Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ukraine – In Search of an Honest Man

There is no good reason to assume we will survive this coming week; that Putin will not invade Ukraine and push his military to the pre-1939 borders of Ukraine and install his own puppet ruler in Kyiv (with two brain cells, one more than Yanukovych).  There is ample precedent over recent years, of other empires doing just that.  Who will stop him short of an outright war?  Ukraine is not (yet) a member of NATO and even that didn’t help Georgia?  What will happen to Russia?  Sanctions having already been threatened to the max over Crimea will be no worse, one way or another.  An outright trade embargo is possibly but not likely.  NO ONE is talking about it in the Western Press or even here in the English Ukrainian press.  If we don’t say the words…

Note: I lied, The Guardian has a story.

However, one might as well be an optimist.  Assuming Ukraine survives the next week, the Ukrainians who are left will continue dealing with an old problem.  Diogenes would have his work cut out for him in Ukraine as much as in Greece.  The Revolution may not be over.

The Euromaidan Revolution was not a large P political event in that it was not driven by politicians as was the Orange Revolution of 2004.  It was grassroots. Political parties participated it in but certainly did not control it, (though certainly people have now rallied to the inheritors of the UPA mantle in the midst of crises).  People were and are simply fed up with the corrupt politics that has held Ukraine back for the past 20 years while countries like Poland have surged ahead.

Ukraine has been run by oligarchs since independence.  Things were bad under Kuchma.  Yanukovych, his handpicked successor, “won” the 2004 presidential election by such blatant cheating that it brought the people onto the street in support of Yushchenko, supported by Timoshenko.  Yushchenko won in a new clean election.  But…nothing changed

The oligarchs continued to call the shots; reforms promised did not/were not allowed to happen; corruption flourished and the economy continued to shrink.  The rich got richer as politicians and bureaucrats fed at the trough.  By the time his term was over, people loathed Yushchenko and pretty much all politicians.  They were leery of Timoshenko too, so Yanukovych, aided by millions of Russian dollars, won the election in 2010.  People figured he couldn’t be any worse, I guess.

Euromaidan has not been disbanded, has not gone home, with the ouster of Yanukovych.  They are staying put until the government is seen as doing its job, which will certainly be after the May presidential election and perhaps longer.  If needs be, they say they will clean house again, until reforms are enacted, until corruption is cleaned up.  

The current government is acting only.  Those Deputies, who didn’t run for their lives, (and who still constitute a legal quorum) are all part of the old crowd, many from the Yushchenko/Timoshenko government.  There are some new faces in the Cabinet of Ministers but too many of the same old same old, up to the same old tricks.

This story from the Globe and Mail a few days back illustrates the situation I speak of.
Dr. Olga Bogomolets is no ordinary revolutionary. She comes from a long line of doctors, so renowned in Ukraine that one of the country’s leading medical schools is named after her great-grandfather. She’s also a popular singer, art collector and founder of a prestigious dermatology and cosmetology clinic.

The new government brought “in a few new faces, but our goal was not to change the faces,” she said. “We are just coming back to what was before, just a different picture, a little bit of a different picture.”

Her first experiences with the new leadership did not go well. Just after Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia last month, opposition party leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk began forming a new government and his officials offered Dr. Bogomolets the position of minister of health. She said she would only accept if she could bring in her own team, conduct a thorough audit of the operations and adopt European Union standards of transparency to stamp out rampant corruption.
“The next day in [private] the politicians told each other that I refused,” she said. She also discovered that most of the senior positions in the department had already been filled with political allies, meaning she would have had no real control. A few days later when Mr. Yatsenyuk was about to climb on a giant stage at the square to announce his cabinet to the crowds, he turned to Dr. Bogomolets and offered her the post of vice-prime minister of humanitarian affairs. She declined, knowing that once again all of the department positions had been filled and she would have been merely a token.

On another subject, Dr. Olga Bogomolets says she did not tell the Estonian Foreign Minister that the protesters were in cahoots with the snipers, what she said was people were killed by snipers, not just ordinary gunfire.  She said she did not see any police officers who were killed so could not have made any comparison.  

The best explanation for the snipers firing on both sides was given in this article.

The new health minister Oleh Musiy also claims that the snipers were shooting protesters and police: The government's new health minister — a doctor who helped oversee medical treatment for casualties during the protests — told The Associated Press that the similarity of bullet wounds suffered by opposition victims and police indicates the shooters were trying to stoke tensions on both sides and spark even greater violence, with the goal of toppling Yanukovych.
"I think it wasn't just a part of the old regime that (plotted the provocation), but it was also the work of Russian special forces who served and maintained the ideology of the (old) regime," Musiy said. He also claimed that the temporary hospital at Maidan treated not only protesters but three wounded police so Dr. Bogomolets would have had access to wounded police if not dead ones.

For up-to-date links on Crimea and Ukraine in crisis:

The Crimean referendum’s neo-Nazi observers

Russia unleashes demons (Winnipeg Free Press)


  1. This sounds "nice" on the surface, but it seems that nothing has really changed. Except maybe th disappearance of Crimea and part of south-eastern Ukraine. Not that I was expecting any really good news.

    Hope you, Tanya, and the rest of the family all stay safe.

    Blessings and Bear hugs.

    1. That is the fear of the people of Ukraine - that so far nothing has changed enough and the same people from four years ago are back in power. Not necessarily the fault of the interim government as they have been a bit busy. The IMF et al will put some muscle into forcing reforms, whether they like it or not. No reforms means back in Putin's arms again. (There is a song in that somewhere...)

  2. It's hard to peel back all that's involved here not knowing all the history but here's my best guess. Putin was not too thrilled with what happened in Libya then there was the Syrian chemical weapons situation. Obama played that one well by throwing it back on congress. I think that might have been a bit embarrassing to Putin who had to go along with the plan. I still feel this is about the oil and gas in the Black sea as well as Putin wanting to protect his fleet in the Crimean. I also understand he tried to pull a similar stunt in Georgia although I've forgotten the details. We'll see what sanctions come out on Monday and what he does then. This could get ugly.

    Just hope you can get back to business as usual like reporting on your dogs and cats.

    1. I prefer dogs and cats. Never discount emotion which isn't the right word but not everything is cold hard economics in this part of the world. History is a big factor, a huge factor. Certainly, Putin could see his Sevastopol base in trouble, the oil and gas is less about them than about control over Ukraine, I think. Empires die hard. Also Putin has trouble at home and now he can blame the West for the sever economic downturn he is about to witness first hand with oil and gas prices falling.

  3. I see the vote in Crimea went exactly as predicted, although the orchestration must have been slightly off when it wasn't unanimous.

    1. They needed a few votes for the other non-choice to make it look fair. The Tatars mostly boycotted it. I see one of their leaders was found tortured to death. Look for that to increase until there is a reaction so that the Russians can turn the full force of their hatred against them. Russia has been building fear and hatred among the Crimean Russians for several years now. I mean the Tatars are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists.

  4. I feel more like a pon than ever having just read this article:
    While the rest of the world was busy watching events on the ground in Ukraine and Crimea, Exxon and Rosneft were busy penning a deal to drill in the arctic. So while the west and the east look like foes on the surface corporations are getting along quite nicely.

    1. oops don't know why it did that.

    2. As an Iranian friend said to me "Jesus is Jesus; Moses is Moses: Business is Business.


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