[Marxism] Ukrainian Protesters See Too Many Familiar Faces in Parliament After Revolution

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 24 14:47:40 MST 2014


NY Times Feb. 24, 2014
Ukrainian Protesters See Too Many Familiar Faces in Parliament After 
Revolution

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 
anger.

“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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