenses for the declared extraordinary election campaign.

President Yushchenko was well aware of the fact that he owed the recent success in attracting large-scale foreign investments to the newly-appointed Economy Minister Anatoly Kinakh. For a long time, Yushchenko (Prime Minister in 1999-2001) and his successor Kinakh (2001-2002) were close political partners. During the last elections of the Rada, in spring 2006, Kinakh was running from the list of Yushchenko-chaired Our Ukraine Party. His diplomatic and economic capabilities were really precious. However, the "post-orange" experience was more and more disappointing for the economist (for a decade, Kinakh chaired Ukraine's Association of Industrialists and Businessmen).

Yulia Timoshenko's provocative attempts to undermine the work of Supreme Rada, launched shortly before her trip to Washington, was probably most annoying for Anatoly Kinakh. In March, he and his supporters from the Party of Industry and Business withdrew from Our Ukraine's ranks and joined the majority, concentrated around Victor Yanukovich's Party of Regions. This "flight" was the very trigger which Timoshenko later pulled, accusing the Rada majority of "buying up MPs" in order to "change the political course of Ukraine".

It was true that in case the number of Yanukovich's coalition members exceeded 300, the Party of Regions and its allies would be able to override any initiative from the President. Did that really challenge Ukraine's political line? In the list of the recent foreign trips of Victor Yanukovich, one can easily find the same destination as Yushchenko's: Washington and Brussels, Warsaw and Ankara. A flexible and realistic politician, Yanukovich pursued rapprochement with Poland, a natural economic partner of Ukraine, even when the Moscow-Warsaw relations completely deteriorated. The only obvious difference was NATO membership which Yanukovich strongly opposed.

By March, Yanukovich's government contained only a single NATO enthusiast namely, Defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko, broadly described as "Washington's asset". This figure could be replaced, according to the Constitution, only by the President, while the Constitution could be amended only by a Rada majority.

With every new vote in Yanukovich's coalition, Gritsenko was closer to dischargement. His withdrawal from the political scene suggested more implications than the character of Ukraine's relations with NATO. If he left the scene, any plans of using Ukraine as a range for American ABM facilities, or a convenient home for CIA jails, would be doomed.

One more circumstance, downplayed by Russian media, was Anatoly Kinakh's diplomatic statement, dated March 27 (a day before the CheneyDavydovich discussion). The pragmatic economist, focused on progress of Ukraine's partnership with Europe, declared in public that his country may join the Eurasian Economic Community in other words, the Moscow-centered alliance of states in case if this membership does not contradict to the Constitution.

Even one year ago, when Ukraine was still regarded as a priority candidate for EU membership, Kinakh would hardly utter those "treacherous" words. Still, it was the EU which postponed Ukraine's membership for an indefinite time.

For Dick Cheney, those considerations were not an excuse but rather a convenient pretext to start a risky but perfectly substantiated venture. The magic phrase: "Washington is losing Ukraine" would sound as a universal password for the weakened Republican Party on the eve of its own elections.

 

WHO AND WHY NEEDS POLARIZATION?

In his April 4 interview to Vesti, conservative analyst Ariel Cohen expressed striking pessimism over Ukraine's future. Moreover, he claimed probably much hurting the Ukrainian diaspora of the United States that the whole design of Ukrainian statehood, for the whole period of the last 300 years, was a failure.

The probability of Ukraine's disintegration was raised days after Yushchenko's decree. Relevant fears were expressed stronger and stronger while the political stalemate continued, the Constitutional Court postponing the decisive meeting, expected to qualify the legitimacy of the decree, as well as Rada's response.

Most of public polls reveal that the political sympathies of the Ukrainians have not significantly changed since spring 2006 which means that the colors of Yanukovich's banners are still overwhelming in the East, and Timoshenko's banners in the West.

Moreover, the implicit shadowy side of the conflict displays most serious personal contradictions between a few persons who control much of Ukraine's economy. This invisible war dates back to the old rivalry of (Yanukovich's) Donetsk and (Timoshenko's) Dnepropetrovsk.

Two days before the onset of the "second Maidan", a top shadowy figure of Russian origin was assassinated at the entrance of a district court in Kiev. The person, Maxim Kurochkin, was known as involved not only in politics but in shadowy markets. In his last speech in the court, an hour before death, he dared to mention the name of his arch-enemy Mrs. Timoshenko's financial sponsor Igor Kolomoysky.

The same name surfaced in leakages from Ukraine's Foreign Ministry. One of our Kiev sources says that Yulia Timoshenko's self-advertising campaign in the United States, in France, and earlier in Israel, involved distribution of audiotapes and documents proving that the richest person in Ukraine, Donetsk-based Rada MP Rinat Akhmetov, a Moslem of Tatar origin, is allegedly running large-scale arms smuggle to the Middle East, its destination allegedly being the notorious Hezbollah movement.

The version would sound more convincing, if the reported origin of the explosive documents were not Igor Kolomoysky, the arch-enemy of Rinat Akhmetov and a contender for a large deal of his metallurgic business.

The dirt, collected by persons of this kind and sold across the globe, was definitely supposed to impress, primarily, Israel. But surprisingly, Israel appeared to be the very state from where ABC TV received the even more explosive news of Dick Cheney's partnership with the Pakistani terrorist organization, known as Janud Allah, the Warriors of Allah, planning to use them for destabilization of Iran.

This "treacherous" move is really relevant, as a proof of the international weakness of the neoconservative war-mongers, who shout "Stop thief!" the loudest while an unrecognized statehood of Western Ukraine, with artillery ranges, nuclear plants and all, would actually serve as a most convenient playground of arms smuggle. Isn't this version echoing another, now widespread rumor that Yulia Timoshenko's major foreign sponsor is Shell, a close partner of Dick Cheney's Halliburton? Don't the relevant plans explain the background of Ariel Cohen's emphatic pessimism over the future of Ukraine's statehood?


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