[Marxism] Strange bedfellows
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 1 12:13:17 MST 2004
NY Times, December 1, 2004
Ukraine's Intramural Contest: Entrenched Interests Scramble
By C. J. CHIVERS
KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 30 - The battle for the presidency of Ukraine has
been framed as a contest between a prime minister who represents a
corrupt government with a deep affinity for Russia and a reform-minded
challenger who wishes to move Ukraine toward the European fold.
But the fight for the nation's future is being waged not just in
capitals to its east and west but also within, by its entrenched
domestic interests: its oligarchs, its secret services and its
professional political class, including Leonid D. Kuchma, the president
of 10 years.
No matter which candidate ultimately wins, Ukrainian society is on the
verge of great political reorganization. Political analysts here say
those power blocs have been working intensively to influence the
outcome, either to improve their standing or ensure their survival.
A variety of intrigues and unseen interests - personal, financial,
political - have become principal elements of the fight, and may well
determine its outcome. Chief among them are Mr. Kuchma's interests.
Ukraine's business elite has split, with its richest cliques supporting
the government, especially in the resource-rich east, where the
government helped make them wealthy during post-Soviet privatization and
in the years of growth after.
But some top businessmen have backed the opposition; they include Petro
Poroshenko, who owns the independent Channel 5 television, now a
principal proponent of the opposition cause.
The Guardian (London), April 27, 2001
Ukraine's popular PM forced out: Communists and business combine to push
ex-Soviet state back towards Moscow's orbit
Ian Traynor in Moscow
The Ukrainian prime minister, Viktor Yushchenko, was forced out of
office yesterday by communist MPs backed by the president's crony
millionaires, throwing the country into crisis and confusion.
The resignation of the country's most trusted politician cut short his
attempts to end corruption and pursue pro-western policies, and
consolidated the power of the widely discredited president, Leonid Kuchma.
It also boosted the Russian strategy of drawing former Soviet states
back into Moscow's orbit and polarising Ukraine between the pro-Russian
east and the nationalist west.
The ousting of Mr Yushchenko follows months of public outrage after a
tape was published in which the president is heard apparently
authorising the murder of an opposition journalist.
Out of office, Mr Yushchenko is expected to exploit the crisis and his
enhanced popularity to lead the opposition to President Kuchma.
"I am not abandoning politics; I am leaving in order to return," he said
Yuliya Tymoshenko, the opposition leader whom Mr Kuchma sacked as deputy
prime minister in January, immediately invited Mr Yushchenko to lead her
campaign against the president.
Ukraine's polarisation was evident in the heart of the capital Kiev
As MPs gathered in parliament to pass the vote of no confidence in the
prime minister, thousands of Mr Yushchenko's supporters were outside
demanding Mr Kuchma's impeachment.
The no-confidence vote was carried by a 263 to 69.
Mr Yushchenko's opponents accused him of leading the country into
economic ruin, even though last year he gave Ukraine its first economic
growth in the 10 years since its independence from the former Soviet Union.
"Democracy in Ukraine has suffered a serious defeat," he said.
"The political elite . . . showed itself unable to accept a legal
economy and public politics."
Although the communists have long been opposed to Mr Yushchenko's
government, the no-confidence vote would have failed without the backing
of the centrist parties, which are beholden to the millionaire clan
leaders who dominate Ukraine's notoriously corrupt public life, and the
tacit assent of Mr Kuchma, who appointed Mr Yushchenko prime minister at
the end of 1999.
It came after months of demonstrations, sackings, and occasional
violence triggered by the secret tape revelations, allegedly from Mr
Kuchma's office, but it was seen not merely as another government tussle
but as a signpost to the future direction of the biggest country in
One of Mr Yushchenko's supporters in parliament, Vasili Chervony, said
the choice facing the parliament was not for or against the prime
minister, but "for Russia or for Europe".
"The KGB men in the Krem lin are re-assembling their empire."
Given the threats to his position, Mr Kuchma appears to be battening
down the hatches and making concessions to the industrial oligarchs who
run Ukraine and feared that Mr Yushchenko's economic reforms would
imperil their control of key national assets.
He sought to distance himself from the row, refusing to support Mr
Yushchenko before the vote, and after it blaming him for being unwilling
to make compromises.
Mr Yushchenko was under strong pressure to give cabinet seats to several
oligarchs' supporters, but he refused to make changes which would have
neutered his policies.
If western diplomats in Kiev were hugely dismayed by yesterday's events,
Moscow was quietly satisfied. Following the recent election triumph of
pro-Moscow communists in neighbouring Moldova, the downfall of Mr
Yushchenko helps to surround President Vladimir Putin with broadly
Privately, Russian diplomats are even suggesting that Ukraine may yet
ask to join the Russia-Belarus union, although this seems far-fetched,
since the union is a feeble con struct and membership would polarise
Ukraine even more completely.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs
committee, summed up Moscow's view of the crisis by claiming that Mr
Yushchenko was supported only by "extreme nationalists" and his
government was at the mercy of "western arm-twisting".
Ukrainian opinion polls show Mr Yushchenko to be easily the most popular
and most trusted politician in the country, and 4m signatures were
collected supporting him and opposing yesterday's no-confidence vote.
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