Four Neo-Soviet Forces In Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s opinions about the country he rules should not be viewed in isolation by anyone interested in Ukraine or the EU.

Pro-Russia PM Viktor Yanukovych

First and foremost it must be stressed that his neo-Soviet Party of Regions is not a “normal” political party in a “normal” state.

It is a restorationist party that seeks to prevent the democratization of a de facto “post-colonial” state, and to keep it subordinated to its former ruler. Should it succeed the EU would have to face the prospect of an unstable eastern border.

While the party formally supports “Eurointegration” – just as Putin supports the Eurointegration of Russia – it has not explicitly stated that it stands for for “EU membership for Ukraine.”

Yanukovych’s public statements in various EU countries, therefore, cannot be taken seriously until this commitment is clearly stated in his party’s program.

Given this omission there is every reason to believe that as soon as it manages to create a majority by dubious methods in the Verkhovna Rada, it will first incorporate Ukraine into Russia's Single Economic Space and the, and only then, via Russia, “integrate into Europe” – presumably just like Belarus.

Ukraine reemerged on Europe’s political map in 1991 after more than 200 years of direct foreign political rule imposed by military might.

Between 1709 and 1711, 1918 and 1921, and again between 1944 and 1950 Russian armies invaded Ukraine in a series of bloody wars that tied Ukraine to first the Tsarist and then Soviet empires.

Under Russian rule Ukrainians got Russian-style serfdom, Siberian exile, governmental prohibition of publishing and teaching in the native language, terror, and famine-genocide.

When Ukraine emerged as an independent state in 1991 there was no “war of liberation.” Consequently the leaders of the imperial or “old regime” elite were not exiled or executed.

They remained in power until 2004 and have since managed to retain positions of influence to such a degree that they can keep their own out of jail.

Their constituency, meanwhile, is the product of Soviet migration policies that directed Russians into and Ukrainians out of Ukraine.

This immigration and “ethnic dilution,” combined with deportations and millions of unnatural Ukrainian deaths between 1917 and 1947, created large Russian-speaking urban centers in the country’s four easternmost provinces.

Educational and media policies channeled upwardly mobile non-Russian rural migrants into Russian-speaking environments and allowed urban Russians to live, work and satisfy their cultural and spiritual needs without having to use or learn Ukrainian.

Second and third generation urban Russian immigrants and assimilated migrants spoke in Russian, lived in a Russian public sphere and were Moscow-oriented both culturally and intellectually.

After 1991 most of the urban population accepted Ukrainian independence, but few changed their Russian-language use or intellectual-cultural orientation.

Since 1991 an increasing percentage of Russians and Russian speakers view Ukraine as their native country. In 2005, only 6 percent of Ukrainians still considered themselves to be “Soviet citizens.”

The percentage for Russians was 18 percent. While 2 percent of Ukrainians still did not regard Ukraine as their native country, 9 percent of Russians living in Ukraine did not.

This means that a percentage of the population in Ukraine today, of whom most are Russian, support foreign rule over the territory in which they live – much as did once the French in Algeria, the Germans in Bohemia and Poland, the Portuguese in Angola, and the English in Ireland.

This nostalgia for empire on the part of some Russian speakers would be harmless if not for Ukraine’s entrenched neo-Soviet political leaders who exploit it to maintain their by-gone imperial power.

Both would be manageable if leaders in Russia, the former imperial power, were able to resign themselves to the loss of their empire, and like the British, help the new national democratic Orange coalition rather than its imperial era collaborators.

Putin is no DeGaulle, who realized in the end that French settlers had to leave Algeria.

Ukraine’s neo-Soviet leaders are organized into four major groups with varying degrees of support covert and overt from Russia and its government – whose ambassador in Kyiv is not known to have ever made a speech in Ukrainian.

Ukraine’s Communists and the Natalia Vitrenko Bloc openly advocate the abrogation of Ukraine’s independence and its reincorporation into a revamped imperial Russian-dominated USSR.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which claims an estimated 50 percent of Ukraine’s Orthodox, is not only led by a Patriarch in Moscow who sits in Putin’s government, but also is dominated by a chauvinist and anti-Semitic fringe.

