Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ukraine's good fortune

Worth reading: this excellent piece from the FT's Chrystia Freeland entitled: "Russia’s free media find a haven in Ukraine"

Here's a portion:

"The Kremlin sees Ukraine’s diverse and messy political culture as an exploitable weakness – and many Ukrainians and their western supporters despairingly agree. But, in separate conversations, the Russian journalistic refugees all argued that Ukraine’s regional divisions were the essential underpinning of its democracy, and the chief reason the country had diverged from Russia’s neo-authoritarian path.

“I don’t idealise the Ukrainian political class,” Kisiliev told me. “There are as many cynical, corrupt politicians here who would spit on democratic values as in Russia. But Ukraine’s good fortune is that, because of history, culture and geography, Ukraine is divided into a few big regions, each of which has its own culture and politics. These are also the zones of influence of various financial groups. None of those groups has the financial or electoral power to monopolise power – which happened in Russia, where Gazprom and the St Petersburg Chekists [the cabal of former KGB officers associated with Putin] usurped all political power.”

Central to this view of diversity as a fuel for democracy is the exiles’ confidence that all of Ukraine’s elites – including the Russian-speaking eastern ones – are committed to Ukrainian statehood. “The idea of a pro-Russian line in Ukrainian politics is a myth – they are all pro-Ukrainian now,” Kagalovsky said. Yet in the Kremlin, that “myth” is at the heart of policy towards Ukraine. Moscow takes as its starting point the idea that the two countries occupy a connected, if not common, cultural and social space. From there it is a short step to the Putin regime’s conviction that the two countries’ political paths should likewise run in parallel."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting and inciteful article, Thanks

I would also agree that "“The idea of a pro-Russian line in Ukrainian politics is a myth"

The division of pro-Russia and pro west stereotypes are false.

All Ukrianain major political parties are pro Russia, pro Europe and pro Ukraine.

The main difference and between Ukraine and Russia is its newly found democracy.

Is breakway from its authoritarian past and its democratic progress comes from its adoption of European Parliamentary democratic values.

The changes made in December 2004 and implemented in 2006 where major cornerstones in Ukraine's development.

Sadly Ukraine's democratic achievements are fragile. Yushchenko wants to wind the clock backwards and reinstate a presidential authoritarian regime.

Ukraine must move forward or risk losing the significant gains and steps taken towards independent statehood.

Its future lies in its ability to complete the transition and adopt a full Parliamentary system in line with other European states.

There is too much at stake, to go backwards.

Ukraine must reject the policies of division and Yushchenko's proposed restoration of a Presidential authoritarianism and embrace democracy in order to maintain its independence.