March 18, 2014

Post-soviet Ukraine: Les jeux sont faits

...ou pas encore? 

The note that follows has been originally published on 6/1/2005, 
on a site that had preceeded this one, as part of the same project. 
The site is not available anymore, yet we think that the text by      
comrade R.S. reproduced verbatim is still worth to read.              
One should never forget that                                                         
Memory is an essential part of itelligence!...                             

The "orange revolution" gives serious rise to questions about spontaneous mouvements in the post-soviet era; that’s the least one can say about the huge demonstrations held in Kiev by early December. Apart from that, in order to understand Ukraine’s present, it is neccessary to see the whole picture. So, what has been really happening in Ukraine the last ten years? Who are rulling, and what kind of stakes are about to be played?

Yushchenko [1] has been offically elected at the third round of the presidential elections, with more than 51%. According to media reports [2] the Bush administration has spent over 65 million $ for backing Yushchenko (a budget comparable to some 70 million $ given to the troops of late Djindjic, when Clinton was in the White House).

Many analysts have underlined the similarities between the Ukrainian case and what already has happened to Georgia: an OTPOR-Soros-like massive demonstrations wave, based on a strong yet shallow consent of the cities population, with supports in the core of state apparatus (including diplomacy and special services) along with strong disapproval of the corrupted rulers on place. Let’s find some more similarities that have been rather dissimulated to the western public opinion: both Kuchma and Shevardnaze have been initially given strong support by western Powers (the States, european Powers, IMF...) 
Both have overthrown local leaders, more or less willing to play the game of a post-soviet state coalition leaded by Russia. Both have accomplished the same program: dismantling of the residues of soviet State, privatisation of the economy, stabilisation of the ethnic conflicts blusted allover the place by the early ’90s. Both have changed their policy with the years, to finally turn to Moscow. Both "godfathers" have been beaten by one of their best "gunmen", meanwhile fallen in disgrace. In both cases, americans and europeans had been acting in real concern (the latter being a kind of subcontractors to the former); in Tbilissi, they have their own (wo)men inside the government; this will be probably the case in Kiev too. Of course, there are many differences too; but, to put it in simple terms, "Ukraine is not Georgia" can summarize differences, while "imperialism is always imperialism" is a fairly appropriate box to put similarities together in.

The mandates of the new government

Yushchenko as Kuchma’s central banker and prime-minister, has adopted some of the most abrupt economic reforms, that had created a severe social shock. Now he questions the privatisation proccess, that gave rise to a winning handful of powerful robber-barons controling banking and heavy manifacturing industries (like Rinat Achmetov, Victor Pinchuk or Victor Medvechuk).

These "winners" have all reasons for supporting strong ties with Moscow, the main goods importer and energy provider of Ukraine. Yushchenko’s political allies represent the "loosing" part of clans, an original mixture of self-made billionaires controling entire sectors of socio-political life too (like party leader and multi-millionaire Poroshenko, 39 or the gaz princess Tymoshenko, 44) that has choosen a fortiori or has been selected for the american support. According to Poroshenko [3], the new government has to apply painful impopular reforms such as tax increases (that would certainly lead to price adjustments for basic goods -R.S.), reorganizing of social policy funding (ie demolition of anything that still reminds the social protection of youth, ill, elderly etc. in the soviet era -R.S.) abolition of protectionist policies for heavy steel and carbon industry (that have helped to keep in power the pro-russian clans -R.S.), and so on.

The privatization of the steel giant Krivoroshstal in June 2004, undertaken by Pinchuk - Kuchma’s son-in-law - and Achmetov for 800 millions $ is to be recondidered; notice that these two oligarchs of the Donetsk clan won over US Steel and two russian companies (Severstal and Evrasholding) [4].
This very liberal modernization program would result to an Ukrainean application to join the UE and surely to become a member of NATO. This is the deal as far as we can know.

Interests collide
It seems that Ukraine is the land where interests of three key players in the world scene, that is three main imperialist powers, collide: the USA, Russia, and Europe (Germany). The US use Poland [5] as their Gauleiter, with a promise made to Polish to let them take control over western Ukraine. They also try to introduce into ukrainean political life a part of an extremely reactionary community of ukrainean émigrés [6], like they already did with success in the baltic States, Bulgaria and Albania - and with less success in Yugoslavia. They aim at containing Russia’s expansion, and fear a future russo-chinese consortium [7]. Their tactics seem to proceed by steps: first, make the post-soviet economic integration infeasible; then, prepare a succession of Putin, based to some clones of Nemtzov and company. Ukraine is a master piece to this puzzle, with its seaports being a neccesary pass point for russian trade and with 80% of russian gaz supplies to Europe passing through the ukrainean pipe network. Belarus will probably come through the same treatment in the near future: although there isn’t yet any strong NGO local network, an OTPOR-like organization is probably being mounted...
On the other side, Russia wants all of Ukraine under control; this seems to be a crucial part of Putin’s mid-term plans to restore a zone of influence around Russia, based on strong economy ties, and long-term plans to become a strategic ally for China. Trying to realize these ambitions, Putin is accused of exceeding cynicism, and this is partly true; his role as a CEO of Russia Inc. does not allow him to contain himself to pirouette-politics, as his western colleagues do in their expensive parlementary shows! To put it in a simple way: Russian emerging state capitalism is taking off now; it has not an automatic pilot as Europeans or Americans, or even Chinese have.
Last but not least, Germany wants to control both Poland and Ukraine, to exploit markets and cheap, highly qualified human potential through massive capital investment. In the near future, it is not unthinkable to see a Russian-German partnership, willing to shrink the american-backed Polish ambitions. An interesting question is then wether Russians and Germans would try to gain influence in Polish politics, through a government change.

An explosive perspective

Dislocating Ukraine [8].

[1] Iouchtchenko in French, Juschtschenko in German, Ющенко in Russian/Ukrainian
[2] Mat Kelley AP 11-12-2004
[3] Interview published in Le Monde 4-1-2005
[4] Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30 and 31-12-2004, articles by Ulrich Schmidt
[5] assisted by the baltic States and, to a lesser extend, the Czechs
[6] including pro-Nazi nationalist freaks (Banderists) that have supported Yushchenko by all means. For more on pro-Yushchenko fascistoïds, see for example the article by John Laughland published in the Spectator, 28-11-2004
[7] See on this issue Mark Almond’s article in the New Statesman, 6-12-2004
[8] Article by Jean-Marie Chauvier in Le Monde Diplomatique, January 2005

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