Cowardice Or Conspiracy

KIEV, Ukraine -- As early as last summer, one could find supporters of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko referring to the internationally renowned hero of the Orange Revolution as the country’s “messiah.”

"Those were the days, my friend
We thought they'd never end..."

Now, just a year later, Yushchenko has been crucified by his enemies and betrayed by one of his former allies, whom some recent protesters have dubbed “Judas.”

How could a leader so revered undergo such a drop in popularity in such a short period of time – even in a country as unstable as Ukraine?

For starters, he alienated one of his key allies in his fight for the presidency: firebrand femme fatale Yulia Tymoshenko, who was fired by Yushchenko last fall. A slyer political leader would have kept her close and de-clawed.

Instead Yushchenko chose the company of spent politicians like Roman Zvarych, who left the center stage of Ukrainian politics last year as well, after having been caught lying about his education.

Zvarych was again side by side with Yushchenko as the Orange coalition, the parliament, and any respect that might have remained for the values of the Maidan, lapsed into disgrace.

The “messiah” should have taken the hint when the people didn’t vote to spare him during the parliamentary elections, giving their support to a party of what many Ukrainians call “criminals” – the modern-day Barabas.

Thereafter, only a short walk remained between the president and the cross, a path he seemed to choose himself.

Why didn’t Yushchenko act like a king of kings (or at least of Ukrainians) when his political opponents challenged the sovereignty of the state by challenging the state language and the right of Kyiv to host military exercises.

The challengers were small – regional officials and a handful of radicals – but the stakes were high, testing the messiah’s faith like the devil himself.

From there it was easy for the Regions Party, so demonized by Yushchenko and his allies during the Orange Revolution, to raise the bet even further.

They literally took control of the parliament and made their demands known, while the “messiah” tried to distance himself from the entire struggle, as if he were above such earthly matters.

Nevertheless, Yushchenko ended up yielding to Regions’ demand that he take part in coalition talks, gave up the coalition agreement to vote for the speaker and premier simultaneously, and allowed the secret parliamentary vote that made Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, the so-called Judas, parliamentary speaker.

Time and again his allies and followers tried to convince Yushchenko to revive the Orange Coalition with Tymoshenko (more Joan of Arc than Mary Magdelane) and Moroz.

But Yushchenko seemed to be either incapable of mustering the resolve, or blinded by his fear of the more charismatic and courageous Tymoshenko.

On July 6, that fateful Thursday evening, when the secret vote took place, there may not have been a last supper, but the messiah’s fate had been fixed. His faithful apostle Peter (Poroshenko) couldn’t save him.

But this is where the biblical analogy ends. Yushchenko is supposed to be a president, not a prophet, but the country hasn’t had a Constitutional Court or functional parliament for months.

Due to cowardice or conspiracy, Yushchenko has been crucified politically.

On the day the Post went to print, Moroz and Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych were telling journalists how the president’s Our Ukraine party was sure to join them, following their meeting with Yushchenko.

In the meantime, Tymoshenko announced on national television that she would never join the coalition of her long-standing enemies, whom her party referred to in a press release as “criminal-communists.”

She didn’t mince her words, but urged people to fight for the values of the Maidan, challenging Moroz’s appointment in court and setting up a tent camp in Kyiv.

Yushchenko was less stalwart, telling journalists that his chances of joining Regions & Co. were “hardly optimistic,” and citing violations in parliamentary rules – less inspirational than one would expect from a messiah.

Even some deputies from his party have helped block the parliament along with Tymoshenko’s BYuT. Others, including a few Socialists, quit their party in protest against Moroz’s defection.

Whether the president’s reluctance to act is due to cowardice, conspiracy, or a martyr complex, Ukraine is badly in need of a leader.

If Yushchenko can’t even save himself, what can the nation expect from him?

Source: Kyiv Post