Monday, February 22, 2016

Politics as Usual in Ukraine

Ukraine has been celebrating, if that is the right word, the second anniversary of Euro-Maidan.  Two years ago in Feb 18, the demonstrations against the ultra-corrupt Yanukovych regime turned deadly violent and two years ago today, Yanukovych fled to Russia.  It was the beginning of a new opportunity for Ukraine to remake itself as a truly European country with European values: respect for the individual, tolerance, rule of law, transparency, democracy.

Ukraine has come a long way with the help of America and the EU, in spite of Putin's Russia not giving her one moment of breathing space with the occupation of Crimea and undeclared war in Donbas.  Yet Ukraine has made no real progress in the one area that drove people to the streets in the first place.  Oh, some aspects of corruption have been dealt with; enough to mollify IMF and others and keep the money flowing and stave off bankruptcy.  Laws have been passed and implemented to various degrees.  Anti-corruption organizations have been created on paper at least but have been unable to achieve anything because the President will not allow them independence.

Patching roads in Ukraine
In the last election, 40% of the Deputies returned to the Rada had ties to the old regime.  Proroshenko and Yatseniuk claim to be reformers but were former members of Party of Regions themselves.  Oligarchs still control the country and the senior bureaucrats are still in place.  The police force is gradually being rebuilt from the ground up, city by city, but the senior police officials are still in place and they still answer to the Prime Minister.

The keystone that keeps the entire process in place is the Prosecutor's Office, headed by the Prosecutor General who reports to the President. There are 15,000 to 18,000 prosecutors in Ukraine, no one seems to know the exact number.  Prosecutors control the justice system and use it to enrich themselves, keep their friends safe and their enemies in prison.  In two years, none of Yanukovych's crowd have been charged and sent to prison.  Investigations into the shooting deaths of the "Heavenly Hundred" by Berkut snipers have gone no where.  Investigation into the May 2 2014 fire in Odessa that claimed over 40 lives have gone no where. Attempts at serious investigations have continually been obstructed by Prosecutor General Shokin.  Calls for his resignation have been ignored. Please Read This: How to steal millions and stay free. Stories of the “successes” of former Yanukovych officials

Progressive Ministers which were appointed to several Ministries, including Agriculture resigned in protest against their inability to control or replace their bureaucrats who continually blocked reform.  Compromises resulted in some of the resignations being with drawn. The economy minister, Abromavičius, resigned on February 3 citing government corruption and the Poroshenko administration’s lack of commitment to fight it. He named a close associate of the President, Kononenko, as his biggest problem in implementing reforms. On February 15 deputy prosecutor general, Vitaliy Kasko, also resigned in protest of the government’s lack of action against corruption as well as attempts to sideline him by Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin

On February 16, the government presented its annual report to the parliament. Poroshenko called on Yatsenyuk and Shokin to resign. Shokin allegedly resigned but then took indefinite sick leave effectively stalling any action.  Yatseniuk's annual report was overwhelmingly rejected by the Rada but 15 minutes later a vote of non-confidence fell far short of a majority.  A non-confidence vote would have resulted in Yatseniuk's dismissal along with all the Cabinet of Ministers and a new Prime minister and Cabinet appointed.  If the new PM and Cabinet did not get approval of the Rada then snap elections would have to be called.  

The failure to support the no-confidence motion, which cannot be held for another six months, was allegedly cooked up between Proroshenko's party and deputies beholden to three other oligarchs, Akhmetov, Kolomoisky and Pinchuk who like the government just the way it is. Many of the missing votes simply absented themselves from the chamber just before the vote.  Four of those who did not support the motion then added insult to injury by asking that their support FOR the motion be recorded. Some parties and some people are pushing for new elections but the likely results would not be good, (see figure below) with even more parties represented, making a coalition almost impossible.  Timoshenko (remember her?) and Saakashvilli would fight over the PM's job and refuse to join the coalition unless they got it. This kind of instability plays right into the Kremlin's hands.
Source: Yatsenyuk’s“Stay of Execution”
There are those calling for a "Third Maidan" and a far right splinter group with possibly 1000 military and 1000 civilian members is currently camped out in Kyiv to push for it.  This will not end well for several reasons.  One being that the Kremlin has been surreptitiously encouraging a "Third Maidan" and there are unconfirmed  rumours that this new far-right group are in fact financed by pro-Russian Deputies (who allegedly live in Moscow and fly into Ukraine to sit in the Rada - also unconfirmed).  

