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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

From Ruslana to Klitschko

What kind of leader Ukrainians want and what kind of leader the country needs: sociologists’ comments
23 January, 2014 - 11:00

“We want a leader!” shouted angry Ukrainians from the crowd during another Sunday rally. During weeks of the national uprising people clearly defined their arch-enemy, but they did not manage to obtain a single leader of the resistance. There are many reasons for that, from basic unwillingness of the oppositionist trio to give primacy to one of themselves to the absence of understanding of what this leader must be like.

New candidates were offered for the vacant spot of a leader almost every day. It was proposed that Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, Ruslana Lyzhychko, or Sashko Polozhynsky should lead the protest. Intellectuals considered Viacheslav Briukhovetsky or Myroslav Marynovych a perfect president. After the events of December 1, billionaire politician Petro Poroshenko and former prisoner Yurii Lutsenko joined the ranks of potential candidates.

There were self-nominated individuals, like odious revolutionaries Liashko and Katerynchuk. “Network” oppositionists Anatolii Hrytsenko and Viktor Baloha were also mentioned among the possible leaders. And lately, the list of suggested leaders was completed with the leaders of Automaidan: Dmytro Koba and Serhii Bulatov.

One can even hear desperate “If Tymoshenko was here, she would definitely bring order to this,” in the crowd.

In short, there are too many candidates. But there are still problems with understanding of what the right candidate must do, what tasks there are, and what and whom the country needs today.

These days artist Oleksandr Roitburd posted on his Facebook page: “They started talking about a leader and what he should be like here. So, there is this country, Israel. It was founded by Jews. They all were smart, and each had their own opinion with all sorts of nuances, it came down to mayhem with elements of a civil war. But in the end, the problem was solved by this David Ben-Gurion guy, who said: ‘I don’t know what my people want, but I know what they need.’”

The Day asked sociology experts where and how Ukrainians should look for the one who will say “I know what Ukraine needs.”



Vadym VASIUTYNSKY, social psychologist:

“We do not have a necessary leader now. It should have been a synthesis of the three existing opposition leaders, but they lack the courage to take the responsibility and the breadth of vision for understanding the current context. However, another question arises: ‘Is mass consciousness ready to embrace a leader’s open-mindedness?’ Even though on the level of intuition people understand there is no large-scale leader.

“The possibility of uniting the East and the West is a more pragmatic and practical feature. Or at least, central and western Ukraine. There is division here as well: the West is basically more rightist and radical and supports Tiahnybok, while the Center and a part of the West are more moderate and prefer Yatseniuk. And finally, even the more moderate Center and East support Klitschko. Klitschko should be the most suitable for this trend. Likewise, in the conditions of fair election, he has a chance to defeat Yanukovych. However, I don’t know who really can strongly unite these three Ukraines.

“Of course, a leader must be charismatic, attractive, and not stupid. His intellectual level must be above average, but not too high, since intellectuals usually don’t have a chance to be fancied by the entire society. Out of the existing leaders, Klitschko is the one who has problems with this (if we do not take Yanukovych into consideration). Perhaps, Yatseniuk is the most competent and smart. But he lacks other features. He tries to act as a hero of masses, which he is not. He is more intelligent, neurotic and, correspondingly, provokes slight non-acceptance. If not for Tymoshenko’s authority which supports him, his popularity rating would be lower.

“Tiahnybok must have realized his drawbacks. He is trying to control himself and pretend to be more moderate than he really is. But his rating has not grown much. If a goal to defeat Yanukovych is set, Klitschko’s candidacy is the most probable. But this raises a question: who will influence him? Whether it will be activists, UDAR party members, or some other forces – the question remains open.

“People think they know what to demand, but if you talk with those who are on Maidan, the range of demands, interests, intentions and the vision of the future is extremely wide. Some find Ukrainian language the most important, others – fight against corruption, local self-government, or social justice. It is normal and good for the society. I am very skeptical about appeals to unite into a single party. The three existing forces represent the main set of the citizens’ ideas about the future of Ukraine. If a single force is created now, decentralization processes will begin immediately, centrifugal processes, and splitting will start. The leader that is to appear must be very flexible.

“At the moment, even though there are three leaders, it is a positive thing, because they have determined positions and political images that attract certain parts of the society. However, the problem of all societies is that political strife is often reduced to defeating opponents. It is hard for the opposition to fight for the electorate of the Party of Regions, so its leaders fight among themselves, it is an old truth. But they need to reach a consensus and come up with one leader. They are doing this, but very feebly, sluggishly, and slowly. People are tired of waiting.”


Mykhailo BASARAB, political analyst:

“A person who will have enough will and skill to take responsibility for what is happening in the capital or on the scale of the whole country can become a leader. People took to radical measures because of the absence of a leader. The society is waiting for a leader who will express the willingness to take sole responsibility for the protesters’ triumphant march. Obviously, this person must possess a strong personality, be able to make reasonable decisions and consistently defend their stand to the end. They must demonstrate will-power and not err.

“In general, extraordinary events can give boost to second-tier politicians. It can be a well-known person, who does not lay claim for the status of a leader at the moment. It can be Anatolii Hrytsenko, for example. Or, as a result of an unexpected chain of events, an absolutely unknown person. Grand transformations and eruptions of discontent often crystallized leaders that were unknown before. It can happen the same way here.

“I was very skeptical in my assessments of Klitschko before, but in the context of the latest events, he has significantly got ahead of the other two leaders. Yatseniuk and Tiahnybok are lagging behind noticeably. Klitschko is taking over the responsibility. Yatseniuk also tried to do this, but basically, during the events on Hrushevsky Street, we saw only Klitschko.”


Tetiana YERESKOVA, Doctor of Sociology at the Donetsk State University of Management:

“The concept of a strong charismatic leader slowly dies away. It has stopped working in today’s world. Today a leader must be transformational, that is, he must motivate his followers with his example. A leader of this kind acts socially adequately to the existing circumstances so as not to aggravate the tension and even relax it. Now is the time of these situational social leaders, but I do not see corresponding personalities in Ukraine.

“A single leader can be put forward from the ranks of the new generation, people with different worldviews and methods of solving the burning social problems. Such people must be more flexible and open, this is called ‘a leader of the new formation.’ During the two decades of Ukraine’s independence, such social leader has not appeared. The most interesting fact is that we have the resources and potential for shaping such personality, but external circumstances were such that we did not get this leader during the whole time of our independence. Perhaps, this can be accounted for by the intertwining of the old and the new in our lives, by Ukraine’s totalitarian legacy, or by the fact that the process of creation of a leader is often initiated from ‘above.’ That is why no matter how hackneyed the phrase ‘shaping the civil society’ sounds, new leaders must come from ‘below.’”

Interviewed by Anna CHEREVKO, The Day; Maria PROKOPENKO, Donetsk

By Yulia LUCHYK, The Day