WORLD AFFAIRS. The good news from Ukraine keeps getting better. I had reported in my last blog that President Viktor Yanukovych had admitted defeat. Now it’s the turn of the Party of Regions, his decaying base, to turn desperate. And how can one resist cracking a smile when thugs, crooks, and progromchiks start sweating?

The party is planning to introduce a law that would prohibit foreign funding of “political activity” in Ukraine. According to the arch-reactionary Regionnaire, Vadym Kolesnychenko, “I emphasize that we are not planning completely to forbid all such financing, but are only opposed to such money being used for political goals.” Since the Regionnaires define politics as anything that empowers others and threatens them, you can be pretty sure that the law would be applied very broadly.

But why introduce such a law just now? After all, aren’t the Regionnaires firmly in control of the country? The question is rhetorical, and the reality is just the opposite. The party had one year to prove that it could rise about thievery and thuggery. Instead, it’s shown even to its own constituents that all it can do is steal, shout, and pound its fists. Unsurprisingly, the Regionnaires are now despised by Ukrainians in all parts of Ukraine. And everyone knows that a social explosion is perfectly possible.

The head of the Regionnaire parliamentary fraction, Oleksandr Yefremov, revealed what his party fears most: “I even possess information that Soros has also assigned money for preparing a certain group of young boys here in Ukraine to initiate projects along the lines of the North African variant. This exists and this is being prepared.”

What? Can it be that George Soros, the American billionaire-philanthropist who’s established Open Society Foundations throughout the post-Soviet space, is really out to get Ukraine?

Yefremov’s “information” is nonsense, of course. His comment is indicative of the Regionnaires’ inability to imagine that the people—whether Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, or Arab—are not dolts. That failure of imagination has two sources. First, all authoritarians everywhere always believe they are right and the people are wrong. And second, all Communists everywhere—and recall that the Regionnaires are almost all ex-Commies—are absolutely persuaded that they, and they alone, know what’s best. It follows that any dissatisfaction, any instability, any turbulence must be the work of dastardly foreigners who’ve managed to insinuate themselves into the innocent minds of the stupid masses.

The pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have clearly gotten the Regionnaires nervous. As well they should have. Quiescent and seemingly passive Arab nations have proven to the world that they, too, want democracy, human rights, and dignity and are willing to buck authoritarian regimes in order to assert themselves.

For the Regionnaires, any such manifestation of people power bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the Orange Revolution of 2004, when millions of Ukrainians took to the streets, demanded democracy, and handed a humiliating defeat to then President Leonid Kuchma and his heir apparent, Viktor Yanukovych. And the wholly unexpected transformation of seemingly passive Arab peoples into pro-democracy zealots obviously suggests that even seemingly passive Ukrainians could become pro-democracy zealots and hand both Yanukovych and his Regionnaires one-way tickets to Libya.

Unsurprisingly, the Regionnaires’ intent to pass this transparently anti-democratic law has Ukrainian civil society up in arms. People know a con when they see one, and they fully understand that the law is a last-ditch effort to shore up the Regionnaires’ crumbling rule. Worse, the draft law will only compound the Regionnaires’ troubles. Their desperation is now fully visible—as is their increasingly ridiculous snarl. The “stupid” people no longer fear them or their master, Yanukovych. You can be certain that the more the Regionnaires push, the more will the “dolts” push back.

Alexander Motyl


Ukrayinska Dumka


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