WORLD AFFAIRS.  Ukraine’s united democratic opposition recently adopted an Action Program that defines its goals in stark opposition to the Regionnaire regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. Since the democrats can lose the October parliamentary elections only if the Regionnaires engage in massive fraud and get away with it, the Action Program may be a harbinger of things to come.

The preamble says it all:

Today Ukraine needs change as never before. All power in the country belongs to the criminal-oligarchic regime headed by president [sic] Yanukovych, who is leading Ukraine toward an abyss.

Ukraine is ever more becoming a country without laws, rights, freedom, and justice. It is no longer a rule-of-law, democratic, social state.

The national wealth created by the labor of the whole society is being divided to the benefit of a few scores of families.

The resources that belong to current and future generations of Ukrainians—land, minerals, forests, rivers, invaluable landmarks of history and culture—are being privatized, sold, and stolen.

Individuals get billions, foreign accounts, and real estate. The majority gets miserable wages, growing prices and fees, and ruinous taxes. The rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer. This is the essence of Yanukovych’s policies. Constitutionally granted human and civil rights have become a fiction. Courts have become puppets in the hands of the ruling regime. The militia, instead of protecting citizens from criminals, protects the power of criminals from citizens. The opponents of the regime are subject to political repression.

Today’s power holders treat citizens as a herd supposed to labor quietly for their enrichment. They believe that power can be bought with money and that the more money they have, the stronger will be their rule.

They think they will remain in power forever and that Ukraine will always be as it is today.

They are wrong.

The criminal occupation of Ukraine will be put to an end. We will remove the Yanukovych regime from power by means of honest and democratic elections.

For the first time in the history of Ukraine the opposition political parties have joined together in a large and powerful team whose primary goals are:


I’d say the diagnosis is spot on and that the slogans, which so closely mirror those that motivated Ukrainians to join the Orange Revolution in 2004, are smart. Ukrainians want to live well, of course, but what they want above all is justice, honesty, and dignity. They want to be treated as human beings, and not as a herd of dumb Regionnaire cattle.

The document then goes on to list the opposition’s seven immediate policy goals:

  1.             We will give people the opportunity to work and earn a dignified wage.
  2.             We will introduce dignified wages and just pensions.
  3.             Corruptioneers will be taken to task.
  4.             We will bring back justice.
  5.             Instead of expensive Russian gas, there will be cheap Ukrainian energy.
  6.             We will remove the criminal-oligarchic Yanukovych regime.
  7.             We will place the government under the control of society. 

All these goals are worthwhile, but all but two will take time. Points one and two—dignified wages and pensions—can happen only if the Ukrainian economy gets going again. Point three will be difficult because corruption has become an integral part of Ukrainian life. Point five requires a massive transformation of Ukraine’s corrupt and inefficient energy sector. Point seven presupposes the emergence of a post-Soviet citizenry that actually wants to take charge of its life.

In contrast, points four and six—bringing back justice and removing the regime—can be accomplished rather more quickly, and it is they that will define the opposition’s policies should it be permitted to run the Parliament. Naturally, the Regionnaire faction in Parliament will resist tooth and nail legislation intended to place them all in jail. Scuffles, blockades, and other extralegal measures will become the order of the day and both the legislature and the government could become completely dysfunctional. Yanukovych will then have to rule by decree, thereby assuming complete responsibility for his incompetent regime. Under conditions such as these, Anybody But Yanukovych will be a shoo-in for president in the elections of 2015.

What chance is there that Yanukovych might decide to save his skin by working with the opposition and divesting his family of some of its ill-gotten gains? The record of the world’s tyrants suggests that they would rather go down in flames, and drag their countries with them, than go straight. Just look at Anastasio Somoza, Mobutu Sese Seko, Robert Mugabe, Slobodan Milosevic, Vladimir Putin, and Benito Mussolini. Worse, Yanukovych’s own inability to learn—consider his stubbornly self-destructive behavior regarding European demands that Yulia Tymoshenko be released—suggests that he, too, will prefer to crash and burn rather than admit to being wrong.

Well, crash and burn he will if he stays on course. Let’s just hope that, this time, the democrats who eventually replace him don’t repeat the mistakes of the Orange revolutionaries by dithering and squabbling and, instead, immediately take measures to free the economy from the stranglehold of corruptioneers and bureaucrats and, above all, incorporate the much abused Ukrainian citizenry into the process of government and self-government.

Alexander J. Motyl's blog

Ukrayinska Dumka


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