Does Viktor Yuschenko now want a Czechoslovakia style split up of his country? What would be the next logical step for an ideologue after beating all records for the worst incumbent electoral showing (a jaw dropping 5% of the vote)? The past month demonstrated that perhaps he’d rather burn down the house if it will not be governed by his idealized notions of what Western reform means. Somebody as ideologically inflexible and stubborn against all odds or appeals to end human suffering (notice Ukraine’s second depression in just 2 decades due to Yuschenko’s damn the torpedoes insistence on Bush style market reforms) does not go away into the night easily. But more on that in a moment.
Hillary Clinton’s hysterical ghost seems to have taken over Yulia Tymoshenko in the last few weeks. Tymoshenko has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Yanukovych who was wise enough to not fall for her bait. There is now evidence to believe a kitchen sink equivalent will now be thrown if her opponent wins. Yulia has projected her own desire for electoral fraud (her people briefly controlled a ballot printing plant before being removed by a judge) on Yanukovych to such a degree that a lot of her supporters now expect her to challenge the results regardless of the loss margin.
Unlike Tymoshenko, Hillary Clinton was not one of the richest oligarchs in the country (Yulia made enormous wealth in energy industry during Kuchma’s era) or already holding a powerful political position that could be used to destabilize the country in case of a loss (Hillary’s damage was largely contained within the democratic party). Although Yanukovych has a 10% lead, it is likely to be a close win. Ukrainians are too demoralized to stage a second Maidan but that wont stop Yulia from trying to destabilize the country again. After all it worked for her twice in the past and she has the financial resources and government megaphone to attempt mass strikes and rallies. Such mass protests in Western provinces are especially troubling in that they could spiral out of control and result in retreat of Kiev’s power. Since many in the Western pro-Yuschenko provinces only view her as a lesser evil (Tymoshenko just learned Ukrainian language in 2000 to be able to thrive in politics), it is also possible she may lose control over her own creation if she sets it in motion.
Viktor Yanukovych has remained remarkably calm in the face of preemptive provocations. This is understandable in that if he reacts with similar hysteria, bloodshed really is possible in months to come. European Union and United States intelligence services should be careful in how much they crank the propaganda levels in support of Tymoshenko in the next few weeks considering E.U. already has enough on its plate with Greece and Spain. Washington DC’s intelligence has still not recovered from humiliation in Georgia and Iran in recent years. A European country of over 40 million people that is in the middle of a severe depression and that is more ethnically/emotionally polarized than ever before is not the same toy to play with as it was in 2004. Of course we can’t expect British media to not try to stir world opinion against Russia even if E.U./US propaganda machines do not go into same high gear as with Iran last summer or with Ukraine in last presidential elections.
Preemptive attempts at destabilization have not been limited to Tymoshenko. There are a few factors to suggest that Yuschenko may want to split the country now that the dream is dead (bringing Ukraine into EU to eventually create a tangible “new Europe” block along with still prometheist Poland and the Baltic states to begin to wrestle power away from Germany/France within the proportionally represented EU parliament):
1) Actually achieved success in the past when his duties were compatible with area of his knowledge (aping of Baltic economic shock therapy rather than governing)
2) Tasted actual popularity and the thrill of insurgent politics (the fact that Western intelligence services backed him financially and in the info war realm does not take away from the thrill he must have felt in being the figurehead of an eventually triumphant alliance)
3) Appears rather emotionally callous and unempathic even for a politician (he knew fully well that a huge multi-ethnic federal country with an artificial and unconsolidated nationality will not respond to economic shock therapy as well as a small relatively homogeneous country like Lithuania)
4) Tasted not only actual political power but the international support of the United States leadership along with briefly becoming a propaganda darling in deeply ideological Western media (who manage to turn entire countries into Potemkin villages at times)
In light of these, his going away decision (to make a former insurgent and Nazi-collaborator Stepan Bandera into a national hero) strikes an ominous tone. Considering that Ukrainians have now been living in Weimar republic style economic and political difficulty ever since Soviet collapse, all moves should have been made to take steps that ease tensions and potential for violence. Instead, Yuschenko has publicly equated Soviet Union’s rule with Nazi rule and glorified a secessionist hero at a time when western Ukrainian provinces see a spike in popularity of hyper nationalist and often gleefully ethnic centered fascist parties (such as All Ukrainian Union-Svoboda party and crypto fascists that are readily allowed to be within the ruling coalition such as Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists).
[note: One must not use words like these lightly. The nationalism advocated by the fringe factions within the decaying corpse of the orange revolution is the primordial tribe rooted nationalism we saw in early 20th century Germany. This can be contrasted with the types of nationalisms (or perhaps more accurately supranationalisms) seen in USA, Russia, India, or China that officially emphasize a type of Lingua Franca melting pot unity for all regardless of racial or linguistic background). The primordial type stems from relatively recent acquisition of a nation state following a long period of weakness and political fragmentation of linguistically homogeneous people. Best examples of course are the experiences of Italian, German, and Polish people in 1850-1950 periods who emphasized unity of tongue for their new nations and a retroactively glorified semi-artificial past. Racial purity is not even a factor for recently unified people who lived on plains rather than well defended mountain heights.]
Some may argue that a people must first go through this linguistic phase of rabid nationalistic consolidation before they can move on to the more accepting supranational consolidation. Considering that many ethnic groups in India/China/Russia effectively skipped the former period, the more proper argument perhaps should be that people strong and/or violent enough to have won a nation state should pass this consolidating period rapidly before moving on. In this case, the experience of Ukraine qualitatively differs from experience of successful language based secessionists in the Baltic states and yet aspiring secessionist groups like Kurds. The separation of Ukrainian party bosses from Soviet Union in early 1990s was most definitely not the type of violent mono-linguistic secessionism Bandera engaged in. Besides their acceptance of 2 languages and active participation of many Ukrainian Russian speakers, it can effectively be argued that the separation was a reactionary move by regional conservatives to be less effected by liberalizing influences from Moscow. Periphery regions like Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Texas, and Alaska tend to be a decade or two behind the socioeconomic developments of the older federal capitals. There was constant lag for things like industrialization, urbanization, perestroika when they arrived in Ukraine after their arrival in Russia. As Texas is showing us, there is also lag in resistance from political leadership who gain from preservation of the older order. Separatism is one form of such resistance and party bosses of Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan used it effectively. Linguistic purity of their regions was the furthest thing from their minds and was just used as a cynical political tool.
At this time Romania also immediately organized this routine event. Presedinte al Romaniei Election held in 2019 will be the determination of the fate of Romanian people in the next 10 years.
Kiev today is thus Moscow in 1990s. Orange revolution was dead on arrival the way Medvedev would have been if he magically replaced Putin in 2000 (and as foreigner brought proportional representation was in Iraq after toppling of Saddam Hussein’s government). A strongman is coming to Ukraine and it remains to be seen whether there will be one or more of them and whether there will be one or more Ukraines in years to come. Tymoshenko perhaps has more than just her ego at stake in this election since she has more than enough skeletons in her closet (her dealings within the energy industry following post-Soviet privatizations) for a new government to dig up and bring before the courts if needed.