The necessary end to personality politics – Ukraine

February 23, 2014

I am going to allow myself to fast-forward past the next few days and weeks of flux and uncertainty in Ukraine – past lazy western media clichés, past self-praise by external actors over the outcomes of which they have been little more than bit-part players, oft far too late in their actions.

I will look past Constitutional issues, past whether the opposition parties will retain a unity – or even friendly terms – once their common cause has left the political scene.

Instead there is a need to look toward the necessary end to personality politics in Ukraine.

Many times I have written about the need to consign both President Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko to the political rubbish bin/history books of Ukraine.

Quite simply no politician can be allowed to become more powerful than the party they are part of.  A political party must control the ego and ambition of its leaders – particularly so when they are in power.

It was the downfall of Ms Tymoshenko and ultimately the downfall of this President, that neither of their respective parties managed to control either of them.

Needless to say, that whilst I have no issues with the release of Ms Tymoshenko (probably some time today) – guilty or not, her trial was flawed and her 7 year sentence unquestionably disproportionate – her return to political life, considering she has the biggest ego in Ukraine, is not to be relished.  Her time has passed whether she knows it or not.

A distinct and uncompromising move toward party policy, ideology, collective responsibility and accountability is required across the entire political spectrum – less of a journey perhaps for Svoboda and the Communists who are the only political parties with an identifiable ideology, though neither will have a majority constituency amongst the Ukrainian electorate in the near future.  Lesser coalition partners remains their foreseeable future.

Perhaps Ms Tymoshenko will be persuaded to forget running the country either as President or Prime Minister by the current opposition leaders.  Perhaps wise heads within the European Peoples Party will convince her.  I doubt either can quell her ego though.

It maybe that it will be left for the voting Ukrainian public to return such verdict in a far more embarrassing manner than is really necessary – perhaps that is the most appropriate and democratic way – though it is surely not the most gracious.

A Ukraine that looks forward needs leaders – plural – who can work honestly and transparently  together despite differences as a political class, and across party lines.  That requirement simply removes Ms Tymoshenko from any workable political leadership equation, unless she undergoes a personality transplant as well as treatment for her medical condition when she eventually reaches Germany.

However consider that from amongst all those reasonable candidates for RADA Speaker today – following the resignation of Rybak from the position – Turchinov, closest of allies to Ms Tymoshenko, has been chosen as his successor.  You are left to wonder whether the opposition – particularly Batkivshchyna – are aware of what really needs to happen across the broad political landscape of Ukraine.


  1. well, you got your wish

    Yulia took herself out of the running for PM

    good first step

    she is not stupid – in fact, she is extremely and incredibly quick and intelligent, and very savvy

    I have no doubt that she was very aware of the reception she was getting as she speechified on Maidan – yep, I saw it live, complete with the interruption for the medical emergency of someone in the crowd

    True, Turchinov, an ally, is acting speaker and interim president

    But the way the question was put in the Rada was not addressed to Turchinov personally, but in general terms following the constitution in the absence of a president, wherein they “place” the obligation of the president on the parliament speaker until such time as there is a president

    I am also sure that the public’s eyes have been opened wide by the garish opulence of Yanusvoloch’s palaces, including the crucified birds and the caged bear at one of his other palaces in western Ukraine

    yanusvoloch is one hideous, odious, sick, sick, sick monster

    and now various chameleons from the Bolshevik Regionnaires are issuing assorted pronouncements, having supported the stupid sick monster, that they are “shocked and appalled” that Yanusvoloch issued criminal orders to kill civilians, eg, Yefremov’s statement

    Kernes, another hideous jerk, has returned to Kharkiv

    In Kharkiv, some are “defending” the statue of lenin

    “how shall we live now that the statute of lenin is gone?” asked one woman on the previous video you posted


  2. Out of the frying pan….. if it happens.

  3. For what it’s worth, our media just discovered the term “Maidan” and are using it like they’ve been familiar with it all along. The media is also touting Ms. Tymoshenko as the potential key figure to restoring order, as well as commenting on how a divided Ukraine (East and West geographic) may be in the works. I won’t bore you any longer with our what we’re being told, but from where I sit, it’s interesting to hear from our media and compare that to your blog and other inside Ukraine sources.

