Four years ago, on December 1, 2013, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians came to Independence Square and Khreshchatyk. Such was the reaction of society to the brazen and brutal assault on students on the night of November 30. Had the Berkut riot police not crossed the red line then, the subsequent avalanche-like events could have failed to happen. Still, they did happen. Why? Has the Ukrainian public understood those events in full? Who has actually won and who has lost?
The Day has repeatedly written about the events of four years ago. Accordingly, the public, thanks to other media outlets as well, has enough information to offer its assessment of those events. Today, we want to draw attention to another aspect. The latest broadcast of the big political talk show Ukrainian Format on the TV channel NewsOne became an illustrative example. Its participants included both “pre-Maidan” and “post-Maidan” politicians, and we mean both the Orange events and the Revolution of Dignity.
We will not go into details, let us just note that the former “regionals,” or the current representatives of the Opposition Bloc (OB), behaved absolutely calmly and confidently. And it was not because this channel belongs to their colleague Yevhen Muraiev who was present during the show. In fact, the same Oleksandr Vilkul, who, according to the current mayor of Dnipro, had violently dispersed the Euromaidan in the city, spoke seemingly quite logical things regarding the socio-economic or political situation. For example, the OB members drew the public’s attention to the fact that Viktor Yanukovych’s team had passed more European integration laws than ever before.
Given the policies of the current post-Maidan government, which have raised many questions, some of them voiced at the last summit of the Eastern Partnership in Brussels (including the self-created Mikhail Saakashvili problem, the slow implementation of reforms, and the dangerously high level of corruption, etc.), it creates completely comfortable conditions for the former “regionals” to mix truths with untruths, incrementally pouring oil into the fire of a general permanent crisis.
PLACARD READS: “WE ARE ASHAMED OF OUR POLITICIANS” / Photo by Artem SLIPACHUK, The Day
So, against the backdrop of dissatisfaction of the people who came to the Maidan, but were once again used by the current politicians and the Kremlin for their own purposes, is a political revanche of the previous government possible? We have already been there. Remember 2010, when Yanukovych and the Party of Regions (PoR) came to power quite legitimately, having won an election.
The ground for this is gradually being prepared, both by former regionals and their curators in Moscow, and by the current government. It is enough to point to the confrontation between law-enforcement agencies, including the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), the National Corruption Prevention Agency, and the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutions Office (SAP)... The abbreviations alone are enough to make people disoriented, not to mention dissuade them from any attempt to understand the essence of the showdowns between them. Moreover, the confrontation has grown to involve entirely new structures as well, such as the NABU and SAP. Have the participants of all these conflicts given thought to the fact that were a revanche occur, it will hit them all?
Another logical question being asked these days is, why have the perpetrators of Maidan-related crimes not been punished yet? Why there are thousands of witnesses, but the accused number in single digits, and those punished are even fewer? And again, is not it likely that if there is a revanche, then the Maidan criminal cases will be completed by the “regionals” themselves? And they will do it not for the country, but for themselves.
There are countless questions. But the essence of it all is that we are still living through a crisis called “the Kuchma-Yanukovych system.” Incidentally, the presence of Volodymyr Lytvyn at the TV show and the lack of punishment for people who ordered crimes in the Gongadze-Podolsky case is another confirmation of this. To change the situation, we need different people in power who will change the rules. All those who have brought the war about must go. This was the goal of the real Maidan.
“NOW WE HAVE A GENUINE ISSUE WITH ALTERNATIVE”
Ihor LUTSENKO, MP, the Fatherland faction:
“I do not think that the people who stood on the stage of the Maidan defeated anyone. They simply caught the power that Maidan protesters won at the cost of multiple sacrifices. Yanukovych was, most likely, frightened by how the situation developed, and, accordingly, he let the power slip from his hands.
“Now we really have a genuine issue with alternative. We need a high-quality broad movement that would unite representatives of the opposition and broader public. Unfortunately, we have quite negative traditions in this field. We have not yet seen a great organized alternative.”
“IT WAS LESS OF A EUROPEAN CHOICE AND MORE OF RAGE AND PROTEST AGAINST POST-SOVIET UKRAINE”
Petro OLESHCHUK, a political analyst:
“The Maidan events, as any other events in Ukrainian politics, were rather multidimensional. Even if certain provocative measures were involved, the organizers could not predict all the hypothetical consequences of all that happened. The society experienced a rather high tension. Although we are used to calling those events the Euromaidan, it was less of a European choice and more of rage and protest against the system that had taken shape in post-Soviet Ukraine and blocked opportunities for development. Therefore, if this did not happen then, it could have still happened later, because the fundamental problems that lay at the origins of the protest did not disappear.
“As to the violent dispersal of the Maidan, we must realize that we were dealing with representatives of the old administrative school there. Under this model, Yanukovych was accustomed to perceiving any signs of dissatisfaction with him as his own weakness. It is worth remembering how they acted in the Donbas, their base region, when they were coming to power and strengthening their positions there. That is, letting people to conduct large-scale events in the center of the capital was for them a demonstration of their own weakness, which they could not tolerate. And where the whole system is based on fear, any weakness is a threat to the regime itself, because they then risk being trampled by their own underlings. I do not rule out that Yanukovych’s memories of the 2004 Maidan, when no dispersal happened, but he still failed to obtain power, played a role. His entourage of 2014 could use this situation and play to his stereotypes and emotions. It should not be forgotten that at the end of his reign, Yanukovych was in an informational vacuum situation. He could not just connect to the Internet himself and do a deep analysis of everything that was happening.
