[Marxism] Ukrainian Protesters See Too Many Familiar Faces in Parliament After Revolution
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Mon Feb 24 14:47:40 MST 2014
NY Times Feb. 24, 2014
Ukrainian Protesters See Too Many Familiar Faces in Parliament After
By ANDREW HIGGINS
KIEV — As Ukraine’s parliament moved to fill a power vacuum left by the
ouster of President Viktor F. Yanuovych, Irina Nikanchuk, a 25-year-old
economist, stood outside the legislature building on Monday to give
voice to a widespread feeling here: Throw the bums out.
Waving a banner calling for early elections to a new Parliament, she
cursed members of Parliament and opposition politicians like Yulia V.
Tymoshenko who have so far become the principal beneficiaries of a
revolution driven by passions on the street and bubbled with disgust at
Ukraine’s entire political elite.
Parliament has moved swiftly since Mr. Yanukovych’s flight on Saturday
to restore a semblance of normal government, endorsing interim ministers
and giving expanded powers to its new speaker, Oleksandr V. Turchynov,
an ally of Ms. Tymoshenko, empowering him to carry out the duties of the
president until a new presidential election is held in May.
But the prospect of a new order dominated by established opposition
parties, almost as discredited in the eyes of many Ukrainians as Mr.
Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, has left a bitter feeling that what comes
next could end up disappointing as much as the government that followed
the 2004 Orange Revolution.
Ukraine is being pulled in different directions: one toward Russia, the
other toward Western Europe.
“We need new people who can say no to the oligarchs, not just the old
faces,” said Ms. Nikanchuk, referring to the wealthy billionaires who
control blocks of votes in the Parliament but who, with a few
exceptions, hedged their bets until the end about which side to support
in a violent struggle that left more than 80 protesters dead between Mr.
Yanukovych and his opponents.
“Tymoshenko is just Putin in a skirt,” she added, comparing the former
prime minister and, until Saturday, jailed opposition leader with the
Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. As prime minister after the Orange
Revolution, Ms. Tymoshenko engineered a gas deal with the Kremlin that
helped Ukraine avoid a catastrophic energy shortage but left the country
paying an exorbitant price for its gas supplies.
Ms. Tymoshenko, who was jailed by Mr. Yanukovych after losing the 2010
presidential election, had been put forward as one of three candidates
for the post of prime minister but she issued a statement on Sunday
saying she had not been consulted about this and did not want to be
considered for the position. Still, it left open the possibility that
she would run for president.
“The problem is that the old forces are trying to come back to take
their old chairs,” said Vasily Kuak, a shipping broker who stood outside
parliament waving a sign that read: “Revolution, Not a Court Coup!”
In Kiev, at least, nobody is publicly challenging Ukraine’s revolution,
although Russian-speaking regions in the east of the country are far
from enthusiastic about a new order they fear could veer toward
hard-line nationalist forces. One of the first acts of Parliament after
the flight of Mr. Yanukovych, himself from eastern Ukraine, was to annul
a law that provided for the use of Russian as a second official language.
But even the Party of Regions, which is particularly strong in the east,
has now thrown its lot in with the forces of change, denouncing the
former president as it scrambles to keep itself relevant and avoid being
punished for its former loyalties.
All the same, the site of luxury cars dropping off members of Parliament
at the colonnaded legislature building, is now guarded by “self-defense”
units that previously battled government forces, has stirred dismay and
“Again we see Mercedes and BMWs bringing deputies who are supposed to
represent the people,” said Mr. Kuak, “We don’t want to see these people
again. We want to see people from the square, from the revolution.”
But as with any revolution, the question of who should represent the
turbulent forces that created it is a difficult one. The revered heroes
of Ukraine’s revolution are squads of helmeted young men with clubs who
risked their lives to hold back government forces as they tried early
last week to seize Independence Square, known as Maidan. The center of
Kiev is now scattered with shrines to those who died, each one piled
with flowers left by grateful residents.
“We need people from Maidan, not people like you,” screamed an angry
woman as Volodymyr Lytvyn, a former speaker of the Parliament known for
shifting with the wind, left the legislature building. As he tried to
answer questions from the crowd, protected by two bodyguards and a solid
wrought iron fence, a cry went up clamoring for “lustration of
everybody,” a term usually associated with the purge of officials and
politicians suspected of serving Communist regimes before the
revolutions of 1989 across Eastern and Central Europe.
Peppered with angry demands that the Parliament raise pensions, reopen
closed hospitals and find work for the jobless, Mr. Lytvyn struggled to
respond but basically called for patience, a virtue that is likely to be
in short supply if the interim government does not manage to convince
people it is working to improve their lives, not line its own pockets.
Mr. Turchynov, the speaker and effectively Ukraine’s new president until
elections, gets credit for swiftly shepherding a raft of legislation
through Parliament to establish the legal basis for a post-Yanukovych
order. But few see him as representing the revolution.
“He knows parliamentary routines but he does not have the support of the
people,” said Nikita Kornavalov, a teacher, 29, who left a job in Norway
to support what he hopes will be a new era free of the corruption and
brutality that have marred the country since its independence in 1991.
But even those who want a decisive break with a political class seen as
corrupt and self-serving acknowledge that the heroes of the street might
not make the best rulers. One of the most prominent leaders of the
street forces is Dymtro Yarosh, the head of Right Sector, a coalition of
previously fringe nationalist groups. But his elevation to government
would terrify many Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east and
accelerate the risk of a dangerous break-up.
“Yarosh would be good in the stage security service or the police, but
not as a minister,” said Ms. Nikanchuk, the economist.
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