Unexceptionally exceptional – Zlata Ohnevych quit the RadaNovember 10, 2015
Just over a year ago when all the same, tired, corrupt, cronyist, self-interested political leaders and associated apparatchiks, oligarchs and grey cardinals were trying to re-brand their political parties with the mass recruitment drive amongst leading journalists, civil society members and cultural icons in a faux attempt to present a facade of radical changes within the political class and their motivations before a clearly angry and volatile Ukrainian constituency, amongst that number recruited was Zlata Ohnevych.
To be blunt, unless a reader is one of those “Eurovision” devotees, the name Zlata Ohnevych means nothing. (In 2013 she came 3rd in the competition.) Even within Ukrainian politics, she is hardly a name that stands out for political accomplishments.
Ms Ohnevych entered the Verkhovna Rada on Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party list – not that entering upon such a list should infer Ms Ohnevych holds the manic (and moronic) views of the party leader. Like many such reform-minded individuals recruited, it was a matter of entering the Verkhovna Rada and then voting across – or perhaps in spite of – party lines with other reformers sprinkled across all parties.
Most reformers entered upon whatever party list wanted them as there was no time to create a party of reformers. A case of supping with the devil with a long handled spoon for a perceived chance to do a greater good.
Upon entering the Verkhovna Rada, Ms Ohnevych stated – “I understand that people perceive parliamentarians as jowly, paunchy, old, sick and stupid people. I want the young, smart and beautiful in this Parliament.” Her views were, and remain, those of a very large proportion of the Ukrainian constituency – particularly those under 40 years of age and who thus represent the future of Ukraine.
On 10th November 2015, after just over a year as an MP in the Verkhovna Rada, where it has to be said she has not been exceptional in her influence, Ms Ohnevych did the exceptional – she stood before her peers and voluntarily resigned from the parliament.
He reasons for resigning were clearly stated, quite honest and indeed accurate regarding the Verkhovna Rada of 2015 and its failure to meet the expectations of 2014. “I ran for the parliament not to seek deputy powers or some privileges, I came here as a citizen, who saw a new way for Ukraine. But now I see that when there is no culture, and it is easier to govern and manipulate the people. That’s why under such circumstances I, as a cultural activist, see no benefit in this parliament, I just see the constant sharing of political power.
I regret that the present parliament doesn’t need culture as it won’t grant the big money to which the parliamentarians used to. I agree, culture – is not money, it is much more. This spiritual wealth is something without which there can be no nation, or the country itself .”
All of which is entirely accurate. Parliament has thus far spectacularly failed to reform the political processes and machinery that supports and sabotages democracy and the Verkhovna Rada as an institution. The machinery and processes continue to support the few big political players, grey cardinals and oligarchs. The political machinery and processes require reform far more than simply changing the names that sit within the body. Until those process and machinery are reformed, there is little likelihood of major, sustainable and consolidated reform elsewhere.
Thus it seems clear that Ms Ohnevych has resigned upon principle seeing no opportunities to change the odious and cancerous political culture that still remains unchanged within the Verkhovna Rada. An admirable stance, however it is a stance that actually removes an MP from within the Verkhovna Rada that possessed principles, morality and hoped for a changed institutional ethic.
Equally, the reformers are now minus one in there number, the old feckless, self-serving crowd are therefore plus one by default.
Except it may actually be minus two for the reformers and plus two for the feckless, cronyist, self-serving corrupted establishment, for replacing Ms Ohnevych from The Radical Party list could very well be Tatyana Yuzkov.
Sadly few would come as more representative of the feckless, self-serving and dyed-in-the-wool “corrupt establishment” than Ms Yuzkov. She is the daughter of Leonid Yuzkov, the First President of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. The Yuzkov’s are very chummy with the entirely odious and much despised Viktor Medvedchuk, who is a close friend of President Putin, was responsible together with Sergei Kivalov for the rigged 2004/5 elections that brought about the “Orange Revolution”, and who to this day is hardly an individual identified with having the best interests of Ukraine at heart by an overwhelming number of the Ukrainian constituency.
The Yuzkov’s have also defended (or attempted to), Oleh Lyashko in court proceedings over the years past. They may perhaps be defending him once more in the years to come too.
Tatyana Yuzkov currently, as well as being a lawyer, also sits on a temporary ad hoc committee that verifies judges, and is a Member of The Shevchenko Kyiv Bar Association.
Although she may represent many things if she becomes a Verkhovna Rada MP, representing reform is highly unlikely to be one of them.
For those wondering why “could” and “maybe” are being used with regard to Ms Yuzkov’s replacing Ms Ohnevych, there is an issue to be overcome.
Although clearly Oleh Lyashko would want her in the Verkhovna Rada immediately, it appears that after the parliamentary voting in 2014 left her one place away from becoming an MP, she then left the Radical Party.
Thus per the party list of October 2014 when the Verkhovna Rada elections were held she would indeed be the automatic replacement for Ms Ohnevych, but having left the political party, there must be some legal doubt as to whether that entitlement then passes to the person below her that remains a member of The Radical Party.
No doubt Oleh Lyashko (and the associated swivel-eyed) will be exerting immense pressure (and no doubt threats in his usual bellicose style) upon the CEC to accept Ms Yuzkov as the rightful successor to Ms Ohnevych.
How this will be resolved, time will tell.
However, returning to Ms Ohnevych, one is perhaps left to wonder that if she felt frustrated at the inability to reform the grotesque politics within the Verkhovna Rada whilst a member of the institution, does she expect more success from without?
Tis surely more fruitful to try and change things from within than from without.
If not, is she giving up and sending a message that the Verkhovna Rada is simply unable to reform? What message does that project to the Ukrainian constituency and the external supporters of Ukraine?
Would she return on the list of a new party specifically orientated toward, and concentrated upon, reforming the political machinery and processes within the Verkovna Rada as its priority? Should any political party actually manage such an incredibly difficult task, it has to be said that the other much needed reforms would suddenly become far easier to achieve and far more sustainable in their outcomes.
Whatever the case, whilst taking note of her admirably principled stance, one can’t help but see her resignation as a victory for the cancerous old guard that continues to fester within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.
Whilst Ms Ohnevych may have been unexceptional in her influence within the Verkhovna Rada, yet exceptional in her departure from it, the probable arrival of Ms Yuzkov seems likely to be entirely unexceptional when it comes to progressing the vested interests, cronyism and feckless self-serving that continues unabashed in Kyiv.