Ukraine: Land Of Hope Or Hustle?

KIEV, Ukraine -- Four years after a popular revolution ousted a corrupt president during the Euromaidan movement that culminated in the flight of former President Viktor Yanukovych in February of 2014 and the Russian annexation of Crimea the following month, Ukrainians today might well ask themselves as Ronald Reagan once asked Americans: “are you better off today than four years ago?”

Vadim Rabinovich

Indeed, the country is once again at a cross-roads, and if public opinion polls are any indication, the historically freedom loving Ukrainians are unhappy with their current situation.

War with Russia continues in the East, displacing more than 1.5 million and costing lives every day.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foregone re-election this past Sunday, Russia may take an even more aggressive position against its smaller neighbor.

The economy is sputtering, in part due to the war and in part due to half-hearted reforms that discourage foreign lenders.

And corruption is arguably worse than before the Euromaidan.

The net worth of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has grown by more than 40% since he’s been in office, and Poroshenko has thumbed his nose at the IMF’s insistence he set up independent, anti-corruption courts.

If the poster-child for reform, or hope, were the former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili who came to Ukraine during Maidan to share Georgia’s success story in tackling public graft, then hope, like Saakashvili, has been jettisoned by Ukrainian officials tired of embarrassment and scandal — Saakashvili was recently tossed out of Ukraine.

The poster child for the hustle, meanwhile, would be ex-convict and politician Vadim Rabinovich.

Sentenced by Soviet authorities in the 1980s for stealing materials from veterans, Rabinovich is also reported to have sold T-72 tanks to the Taliban in the 1990s.

He is a fast-talking businessman who fashions himself after America’s Donald Trump, but whose accomplishments have been more often considered swindles than deals.

Rabinovich’s “For Life” party has recently been infused with large, mysterious funding.

Some suspect it comes from the presidential administration, eager to distract hard-pressed, Russian-speaking Eastern Ukrainians before next year’s scheduled elections.

Others suggest it comes from a Russian businessman who recently grew his fortune rebuilding Moscow.

The poll numbers of “For Life” have been rising, in part because Rabinovich has captured the anger and disillusionment of many, particularly in the East.

But for a country that has risked, and lost, so much for its freedom, what would the ascent of Rabinovich mean, if not to foreign investors, than to the average Ukrainian, who sees his or her paycheck shrinking every month?

Ukraine’s association with “the hustle” has served its national brand poorly.

Allowing a hustler to become the country’s face will likely be the end of hope for a country that once longed to be part of Europe.

Source: International Policy Digest


grycar said…
Interesting but not true.

Ukraine risked nothing and lost nothing.

As to freedom, everything.

Ukraine has a strong Nation.

Rabinovich is a non entity in Ukraine.

If Mr Rabinovich ran for dog catcher,
he would lose badly.

The issue is that Ukraine is doing well and the
president is quite obedient because he has to be.

Looking back, the Russian element in parliament
is almost nothing where previously it
came close to controlling it.

The Ukrainian army is strong and will win in the
East because it has to if it has not won already.

There was no Army under the satrap Yanokowycz

Crimea is a disaster and
Nato likes winners.

Winners cost less and bring more to the table.

The concern is Russia, not so much because
of the harm that it is able to inflict but because of
its possible dissolution.

Unfortunately, if Russia continues on its
current path the issue
will not if but when.

Russia is no threat to the West,
China, the middle East or Ukraine
because it cannot be.

The West, China and the world are beneficiaries of
Russia's cheap and available raw resources
which Russia mus sell to survive.

Russia has no economy and as such no wealth
to sustain its adventures.

This is not good in that its eschatology
must end in bankruptcy.

This happened twice before, when Russia was more a
substantive and powerful empire.

And later, as the Soviet Union when it
controlled and benefited
from a much larger industrial base.

The Soviet Union went bankrupt and disappeared overnight with
no wars and no great social upheavals.

Russia is now a very mini empire with still vast natural
resources, however, in 20 years it became poorer with a dying
population and no manufacturing economy.

Russia must address its ergonomics and its national
future forthwith or disappear.

Russia needs a nation!

Not good for Ukraine at all. As such, Ukraine is its only friend.

All about stupidity, or a volitional refusal to
respect the laws of causality.