Well dear readers, above is a link to a Radio Free Europe and a speech by the soon departed Ukrainian President Viktor Yushenko……..well I say soon departed………7 days and counting.
Without trying to take anything he said out of context…….hence the link……there are some things he says which are worthy of comment.
“As the president, I will never bow my head and say that I failed in some way during these five years. I brought this nation what it needs,” Yushchenko said. “If it can understand this, that will be its salvation. If it can’t, then we will have to spend another 15-20 years with Yanukovyches and Tymoshenkos, under a Kremlin project, like during Kuchma’s time. There’s a price to this.”
One would not expect any President to bow their head and state they had failed. If Tony bloody Blair can still think he did the right things and was successful, then Yushenko has every right to feel the same way…….even if both are some what deluded and completely removed from reality.
It is quite difficult to actually identify what “needs” Ukraine had that Mr Yushenko has “brought it” however.
What has he brought and what is it measured against?
If I, a reasonably well educated foreigner, resident throughout his term in office in Ukraine have noticed nothing change for the better, then what exactly do the Ukrainians think he has brought and how are Ukrainians going to understand that what he has brought “is salvation” if there is nothing tangable there?
What is the price which will be paid if they do not understand what he has brought?
It is true that Mr Kuchma ran Ukraine with his inner circle for his own profit and to his own will, but Mr Yushenko, like Mr Yanukovych and Ms Tymoshenko were amongst that inner circle…….and all did very well out of it financially and politically I would add.
Mr Kuchma did manage to be on friendly terms with both Moscow and Washington however……..well until he sold weapons to Iran and p*ssed of the Americans…….but before that they got on well. He did of course sign away all the nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory, which at the time was the worlds 3rd biggest arsenal, so of course, the US liked him…….one less wobbly State with a huge amount of nukes to worry about.
I am looking back on the Kuchma times and then on the Yushenko times…….as a foreigner resident here………and I am struggling to find any real major changes. More MacDonalds on the main street of Ukraine’s cities. More foreign designer clothes shops. Not as many journalists getting beaten or killed for asking questions.
Actually that is unfair, there is only one incident under Kuchma of murdering a journalist for political reasons and it is worthy of mention in so much that Yushenko promised the case would be solved quickly when he became President……..of course, with 7 days to go……it remains unsolved to some degree. Those who carried out the acts have been caught but those which ordered it remain untouched and in the shadows.
I will grant there are less mafia killings and business related “accidents” of influential people……..but this has much more to do with everything worth stealing being stolen before Mr Yushenko got into power. There really is nothing much worthy of having left to steal.
The only things left really was land appropriation and banking fraud…….which actually was royally abused under Mr Yushenko’s watch……and still is with 7 days to go.
I jest not dear readers, only in November 2009, I was approached by a company which shall remain nameless needing land rezoning from agricultural to commercial on the outskirts of Kyiv. There is no legal process to do this and it needs the authority and signatures of certain RADA members…….not any RADA members but specifically 3 of them. As it happens through the twists of fate I know the right people and hence the approach to me. (You simply cannot approach such people “off the street” and offer them a “bung” to sort your problem out…….even in corrupt dealings there is a protocol to be observed).
……….Eh?…….Oh the cost for that was just over $2.5 million since you ask.
Then there were the shady gas intermediaries with which it was rumoured (heavily) that Mr Yushenko’s kith and kin made substancial financial gains from during the past 5 years.
He has failed to solve his own poisoning during 5 years as the most powerful man in Ukraine.
Judges and RADA deputies are caught doing corrupt things, occasionally they run to Moldova or Moscow, sometimes they are sacked, never tried and then reinstated. There are several Constitutional issues over which it can be fair to say Mr Yushenko himself, as President, “pushed the envelope”.
On a sidenote……where did “push the envelope” come from? No matter how it is pushed it remains stationary.
The past 5 years are littered with too numerous acts of corruption too mention, so he has in effect continued the corrupt politics of Kuchma. Was this what Ukraine “needs” as he put it? I suppose continued corruption is at least some form of stability.
Maybe it is his move to bring Ukraine into NATO and the EU which he is referring to. Sadly for him, considering where Ukraine was when he took office, to take Ukraine into NATO and the EU during a 5 year tenure were extremely bold an unrealistic promises and goals to set over such a short term……..particularly as after 5 years of governance by Mr Yushenko, Ukraine is only marginally closer to signing any form of meaningful EU agreement………and that will certainly not be signed in the remaining 7 days of his Presidency.
There is his drive away from Moscow (regardless of the too speedy course set towards NATO…….public opinion has to catch up after all).
Now Russia is indeed the biggest bully in Ukraines playground with regards to immediate geography. That much is true. Actually maybe “bully” is the wrong word as the infers physical violence to most people…….and Russia is far more phsychologically adept for such crude measures unless they are necessary or can be easily excused.