    • Not surprised. Easier to stick to lazy clichés and stereotypes than actually do a decent job.

  4. I’m a USA citizen whose knowledge of Ukraine is limited to what I read on this blog (I’ve popped in and out for years), the ex-pat forum, orphanage web sites (they can be a treasure trove of information) and their attached links, and a few random Ukrainian blogs, though I sometimes am left wondering what was left out in the translation. I don’t tend to listen to our news media’s slant of what they think we want to hear.

    I only mention all of that to make it clear my question is legitimate and born of my ignorance of Ukraine and my genuine interest.

    I can’t imagine Ms. Tymoshenko would enter the presidential race without a strong presumption she can win. Turchinov’s rise to RADA Speaker would certainly seem to confirm that the time is right for a bid for power, not to mention her release from prison due to public demand. As you said, the final decision belongs to the voters, not outside entities or internal political and/or financial structures.

    So, is it possible the people of Maiden (a term we have yet to hear in the USA) have been played like pawns in some sort of power bid, a coup if you will, that may not have the goals of the Maiden at heart, and the end result will be business as usual for Ukraine government?

    And, please, that question is not a show of support on any level for Yanukovych. I’m concerned the people think they are changing things for the better, and may not see in their vigor that they’ve opened the door to maintaining a status quo.

    • Only time will tell – but my opinion for what it is worth, is written in the entry. Let us see how the polls look a few weeks from now. Hopefully either Klitschko or Yatseniuk or both will be ahead of her.

  5. Turchinov, closest of allies to Ms Tymoshenko, has been chosen as his successor,

    so what are Yulia’s chances now in the Pres election?

    • As opinion polls put her behind Klitshcko – hopefully less than his.

      It is clear that Klitshcko is “the chosen man” by Europe, Yatseniuk is preferred by the US – all agree on Tigipko as the best bet for PoR and a workable RADA.

      Nobody has Ms Tymoshenko as their preferred leader outside of Ukraine – but it is the Ukrainian constituency that makes the decision on voting day.

      • I’ll take a bet on Yulia on voting day.

      • It will be a retro step for Ukraine but you might well be right.

  6. what needed to happen in Ukraine is to get rid of a sovok mafia dictatorship regime, to get rid of oligarchy, and kleptocracy.

    and to implement a constitutional democracy, where officials are elected, and where the powers of people in office are subject to constitutional limitations and checks and balances and accountability (elections being just one of the methods of accountability).

    you are right – personality politics has no place in a constitutional democracy. whether it’s worshipping hitler or lenin or stalin – or anyone else.

    I believe the people of Maidan know that.

    all over Ukraine, the statues of lenin are being torn down, and the mandatory worship of lenin (and hitler) is one of the best examples of personality politics that anyone could point to.

    I fervently hope and pray that in restoring and building a constitutional democracy, the various players don’t rip it apart via personality politics.

    It looks like yanusvoloch is gone, and Maidan are demanding early elections in June, not December. To me, that’s a good sign.

    Once the proper system is in place, once the fundamentals are in place, the politicians can go at each others’ throats all they want on a level playing field, with fundamental rules already in place.

    But until the fundamentals are in place, I think they should be verboten from doing anything other than getting the fundamentals in place.

    I agree with you – I don’t think the people of Maidan died just to see personality politics again.

    • On the presumption Ms Tymoshenko sees the light and ends her own political career (unlikely), is persuaded to end it (also unlikely) or has it ended for her by the voting public – hopefully but not guaranteed, this issue of undue influence of the oligarchy is a difficult problem to address. Transparency and limits on political party finances may be part of the answer, but whether it is an oligarch in Ukraine or JP Morgan, ICI, Microsoft, Haliburton etc in the West – there is a global problem with just how much influence and access big business has on domestic and international policy vis a vis how much any electorate would deem proportionate. Business needs to be heard by government of that there is no doubt – Opaque lobbying, opaque party funding, revolving door directorships/political positions, insider information for political favour etc would be the “acceptable” alternative to the current oligarchical methods of influence? It is impossible to remove the oligarchical influence just as it is that of Haliburton or JPM – but there are ways to contain and curtail it.

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