Those Who’ve Gone Too Far

MOSCOW, Russia -- The main mistake made by the ex-leaders of the countries of “colour” revolutions was not that they had oppressed their people. Quite on the contrary, Ukraine under Leonid Kuchma, Georgia under Eduard Shevarnadze and even Kyrgyzstan under Askar Akaev were quite democratic states (compared to other former USSR countries) with political parties, more or less independent mass media and some institutions of civil society.

The main mistake was of a different kind. Former Ukrainian, Georgian and Kyrgyz rulers upset the balance of elites, the power being concentrated in the hands of one clan among others deprived of it (that’s what we call Family in the contemporary Russian history). The experience of any communities, let it be a kindergarten or a mafia clan, shows that when appetites of one person or a small group of people rise too high, all other people unite and take actions. Some go to the teacher, others clash and kill the opponents who went too far.

The same is in the politics. “A revolutionary upsurge of working people” was once some spontaneous force that experienced leader made use of, the way a yachtsman uses the wind, and a surfing-rider uses the surf. Everyone was against the clan that had assumed too much. Opposition was often led by those who had earlier been in office but had been ousted as a result of inter-clan fights.

If we look at the present leaders, we will see that people who could have opposed each other under other circumstances became allies. Mikhail Saakashvili and Zurab Zhavia, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, Kurmanbek Bakiev and Felix Kulov. The gap of contradictions between some of them is as wide as that between each of them and prior authorities. Besides, “second players” of these pairs may have as well claimed the leading role.

But they stepped aside. Many foresaw here the future split. But in spite of all evident indications that the predictions would hold true, the ringing clique remains in fact united. Zurab Zhavania’s team is still in office afte his death; the public bickering between Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymosheko did not prevent their announcement of running for the 2006 parliamentary elections together.

All this testifies to one fact. Seemingly unnatural unions of such different politicians reveal an ever-increasing understanding of political elites that a time has come to share powers and keep the political groups from rising above others. Otherwise, all those hurt will sooner or later create their own coalition, and the country’s current leaders will turn into the heads of Families, like those they had once so vehemently otherthrown from the pedestal.

Source: Kommersant