[Marxism] Strange bedfellows

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 1 12:13:17 MST 2004


NY Times, December 1, 2004
NEWS ANALYSIS
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.

(clip)

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.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/01/international/europe/01kiev.html

===

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 
yesterday.

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 
eastern Europe.

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 
supportive regimes.

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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