So. Again. These guys are right about most things, such as Yarosh and Semenchenko being full of shit (they are, but then, what do you expect from a man whose name rhymes with ‘semen’?), people defending ‘good’ oligarchs, and stuff like that. I disagree on the OUN-UPA issue, because of reasons, and I disagree on the anti-communism laws because of the same reasons. Having streets named after Artyom, Schors or Rudnev is the same as naming streets after Zakharchenko, Motorola and Strelkov. By which I mean that no, thanks.
I don’t agree on Poroshenko, either. He’s not ideal, he’s made enough blunders (especially with his personnel policy, but he’s improving), he didn’t sell Roshen (although I can’t exactly blame him for that), but the thing is that he mostly does his job (or finds people who can get things done), and – the worst thing – is that so far there is no alternative. This is actually what’s distressing me a lot recently, because this is, indeed, very much like Russia. Russia’s Putin didn’t have any alternatives when he assumed power, back in the early Noughties, and oil revenue started trickling down; who’s gonna be that alternative, Zyuganov? Zhirinovsky? Opposition politicians, who were just working for Yeltsin and Putin? None of them did a very good job running Russia. The same problem exists in Ukraine now, only it’s worse: all the possible contenders for Poroshenko are either oligarchs, paid by oligarchs, or had a shot at running Ukraine before and failed. The present economic situation is actually grounded in Ukraine’s populism, particularly as exercised by Tymoshenko during her PM tenure, and then by Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. So tell me, honestly, do you think any of these people could be an alternative? They ran Ukraine once. They robbed it and failed. Tymoshenko is lucky to have gotten 8% of the vote; polls say she’s going to have even less, and Opposition Bloc isn’t exactly too good, either.
Who else? Liashko is a populist through-and-through, and he surrounds himself with dubious people like Ihor Mosiychuk or Serhiy Melnichuk, the one now prosecuted for torture and unlawful detainment. Tornado battalion, disbanded because of the same allegations (its former command is now prosecuted the same as Melnichuk, too), started as Shakhtarsk, funded by Liashko and sporting his ‘Radical Party’ pitchfork. Is Liashko an alternative?
Is Kolomoyskiy an alternative? So far Privat Group’s been losing ground steadily, with their disastrous venture into politics and their heavy-handed privatization (excuse the pun) of the Ukrop shoulder patch. Practically the only place they’re popular is Facebook. They’re steadily getting the boot out of local government (with Kolomoyskiy’s man Palytsa having gotten the biggest boot yet, one with Saakashvili’s name on it), and it looks like they’ll lose Ukrnafta, too. Kolomoyskiy is a robber baron, not too different from Akhmetov: so is he an alternative?
Yarosh? Biletsky? I’m actually surprised Azov has had less casualties than Donbass Battalion did under Semenchenko’s leadership, but if Biletsky’s good at being Minister Avakov’s loyal German Shepherd, this doesn’t mean he’s actually good at anything else. He’s not that good at fighting the war, or Azov wouldn’t have blundered into Shyrokine only to come crying to the Army for fire support. As for Yarosh, the only thing he’s good is denouncing gays and Minsk agreements. Right Sector gets barely 2% of vote at best. Right Sector also did fuck-all at Maidan, yet professes to be its ‘driving force’. Is this your alternative?
Yatsenyuk? His Popular Front stint didn’t work out so good, because so far Turchynov and Avakov are more or less co-opted by Poroshenko, and Popular Front now gets minuscule support from potential voters. Yatsenyuk is a decent PM, because anyone would be decent after Azarov and Tymoshenko, but it does nothing to improve the fact that he doesn’t do much. Most of the stellar work done by the Ukrainian government was done by foreigner ministers – Yaresko, Abromavichus, Zguladze as deputy Interior Minister – or by Poroshenko’s appointments like Klimkin or Poltorak (his best appointments before the advent of foreigner ministers, actually). I wouldn’t call Yatsenyuk a figurehead just now, but the fact is that he doesn’t do much, and his party is now more famous for blocking military procurement laws and spreading panic, than it is for anything else.
Turchynov? Come on, the man actually WAS a dictator in all but name, yet he yielded the presidency without a single word before going to strong-arm the largely Party of Regions-dominated Rada and then becoming Chairman of National Security Council and a vice president in all but name. Probably the main reason many people voted for Popular Front was because of all the billboards with Bloody Pastor looking at you. Look where all these votes went now.
Many touted, and still keep touting, Lviv’s mayor Sadovyi as an alternative, but Sadovyi’s an oligarch, again, and while Samopomich still enjoys popularity, particularly in the West (the same West that largely supported Svoboda not long ago!), it failed to deliver on its election promises. Lviv may look like a model European city now (complete with old Tatra trams for that unforgettable Prague flavor!), but Samopomich refused to live up to its name, which literally means ‘Self-help’ – as they failed to live up to their slogan of ‘Do it yourself’; they didn’t. Samopomich refused to take precarious cabinet positions, preferring to criticize the government from the sidelines – nevermind that they are a coalition party and are supposed to be responsible for the said government! Half the party are Gascognian talking heads associated with Kolomoyskiy, talking heads like Semenchenko the Combat Wombat or Egor Sobolev with his highschool education and his sights set on the Prosecutor’s Office. I admit to having eyed Sadovyi pensively, but is he and his a credible alternative?
I didn’t vote for Poroshenko. I didn’t vote for Poroshenko’s party, either, because I didn’t want to give Poroshenko unanimous control over the legislature. We had a supermajority under Yanukovych, and it was more than enough. Yet within a year, I find myself turning increasingly towards support for Poroshenko. What’s worse, I don’t see anyone who I could support in lieu of Poroshenko, and you know what’s distressing? This is. Because so far, all the ‘new blood’ politicians turned out to be exactly the same as the old – down to the rhetoric, the refusal to take responsibility, and the populism they so eagerly embrace.
But when I say ‘support’, I don’t say ‘unquestionably’. I do not believe everything that is said: rather, I note that and then observe the result. Why am I so optimistic, then? Because the preliminary results are much better than I expected, and I didn’t actually expect anything. And, anyhow, the situation could be a lot worse. We could be conquered by Russia about now. We could have lost half the country to Russia’s pet ‘Novorossiya’. We could have defaulted in 2014, and then the dollar wouldn’t be 23 UAH, it would have been 223 UAH, with the fiscal policy Yanukovych and Tymoshenko pursued. We didn’t. There’s still hope.
Who should I support, then? Tymoshenko, who goes around decrying the government’s handling of the economy she ruined? Kolomoyskiy, who wants to deny that economy its oil revenues? Or maybe I should support Yarosh? Or Semenchenko? Or Samopomich? I’m not even speaking about the former Party of Regions, because in my humble opinions, they deserve to get shot. Should I support any of these people, then?
Yes, I hope there is some – any – credible alternative to look forward to. I hope that the country doesn’t descend back into rampant populism in the next four years. But hope is a strange thing to cling to.
Ukraine is in a very precarious position even now. You’re not making it any less precarious.
And nobody’s breaking out the water cannons to disperse anti-austerity protesters, like they did in Armenia only recently. This alone should speak volumes about our right to dissent, if you’re so concerned about it. The problem is not people exercising that right (something our Facebook-centric centrist minority doesn’t do, instead yielding the floor to populists and tinpot radicals), the problem is that right being hijacked, which it increasingly is.
And you’re not helping.
P.S. My stance on anti-communism, OUN and Ukrainian independence is not negotiable. I’m not going into that particular topic again, because I can’t convince any of you, and your efforts just end with me antagonizing you.
So don’t. You’re still not helping.