Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Mixed Balance

In Maidan, Taras Kuzio has drawn up a balance sheet on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's first year in office. Kuzio is at pains to point out to Western readers the nuances of the Orange Revolution protest, noting that
A large proportion of the Orange Revolution protestors sought to block a Yanukovych victory. Others did so in disgust at the crude tactics employed by the Leonid Kuchma regime. Some younger Orange protestors wanted to see their Ukraine become a 'normal' European country rather than Belarus-Lite under the educationally challenged Yanukovych. Others still protested because of a mixture of these different factors.

These nuances are important to grasp as Western commentary (particularly in the USA) has tended to gloss over the varied reasons why protestors joined the Orange Revolution. The Orange Revolution did not just take place because Ukrainians hit the streets to defend 'democracy' or a free market. These concerns included five key areas that will now be highlighted and their progress, or otherwise, during Yushchenko's first year in office will be discussed.
Kuzio lists the five key areas as

- democratic rights and the rule of law

- market economic business practices

- oligarchs and corruption

- the threat from the Donetsk clan

- away from Russia to Europe

and provides detailed background to each group of concerns. Noting that
while prior to the energy conflict, Washington insiders believed that Ukraine's membership in NATO was only likely after the next election cycle in 2009-2011... NATO officials are now stating that Ukraine is likely to be included in the next wave of NATO enlargement in 2008
in conclusion, Kuzio delivers the assessment that
There has been some important progress in Ukraine's democracy under Yushchenko. But, this could be undermined if Yanukovych takes power in the more powerful new parliament. If Yushchenko had early on installed Holovatiy as Justice Minister and removed Piskun as prosecutor they, together with Interior Minister Lutsenko, could have followed through on many of the demands and hopes of the Orange Revolution protestors. Yushchenko may well rue the day that he failed to find the political will to follow through on his election pledge of 'Bandits to Prison!'
Post a Comment