This Church does not recognize Ukrainians as a distinct nationality, it publicly supports Ukraine’s Communists, and fielded priests to run in elections.

In June 2003 the Russian patriarch bestowed the “Order of Prince Vladimir” upon the leader of Ukraine’s Communists. No more than 8 percent of Ukraine’s voters back these old communist party leaders.

The more serious threat to Ukrainian independence is posed by the fourth of the major neo-Soviet groups: the Party of Regions.

Although election results suggest approximately one-third of all voters in 2006 supported the Party of Regions, these returns are dubious.

First, they are a product of documented coercion, intimidation and covert operations – albeit smaller in scope and scale than was the case in 2004.

Second, they are based on “machine politics” in Ukraine's eastern provinces where Yanukovych’s party is in control of the local administration and manufacturing, and can offer people fearing poverty and insecurity short-term material incentives in return for votes.

Third, they are based on a lingering Soviet-style “cradle-to-grave” enterprise-paternalism, still stronger in eastern than western Ukraine, that allows managers and owners to politically blackmail their employees – much as “company-town” owners did in 19th century Western Europe and America.

It is difficult to determine how strong the party would be in Ukraine's east, without the dirty tricks, machine politics and neo-feudal intimidation. But the Regions certainly would have less than one-third of the seats in the country's parliament.

The party ostensibly supports Ukrainian independence inasmuch as its leaders regard Ukraine as a territory that they should control as a “blackmail state,” just as they controlled it up to 2004.

Yet, its anti-constitutional advocacy of Russian as a “second language,” for example, shows it wants to keep Ukraine within the Russian-language communications sphere and out of the English-language communications sphere, which now includes the EU.

While the Canadian and Polish ambassadors can learn to speak Ukrainian prior to their appointments well enough to use it publicly, some Party of Regions leaders have the unmitigated gall to speak Russian in parliament.

A number of their leaders, like First Deputy Premier Mykola Azarov, have not managed to learn Ukrainian after 15 years of independence.

But then how many French in Algeria learned Arabic? How many English in Ireland learned Gaelic? How many whites in Africa knew Swahili or Bantu? How many Japanese learned Chinese or Korean? How many Germans in Breslau learned Polish?

Additionally, Regions leaders engage in symbolic colonial-homage-type acts that pander to imperial Russian nostalgia and compromise Ukraine’s status as an independent country.

In November 2005, for example, Viktor Yanukovych publicly presented the speaker of the Russian Duma with a “bulava” – the Cossask symbol of Ukrainian statehood.

The Party of Regions’ leaders learned their politics under the Soviet regime and have failed to learn any other kind.

They ran Leonid Kuchma's “blackmail state” and employ criminal Bolshevik-style electioneering practices.

Not the least of these is advertising in the press soliciting “supporters” to attend their demonstrations. The “protesters” are paid a set rate at the end of every day.

They publicly belittle Ukrainian independence and are in constant contact with Russian extremists like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Konstantin Zatulin and Yuri Luzhkov.

Foreign observers must ask themselves how a Party of Regions-led “blackmail state” is supposed to fit into the EU?

How can such a Ukraine be “stable” if it is dependent on Russia, a resource-based autocracy, at a time when resource-based autocracies everywhere else in the world are notoriously unstable?

Source: Kyiv Post


cymzie said…
A very good analysis. Ukraine's population in 1992 was 52mill, in 2006 46.7mill. That is a loss of population equal to that of Denmark. The strategy of Russia and these Moscow slyle ex-leaders (including the Party of Regions) is clearly de-Ukrainification of Ukraine. What we are witnessing is a form of economic strangulation - arguably slightly slower and less brutal than Holodomor, but as the statistics show, equally as effective.
marcin said…
Analysis is rubbish,population is on decline because of declining standarts of living in Ukraine, and has nothing to do with Russia( which population is declining as well by the way). Party of Regions is widely suppoted, especially in the south of Ukraine were majority of population is russian speakers and were forced to use only Ukrainian language.Ushenko and his revolutioners destryed the countrey and made a laughing stock out of it.Clearly EU is not going to accept Ukraine ,as it's population is to large to move as a cheap labour (like Poland) to developed countries. The only way froward for Ukraine is integration with Russia and Belorusia, that is historicaly proven.