“Thus, he had a specific circle of people who informed him and advised him. By the way, informing Yanukovych in such a way was ultimately Serhii Liovochkin’s responsibility as chief of the Presidential Administration. It is no secret that Yanukovych’s entourage was playing to his paranoid attitudes. They revealed some ‘conspiracies,’ told Yanukovych that someone wanted to remove him from the position of head of state. In this way, the entourage expanded its power. One can recall the story of Yanukovych going to Mount Athos and allegedly getting told there that he would die a violent death as a result of a coup. Accordingly, Yanukovych, in line with his known personal features, could take any steps, even irrational ones. And once again, it was Liovochkin who could facilitate it, as he was the one who in fact shaped the information circle around Yanukovych.
“Russia, meanwhile, believed until 2004 that no special effort was necessary, as Ukraine would return to the Kremlin’s embrace on its own. After 2004, the Kremlin had become more active to prevent autonomous processes developing in Ukraine. I do not rule out that there was a plan for partitioning Ukraine under the guise of a coup. After all, Russia did try to promote first the idea of a coup having happened, then a parade of sovereignties in southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, then the introduction of some sort of peacekeeping contingents and, on the basis of this, to achieve an effective partition of Ukraine.”
“WE ARE LIVING THROUGH AN AGE OF GRAY AND SEMI-GRAY POLITICAL FORCES...”
Oleksandr SOLONTAI, an expert of the Institute of Political Education:
“By and large, not all Maidan-related criminal cases have been investigated because the current authorities are helping figures of the previous regime. Some of these cases have not been investigated due to a simple lack of competence and professionalism on the part of investigators. What is the worst, though, is such investigations being a non-priority for the government. They do not need them to succeed. They are in power and do very well. Unfortunately, implementing what the public demands has never been a priority for any government in this country, while promoting one’s business, engaging in get-rich-fast schemes and corruption have always been a priority.
“Let us turn to another moment. When we talk about revanche, we must see two sides to this trend. If we are talking about the former PoR staging a revanche, then we should realize that we have former representatives of that party in power even now. Judging by the latest local elections’ results, more former ‘regionals’ have been elected on the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (PPB)’s lists than on the list of the OB. If we add to this list members of the Our Land party, which is the PPB’s satellite, then it can be said that it is primarily the current government that confidently sends representatives of the former PoR to local councils. Therefore, the party-based revanche has already taken place.
“Nonetheless, were we to talk about a revanche in the context of abandoning the European choice, stopping implementation of the EU Association Agreement, and freezing the development of our relations with the EU, then it is impossible. It is impossible to bury pro-European aspirations in Ukraine. The objective reality forces even pro-Russian politicians say phrases like ‘we are friends with Russia, but are not against Europe.’ They even say that the EU is our strategic partner. That is, in Ukraine, the era when there was a split between forces advocating a clear course for the EU and a clear course for Russia, that era is over. Now nobody cries ‘Down with the EU!’ and ‘Down with the US!’ We are living through an age of gray and semi-gray political forces that lobby against and hinder European integration in order to parasitize on the views of millions of Ukrainians. Unfortunately, we still have many Ukrainians who have never been to the EU and never seen how Europeans live since they do not have an international passport.
“In addition, the politicians who act as if they were pro-Russian are actually faking it. After all, they themselves spend vacations outside the post-Soviet space, their children study in the EU and own property there. Therefore, they play the roles of pro-Russian politicians only to be able to engage in corrupt dealings. As soon as the corruption hydra is overcome, we will immediately see that there is really no debate in the country about whether we should go to Europe or not. Ukraine has made a clear European choice. But we are very vulnerable as a result of the fact that we still have not separated politics and business. And this situation has not changed since the 1990s, when the clan oligarchy was actually born. Thus, we are a free access zone for Russian agents and information influences. It is they who feed those views that ought to naturally die out and be replaced by progressive voter attitudes.”
“UKRAINIAN SOCIETY LACKS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NEEDS – THE NEED FOR SELF-ANALYSIS”
Andrii BAUMEISTER, Doctor of Philosophy (facebook.com):
“Ukrainian society lacks one of the most important needs – the need for self-analysis, the need to understand oneself and one’s place in the world. We not only do not want to know ourselves, but we are also afraid to do so. This fear gives rise to aggression. If some outsider tries to talk to us about us, we become indignant and enter a state of extreme excitement (‘How do you dare!’; ‘Who are you to teach us!’). Evidence of this symptom (which is very dangerous for normal functioning of society) can be seen also in the state of the so-called expert community. Anything will do as an expert opinion: a pleasant voice, a gentle smile, a cheeky tone, long and wordy musings about ‘everything there is,’ provincial gossip, indistinct chatter or plangent lowing, as well as claims of large-scale ‘analysis’ (they like talking about eras and civilizational turning points while sitting in front of a computer and flipping through some obscure websites). The people have got talk shows back, where guests scream, fight, insult and accuse each other. People like that, they are glued to their TVs or computer screens. But when will a sober and competent conversation begin? When will the experts begin to demonstrate at least elementary analytical skills (combined with clear and transparent presentation)? It will not happen anytime soon, because ‘anything goes.’ Because people still watch, read, quote it. When there is no demand for reality, for an attempt to understand what is happening to us and who we are, everything that we call ‘TV channels,’ ‘expert opinion,’ ‘newspapers,’ and ‘talk shows’ will do. The only comfort is that Christmas and New Year are upon us. In that time, Reality knocks at our doors, even if just once a year...”