The Case For An Opposition, Not Unity

KIEV, Ukraine -- The incredible happened in Ukraine several weeks ago. Viktor Yanukovych, the former fraudulent presidential candidate ousted by the Orange Revolution, became prime minister. Yesterday's criminals are today's political leaders, and the president is someone's puppet.

Yulia Tymoshenko

The people are duped. Democracy undermined. This hocus pocus was accompanied by noble talk. Poof! Parliament united under the Party of Regions is the right thing for Ukraine's national unity. Poof, poof!! It will avert a national crisis.

Don't believe it. This is smoke and mirrors in the best of the former USSR tradition. In democracies, unity in parliament is not a virtue. Parliament requires at least two strong players from opposing camps to raise national differences and debate issues. Major democracies are not monolithic.

They are united despite major geographic, linguistic, religious and other polarizations. They balance differently, with interests colliding regularly. Their conflicts are no different from those in Ukraine. The difference between successful democracies and Ukraine is the manner in which political issues get resolved.

Successful democracies resolve their issues in parliament. The post-March election scenario in Ukraine was played outside its rules. Indeed, the manner in which President Viktor Yushchenko called upon the current government to serve undermines parliament and is a dangerous step back towards dictatorship.

Let's recall what happened. The real winners of the March elections, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and the Orange coalition, which obtained a slight majority of seats, were stalled for four months from sitting in parliament by the president.

This was shocking and offensive to democrats around the world. To temper the negative reaction, his inaction was given a seductive, but false spin: the president is deliberating what is best for national unity.

Nonsense. The stalling was taking place because the voters made the "wrong" choice as far as the wealthy oligarchs were concerned.

The people wanted Yulia Tymoshenko to be their prime minister. The Party of Regions did not. Nor did it want to play according to democratic rules.

It would not take the rightful place of the minority and become the opposition in parliament. It refused to recognize that it had received only 32 percent of the votes. The president went along as if the elections did not matter.

He did not press the rules of democratic behaviour: parliament must be constituted by creating the government from those who have the majority; and the opposition from those who received fewer votes. The democratic process was bypassed for months.

Then it was too late. The powerful few, not the people, got their way. It was a step backwards in democracy.

The back-sliding continues. Ukraine's political leaders, including the president and his newly appointed prime minister, claim to want to resolve their differences – East/West, pro-Russia/pro-West.

This is to be done by creating a unified political force in parliament. Some members of the president's Our Ukraine now serve in the new cabinet, including the strange Roman Zvarych as justice minister.

The reconstitution of parliament along a single unified team is nothing less than a return to the one party system of the former USSR. It is bad news for Ukraine. Of course, the USSR's single Communist party kept the country united through terror and force. This unity cost Ukrainians four famines, with the biggest costing 10 million lives, plus, some seventy years of tyrannical unity where opposition was suppressed by death or the Gulag.

What is going on in Ukraine that after 15 years of millions upon millions of dollars heaped in training, re-educating, showing the Ukrainians how democracy works in the West, government exchanges, money spent on producing MA's in public administration, such political perversions are allowed to happen?

The events of the last four months underscore how meager the results and how shallow the changes are. Shallow in understanding what democracy is and how it works and shallow in the way its key players have evolved as democrats. And shameful.

It is scandalous that today's prime minister is yesterday's cheating contender for the presidency. That his entourage comprises men like Rinat Akhmetov, who has amassed enough billions to be in Fortune magazine, while many Ukrainians live in dire poverty. It is scandalous that President Yushchenko denied his people their choice for premier and succumbed to manipulations like the best of the world's puppet leaders.

Even more so, as now he is opining that revolutions like the Orange one are but myths and legends. The premier, in the meantime, boasts of having participated in it to build a just nation. It is scandalous that the West won the war against Communism, saw the Soviet empire crumble, supported Ukraine during its feisty Orange Revolution, only to allow this ally in global democracy building to slip so perilously close to the edge.

Even more scandalous: the West may have orchestrated this in order to have good business ties with the oligarchs.

Things might have been different. The best case scenario for democracy would have been for the president to have stood with his people rather than betray them. Seeing their vote disregarded, the people might have returned to the streets where they scored victory two years ago, to demand a re-election or his resignation.

The West might have become furious and called in its ambassadors to exert pressure. And told its consulting firms that it is more in America's interest to have a democratic Ukraine, than to have it perverted in the name of doing business for a fee. It did not happen.

Democracy has suffered a setback. The only bright spot now is Yulia Tymoshenko. She has declared that she will not join the Party of Regions et al to form a united front in parliament. She will lead the opposition and deal with the real national crisis: the unbridled intention of the oligarchs to control all aspects of life.

When Ukraine became independent in 1991, hope quickly turned to the realization that, in fact, little had changed. The Communist gang that had ruled Ukraine was still at the helm. It had wrapped itself in Ukraine's blue and yellow flag instead of the red one to amass great state wealth.

Yet some hard-fought gains were made - free elections and greater freedoms, especially in the media. Now, it is feared, they are being lost.

Restrictions have already begun. In the Rada, there were moves recently to undermine the political checks and balances system by further restricting presidential powers. Today, more than ever, Ukraine needs a strong opposition. Yulia Tymoshenko has a huge job ahead of her.

The West must wake up. It must rally behind democracy and help her do a good job as the watchdog of the people. All aid should be directed towards resuscitating democracy.

In turn, the public needs to monitor how she fights for their wellbeing and to help her. If she does well, they will reward her in the next election and punish the fraud tricksters.

Source: Yulia Tymoshenko Website


Anonymous said…
I'm not sure you should post an article from Timoshenko's website in the guise of news.

Anonymous said…
The source on this is wrong I think. I saw this in the Kyiv Post and it was reposted on the Tymoshenko Website. So, it's an op-ed from the newspaper. The link to original is