A Year of Chocolate Tyranny

I’ve got a big secret to tell you: I never actually voted for Poroshenko last year. I didn’t vote for his party, either, and that turned out reasonably well. Most of what I knew about Poroshenko a year ago was that his candy are pretty tasty; this is probably not the most important thing to know when you’re electing a new President. On the other hand, I know a lot of people who voted for Poroshenko; pretty much everyone I know either voted for Poroshenko or missed the elections entirely. Not the most representative choice, but it goes to highlight the fact that, all of a sudden, 54% of voters cast their vote in favor of him.

You bet that was unprecedented. Especially considering the amount of flak Poroshenko gets from literally everyone, but I’m not going to talk about that. Fact remains that Poroshenko is the only President to be elected in one round as opposed to two (or, in Yuschenko’s case, three). If that doesn’t count for something, at least that’s an achievement.

In hindsight it was probably for the better, but, one way or another, Ukraine wasted a lot of time last year. Partially this can be attributed to the war – Western observers might say that war’s no excuse, but believe it or not, war requires a lot of attention, especially when you never fought one before. 2014 summer campaign was basically an exercise in one-upmanship, which went from light infantry to tanks to MLRS systems to SAMs to what was for all intents and purposes an open invasion. As of now it’s the largest armed conflict in Europe since the Yugoslav Wars; much like the Yugoslav Wars, it is conducted with one side enjoying considerable superiority over the other, perhaps even more so. Naturally this is going to draw attention from reforming things into making things work, even if barely; Armed Forces and MoD reforms are now kind of a priority (and are proceeding speedingly). Poroshenko gets a lot of flak domestically for his part in the Minsk ceasefires, but only a ZRADA-infused idiot can deny they bought us time to prepare. Mar’inka is the best indicator for that; I see troops in top-notch combat gear riding modern APCs where just a year ago I saw troops in second-hand or Soviet era combat gear riding old APCs or even civilian buses, that has to count for something. If it doesn’t, then congratulations, you’re a zradafaggot. Go listen to Borys Filatov if it makes you feel better.

Partially this can be attributed to the parliament; unfortunately, the current parliament is not much better. Besides the obvious former Party of Regions cadre there was also the ruling coalition, which resulted in the first Yatsenyuk Government being composed of very random people. A common factor in Ukrainian government composition is the quote principle, where coalition parties expect to get a number of cabinet seats and then spend a lot of time horse-trading until they either get them or reach a compromise. This resulted in people who were more interested in party politics than in running their ministry, insofar as it’s possible to ‘run’ a ministry in Ukraine; at best you can force it to jog at a brisk pace. Herds of horses were traded after the October elections, with what was probably considerable pressure from Western authority figures, but in the end everyone got their compromise. I, for one, was satisfied that Avakov remained Interior Minister, and Yatsenyuk’s probably a decent PM, even if he doesn’t do much; as I already mentioned earlier, that bar’s set pretty low. Samopomich got a few token seats plus vice-speaker, which is more than I’d give them, anyway; and most of seats went to Poroshenko’s party, thus paving the way for foreigner ministers. This is one of Poroshenko’s successes, but more on that later.

Partially this can be attributed to Poroshenko himself, SURPRISINGLY, and his… interesting approach to personnel management; thus we had Vitaly Yarema as Prosecutor General, who did much to torpedo what little trust there was in the Prosecutor’s Office. Strangely enough, Yarema’s dismissal was a hot topic for some ‘patriotic opposition’ MPs in the new parliament, but for some reason it… went nowhere, which goes to say a lot about some ‘patriotic opposition’ MPs. Thus we also had Valery Heletey, head of State Security Directorate (Ukraine’s equivalent to US Secret Service, basically people who guard the President and important government officials), as Minister of Defence; the best thing he did in his tenure was probably approve the new Armed Forces camouflage uniform, and, oh, probably pose for photos while liberating Slavyansk. Heletey is the loyal samurai of Ukraine’s warring states, in that he’s loyal to anyone who’s in charge, which is probably a good quality for a security chief, but dubious when it comes to running the MoD. Needless to say, things in the MoD only started getting done when Poroshenko put Heletey back into security and appointed Poltorak (then-Commander of the National Guard) as Minister of Defence.

