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The unpopularity race – Politics in Ukraine

April 29, 2012

When all major political parties in Ukraine manage to gain 18% or less individually in the straw polls of public opinion regardless of what provocative or pacifying actions they make take in an attempt to either motivate or buy off the voting public, the one clear result opinion polls show is that the Ukrainian public simply don’t like any of the political choices they have.

Whilst Ms Tymoshenko’s circumstances and hunger strike may be preoccupying Baroness Ashton at the EEAS, not a single spontaneous protest from the people of any note Ukraine has occurred.  In fact even some of the western media sees the hunger strike tactic as flawed.  The Economist recently calling her antics “grating, and that from a media outlet hardly friendly to the Yanukovych camp (or any authoritarian rule for that matter), and calling foul on her damsel in distress tone.

Over at Der Tagesspeigel my twitter friend Claudia Von Salzen, a stalwart defender of human rights and who regularly highlights Ms Tymoshenko’s plight, does not see her as the lens through which Ukraine should solely be viewed.  She is quite right.

Tymoshenko fatigue seems to be setting in even amongst her foreign supporters, just as it did when she was Prime Minister.

That does not help the current ruling majority however.  They are less popular than a particularly rancid fart in a very air-tight spacesuit.   Then they would be.  They put up the pension age, put up gas and electricity prices, changed the tax code to capture more people, all obviously unpopular, and yet still managed to make themselves more unpopular with insider business deals, plundering the public purse and failing to implement laws they pass that may actually change life even myopically for the better.

In short, the vast majority of Ukrainians do not trust Yanukovych or Tymoshenko and would rather have no government at all than either of those two.  Unfortunately they are the two people who have the only two parties big enough to form a government.  It is therefore absolutely no surprise that none can even pass the 20% popularity threshold.

Only two nights ago, Andrey Shevchenko of BYuT tweeted that BYuT and Yatseniuk’s Front for Change need Klitchko’s party join them to be sure of having a good chance of beating the PoR at the October elections and asking why he has not joined the ranks of the United Opposition yet.

At the same time Carl Bildt tweeted and suggested that Ukraine is going to force the EU into cutting ties.

That being so, the only EU/Ukraine agreement that is not tied to politics, the fate of Tymoshenko and others, or the nefarious actions of Yanukovych and his sponsors, is the road map for Visa-free travel which Stefan Fule consistently states is about the free movement of people and not the politics of a nation.

Very good.  Therefore whether it be the PoR of BYuT that are annoying the EU when in power, and they both have and do, the Visa-free issue should progress regardless theoretically.  Which ever government is sitting in Ukraine when this eventually comes to pass, may get some begrudging recognition by society for actually doing something in their interest.

And yet this process is stalled.  Not by the EU but by Ukraine.  Not for any obscure issues contained within the road map either.  It is stalled over the issue of biometric passports which are necessary as part of the Visa-free agreement and an EU norm for EU nations.

Is it any wonder that the Ukrainian populous have so little faith in their political classes?

One of the few beneficial things for the everyday Ukrainian not hanging by a thread through purely political shenanigans between the EU and Ukraine, and it is the Ukrainian politicians who can’t get their act together once again.

Pathetic!

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5 comments

  1. But Tymoshenko did do something about corruption – big time.

    She removed Firtash and RUE as middlemen in the gas trade between Gazprom and Zookraine.

    That’s a big part of why the Regionnaires want to eat her liver.

    True, removing Firtash served her own purposes. But Zookraine is now riveted like never before with talk (that’s what they do lots of in Zookraine – talk).

    Personally, I think Anatoly Hrytsenko, former Defense Minister, is one of the outstanding good guys in Zookraine. Yatseniuk is very bright – he does have some problems with his past, as you note.

    And the opposition itself if finally talking about principles rather than personalities. Yatseniuk rattles the principles off repeatedly on TV.

    I look at guys like Oles Doniy (Олесь Доній) and Hrytsenko and others, and I see people who do in fact believe in and want democracy.

    To me that’s progress, and some cause to doubt the “kaleiscope” theory of Zookraine’s politics, reflected in your comments – “same pieces, different patterns.”

    With the EU kicking Zookraine’s ass by refusing to attend conferences in Zookraine, and even boycotting Euro 2012 – well, some big changes for much better might finally happen in Zookraine in order to turn it into a real country, and reverse the yanusvoloch banda hideous “reforms.”


    • Tymoshenko did one thing only about corruption and that was remove a man she couldn’t stand from the chain. In 5 years the single removal of a single enemy who just happened to take her corrupt place as the official gas intermediary for Ukraine is a victory over corruption?

      Meanwhile the cost of corruption absolutely rocketed from what is was under Kuchma – for everything?

      This is a victory or doing something about corruption?

      As I have said, Yatseniuk would be the politician I would choose as President but he doesn’t have the support. Hyytsenko is the same.

      There are certainly reforms that I hope are reversed in October if the PoR lose their majority in parliament. I can think of half a dozen off the top of my head, however there are some reforms that should and need to stay as well.

      However if the opposition win the majority, Tymoshenko is freed, etc, I am not that confident that they will hold together and form a stable government. The enemy of my enemy is my friend might be enough.to win the majority in parliament but it is not enough to form a functional and stable government once they get there.

      I would really like to be proved wrong, but the personalities at the top need to change for there to be any progress in my opinion. The old school Kuchma era politicians need to go before things will radically change and they are not ready to leave their place at the public trough.


      • I did not say that Tymoshenko’s move was a victory over corruption.

        I agree with you – far from it.

