WORLD AFFAIRS. One of Ukraine’s best investigative journalists, Serhii Leshchenko, recently revealed a tidbit about President Yanukovych that shocked me. Read the following excerpt from his blog and see if you catch the jaw-dropping, eye-popping, mind-blowing part:


That Yanukovych doesn’t hear journalists is half the problem. He doesn’t hear his citizens. He wakes up in [his palatial estate outside Kyiv], which is surrounded by a six-meter-high fence and guarded, not by the Berkut special forces, but by an Anti-Aircraft Defense unit of Ukraine’s armed forces. He travels in a heavily guarded cortege along the Kyiv-Nova Petrivka highway…. Then he takes cordoned-off streets to get to [the presidential building], where he ends up in the closed bubble of the presidential administration…. His circle of associates is confined to his closest advisors, hunting friends, and his fawning subordinates. Every time Yanukovych goes out he is accompanied by an army of guards… There is no computer in Yanukovych’s office.

OK, I saved it for last. There is no computer in Yanukovych’s office. Come again? Yup, you heard right: There is no computer in Yanukovych’s office.

Now, Leshchenko is too good a journalist to have gotten this wrong, so, when he says Yanukovych has no computer in his office, he means Yanukovych has no computer in his office. That also means he has no Internet, no Skype, no e-mail.

Consider the implications of that fact.

For starters, the Prez ain’t reading my blog. Darn.

Second, he is completely cut off from the vast amounts of information that are circulating on the Web. In effect, globalization has passed by Yanukovych or, more exactly, he’s decided to ignore it. Now you don’t need to be Bill Gates to be a successful policymaker in today’s world, but I, for the life of me, can’t see how someone without access to the Internet can have a clue of what’s going on in his country and the world.

Third, Yanukovych’s self-imposed exile from the world means that the information he does get is filtered, chosen, and possibly tailored by his minions. Of course, they know the boss wants to hear good things, so it’s very likely that they don’t provide him with bad news. You expect minions to act that way everywhere, but when leaders have access to their own information sources, they can at least raise an occasional eyebrow when their subordinates feed them nothing but good news. Yanukovych, clearly, has no way of knowing when to raise an eyebrow.

Finally, next time Yanukovych talks about e-government and openness, you’ll know he’s just pulling your leg.

Small wonder that, when Yanukovych gives press conferences, he invariably smiles a lot, nods, and says absolutely nothing. The latest such performance took place on March 1st. Journalists asked him if his son Sasha’s the Dentist’s meteoric rags-to-riches rise to multimillionaire status had something to do with the fact that all his pals run the government. Here’s how Yanukovych answered:

You can direct that question at him personally. As far as I know, he has a bit more time and meets more frequently with the press. No one will refuse you. Ask and he’ll tell you. I know no details. I know he’s used to working a lot. He knows how to work and has a good team.

Most of the journalists probably thought Yanukovych was being evasive. I’m not so sure. I mean, heck, why should we assume that, just because the whole world knows something, Yanukovych must know it too?

Back on December 11, 2012, Yanukovych’s other firecracker son, Viktor Junior, wrote the following:

It’s difficult to imagine the future of Ukraine when 60 percent of its administrators don’t know how to use computers. We have enough young, courageous, and enterprising people who could easily replace all those who are “stuck” in the past.

For once, Junior’s on target. Just about any young, courageous, and enterprising person in Ukraine could easily replace a president who is stuck in a bubble of his own making. 

Alexander J. Motyl's blog


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