Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The new coordinates of Ukrainian politics

By Aussiegirl

James Sherr, writing in Russian in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, presents the following analysis of the political situation in Ukraine. The English translation appears in the Action Ukraine Report.


COMMENTARY: By James Sherr, Fellow, Conflict Studies
Research Centre, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom [1]
Nezavisimaya Gazeta/Dipcourier in Russian, Moscow, Russia, 6 Apr, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #692, Article 8, in English
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 3, 2006

With the election of a new parliament and the imminence of a coalition
government, Ukraine's political culture has come into its own. By the
contemporary standards of the former Soviet Union, two striking
phenomena were on display: a fully democratic election between full
blooded alternatives and a self-confident electorate that showed itself
quick to punish and slow to trust.

By contemporary Euro-Atlantic standards, all the 'criteria' were met. Hence
the verdict of the former American Ambassador to Ukraine, Carlos Pascual:
'Ukraine has come into the mainstream of European politics'.

But these contemporary standards risk misleading us. The real lesson of
the 26 March elections is that Ukraine is returning to itself: to its
heritage of de-centralisation, pluralism, distrust of power and loathing of
absolutism; and to the attributes and faults bred by this heritage:
compromise, bargaining, manoeuvre, manipulation and the avoidance of
clear choices.

The 'new' coordinates of Ukrainian politics-a tempered presidency, a
stronger parliament, a demanding electorate and an inquisitive (nay,
inquisitorial) mass media-fit a much older pattern, and for this reason they
are unlikely to change. Therefore, no one should be waiting impatiently
for the emergence of what both Russia and the West like to call a 'clear
political course'.

A distinctive course there is bound to be, but it is most unlikely to bring
comfort to the technocrats in Brussels or the geopoliticians in the Kremlin.
In both places it is time for a little confusion and a lot of thinking.

Thinking in Russia must proceed from a premise that can no longer be denied:
'Ukraine is not Russia'. Disenchantment with Yushchenko has not dissipated
the 'orange virus'. Rather, it has led to a regrouping of Orange forces.

During the first round of the 2004 elections-well before there was any
Yushchenko presidency to be disillusioned about-Viktor Yanukovych
secured 36.31 per cent of the vote.

On 26 March 2006 he secured 32.1 per cent. In the third round of the 2004
elections, when Yanukovych represented all 'blue' forces', he secured 43 per
cent. The combined total of all blue forces on 26 March-including those
which failed to clear the 3 per cent barrier-was also 43 per cent (and of
this, the once mighty Communist Party secured a mere 3.66 per cent).

The first challenge for the Kremlin is to come to terms with the fact that
the Party of Regions is not Ukraine's natural 'party of power', but a
distinctly regional force. The greater challenge is to come to terms with
the political forces that comprise the majority in Ukraine: forces who do
not believe that Ukrainians and Russians are one and the same people, but
a different, albeit closely related people.

The route to cooperation with these forces lies not in stressing a 'common'
history and heritage, but acknowledging and respecting what makes Ukraine
Ukraine. Yet once this process is underway, the temptation will be to
replace 'brotherly relations' with 'pragmatism', i.e. toughness. It is a
temptation best resisted, because whenever Russian politicians have yielded
to it, the results have been very different from what they expected.

Very soon, these points of principle are bound to prove relevant in
practice. Should she return to the premiership, it is possible that Yulia
Tymoshenko will renounce the 4 January Russo-Ukraine gas accord. If she
does, the bad news from Russia's point of view is that many business circles
in eastern Ukraine will support her.

The good news is that she will need to sustain the support of parliament
through this or any other bold course of action. In these untidy but not
necessarily unpromising conditions, it would seem prudent for the Kremlin
to temper its own version of pragmatism-'the firm promotion of national
interests'-with the Western version of pragmatism: reasonableness and the
effort to ensure that one's own national interests are compatible with the
legitimate interests of others.


At 3:42 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Kharkov is going to host Euro-2012 games. The city will accept ten thousand fans from Europe. And none of them knows, that during 2007 year 10423 tuberculosis infected persons have died in Ukraine. Many of them have forgotten, that illness. Germany, Finland, Austria, Italy do not inoculate their citizenzs against this lethal disease.

Unfortunately, funds became insufficient and the Kharkov authorities made an original decision. Keeping within the limits of Euro-2012 preparation Kharkov reduces the number of tubercular departments. So, by March, 15th 345 places of 545 available will be reduced in the first Kharkov’s antitubercular clinic №1. But do not worry, it is a temporary situation: liquidation of last two hundred places and complete liquidation of the whole clinic will occur till the end of this year.


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