Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Olmelchenko, a Rada deputy, was interviewed on the radio this morning. He said that they have sent information to the prosecutor to charge Kuchma with, among other things, the murder of Gangadze. He said that if the prosecutor does not prosecute, they will dismiss him.

This may be fine if they have the evidence, may be. But it is not all that clear in my mind that the Yuschenko government gains anything by this prosecution. As a matter of fact, it might spend time and political capital that should be hoarded for bigger problems than trying to get Kuchma. It is agreed that he has done some not so good things here. But if in the end, the Yuschenko government can only look back on a prosecution of Kuchma as its number one contribution, it will have been a waste.

Corruption is the number one problem and it is not centered in Kuchma. It must be dealt with at all levels and if that means letting Kuchma go then that is a small price to pay even in the face of his crimes. I know this doesn't sit well with people and justice would not be served with this result, but there are much bigger problems than simply Kuchma (or Yanukovych or Medvedchuck, et al.) To solve these would prevent those kinds of crimes from happening, at least on the scale that they have here. And that would be a major improvement.

It is not necessarily a demonstration of the rule of law to prosecute him either. It looks like the kind of retribution that any incoming regime in a non-rule of law country would exact from the outgoing party. Happened in Indonesia and Japan and it isn't a convincing proof of functioning rule of law systems when it happens. I think it means the opposite. And thinking about it some more, I think it makes no difference if they now have the evidence. I looks like the winners removing the opposition from the scene. That is the status quo.


Doug G said...

It would be far better for the new regime to be strictly hands off on Kuchma. Let Yushchenko's succesors deal with it when the politics is no longer so raw. Look at South America to see how criminality by old regimes can come home to roost decades later when the democracy is firmly entrenched.

Robert Mayer said...

Specifically, Pinochet. Having lived in Chile, I can attest to the great deal of good he did for the country in terms of liberalizing the economy, and eventually, social and political freedoms. Most of the people who want to prosecute him are in the small group of people whose family was involved; who, consequently, are receiving an additional 500 million dollars worth of pensions. The vast majority of Chileans actually admire and respect Pinochet.

But, as you say Doug, no matter the good, the ends do not specifically justify the means. In Pinochet's case, it seems that way.

Doug G said...

As I never lived in Chile, it won't surprise you that the only Chileans I met while he was in power had very different opinions of him. The increase in wealth for the already well off is indisputable, and to a much lesser extent the rest of the country. But executing non-violent political opponents is not an acceptable fiscal policy.

Arguably, simply reducing the foreign investment in chaos from both the West and the Soviet Block would have had have worked even better. However, its history, and if you are correct about the current view of it in Chile, then the wounds are healing, despite the ungrateful response of the surviving family of the 'small group of people' who you as you say, continue to be fully compensated. Hopefully we have all learned from it and Russia, Cuba, the USA and Spain will never interfere in another country's democratic election again.

The real points I was trying to make, are that time will heal a lot of the exposed wounds ... and that there is time enough for a reckoning later, when today's powerbrokers no longer even dream of reimposing their will on the Ukrainian people. Or having a foreign backed counter revolution.

Anonymous said...

I have seen a no. of Internet sites polling about the need for lustration - it seems to be half to two-thirds of the people voting are for it.
A Gongadze criminal case - has to happen both for the UA people and intl community, or it will forever tarnish Yushchenko's reputation. Y. must live up to people's expectations not lieve down to them. Or it will potentially have disasterous consequences.

Awhile back there was discourse about the seeming lack of concern regarding safety that the demonstrators had - well, not all people seemed to have felt that way. "The two similar things that I noticed were fear of violence and the unexpectedness of the events. No one believed at first it was possible here and the same was true for Germany back then" shares Kamen." see http://www.whatson-kiev.com/sofa/?id=4871 Interview with banker Kamen Zahariev --- in what's on Kiev