[Marxism] Counterpunch: Lee Sustar on Ukraine

Charlie Parks jcparks5550 at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 2 11:16:58 MST 2004

December 2, 2004
The Bad vs. the Corrupt
Standoff in Ukraine


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."

full: http://www.counterpunch.com/sustar12022004.html

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