Archive for January 7th, 2014

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Entering the trust void of 2014 – Ukraine

January 7, 2014

Following on from yesterday’s entry relating to sanctions – and many thanks to the politicians, academics and journalists that classed it as a “Must Read” in the twittersphere – a comment from “Ukrainian Eyes“, whose blog you will find on the blogroll to the right.

“Very much to the point. The main question is why sanctions, not as a tactical or diplomatic question. But what are the legal and moral grounds for sanctions. This shouldn’t be done the Ukrainian Way as I point to in my blog on the punishment (or ritribution) trap. Pushing for sanctions needs to be based on a thorough and trustworthy investigation by an independent institute. Sanctions are justified when international or humanitarian law is seriously violated, and that should be proven without reasonable doubt. When it comes to punishing because of violating criminal law, eg. money laundering, it is the same. But than it shouldn’t probably be called sanctions. It also raises the question of who deserves to be punished? Which leading Ukrainian politician has clean hands? So this whole sanction business could easily backfire at Euromaidan. But what is more, it begs the main question, how to build a credible, trustworthy political party, that can win the next elections?”

Where to start with the last question, and where does it fit with the announcement yesterday by Arseniy Yatseniuk that all 3 opposition leaders are to run for the presidency rather than a single candidate?

Mr Yatseniuk framed the running of all three opposition leaders through the lens of a previous agreement made when cooperation was initially agreed, as well as the need to have 3 targets for the current leadership to have to knock down rather than one.

With Mr Klitshcko’s possible constitutional difficulties regarding “residency” over the past ten years – regardless of recent legislation – perhaps Mr Yatseniuk has a point.

Unfortunately the point he didn’t make was that with all 3 opposition leaders running, their supporters actually get the democratic choice to vote for their preferred leader – at least in the first round – prior to being left with a choice of the least worst option in the second round.

But then why mention voter choice as the driver when this is not a battle for democracy but a battle for power in the minds of so many Ukrainian politicians – and it is for this reason they consistently fail to gather traction with євромайдан and євромайдан fails to identify with any particular politician.  Ukrainian society has become tired of the zero-sum and feckless actions of the political class in its entirety.  It has outgrown the controlled parameters the political class want to retain for their own ends.

He also failed to mention the recent openly “secret” collapse of trust that scuttled any chance of a single candidate, when he and Mr Klitschko failed to agree on what should happen during 2015 – 2020 if either took the seat of power.

Thus we return to the final question asked by Ukrainian Eyes – “…. it begs the main question, how to build a credible, trustworthy political party, that can win the next elections?

The knee-jerk answer is to turn євромайдан into a political party – but that is a policy that spectacularly failed in Serbia with the transition of a successful Optor civic movement into an unsuccessful political party.  The same can be argued with regard to Poland’s Solidarity.

Thus, perhaps not the way to go.

Where Optor and Solidarity were extremely successful – and євромайдан has the same potential – is the forced  opening of a democratic space – and robustly keeping it open.  The expediting of a glacial political class in its reluctant release of critical institutions to independent function required for democracy.

Perhaps when attempting to judge the success or failure of  євромайдан when looking back in a few years time – this forced opening and retention of a democratic space will be the key achievement.  I do so hope!

The question is then, what will fill this democratic void created by євромайдан and lead Ukraine to enlightenment?

If we are quite blunt and unflattering, currently the Ukrainian voting constituency is faced with a choice between the current president – a man who has been convicted and jailed twice, who in a normal functioning state with rule of law, would be there again – or about to be returned there once more.

The alternatives are an egomaniac currently in prison, who just like the current president, in a normal functioning state with rule of law, would probably have been jailed years ago and possibly still be there now.

There is a sportsman who has made a very good living out of hitting people (though I have nothing against his sport) and who is tax resident in Germany.  Thus since becoming wealthy, has paid no tax towards Ukrainian infrastructure and over whom there must be some doubt regarding his constitutional ability to run – even though I think he the most genuine of all 3 opposition leaders.

There is a far right nationalist – who appeals only to a very small number of nationalists in a very small part of the country.

And then there is a stand-in party leader for the jailed egomaniac who was a very visible part of the leadership that completely wasted the outcome of the “Orange Revolution” and has a knee-jerk populist complex second only to that of the jailed egomaniac.

There are others who may run, but to be frank will never garner the support and are therefore not worth mentioning in an serious contest.

Add to that, Yuri Lutsenko, a leader of civil society and wannabe  євромайдан front man, who is most memorable, whilst Ms Tymoshenko’s Interior Minister, for a drunken brawl with German airport staff during which he called them “Nazis”.

Terribly bleak no matter how you want to put a veneer on the above few lines in an effort to put a gloss on any or all of them.

Once Sochi is over, we can throw in an assertive Mr Putin either economically or via Viktor Medvedchuk to further muddy the political waters for the opposition leaders.

It is no surprise the need for another political party option is being muted.

Unfortunately I don’t see any new political parties being formed soon (unless there is a catastrophe within Party of Regions and an irreparable split occurs) and so, dismal as my answer may be for Ukrainian Eyes, I expect there to be nothing but the continuing political void in 2014 (and beyond) when it comes to public trust in Ukrainian politics or the removal of zero sum mentality from the politicians themselves.

To end on a more upbeat note though – as it is the Orthodox Christmas – there will be nothing to read from me tomorrow!

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