Poroshenko does indeed have a problem with staff; this is because he’s forced to choose from a rather limited pool of people he trusts and who were simultaneously not part of the Ancient Regime’s dark deeds; this is probably how we got Yarema (who was last Interior Minister in the late Yuschenko era) and Heletey (whom Yanukovych sacked during his tenure) in the first place. These mistakes were later corrected, but, again, it is a delay that arguably cost us much.

Reforms are a buzzword everyone throws around, even Poroshenko does, but the fact remains that ultimately he’s right: you can’t have throughout reform in a year in a country where nothing was done in the way of reform for the last twenty years. As far as I know, a guy named Gorbachev tried that, and a Soviet Union collapsed. Moreso if the country is, again, at war; this is why we, after a year, have reforms that are, at best, halfway done; at worst they are probably barely 15% done. Talking heads and zradafaggots (strangely all affiliated with Kolomoyskiy) praise Georgian reforms (or, at least, they did before Saakashvili got appointed as Odessa governor), but they neglect to mention even Georgian reforms took years to come into fruition. They also neglect to mention that Georgia is a small country, with a population not much larger than the population of Kyiv; whereas Ukraine is a big country, with upwards of forty million people. Sure, compared to Russia it’s not that big or numerous, but compared to Russia everything is smalltime, with the possible exception of China. Scale matters.

Poroshenko famously said that ‘an ATO (anti-terrorist operation) should last for hours, not months’; but it’s hard to blame him when no one anticipated said terrorists getting more tanks than France and Germany have combined. This did not stop people (mostly of the zradafaggot persuasion) from beating that particular dead horse. Most of said people are, strangely enough, also affiliated with Kolomoyskiy. Poroshenko also famously said every ATO participant would get 1000 UAH a day; an unrealistic statement at best, and probably not meant to be taken at face value, but military personnel do receive more money a month than they did previously. 5000 UAH is not much, but it beats barely 3000 UAH soldiers got before the war. Plus they finally went around to rewarding people for destroyed enemy vehicles, and it apparently works. From time to time.

And, of course, there is the dreaded Lipetsk chocolate factory, which zradafaggots fear more than they do Putin (in fact, Putin is probably their best friend in the fight against the chocolate tyranny); the problem is Poroshenko can’t sell Roshen, or the Lipetsk chocolate factory, the latter partially because of its effectiveness in the information war in Ukraine. Whenever the government does anything, there are always cries of ‘but Lipetsk chocolate factory!’. It may not pay Russian taxes, but it certainly plays into the Russian narrative. As for Roshen, I’m sorry, but I can’t blame Poroshenko for not wanting to give it away for cheap.

Yeah, you guessed it, Poroshenko’s an oligarch. People saying that conveniently forget Kolomoyskiy is also an oligarch, probably an even bigger oligarch, so I’m not sure how Kolomoyskiy is objectively better. Oh, wait, he’s a PATRIOT, unlike that sellout Poroshenko-Valtsman, yeah, that totally counts. The point is, my dear Western readers, is that in a country where all politicians are either oligarchs or paid for by oligarch, I’d much rather choose an oligarch; he’s bound to be a little more secure. If assets such as Odessa Oil Refinery mysteriously come under Poroshenko’s control (as opposed to, say, state control, as is the case with Ukrnafta), on the other hand, then I at least will know who to blame.

I’m not sure that would happen, though, but you could say I’m an optimist. I also hope an alternative to Poroshenko appears in five years, and I’m certain there probably will be someone. But in their absence, no, people like Yuliya Tymoshenko won’t cut it. People like Dmytro Yarosh the Semiconductor are not going to cut it, either.

Poroshenko did do some decent things during his first year in office, decent things that probably only matter to a Ukrainian, not to enlightened Western observers. There is that small thing that we went from (on paper, not in reality) 150 000-strong Armed Forces to what is the largest military entirely in Europe (second-largest if you include Russia), 250 000 strong. This is half of what Ukraine is alloted under the CFE Treaty, but it’s more than enough. There is also that small thing that Russian hopes for a vassal ‘Novorossiya’ (conveniently replete with industries the Russian defense industry requires) or, barring that, a Ukraine reorganized under more Bosnia-and-Hercegovina lines, were soundly dashed; even with all the Russian aid (volunteers, tanks, vacationing Buryat tank brigades), separatists control barely 2% of Ukrainian territory, which falls far short of their ‘bomb Kyiv now’ and ‘bomb Lviv now’ fantasies, much less ‘Novorossiya’. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is; as I said, it is pretty much a fucking miracle Ukraine still exists.

