Welcome to the jungle – Donetsk, Kernes and rule of lawApril 30, 2014
Yesterday evening saw a Ukrainian unity march in Donetsk violently ambushed by the anti-whatever supporters.
By employing the term “anti-whatever” I am trying to be as inclusive as possible and not derogatory.
“Anti-whatever” therefore covers separatists, federalists, anti-Government, anti-fascists, ultra Orthodox, anarchists, paid thugs, pro-Russia disenfranchised locals, criminals, Russians and whomever else. Unfortunately the commonly used media labels really don’t do justice to the various drivers that unite these people.
But the at its core, this entry is not about them. They are all symptoms for the purposes of this entry.
Neither is this entry specifically about the clash between supporters of two different visions of the future.
This entry is about the of rule of law.
This incident occurred during the supposed protection of the rule of law, enforced by a supposedly neutral police force.
Yet this photograph taken by my twitter friend and fellow blogger @VoiceofDonetsk who was there and was beaten, clearly shows those who attacked the peaceful Ukrainian unity march carrying police issue shields – which were dutifully returned to the police after the incident according to many national and international witnesses to the incident.
The rule of law therefore not only going unenforced, but its local enforcers also seemingly actively taking a political side in this instance – to the point of lending police equipment and collecting it thereafter.
The rule of law – or indeed the lack of it – lays at the very heart of all of Ukraine’s domestic ills – both past and present.
There is a political class with immunity that all to often abused, and continues to abuse it, thus acting with impunity. A politically controlled judicial class that acts just the same way. Court results are bought and sold, police investigations stopped and started for political reasons or bribes paid to halt them where there is no political interest. The police are woefully underpaid to the point where soliciting bribes are seen as necessary to have an even rudimentary life style. Organised criminality, nefarious opportunism, politics and law enforcement cavort in the same bed whenever and where ever possible. Cross the wrong well connected person and a police officer’s career ends immediately.
23 years of independence has done nothing to address this problem – it has been willfully neglected by a feckless political class, all wanting absolute control over the institutions of State when in power..
Now when the nation teeters on the abyss of dismemberment and disintegration, that same feckless political class reaps what it has sown – or perhaps what it failed to sow – and to make mattes worse, the sheer scale of infiltration into the institutions of State by foreign actors over many years aggravates matters even further.
So what are the interim Ukrainian authorities to do in eastern Ukraine?
As the above image displays, day by day eastern Ukraine is falling government building by government building, town by town, city by city to no more than a handful of people relative to the local populations. Attempts by the local institutions of State range from occasionally successfully repelling irregular forces to actively or passively colluding with them.
Would sacking all the local and generally ineffective police help in Donetsk for example? They would probably be on twice the pay and working for the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” (or whichever town/city) within 24 hours courtesy of The Kremlin – thus providing such illegitimate structures with trained institutions. Perhaps sacking them – now at least – is not such a good idea.
Would sending in police from regions more loyal to the current interim government (and a united Ukraine) be a better idea? Obviously not – as I am certain it will have been considered and dismissed but the current leadership. A fear perhaps of a very adverse effect from sections of the local communities. Naturally Kremlin propaganda would suggest police from Lviv or Kyiv arriving in Donetsk would be akin to the arrival of the Gestapo sent by the fascists in Kyiv. It may make matters worse rather than better – and things can always get worse.
Perhaps citizen patrols accompanying the police would encourage them to act impartially and promptly – but then which citizens patrol with the police? Those that get beaten or those that do the beating? How would it insure the police act – let alone impartially – anyway?
Do the regional local politicians want their towns and cities to stand against The Kremlin wishes come what may? Kharkiv stood 2 days ago with a huge Ukrainian unity rally, and yesterday the city mayor, Gennady Kernes was shot and seriously injured. Who wants to be next to allow their town or city to rebuff Kremlin advances if that is the fate they will face?
This is writing on the presumption Mr Kernes was shot for political reasons – and not over nefarious business dealings with Pavel Fuchs and Alex Shishkin. More inquiring minds may look beyond the obvious and toward the ЗАО Завод Здоровье company in Kharkiv and a few pharmaceutical deals in Germany and Switzerland involving Messrs Kernes and Fuchs for alternative motive – it remains to be seen which is the case. Their relationship apparently took a turn for the worse over the past 6 weeks. Enough said. Perhaps we will never know if his attempted assassination was due to politics or business – perhaps it is both.
UN peacekeepers are not going to happen – The Kremlin would veto such a move at the UNSC, for it prefers instability rather than stability in Ukraine for the foreseeable future. The clear Kremlin goal is to prevent or prove illegitimate any elections on 25th May – and thereafter an unstable Ukraine is preferred to a European leaning and democratic Ukraine which any election would bring.
A European police mission similar to that in Kosovo? The chance of it being sanctioned if the fate of OSCE mission is any guide?
The question of how to effectively (re)install law and order to eastern Ukraine is quite a conundrum with no apparent answer other than to restore order by force – which will have its own consequences that sit just over the Ukrainian-Russian border waiting for an excuse to cross into Ukrainian territory.
What is quite certain, the further Kremlin antics are allowed to spread, the more it will fill the space left to it – and in its wake – welcome to the jungle!