Friday, July 14, 2006

Some comments

I have been at a loss for anything to say about the events of the past week. What has happened is simply stunning. Here are some comments though:

--How incompetent is the leadership of Our Ukraine? What did they think Moroz would do if they courted PR? Did they really think he was going to stand still and not make his own deal when it looked like Our Ukraine was looking out for its interests alone by negotiating with PR? Moroz has to answer for his actions and if there is an election, from some of the things I have heard around from people, the goodwill he and the Socialists have had with Ukrainians may be at an end. He might find himself out of a job if it were put up to a vote today. But that said, the Our Ukraine leadership must have thought that they were free to do anything they liked, to push anyone they liked, and to court anyone they liked without any consequences. Looks like we’ll have to count them part of that Ukrainian elite for whom there have never been any consequences because of power or money or both. How else to explain it?

--Yulia is Yulia. She is pretty effective in opposition. But she and the rest of the coalition sat in the VR and watched what happened on Friday unfold without the slightest protest. To have done it then would have reinforced the idea that what was happening was illegal. Now the protests make it look as if they just don’t like the result. That's what comes over from what’s going on in the Rada. All the noise and storming of the rostrum look like attempts to stop the proper functioning of government. And this by so-called guardians of democracy. If they had stood up and protested at the time, they could have made their case that it was extra-legal, unconstitutional, immoral, not cricket, whatever. Now it looks like they are just crummy losers and undemocratic at that.

This is not very good strategy, I’m afraid. But Our Ukraine has shown itself to be very poor in that department. The better strategists—you have to hand it to them-- are in PR. Since they were so poor at it before, maybe they have bought better?

--There are tents cities going up from PORA and others but PR has them too. If there’s a
call for protests now, what will it be for? Corruption? After the allegations that accompanied the dismissal of Poroshenko and Tymoshenko? People think that Our Ukraine is as corrupt as PR. And making Poroshenko the poster boy for Our Ukraine puts the problem front and center. People don't like him. They think he’s corrupt. That he is a powerful figure in Our Ukraine just taints the whole party.

So what we would be left with is a call for protests over what amounts to political differences. "Come out and protest their forming a different coalition!" To paraphrase a quote from a movie, that’s a helluva a concept to have men die for. It just ain’t gonna work.

--How is this playing in the east? Think of it for a minute. Your elected representatives put together a coalition to govern when Our Ukraine and BYuT couldn’t. And when they start to govern, Our Ukraine and BYuT won’t let them. From their point of view it looks like democracy is about getting the right result, and, if you are in the east, anything you want is going to be the wrong result. How is that any different from what has happened in the past here? And is that going to make them willing to participate in elections and in democratic processes? I don’t think so.

Not all the people who voted for PR are criminals and corrupt, not nearly. And it was to the people who aren’t that Yuschenko and Our Ukraine should have been appealing all along. But they haven’t and that is a spectacular failure.

Tymoshenko, to her credit, has tried harder at this but there hasn’t been the wholesale courting of the east that there should have been.

--The truncheons have come out again. A reporter was beaten by a group of four men including a Rada deputy from PR at the PR tent city. The deputy in question, Oleg Kalashnikov is the name I have, said he was provoked. [Correction: He's the spokesman for PR and wasn't involved. But they still maintain he, whoever it was, was provoked. "But we're sorry."] [Correction correction: Looks like I was right the first time. It was Oleg Kalashnikov. I'll stop now.] Here's hwo it must have gone: The reporter held up this thing that looked like a shoulder fired missile launcher—the reporter said it was a camera but you never know about these things—and the deputy feared for his life. So he and his buddies, who were simply minding their own business, subdued the assailant and took the launcher-that-looked-like-a-camera from him. When they opened it up they found a missile, a rectangular missile about the size and shape, that is, exactly the size and shape of a video tape. With video tape in it. Since you never know, they had to destroy it to prevent any harm to the rest of the tent community. This is what any good public servant would do, no? A few well placed temniki would make this version stick.

Anyway, this was what came out second. A complete denial was what came out first. Finally, later in the day, Kushnarov, the great statesman from PR, came out and said that they were sorry for what happened. They would, of course, return the tape but it had been destroyed—the danger thing I guess.

This is the sort of thing that happened before. One of the results of the Orange Revolution is a free press. That is endangered now by the thugs and criminals that PR has brought in its wake. If that goes, there’s really nothing left but corruption, status, power, and a willingness to use it against anyone who gets in the way. Exactly like it used to be. I can’t say how sad this makes me.

--Where’s Yuschenko? I have been a supporter of Yuschenko and still am, at least for now. But that has not stopped us here from detailing the failings of his administration. And they are there for all to see. All of what happened this past week has come about not only because of the failings of the past few months but because of the failings of the past year and some of the Yuschenko administration.

I'm not so sure that he is the head of Our Ukraine anymore. Their party lost and in any other country that would result in a no confidence vote for the party leader. Maybe that has happened and Our Ukraine now has a de facto other head?

Some of his waffling on the issues I think comes because he is trying to be non-partisan, to keep the presidency above the fray. That would make him the anti-Kuchma and maybe that’s it. The problem with it is that it isn't helping. The real problem around here now is that the system is breaking down and it could lead to people taking to the streets, this time without the higher sensibilities of the Orange Revolution. Someone’s going to have to steady things and people are looking to Yuschenko to do it. But he’s not looking steady.

Other people have a different view of Yuschenko. That’s fine. Either way, he’s been the reason for the problems. Now he’s going to have to deal with it.

--The courts. The courts could provide some stability in this situation but they are not credible. They could have been but there hasn’t been the kind of reform there that has been needed. So there’s no confidence in them. And now that Tymoshenko wants to pursue remedies in the courts, it would be a good time for them to have credibility. But they don’t.

Problem is that no institution in Ukrainian society has any credibility, not the presidency, not the Rada, not the courts. And this is a catastrophe. More work that should have been done but wasn’t.


WRY said...

Pretty spot-on comments, all the way through.
I think new elections would be a disaster at this point for the cause of open Democracy, since it would suggest that elections matter only when we get the right (i.e. "Orange") result.
The truth is that the Oranges screwed up royally. I say that as their supporter. They allowed themselves to become divided by petty rivalries, then couldn't get back together for the more important mission of furthering the "Orange" cause with a decisive election alliance. The months of wrangling since the last election speak evidence of sheer incompetence.
How the Oranges misjudged their need to placate Moroz is beyond me. They should be asking themselves whether it was worth risking everything to keep Moroz from becoming speaker.
The truth is that at this stage of the game it appears that Regions must be given their chance to make their coalition work, since there really is no alternative. A new election would, I believe, result in a larger Regions rerpesentation, one that might allow them to even discard the idea of the broad coalition. Maybe some would prefer that, but I sense no mood among the people for manning the barricades. I think people probably want stability and order.
Unfortunately for the Orange cause, the time may have passed when Yanukovych is willing to take them in as equal partners.
It is hard to see how negotiations can succeed. Yushchenko, to save face, obviously needs someone else besides Yanu as PM. But Yanu, for the same reason, obviously cannot back down now (and with a majority, what incentive does he have?)

Dan McMinn said...

I'm behind WRY on this one. The government has been formed. The longer the Orange folks keep up with the air-horns the more they're going to look foolish.

I would much rather prefer an Orange government, believe me, but, like WRY said: they had their chance and they screwed it up. I'd prefer a RoU-Red government to the mess this is going to bring.

Let him try to keep the current gas price. I really would like to see him try.