A new Maidan would be violent, simply because those who push for it and would participate would be the most radical, fed up with waiting for peaceful change.  Anyone could make a list of 10,000 people who need to be taken out and shot, which would improve Ukraine to no end.  BUT once the killing starts, where does it end?  Ask Robespierre and see also Napoleon.  Ask Lenin and see also Stalin.

Anything that looked like a violent far-right uprising would be a clear invitation for a full scale invasion by Russia to "protect" Russians in Ukraine and this time they may not have to lie about it. 

Commentary: Petro Poroshenko's House Of Cards
Batkivshchyna faction leaves ruling coalition
Why Poroshenko did not dismiss Yatseniuk
Ukraine’s government almost fell yesterday. It’s still in crisis. Here’s what happened and why it matters
Now We Know Who Really Runs Ukraine
The Yatsenyuk Chronicles: How Ukraine's Prime Minister Survived
Ukraine’s ruling coalition disbands
Commentary: Petro Poroshenko's House Of Cards
Kasko explains why he quit prosecution
Bad Moon Rising
A Pyrrhic Victory for President Poroshenko
Saving Yatsenyuk


  1. wow...I learn so much here.sorry your country is getting is ours..

    1. Thanks, Jackie Sue. Yeah, I feel bad for America. But the people are starting to wake up. If Bernie wins, I only hope that he gets enough support from Congress and Senate to make a real difference.

  2. To overcome corruption takes a serious, protracted, and relentless effort staying in the forefront of the people's wishes. It would be difficult for any population. Inborn stubbornness helps. I hope the Ukrainians can do it. Actually, I hope all the populations in the world can do it.

    1. Thanks, Jono. I hope so too. Corruption adds so much cost to everything. Politics attracts the corrupt and corruptible.

  3. Just a follow up note; the far right crowd trying to start the third Maidan has disappeared. Their membership, like Mark Twain's death, was greatly exaggerated. They got ZERO support from Kyivians. Some of the members were traced to pro-Russian groups, as suspected.

  4. It's interesting to reconsider corruption in the light of the internet age. In earlier times, local citizens knew about it but it was largely hidden from the outside world. Now that 'everyone knows', I wonder whether the cockroaches will eventually scuttle away from the bright light of truth, or whether everybody will just get used to living with cockroaches in broad daylight.

  5. As a native born citizen from the land of the free and the home of the brave, I know that the universe actually orbits the USA. The childish and sophomoric shenanigans occurring anywhere outside our shores is of little consequence to the greatest, most powerful, and altruistic nation on God's warming planet.

    But just to humor a fellow blogger from away and maybe amuse myself with the meaningless actions of others, I decided to read your post. Damn. Looks like you folks are the GOP model they want to turn the USA into. So have heart, we are not far behind you and most likely will catch up and of course surpass you soon, if the Right has anything to say about it.

    1. So glad to see you. Remember when we thought democracy had won? Well, it is the second half and oligopolies. kleptocracies and tyrannies are making a strong comeback, usually all rolled into one. I do not envy you (or the rest of the world) your current political choices. HRC is a moderate Republican, in thrall to big money like all the rest. I hope Bernie pulls it off but who will support him once he is elected?

    2. Hillary is indeed a moderate Republican. And unfortunately, it looks like Bernie's sail has lost it's wind. With Trump goosestepping his way over the whining old guard GOP, it looks like we are going to be blessed with our first female president right on the heels of our first black president. Of course Trump might take it and then he and Putin could become more than pen pals.

      It's nice to see that you are still offering up honest opinion in a land that looks like it does not favor such nonsense.

    3. They are two of a kind but Putin is smarter. They would indeed divide up the world between them and eastern Europe would go back under the Russian heel.
      Freedom of speech is not under attack in Ukraine but I may never get a Russian visitor's visa again and if I did I might be scared to use it. Ending up in a Russian prison for 20 years for 'extremism' is always a possibility.

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