Poroshenko is not entirely honest in saying he’s the only president who does not seek wider powers; in fact, the rumors about the new Constitution are pretty interesting. On the other hand, he’s hardly Kuchma (who started the 2004 constitutional amendment to keep himself in power as Prime Minister), Yuschenko (who spent his term fighting the PM and the parliament every step of the way) or Yanukovych (who threw the 2004 constitution out of the window and abused his powers so much that it led to a motherfucking revolution), I’ll give him that. He does pressure the Rada to actually fucking vote on important laws, but given that this Rada is only marginally better than the previous convocation, it is hardly unexpected. Foreigner ministers were also his idea: he appointed Abromavichus as Economy Minister, a fucking thankless job, he appointed Yaresko as Finance Minister (another fucking thankless job, but Yaresko’s very, very good at that job), he saddled Avakov with Eka Zguladze, Georgia’s former Interior Minister, and she oversees the long-awaited police reform. In fact, in light of Saakashvili’s appointment (one that most Odessites are content with), more and more people joke about the ‘Georgian occupation of Ukraine’. On the Ukrainian side, Poroshenko’s better personnel management decisions were Defense Minister Poltorak (and, of course, the MoD’s famous ‘volunteer desant’ which actually drives many logistics and procurement reforms the MoD is responsible for) and the new Prosecutor General Shokin (rhymes with ‘Shocking’). Foreign Minister Klymkin also does his job splendidly, and this is, actually, another of Poroshenko’s successes.

The success in this case being the West’s more or less unequivocal support of Ukraine. In fact, many Ukrainians now see Ukraine’s dependence on the West as a guarantee that the country will be reformed. Ukrainians tend to romanticize the West, but seeing as Western officials are more or less pleased with Ukraine, they probably aren’t far from truth in that case. Western opinion was divided when Putin annexed Crimea; now, though, the West is more or less firmly behind us. This is more than Ukraine could have said at any time in its history – not in 1917-1919, when the Entente had trouble finding ‘the Ukraine’ on the map (and then Skoropadsky went and jumped on the Central Powers’ bandwagon), not in 1991, with Bush the First’s ‘Chicken Kiev’ speech, not even in 2004, when Ukraine fatigue would set in in just two years. Sure, most Ukrainians would rather the West give us Javelins, but Javelins aren’t a wonder weapon that will win the war; arguably, it is more important that West gives us money, so that Ukraine remains afloat, and that West keeps up sanctions against Russia, which are a weapon more powerful than all the Javelins in the world. It is already clear the war won’t be won by military force alone; by a combination of political pressure and military force, though, it is possible. But this is a long road.

I was tempted to compare Poroshenko to the Meiji Emperor, particularly in light of how many people shit on his head constantly, and because the Peter the Great comparison went stale a year ago. Poroshenko can indeed be compared with other people – Putin, for example, in his early years of presidency. The Putin comparison is perhaps even more apt, if a bit more troubling; on the other hand, it is as fundamentally incorrect as comparing Ukraine with Meiji Japan is (although with all the local feudalism and backwards government and a history of Nazi collaborationism you could say we’re practically brother nations). Ukraine doesn’t have Russia’s oil and gas reserves, the ‘oil needle’ responsible for Russia splendor (Russia splendor being when all the wealth is concentrated in Moscow, while much of Russia exists in third world conditions), to fall back on and get easy money from. Poroshenko is also not a ‘father of the nation’ figure by any means, and seeing as Ukrainians have a particularly low tolerance of that shit, it is probably for the best. Here’s hoping that isn’t going to change.

Although some of that Ukrnafta oil revenue would be nice, too.

In conclusion, I don’t know what’s to conclude, because, as you can see, I’m mostly pleased with Poroshenko. I wasn’t until recently, mind you. Maybe that counts for something, or maybe I’m too crazy and out of touch with reality to trust my nation’s president for a change.

But I know for certain that it could have been a lot worse.

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A Year of Chocolate Tyranny

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