Sent to the London TELEGRAPH in response to
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #833, Article 3
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Yanukovych's opinions about the country he rules should not be viewed in
isolation by anyone interested in Ukraine or the EU. First and foremost it
must be stressed that his neo-soviet Party of Regions is not a "normal"
political party in a "normal" state.
It is a restorationist party that seeks to prevent the democratization of a
de facto "post-colonial" state, and to keep it subordinated to its former
ruler. Should it succeed the EU would have to face the prospect of an
unstable eastern border.
While the party formally supports "eurointegration" - just like Putin
supports the eurointegration of Russia - it has not explicitly stated that
it is for "EU membership for Ukraine." Mr. Ianukovych's public statements
to the contrary in various EU countries, therefore, cannot be taken
seriously until this commitment is clearly stated in his party's program.
Given this omission there is every reason to believe that as soon as they
manage to get a majority by dubious methods in the Rada, they will first
incorporate Ukraine into Russia's Single Economic Space and only then, via
Russia, "integrate into Europe" -- presumably just like Belorus.
Ukrainians reemerged on Europe's political map in 1991 after more than 200
years of direct foreign political rule imposed by military might. Between
1709 and 1711, then between 1918 and 1921, and again between 1944 and 1950
Russian armies invaded Ukraine three times in a series of bloody wars that
tied Ukraine to the tsarist and then Soviet empires.
Under Russian rule Ukrainians got Russian-style serfdom, Siberian exile,
governmental prohibition of publishing and teaching in the native language,
terror, and famine-genocide. When in 1991 Ukraine emerged as an independent
state there was no "liberation war." Consequently the imperial or "old
regime" elites were not exiled or executed.
They remained in power until 2004 and since then have retained positions
influence to such a degree that they can keep their own out of jail. Their
constituency, meanwhile, is the product of Soviet migration policies that
directed Russians into and Ukrainians out of Ukraine.
This immigration and "ethnic dilution", combined with deportations and
millions of unnatural Ukrainian deaths between 1917 and 1947, created large
Russian-speaking urban enclaves in the country's four easternmost provinces.
In addition, educational and media policies, channeled upwardly mobile
non-Russian rural migrants into Russian-speaking culture and allowed urban
Russians to live work and satisfy their cultural/spiritual needs without
having to use or learn Ukrainian.
Second and third generation urban Russian immigrants and assimilated
migrants spoke in Russian, lived in a Russian public-sphere and were
Moscow- oriented culturally and intellectually. After 1991 most of the
urban population accepted Ukrainian independence, but few changed their
Russian language-use or intellectual/cultural orientation.
Since 1991 an increasing percentage of Russians and Russian-speakers see
Ukraine as their native country. However, in 2005, whereas only 6% of
Ukrainians still saw themselves as "soviet citizens," the percentage for
Russians was 18%, and while 2% of Ukrainians still did not regard Ukraine
as their native country, 9% of Russians in Ukraine did not.
This means that a percentage of the population in Ukraine today, of whom
most are Russian, support foreign rule over the territory in which they
live - much as did once the French in Algeria, the Germans in Bohemia and
Poland, the Portuguese in Angola, and the English in Ireland.
This anomie and nostalgia for empire of some Russian speakers would be
harmless if not for Ukraine's entrenched neo- soviet political leaders who
exploit it to maintain their by-gone imperial -era power.
Both would be manageable if leaders in Russia, the former imperial power,
were able to resign themselves to the loss of their empire, and like the
British, help the new national democratic Orange coalition rather than its
Putin is no DeGaulle --who realized in the end that French settlers had to
Ukraine's neo-soviet leaders are organized in four major groups with
varying degrees of support covert and overt from Russia and its government -
whose ambassador in Kyiv is not know ever to have made a speech in
Ukrainian. Ukraine's communists and Natalia Vitrenko's "Bloc" openly
advocate the abrogation of Ukraine's independence and its reincorporation
into a revamped imperial Russian dominated USSR.
The Russian Orthodox church, which claims an estimated 50% of Ukraine's
Orthodox, is not only led by a Patriarch in Moscow, a foreign country,
that sits in Putin's government, but is dominated by its chauvinist,
anti-Semitic fringe. This church does not recognize Ukrainians as a distinct
nationality, it publicly supports Ukraine's communists, and fielded priests
to run in elections.
In June 2003 the Russian Patriarch gave the leader of Ukraine's Communist
Party its "Order of Prince Vladimir." No more than 8% of Ukraine's voters
back these old communist party leaders.
The more serious threat to Ukrainian independence is posed by its fourth
major neo-soviet group; the Party of Regions. Although 2004 and 2006
 First they are a product of documented coercion, intimidation and covert
operations-albeit smaller in scope and scale than was the case in 2004.
 Second, they are based on 'machine politics' in Ukraine's eastern
incentives in return for votes.
 Third they are based on a lingering soviet-style cradle to grave
enterprise-paternalism, still stronger in eastern than western Ukraine, that
allows managers and owners to politically blackmail their employees-- much
as "company-town" owners did in nineteenth- century western Europe and
How strong the party would be in Ukraine's east, without the dirty-tricks,
machine-politics and neo-feudal enterprise-paternalist based intimidation
is difficult to determine. But it would have less than one-third of the
seats in the country's parliament.
The party ostensibly supports Ukrainian independence in as much as its
leaders regard Ukraine as a territory that they should control as a
"black-mail state" -- just as they controlled it up to 2004.
While the Canadian and Polish ambassadors can learn Ukrainian before their
appointments well enough to use it publicly, some Party of Region leaders
have the unmitigated gall to speak in Russian in parliament. A number of
their leaders, like ex deputy-prime minister Azarov, have not managed to
But then how many French in Algeria learned Arab? How many English in
Ireland learned Gaelic? How many whites in Africa knew Swahili or Bantu?
How many Japanese learned Chinese or Korean? How many Germans in
Breslau learned Polish? Its leaders, additionally, engage in symbolic
colonial-homage type acts that pander to imperial Russian nostalgia and
compromise Ukraine's status as independent country.
In November 2005 in Krasnoiarsk, for example, Ianukovych publicly gave
the speaker of the Russian Duma a bulava - the symbol of Ukrainian
Party of Region leaders learned their politics under the soviet regime
"black-mail state," and employ criminal Bolshevik-style electioneering
Not the least of which is advertising in the press for "supporters"
to their current demonstrations - whom they pay at a set rate at the end of
the day. They publicly belittle Ukrainian independence, are in constant
contact with Russian extremists like Zhirinovsky, Zatulin, and Luchkov.
Foreign observers must ask themselves how a Party of Regions led
Kuchma-like "black-mail state" is supposed to fit into the EU?
How can such a Ukraine be "stable" if it is dependent on Russia, a
resource-based autocracy, at a time when resource-based autocracy's
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