Several days ago emminent journalists and civic leader members of Vitaliy Portnikov's 'Polit Club' talking shop met in a central Kyiv coffee bar for an "end-of-year report/forecast-for-next-year" session .
Two-hour video of the event here
Increasing numbers of protests were predicted in the New Year. Ominously, there are reports that the salaries of some state employees in Kyiv are already slipping in arrears.
The arrest of Yulia Tymoshenko, the most significant event of 2011, became a wake-up call not only for politicians and public figures, but also for the oligarchs. A precedent has been set - her fate could be suffered by anyone, so even the richest in the country cannot feel 100% safe.
There was general agreement that inevitably, significant fraud will take place in next Autumn's parliamentary elections because the ratings of the current government [as well as that of Yanukovych himself] have dropped to worryingly low levels. Nevertheless, the competitve nature of Ukrainian politics, which Yanukovych will not be able to modify or destroy, will sooner or later force him out of power.
Like it or not, because of lack of refoms, Ukraine remains very much a part of the post-Soviet space. Recent events in Russia indicate that a lack of perspective for the future coupled with a desire for change is driving the most active members of society onto the streets. Protesters realise that without change disaster awaits and the current state structure is simply not sustainable. Despite its massive resources Russia has not been able to avoid social discontent so the likelyhood of such events taking place in Ukraine, which is in a far worse economic situation, is much greater. Economic turmoil in Europe and high cost of gas imports will only increase Ukraine's woes.
Predicted political chaos will take place when the authorities run out of money; but out of this chaos, hopefully, and new political elite may be formed.