Ukraine: where is the democracy? Political analysis for Russia Now

Ukraine: where is the democracy? Political analysis for Russia Now
# 17 February 2010 20:43 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. This online supplement is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia), which takes sole responsibility for the content, APA reports quoting web-page.
By pinning all their hopes on Ukraine’s "anti-Russia" coalition six years ago, Western leaders polarised the nation and discredited the institutions they were advocating. Ukrainians paid the price for this during the recent presidential election.
Before Ukraine’s January election, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a major contender for the presidency, had tried to keep a balanced approach in dealing with Ukraine’s troubled past. But her appearance at a memorial service for anti-Bolshevist Ukrainian nationalists killed in 1918 raised eyebrows.
In fact, she arrived there flanked by lame-duck President Viktor Yushchenko, who only a week before had called Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich, her main rival, "a Moscow coalition". Evidently, Tymoshenko was trying to enlist the support of nationalist voters, since they tend to be more active and aggressive than Yanukovich’s centrist or left-leaning supporters.
But support of Mikhail Zelenchuk and his OUN-UPA was a mixed blessing for Tymoshenko. His group considers itself the successor to the once-dreaded OUN and UPA of the 1930s and 1940s. OUN started its activities pre-World War II, supposedly representing the part of Ukraine that belonged to Poland before 1939, and advocating secession of Ukrainian lands. The group killed Polish officials and other Polish or even Ukrainian people it considered obstacles on the path to its aims.
From 1939 to 1942, OUN sided with the Nazis, ethnically cleansing the former Soviet Ukraine of Poles and Jews. In 1942, the newly formed UPA (the military arm of OUN) raised its German-provided arms against the remnants of the Polish population in Western Ukraine, the advancing Soviet Red Army and the retreating German battalions.
The result was that when the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza published a survey of elderly Poles asking who had inflicted the greatest suffering on them during World War II, "evil Germans and evil Ukrainians" took the two top positions.
The problem is that nationalist voters, especially OUN-UPA supporters, tend to provoke fear in the bulk of the population in the southern, eastern and central regions of Ukraine, where most Ukraine voters live. As a result, a larger army of active nationalist supporters could have further damaged Tymoshenko’s electoral potential, scaring away the centrists.
In this context, Yushchenko’s actions clearly benefited Yanukovich, mobilising his otherwise passive supporters. On January 29, after his defeat in the first round of voting, Yushchenko declared OUN’s late leader Stepan Bandera, considered to be a criminal against humanity in Soviet times, "a hero of Ukraine".
Yanukovich condemned the move as an action contributing to polarisation of Ukraine. Tymoshenko, tied by her promises to nationalists, abstained from any reaction, allowing Yanukovich to play on the fears of people for whom Bandera was a symbol of anti-Semitism and violence.
Yanukovich and Tymoshenko, during their six years at the top of Ukrainian politics, showed themselves to be tough fighters, but not real democrats, not ready to concede defeat if voters turned away from them.
They used every tool at their disposal to hold on to power. Yanukovich’s coming to power seems even preferable to Ukraine’s democracy, since nationalist opposition will remain stubborn and real, while Yanukovich’s supporters may be scared away by Tymoshenko’s authoritarianism. The only real loser will be democracy.
The blank cheque the West gave to Yushchenko and his Orange team in 2004-2005 did a disservice to the Ukrainian nation. Instead of concentrating on joint movement towards Europe – which does not necessarily mean away from Russia – the Orange politicians split the nation, discredited democratic institutions and damaged their own economy and the economy of other European countries by disrupting supplies of Russian energy to the EU.
The blame for this lies squarely on Western leaders and experts who badly misjudged the situation in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution. President George W Bush and the EU leaders put their eggs into one anti-Russian basket without giving a good look at who is going to hatch them. The consequences of this move will stay with us for a long time.
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