In my last couple of blog entries I have made reference to the unconstitutional usurpation of power by the Yanukovych regime. That idea was not my own, but given that this took place quite some time ago it gave me the opportunity to not only think about what happened, but to also research the topic a little more. As a result of this research I came across a piece which sheds a little more light on the unconstitutional position which is held by Ukraine’s current president as well as some insight so that others may gain a better understanding of contemporary Ukraine.
The author is Ivan Lozowy, a partner in the AI Information Network and Director of Amber Global Consulting. His legal training, western mindset, and on-ground experience in Ukraine, which is surpassed by very few individuals, gives him the authority to make the statements he does. Whether his statement that the MAIDAN COMETH actually comes to fruition is really up to the people of Ukraine. Though, with the current president and his Soviet goon squad mentality, there may just be enough intimidation going on that the critical mass for another Maidan may never be attained.
The following remains the copyright of Ivan Lozowy and is used with his permission.
THE UKRAINE INSIDER
Vol. 10, No. 4 April 29, 2010
ITEM A.: THE MAIDAN COMETH
Since coming to power in February the Party of Regions have been flailing away wildly, drunk with the power that they feel was unfairly snatched away from them in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution in 2004.
Their first major move was to violate Ukraine’s Constitution by forming a parliamentary coalition not of factions, as the Constitution expressly provides, but of individual deputies. Yet no one was surprised when 11 out of 18 judges of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court voted to validate this use of people’s deputies’ “corpses,” as they are often referred to in the media. The corrupt nature of the Court is legendary. This, after all, is largely the same Court which in 2004 decided that former President Leonid Kuchma, who had served two terms as president from 1994 to 1999 and from 1999 to 2004, could run for a third term despite a clear Constitutional prohibition.
The Court’s reasoning this time around was that parliament’s newly-adopted rules of procedure could somehow “trump” Ukraine’s Constitution. Just two years earlier, however, the Court had expressly come to the opposite conclusion, namely, that a governing coalition could not include individual deputies and must be formed only of parliamentary factions.
On April 26 the Verkhovna Rada, or parliament, voted to extend the lease for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the city of Sevastopol until at least 2042, despite mass demonstrations outside and fisticuffs inside the assembly hall. The law was passed without debate and despite the fact that the Rada had no quorum.
This decision, however, is merely a harbinger. The government put in place by the newly elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, is headed by Mykola Azarov, an ardent proponent of Ukraine’s integration with Russia. Azarov has never particularly hidden his desire to see Ukraine integrated with Russia, up to and including Ukraine’s disappearing as an independent state. A rumor has it that Azarov once told an MP that he would be taking revenge for what was done to “our princes,” a reference to the Khazars, a southern tribe at war with the Ukrainians until the 10th century, prompting the rumor that Azarov’s real last name is “Khazarov.”
Azarov is moving ahead quickly with wide-ranging plans for integration with Russia.
The nuclear energy, aviation and infrastructure sectors are slated to be handed to the Kremlin on a platter. Not only are Russian companies to absorb Ukrainian firms and execute work in Ukraine, draft agreements foresee immunity for Russian companies in Ukraine and set rules for the Ukrainian executive branch to begin working hand-in-hand with the Kremlin on a day-to-day basis, a form of political integration now.
Needless to say, the Kremlin is overjoyed. Visits to Moscow by Yanukovych and Azarov have been followed by visits to Ukraine by President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on April 26, which seemed more of a working visit than a visit by a foreign dignitary.
No one, however, seemed to notice the irony of Putin proposing close nuclear cooperation with Russia on the anniversary of the day when the Chornobyl nuclear power station – designed in Moscow and built in Ukraine during the Soviet era – blew up.
The other government appointee who stands out as an ideological warrior is the Minister of Education, Dmytro Tabachnyk, whose principal thesis is that there is no Ukrainian nation or people as such. When popular protests against Tabachnyk’s appointment flared up across the country, he responded that his personal views are unrelated to his job.
Although Azarov is setting the pace right now, his and Tabachnyk’s pro-Russian views are not necessarily shared by the rest of the Cabinet. Most members of the government are in office for one purpose only: to get richer. The dominant force in the party is Ukraine’s richest oligarch, Renat Akhmetov, whose career skyrocketed after his former boss, a mobster named Alek Bragin, was killed.
Thus the Party of Regions will have to pursue a wider strategy in order to get what it wants.
As their first step the Party of Regions will have to grab a firm hold over the levers of power in Ukraine. Unlike their counterparts in the West, they do not countenance ever being removed from office (See The Ukraine Insider, Vol. 7, No. 1 from January 31, 2007). Thus Yanukovych has been busy replacing government officials in Kyiv and across the country. Here arises his first major problem. Although the Party of Regions, often referred to as a “clan,” has dominated economic, social and political life in its home base in the Donetsk oblast for years, even a large grouping such as theirs has too few players to install in even most of the key posts across the country, which is twenty times the size of the Donetsk region.
The second step, already underway, is to grab the assets that the leaders and members of the Party of Regions want. Vice Prime Minister Andriy Kliuyev announced yesterday that the government will shift its privatization program into high gear. Chances are that private owners, such as India’s Lakshmi Mittal, owner of the metallurgical giant Krivorizhstal, nationalized after a corrupt privatization which had granted part ownership to Akhmetov, are at risk.
The third factor in this process is a necessary consequence of the steps taken by the Party of Regions. Most Ukrainians do not agree with the government’s policies on quick integration with Russia and with its program of enriching members of the Party of Regions at the country’s expense. Thus opposition to Yanukovych’s rule and Azarov’s government will increase. As with any large group, inertia must be overcome and some politicians believe that by this fall a mass protest movement will have crystallized. In response, the Party of Regions will have to increase its repressive measures in order to stifle dissent.
In any event, the “Maidan,” which means “square” in Ukrainian, but is at times referred to almost as living entity in recognition of the popular base of the Orange Revolution, which took place on the Independence “Maidan,” is on its way.