Archive for March 14th, 2013

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“Rise Ukraine!” – Or probably not

March 14, 2013

Over the past week I have written about Arseny Yatseniuk and the issue of being convincing – not once, but twice.

This is yet another occasion.

It isn’t as though I get any pleasure from it – I am a bit of a Yatseniuk fan.  He is educated and experienced at the highest levels of Ukrainian government.  Of all the Ukrainian opposition leaders, whilst I don’t agree with all his historically held policy positions – and what those policy positions are now I have no idea, given that his have never been the same as those of Tymoshenko, and yet he now leads her party in her absence – he is certainly the most intellectual and, if not always erudite, then at least capable of a lengthy, clear and thoughtful conversation over a sustained period of time.

But –

He does not however, enthuse as a personality.  He does not make you want to get out of your chair, clench your fist and punch the air shouting “Rise Ukraine!”  He is more likely to make you want to put the kettle on, make a cup of tea, and discuss with your wife what he said, over a biscuit.

Quite simply, a rabble rouser, he is not.  The charisma of a cardboard cutout, unfortunately he does have – not just on TV, but at rallies too – I know, I have seen him several times in Odessa.

Anyway, in my last blog relating the the opposition parties beginning “a popular uprising against the regime“, I wrote this regarding their then slogan to raise the masses in defiance:

“……..will aim to unite the opposition supporters behind, and entice the media with, the slogan “‘Nobody will ever overcome us. We are strong and we are heading for victory.”

Catchy, inspiring, memorable and convincing eh? – Yes, quite – it’s awful! Even the slogan isn’t convincing as a slogan – despite what it says is probably quite true…..eventually…….”

Well it seems I am not the only person to have though this slogan was awful.

The slogan has now changed.  The slogan is now “Rise Ukraine” – which is certainly shorter and easier to remember – unlike the “Rise Ukraine” campaign that begins today (14th March) and run until 18th May.

Hmmm – 2 months to raise the nation?  Is that a wise strategy? – It seems a very long time.

It didn’t take 2 months for more than 10,000 people to gather and protest the Tax Code without any help from politicians to organise it – proof if any was ever needed that if the nation wants to rise over an issue, it certainly doesn’t need the help of any political party to do so.

The same can be said for the recent shale gas protests and also surrounding the abhorrent case of Oksana Makar as other examples – although there are quite a few more.

Ukrainian society, it seems, is more than capable of rising when they feel strongly about a cause – and without the need for politicians of any stripe to organise it.  In fact in many cases politicians are not welcome to join the ranks and hijack an issue for point scoring they would otherwise have ignored or done very little about.  There are quite a lot of A-political protests big and small all things considered, in which no political party is particularly welcome.

Anyway – “Rise Ukraine” – For what is Ukraine to rise exactly?  To overthrow the government and oust the president.

To do that, the vast majority of the populous would need to have far more confidence that what replaces the current government and president, would be significantly better than what exists now.

Not just different – but significantly better – and therein is the problem for the opposition in their attempts to motivate not just their supporters, but the vast majority of the country.

They are not seen as significantly better than what is currently in power – We have to be quite honest about it, and it is why, ultimately, “Rise Ukraine” is just as likely to flop – particularly over a 2 month time frame – as other opposition calls to overthrow the current authorities issued at various times since 2010.

Let’s be honest, military coups may take 2 months to organise – but the spontaneous uprising of a population often happens in a matter of days, normally sparked by a specific incident  – and there is simply nothing spontaneous about this “Rise Ukraine” campaign.

This brings us to the next issue of the “Rise Ukraine” strategy.  As I wrote last week:

But that popular uprising will only happen in certain parts of the country according to Mr Yatseniuk – one suspects the parts where Svoboda and UDAR are strongest or close enough to those areas where their supporters can be bussed in to make a large enough crowd to be worthy of any TV coverage – naturally.

Completely predictably, the “Rise Ukraine” tour begins in Vinnitsia today and then on to Uzhgorod on Friday.  The “Rise Ukraine” finale being in Kyiv on 18th May.

Where it goes in between, I don’t yet know.

Hopefully we will get to know if they do go to places like Luhansk, Karkhiv, Crimea and Donetsk – for it is these places they will have to have “rise” with the rest of Ukraine if they are to oust the president or become the next government.

These places did indeed rise over the Tax Code lest we forget – so rise they can and have done – but reaching these people will not be done from Uzhgorod or any other “friendly territory” – it will mean going there for longer than an hour or two and convincing people.

The last quote I will mention from the last related blog entry related to the “rent-a-crowd” issue – and brings me again to question the 2 month “Rise Ukraine” campaign.

“One has to suspect that Batkivshchkyna Party supporters now form the minority of any physical turnout at any multi-party opposition political rally, and that both Svoboda and UDAR separately, let alone combined, can now turn out far more support and for much longer periods, than Batkivshchkyna can pay students and OAPs to turn up and wave the party flag for the TV – (as is the Batkivshchkyna and Party Regions traditional style of rent-a-crowd).”

Quite obviously, regular rallies where certain parties have traditionally rented their crowd – and thus will be expected to do so again by those who will turn out for them – is going to become expensive over 2 months.

And yes, the rent-a-crowd are already waiting to find out how much for how long it appears.  No doubt the city and town local forums will soon be alive with $ figures for turning up and waving a flag for the TV as well.

This is all so very – predicable –  Obviously, as I have predicted it and it is playing out as predicted – and just as all the other opposition rallying cries to the public have played out thus far.

With new parties and new leaders, perhaps the opposition parties could try new strategies instead of resorting to the same tried and failed tactics of the recent past?

The problem with that is, for some parties with longer histories, a radical change to show they are “significantly better” than they were,  instead of “slightly different” to their opponents, would mean some very hard choices indeed.  Something hardly likely to happen any time soon.

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