Archive for January 19th, 2014

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Stefan Fule asks “Quo Vadis Mr President”? As if the answer isn’t clear

January 19, 2014

Yesterday Stefan Fule, in what seems to be a question with an all to obvious answer in the zero sum political world of Ukrainian politics tweeted:

Has he learned nothing about a man he has spent so much time talking to personally?  What answer is he expecting?

I will answer his question in Latin for the sake of diplomatic reciprocity – “Nusquam”.

President Yanukovych plans to go nowhere – quite literally, for the foreseeable future.  There is no “quo vadis” question – he has arrived, and with all the legislative tools for a genuine, personal, dictatorship.

Whilst some may view the hole which President Yanukovych is digging himself with a certain glee – history tells us that the hole becomes a bunker for a yet to be determined period of time, before it reverts back to being a hole.  That as yet undetermined period of time usually has quite dire consequences for the nation, and Ukraine appears to be entering that period.

Thus, with little room for maneuver externally of and internally within Ukraine, the decision has been made to seemingly retain power at all costs – and if that means the EU huffing and puffing with indignation, so be it.

The legal platform to move from autocratic interpretation of existing laws to a dictatorial leadership has been established – unless rebutted by Ukrainian society itself as I stated at the end of yesterday’s entry

The question is now whether society will accept the new laws and adhere to them, de facto legitimising them pending any de jure constitutional rulings, or whether society en masse will ignore the new laws thus depriving them of legitimacy and citing the Articles of the Constitution of Ukraine as grounds for defiance.

We are yet to discover the answer to that in the immediate term – or any immediate term responses to any attempted rebuttal.

RADA MPs have voted themselves into a position of weakness too – a position in which they will now all be quite scared as reality dawns relating to the implications of what they have done.

The future of Ukraine in the immediate term is now far beyond the reach or significant influence of the EU, perhaps even if it now makes significant gestures – which it won’t and cannot be seen to do.

It is also almost beyond the Ukrainian MPs and oligarchy too – short of a political coup backed by both oligarchy and society.  That seems unlikely now – and later it would probably be too late.

The EU Foreign Ministers meeting on Monday and any decisions to stop “business as usual” with Kyiv will make little difference to the President.  It is too late.  Having created a false “now or never” moment with the Vilnius Summit – the answer is clearly not now – and not soon either  (though never say never, as the saying goes).

What matters to President Yanukovych is the retention of power and the EU is not necessary for that whilst ever it maintains a policy of forever treading lightly.  Thus its bluster will be for the most part ignored in the absence of robust and meaningful action on a scale that prevents such.

Those with any shreds of conscience or principle remaining at the very top of the current administration have resigned or will resign shortly.  Others have been sacked.  Personnel changes aplenty over the next week or so will occur.  Those left will doggedly support the president, too greedy, and more to the point, now too scared of losing what they already have and being jailed, to do anything else.

The EU reaching consensus on sanctions will not happen any time soon – if at all (I can think of 3 Member States that will be extremely reluctant short of a significant bloodbath occurring) – and if reached, will not be painful for those that matter until after a rigged 2015 election has occurred – a mere 14 months from now.

Certainly no amount of “expressed concern” or “condemnation” or “reminders of international obligations” is going to change what has happened, or more importantly how President Yanukovych views his future.  It is now solely with Ukrainian society in the immediate term to determine their acceptance and adherence of the new laws en masse – or not.

Mass civil disobedience, should it occur, requires leadership and organisation.  Whilst there is no shortage or organisational ability, there is a notable lack of a clear leader.

Short of what would be a volatile early removal of the current president, acceptance and adherence to the new laws – or not – in turn will have an effect on the ease with which the 2015 elections will be fixed – but fixed they will be.

The cacophony of resulting international indignation will fall on deaf ears with President Yanukovych having engineered his second term.  He will retain power which is seemingly his only goal, now possessing the legal instruments to severely stifle democratic descent from whichever pillar it comes from, prior to, and after, the 2015 elections.

With there being almost zero chance of either the opposition politicians or the entire Ukrainian constituency having any faith in a free and fair election, complicated by the fact there is still no single opposition candidate that has much traction with the Ukrainian constituency either as a whole, or amongst those prepared to demonstrate over the past months, what other answer other than ” nusquam” can there be to Mr Fule’s “quo vadis” question?

The ability to install a dictatorship has been legislated for and signed into law with little realistic chance it will be overturned.  The entire point of a dictatorship is that it answers with “nusquam” the “quo vadis” question.

Perhaps asking different questions will arrive at answers that can change events back towards a democratic future – but they will need to be a lot cleverer than “quo vadis?” in the zero sum politics of Ukraine.

For those of us living in Ukraine, the most pressing of questions is when such laws will be implemented leaving democracy on life support?  Our Latin question is now “Quando hæc erunt Mr President?”

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