Importing Acute Embarrassment

KIEV, Ukraine -- “Why do Americans support the wrong guy,” I was recently asked – alluding to Viktor Yanukovych’s American spin doctors.

America is once again supporting the wrong guy

I’d been asked this before during the past year, and I’m never sure whether to answer this by reciting that American quip, “politics is show business for ugly people,” or explain American-style political campaigns in terms of Applied Potemkin Theory.

Ukrainians have had lots of experience with electing wrong guys (and therefore sympathize with recent American experience in this area), but this inconvenient fact of American involvement with promoting the wrong guy from Donetsk over the Orange Messiah is increasingly difficult to hide. Or dismiss.

It’s not the CIA, I said – they do revolutions, as you know. It is just some free-lancing American beeznezmeny from those Washington political consulting firms that make lots of money by telling politicians what clothes to wear and how to paint their hair and when to smile broadly. And in this case, speak Ukrainian.

“But why are all these guys Republicans,” I was asked. Ukrainians haven’t yet had much experience with political systems organized around multiple political parties (blocs), and they still think that political parties are actually grounded in certain philosophical principles.

From this perspective, it certainly appears that Yanukovych got (and still gets) disproportionate Republican support from the United States because Paul Manafort of Davis Manafort & Freedman is not the only GOP influence assisting the Yanukovych machine. Another is Robert Dahl, former advisor to Newt Gingrich when he was Speaker of the House. And there’s more, too.

During Yanukovych’s visit to Washington last December, it was reported here in Kyiv that prominent Republicans in Washington (including Gingrich) sought unsuccessfully to make the Ukrainian PM’s visit more visible by pressing the White House for face time with President Bush; those efforts failed and Yanukovych had to settle for Cheney and Rice without the coveted photo-ops.

Two days after Yanukovych left for Washington, Yanukovych’s 25-year-old MP son and 10 others (four Regions MPs, aides and girlfriends and Ukrainian businessmen) were transported to Washington and back to Kyiv on a non-stop private jet reportedly chartered for $200,000 by MIC Industries, an American supplier of military hardware where former GOP senator from Maine William Cohen is chairman of the board and Republican Richard Armitage a board member.

Cohen, former Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, is now president of The Cohen Group, an international business consulting firm with interests in the region. In Washington, Ukraine’s four visiting Regions MPs met with “senators and high-ranked officials from the former Republican majority,” including Cohen, while the three Ukrainian businessmen visited an American company near Washington to learn “how to build houses and facilities for animals within a short time.”

The premier’s son refused to tell reporters who he met with, but said he left Washington for New York “to have a walk in the park away from other delegates.” After investigating this group’s curious and expensive visit to America, the Ukrayinska Pravda Internet website wondered, “Is a charter airplane for PM Yanukovych’s son a typical American hospitality?”

Days following Yanukovych’s December visit to the States, former Enron lobbyist and Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, now another political consultant for hire, flew to Kyiv where he was accorded a VIP welcome by the Yanukovych government and rushed through Borispol airport’s special passport and customs processing ordinarily reserved for visiting state diplomats.

Near the end of December, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported that another Republican political consultant, Phillip Griffin, remains in Kyiv to this day, maintaining a “deliberately low-key presence in a ground-floor office at 4 Sofievska Street” where there is “no sign on the door, no doorbell and no security guard.”

Like Manafort, Griffin continues as a “behind-the-scenes operator who makes, but never appears, in headlines.” Previously, Griffin was director of the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute.

It’s hard to avoid connecting the dots, and coincidence isn’t very persuasive as an explanation for the apparently aggressive involvement of American Republicans with the current Ukrainian government. Some Ukrainian cynics see an explanation in shared values — about greed and crony capitalism, arrogance of power and pervasive secrecy.

Source: Kyiv Post


Mishalove said…
I really like your blog, its much more informative than the big news sources. I was wondering if you could occasionally invetigate the orphanage/adoption situation in Kyiv. The SDAPRC is in the building at the foot of St. Andrew's church, but no one has heard anything out of there is a long time.
Nicholas said…
Thank you for the compliment on our news blog.

We will try to find some information on the SDAPRC.
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