        That’s why I stated that she did it for her own purposes.

        The thing is, the “gas lobby” is one of the biggest if not the biggest modes of corruption in Zookraine.

        And the removal of Firtash seems to have had far-reaching consequences, if not systemically, at least publicly through the huge outcry about the whole rotten mess.

        I agree with what you said, and I hope you are proved wrong also.

        Even more, I keep looking for signs as to whether Tymoshenko has finally come to any realization about what true democracy is (her version was – maybe still is – a “benign queen” with herself, of course, as the reigning monarch).

        Even more than that, I keep looking for what Vitaly Portnikov and others are looking for – an awakening on the part of the public, rather than just disgust and distrust and hiding underground and under the radar.

        Yatseniuk and the “united opposition” are indeed calling for exactly that.

        The populace may yet throw a huge curve ball into this whole thing.

        So that finally the “2 Ukrainians, 3 hetmans” (два українці три гетьмани) gets overturned or disproved.

        And a true system of democracy comes into place.


  2. ah, but you see, Zookraine does not have a government.

    It has a bunch of sovok mafia thugs running loose and wild and rampant all over the place, robbing and pillaging and killing and maiming – just ask Oksana Makar.

    Oops, you can’t – she’s dead. Along with a huge number of other people who happend to get in the way of mazhory. Along with thousands of innocent stray dogs who have been brutally poisoned and murdered in the streets of Zookraine, so Zookraine can “look pretty” for Euro 2012.

    The people have already taken steps as a result of their disgust and distrust of the “political elite” – there is a HUGE underground, “shadow” economy, just like during the sovok union.

    And one can only try to stay under the radar.

    If you try to build up a business, some ass hole mazhory thugs will come along and take it away.

    Whether you like Tymoshenko or not, and clearly you don’t, the fact is that she and Lutsenko and Ivashchenko and the rest have brought to international light what people in Zookraine already knew – there is no legal system in Zookraine, there is a stalinist show trial system.

    And through that prism, it is important that the stalinist show trial system be eliminated, which is something all of the oppositioners have promised to do.

    Even the Party of Regions have responded to pressure to eliminate a stalinist criminal code – but they still can’t bring themselves to implement a jury system, and Portnov is going around making all sorts of excuses about why their just can’t be a jury system in Zookraine.

    It’s a takeoff on the old book, “Portnoy’s Complaint” – except this one is called “Portnov’s Excuses”.

    I think the opposition are indeed trying to get their act together, and journalists like Sonya Koshina from lb.ua and others are keeping the heat on them.

    Because it’s very clear that the sovok mafia Regionnaires do not want democracy, and they will do everything they can to prevent it and to hang on to power in a sovok mafia state.

    That’s what’s pathetic.


    • I have no more dislike for Tymoshenko than I do for Yanukovych to be honest. Both are old school Soviet relics that will hold Ukraine back until they are political history.

      Maybe I should be more sympathetic towards her as my wife is friends with several BYuT deputies and was offered a seat in the RADA in 2008 by one of them (for a huge sum of course.)

      The thing is, I am motivated by policy and regardless of which political party comes up with a policy it is the policy and not the political party that interests me.

      If I was forced at gun-point to choose a leader for Ukraine amongst the current crop it would be Yatseniuk although I disagree with some of his previous statements about privitisation (or more to the point not doing it).

      He is though one of the few that doesn’t resort to mud-throwing personality politics and at least tries to do “policy” of sorts.

      As for putting a spotlight on rule of law and the judicial system, those with any interest in Ukraine from the outside will have noticed from the 2007 PACE letter to Yushenko not to interfere in the courts, which he subsequently ignored, onwards, the rule of law and judicial system is politically manipulated and interfered with regardless of who is in power and regardless how much cash the EU threw at the issue and regardless of how many exchange and mentoring programs it has sponsored.

      Those with real interest or live here like I do and have for a long time, have seen no changes whatsoever with regards to rule of law – ever – under any political leadership or any political persuasion and for the same reasons!

      It is the psyche of all the old recycled Soviet politicians to have absolute control over the agencies of State to promote their own interests. There is not a believer in democracy amongst them. That is a view shared by several diplomats from several EU nations I know quite well here whether we are talking about Tymosehnko or Yanukovych off the record. I have in fact quoted these people on that subject in this blog over the years, invoking only the Chatham House rule to save their actual identities. (As is expected of me being a Member of that organisation when such a declaration is made.)

      If there is a difference of any note between Yanukjovych and Tymoshenko, it is not one that effects the Ukrainian people but only those around those two individuals. Tymoshenko is much more likely to know what is going on than he is with her troops. Whether that is good or bad is a matter of opinion when neither have done anything effective about corruption, the effectiveness of State or agency.

      If there is any short-term hope for Ukraine politically, it may be that all the laws the PoR have forced through but not implemented that are worthwhile, (rather than the pointless and counterproductive ones) may actually get implemented by a changing of parliamentary majority in October.

      However, going by my experience under Kuchma, Yushenko/ Tymoshenko and now Yanukovych, I very much doubt that will happen and instead the wheel will be reinvented under a different political banner and again deferred for a better political climate for implementation because they are all spineless when it comes to doing what needs to be done, despite all knowing what must be done to make a beneficial difference to the average Ukrainian.

      The RADA is simply a CSJC where majority and minority shareholders change places at the trough. The people gained nothing under any of them thus far since independence.

      Maybe in 10 or 15 years when Yanukovych and Tyoshenko are consigned to the Ukrainian political history bin there may be a positive change. For now the choice remains between removing your eyes with a stick or a spoon.



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