Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ukraine update - it's chaos

For those who haven't been keeping up, Ukraine's Orange Revolution of November 2004 - optimistically and wildly inaccurately lauded at the time as a triumph of democracy over the forces of post-Soviet repression - has had rather a rocky time of it over the last year and a half. It was all so easy to see the scenes in Kiev all those months ago as a repeat of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But, as with so many popular uprisings throughout the former Soviet bloc in the last few years, once the images of jubilant protestors had left our screens, so the little progress that appeared to have been made seemed to evaporate.

Now it appears finally to have stuttered and died as the Revolution's main opponent, Viktor Yanukovych (often described as "pro-Russian", but that's hardly accurate either), looks set to be made Prime Minister, the old Orange coalition of Viktor Yuschenko (grey-haired and haggard through poison) and Yulia Tymoshenko (glamorous and sexy, in a Swiss milkmaid kind of a way) has once again failed to overcome the massive egos and financial interests that always seem to have lain behind the political machinations of the country.

The events in Ukraine were never - really - about democracy, though many of the people donning their Orange gear may sincerely have believed and hoped that it was. They were all about the ongoing power struggles of a small political elite. Once the west's eyes were once again averted, the internal squabbles once again rose to dominate in a country that, though it may be split right down the middle on political lines, is unlikely to see any real stability for a long time yet. Fifty years after Hungary made the first moves to shake off the Soviet system, its after-effects still dominate. Ukraine showed signs of hope, and there is still hope there - but it could all too easily go the route of Belarus and slide slowly towards dictatorship.

As ever, Neeka has the background/summary, and Foreign Notes all you need to get up to speed.

It's well worth paying attention to, this one. After the spats over gas pipelines and elections, Ukraine could end up being the testing ground for the future evolution of the relationship between Russian and the EU. And as the EU gradually absorbs more and more former Soviet states into its sphere of influence, some kind of confrontation is long overdue - and instability on the eastern frontiers of Europe could spell disaster for those of us safely tucked away on the Atlantic fringe.

4 Comments:

Anonymous PhD said...

The analysis of the Ukrainian situation is good but a shift towards a pro-Russian dictatorship is unlikely because Western regions would oppose it.
While the UK is located at the western frontiers of Europe, Ukraine is not an eastern frontier of Europe but its center. This is the basic fact.

7/13/2006 12:28:00 am  
Blogger Lik said...

Whom do you mean by possible dictator? Do you believe that OTHERS will let him/her to overrule?

7/15/2006 10:49:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

PhD - not necessarily pro-Russian; in fact, I'm pretty sure the emphasis on Russia is misplaced. It's an important aspect of Ukraine's politics, certainly, but it's not the defining factor - from what I can tell, that's money. (Oh, and I meant eastern fringes in terms of the Eu, not continental Europe - sorry for confusion).

Lik - not necessarily even one of the current players. But in an under-developed, young democracy, repeated instability brought about by the failure of the electorate to pick a clear government could very easily lead to a strong leader taking control - the fact that the country is politically split pretty much 50/50 could actually make it more easy for a dictator to do so. As for other people letting them, we've already seen attempted poisonings of political opponents - how hard do you really think it would be to get rid of awkward leaders of opposing groups?

7/15/2006 11:46:00 pm  
Anonymous Jonathan Taylor said...

I think its a bit premature to call the Orange Revolution dead. True, expectations were unrealistically high a year ago, but significant progress has been made and I think that, so far, the revolution is still alive and well.

I more thoroughly explain my view in a post here: http://www.publiuspundit.com/?p=2814

7/18/2006 08:11:00 pm  

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