Mass-Scale “Outburst” Of Folklore As A Symptom

KIEV, Ukraine -- Most of Ukrainian society is in a depressed mood. Almost every day one hears about another Yanukovych campaign billboard having been vandalized in the west and east of Ukraine (the latter being the Party of Regions’ traditional support center, especially in Luhansk).

Yanukovych billboards are being vandalized all over Ukraine. This cartoon appeared in a Ukrainian newspaper showing the SBU (former KGB) directing the vandalism.

Remarkably, a 73-year-old man vandalized Yanukovych’s glorious image in Volyn, by using a stick and a length of cloth, making a huge paintbrush with which smeared the head of state’s visage with brown paint.

His stunt was preceded by others on the Kiev-Warsaw highway.

When apprehended by the police, the old man explained that he couldn’t bear the sight of the man, and that he refused to accept Viktor Yanukovych as President of Ukraine.

Yulia Tymoshenko remains Ukraine’s political headliner even in the Kachanivska penal colony, complaining about being denied the usage of a walker, about being transferred to another colony, as far away as possible from the Euro-2012 events, about being unable to see the French ombudsman.

Add here the fact that her presidential ratings are higher than Yanukovych’s by three percent for the first time since the 2010 election.

There is an apparent interrelationship between Yanukovych’s lower ratings and vandalized billboards.

Below are commentaries by Ukraine’s leading sociologists Viktor Nebozhenko and Yevhen Holovakha.

Viktor Nebozhenko Commentary:

"Tymoshenko’s rising ratings aren’t the point; the point is the lack of public respect for those currently in power, including the head of state.

People are also aware of the fact that the current opposition isn’t up to the mark.

All that heavy criticism on the part of Afghan and Chornobyl veterans, as well as Internet critique, are links of a single chain.

What’s the big problem our law and order agencies are facing?

They’re unable to spot those who order and pay for such acts of vandalism.

It’s just that such acts of vandalism are perpetrated by individuals in various regions of Ukraine, who do so without knowing that such acts are committed elsewhere in this country.

These people simply respond to such billboards as images spelling a condescending approach to the man in the street, period.

Twenty years ago people vandalized Soviet symbols and placards/ posters in the course of the perestroika campaign when the Soviet Communist Party’s ratings showed a dramatic decline.

At the time, neither the KGB nor the militia knew what to do about them, simply because there was no evidence of a conspiracy against the state, and because there was actually no opposition.

This public disillusionment will spread, involving government agencies and separate [ranking] bureaucrats.

This is proof that our opposition is inactive and that public disillusionment with the current administration is on an upward curve.

The electorate in the east of Ukraine may well register a low turnout during the next presidential election campaign and those ‘upstairs’ may well use this opportunity to add such nonexistent ballots for their candidate.

In fact, I think the turnout in the east of Ukraine won’t exceed 25 percent.

I further believe that, once Yanukovych’s ratings are below 10 percent, the medium-level bureaucrats and heads of law enforcement agencies will start making U-turns, the way they did under President Kuchma.

These people hold their posts because they have long learned to see which way the wind is blowing.

They will respond quickly, primarily by committing acts of [political] sabotage.

The president will submit bills to the Verkhovna Rada and these bills will be shelved.

We saw all this back in 1994-99.”

Yevhen Holovakha Commentary:

“Lower ratings mean lower popularity and a higher degree of dissatisfaction [with a given administration].

There are various ways of manifesting this disillusionment, including acts of vandalism.

The one [in Volyn] can’t be legally justified, but similar acts on a massive scale should give those ‘upstairs’ enough food for thought, specifically concerning what made those people act the way they did. Social tensions are apparently increasing.

It is too early to make any forecasts about the next parliamentary elections, considering that there are many political figures who haven’t made their stand apparent.

The overall trend points at the current administration losing its electoral foothold.

This trend has been there for more than a year.

If this trend continues, the opposition will stand a fair chance during the election campaign.

Any prognostication at this stage would be premature, although even now it is obvious that the Party of Regions won’t have the proportionate majority, while elections on a majority basis would be far too complicated in this country, considering that few if any can figure out the procedures in the first place.

Naturally, the Communists will be the only contenders in the regions of Ukraine that have traditionally supported the Party of Regions.

Sad but true, elections on a majority basis are mostly regarded in Ukraine as another way to rig a campaign rather than put forth a genuine nominee.

In the south and east of Ukraine, people don’t want to give straight answers to straight questions, thus creating an ambiguous situation.

They may show a low turnout or cast more ballots for the Communists than previously.

Anyway, there is time enough before the elections.

We’ll see what will happen, although I’m sure there will be no unanimous support from southeast Ukraine.”

Source: The Day