Now here Mr Yushenko did OK…….to a point. The mandatory use of Ukrainian in all official Ukrainian documents is of course justified and rightly implimented. With this nobody should have an issue. Unfortunately not all Ukrainians understand Ukrainian as well as they do Russian. In fact I know many Ukrainians who cannot read Ukrainian and need it translating into Russian to fully understand what is written. This is quite important in a country so corrupt throughout it’s administration.
Legal speak for many, even when they understand fully the language the legal speak is written in, remains way above their comprehension. Maybe a transitional period with the same documents in Russian would have helped and even gone a little way towards preventing minor corruption by people not understanding what they were signing?
In no way should any sovereign nation “bow” before another or bend to anothers will……unless of course it is a common position they agree upon. Standing up to the psychology of Russia is important be you Ukraine, the UK, Germany or the USA. It is however, equally important to stand up to the USA, UK, or Germany with equal verve.
Sadly, Mr Yushenko’s stance against Russia became quite hard-core and every and any issue was used to the point where Patriotism for Ukraine became an almost ugly Nationalism. I am not talking about gas and oil politics, Russian as a recognised second language, or even the “correction” of historical figures…….although there again, with re-writting history to favour one cause or another…….you open a pandora’s box.
Unfortunately his actions became quite extreme and obviously anti-Russian. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Georgia spat…….and blame no doubt lays in both camps……..unlike other leaders of sovereign States who either said nothing, or made “statements” relating to the incident, Mr Yushenko actually flew to Georgia whilst the fighting was happening.
A wise move to put yourself in danger as another sovereign head of state? How many other nations leaders flew in during the fighting? What if he had been shot or killed either by the Russians or the Georgians? Who would know whichwas to blame in the field of lies and the fog of war? How would Ukraine have been expected to react if it had happened? Where was the logic and clear headedness required to run an nation like Ukraine in this action?
Fortunately it was a road which never had to be travelled. It was also noticable that at the time of his personal tyraid towards Moscow……..not one other Ukrainian politician joined in the verbal assault.
Maybe this is what he believes Ukraine needs and what he has brought it? A diversion to look away from all the internal failures during his Presidency and concentrate upon somebody else with bigger failures or someone who is very nasty?
Maybe his constant bickering and the continual undermining of the Tymoshenko cabinet…….then the Yanukovych cabinet……..then the Tymoshenko cabinet (again)……..brought what Ukraine needed? Political instability and an unworkable parliament?
I will admit there is much more chance of relations with the Kremlin improving under either Tymoshenko and Yanukovych. There is even, as he states, more chance of Ukraine becoming part of a Kremlin project (of sorts)………simply because in his 5 years as President he accomplished nothing towards intergration westwards or improved anything internally at a tangible level. He is quite wrong of course, to ascert that Ukraine would lose it’s sovereign nation status as there is still so much for the elite to steal without letting those nasty Russians take a slice!
Having previously mentioned oil and gas politics, there is another quote of Mr Yushenko’s worthy of a little look.
“Why is Ukraine proposing a gas consortium? Why isn’t Russia proposing a gas-exploration consortium with Ukrainian participation? Why aren’t our European colleagues suggesting a consortium with Ukrainian participation?” Yushchenko asked. “We have a national company that can brilliantly manage, let’s say, gas transit. Are we not capable of organizing our own monopoly? This is the surrender of our national interests.”
Where to start? Ukraine does not have the money to do it alone…….depsite, no doubt, that amount of money would have been available if it was not for dodgey gas intermediaries, huge subsidies to business and public alike and 18 years (since independents) of annual lack of investment in it.
You could PFI it, if there was an investor and contractor who had any faith in Ukraine as far as transparency and legal recourse was concerned…..but there isn’t. The advantage there would have been to allow it to drop of the “State books”…….asked Gordon Brown……..he has allowed PFI to drop of the accounting books…….together with about £1 trillion of pensions which must be paid. For an ex NBU Chief as Mr Yushenko is, a look at what Gordon did in his term would have made Ukraine look very much more healthy to the IMF.
Why would Russia want to explore for gas in Ukraine? There is plenty of gas in Russia. If you want you own gas supplies and energy independents then find the money and do it yourself. It is a matter of trust and there are not many investors or nations which trust Ukraine. World Bank statistics back this up.
The same can be said for the European partners involvement. They have much more faith in a successful conclusion involving Russia, Ukraine and themselves.
Europe has suffered two gas cut-off’s under the Presidency of Mr Yushenko…..something which hardly ever happened before. You cannot move to a free market and yet insist on heavily reduced prices from Russia and whilst doing so, telling them to kiss your a*se politically at every given opportunity……particualrly loudly and in public. It is hardly a diplomatic success story in the waiting.
Why, as President of Ukraine for 5 years, has the most powerful man in Ukraine, not been capable of organising your own monopoly? Why is he asking now, with 7 days before he loses office, this has not been done?
In summary I, like the vast majority of Ukraine, cannot understand what mr Yushenko believes it is that he has brought to Ukraine which it needs……..which is why, in 7 days, he will not be President.