[Marxism] Counterpunch: Lee Sustar on Ukraine
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Thu Dec 2 11:16:58 MST 2004
December 2, 2004
The Bad vs. the Corrupt
Standoff in Ukraine
By LEE SUSTAR
The election standoff in Ukraine is portrayed in the U.S. media as a battle
between pro-Washington democrats and pro-Moscow authoritarians. But it's
really a scramble for power within a ruling class dominated by corrupt
politicians and their wealthy backers.
It's almost certainly the case that the current government's candidate for
president, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich--who has the high-profile
support of Russian President Vladimir Putin--stole the election with
widespread fraud in the runoff election November 21. But according to
election observers, there were also reports of fraud in the Western
Ukrainian strongholds of Viktor Yushchenko, a former prime minister who's
supported by the U.S. and the European Union (EU).
Yushchenko's supporters captured the attention of the world by mobilizing
100,000 supporters in the streets of the capital city of Kiev for more than
a week, blockading government buildings and calling for a general strike
while demanding a new election. Yet Yanukovich also had mass meetings in the
eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the economic powerhouse of the country
where the majority of the population is Russian-speaking.
The election plays on the historic divisions in Ukraine between the
Russified East of the country and the Ukrainian-speaking West, which has
only been under Moscow's rule since 1940, when Stalin's USSR invaded and
took over. But if the candidates have played up such differences, it's
because their real policy differences are minimal.
The notion that that the crisis is simply Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine
versus West Ukraine is "pure nonsense," Russian author and activist Boris
Kagarlitsky told Socialist Worker. "The key place where you have most of the
resistance to the government is Kiev, which is Russian-speaking," he said.
"In class terms, it is petty bourgeois protests against the oligarchs of the
East--and the oligarchs are Russian-speaking. You cannot describe this in
purely class terms, unfortunately. Both sides are quite reactionary."
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