Translated by Ollie Richardson
The former ambassador in Russia and in Ukraine Yaroslav Bashta warns about the “africanization” of Ukraine and the actual disintegration of the country in every sense. For the Czech Republic this can pose a threat. Also, Bashta claims that in a certain respect, our country beings to resemble Ukraine, and warns against the same fate.
Ukraine doesn’t occupy the central place in geopolitical events any more, and the media began to write about it less. How is this country living now? They say that in some spheres it gradually sinking to the level of developing countries, that the economy and infrastructure collapses, and that there haven’t been any external investments in years. For example, incidence is high, and the population is declining at an incredible rate, people sit without work…
“There is nothing surprising about the fact that Ukraine disappeared from the column of the western media. The current state of the second largest European country is such that only official Ukrainian media can speak about it optimistically. Others prefer to be silent.
An explanation can be found in some statistical data: the GDP size per capita corresponds rather to the level African (Morocco, Angola) or the poor Asian and Latin American states (Philippines, Guatemala). From the European countries, affairs are worse only in Moldova. The economic state there corresponds to the situation in healthcare. So, in Ukraine there are infectious diseases that put the country in the same row of developing countries. The decline in population reached catastrophic indicators. In 1991, 52 million people lived in Ukraine, and last year (after the secession of Crimea) there were already only 42 million.
Some Russian political scientists speak, exaggerating a little, about the africanization of the neighboring country. Besides the aforementioned statistical data on the economy and health care, they speak about the prevalence of corruption and crime, and also reason that certain oligarchs created for themselves private armies, that the infrastructure in Ukraine collapses, and the State collapses. These political scientists are right about the fact that in recent years events in Ukraine are reminiscent of the situation in the former colonies, for example, in Black Africa.”
To what extent is the federalization of Ukraine or its disintegration possible?
“The present Kiev government considers any mention of federalization as a crime and rigidly defends the centralized State. Because of ethnic minorities, Ukraine has very intense relations with all neighboring states: not only with Russia, but also with Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Belarus. The only exception — Slovakia. Kiev already missed the moment for the peaceful federalization of Ukraine, that’s why disintegration of the State is possible.”
And there is a threat that Ukraine will be divided among those countries that its parts belonged to in the distant past?
“What before 2014 seemed impossible now passed into the category of real-life scenarios. The geographical boundaries of independent Ukraine were defined by two Soviet leaders. Stalin attached to it Czechoslovak Zakarpattya (Subcarpathian Rus), the Romanian Bukovina, the Polish Galicia, and extensive areas of modern Western Ukraine. Khrushchev added Crimea to them.
Taking into account all of this, Kiev must carefully proceed so that the current desovietization of Ukraine has no international legal consequences. The Russian annexation of Crimea showed that such a threat exists. The protection of ethnic minorities is a powerful argument. However, another strong argument speaks against the described developments of events: the restoration of the destroyed region will cost very much. That’s why any State before annexing, at first, will properly think, like Russia vis-a-vis Donbass.”
What’s happening now in the Ukrainian political arena, and what are the moods in society? The expert Tomasz Gaas notes that in Ukraine Bandera and the Nazis are glorified…
“It is not only the nationalism expressed in West Ukraine (Galicia), which quite naturally refers to its nazi roots and traditions, glorifying not only Stepan Bandera, but also the SS ‘Galicia’ division. This, from our point of view, can also be observed in the East, where Stalin in a certain sense was rehabilitated. So the fighting in Donbass is a return to times of World War II, not only in a geographical sense, but also in an ideological one. In fact it is about the collision of two idols — Stalin and Bandera …”
What does Ukraine set as a negative example? Is there something that occurs in Ukraine that can occur here [Czech republic – ed]? And, perhaps, we are already seeing the first signs of it?
“Here already for some time occurs the gradual Ukrainization of Czech politics and the economy. Among Czech political parties ‘enterprising’ political actors have already appeared, who advance the interests of their owners. I am speaking about the Věci veřejné and ANO parties, which confirm the penetration of oligarchs in our political arena. Traditional political parties adapted to this trend, added to their arsenal the same tools for the struggle for power. Only here it is more difficult to identify the owners of these parties.
Everything goes towards the fact that profits from us will be privatized even more often, and losses will be imposed on society. For many years the Ukrainian oligarchs governed the country like a company, that’s why they considered the collected taxes as profit for them, and now the country is collapsing and can’t carry out basic functions. So far we still have an opportunity to learn lessons from the crisis in Ukraine and to prevent a negative scenario.
There is also one more danger. I mean the radical Ukrainian nationalists who come to us. At demonstrations against our President, Ukrainian flags always flutter. Migration quite often means the import of foreign conflicts and the alien ways of their resolution…”
From July the visa-free regime between Ukraine and the EU will be in force. What will it lead to? Is there a threat that Ukrainians will start migrating in large quantities, including, to the Czech Republic? Will it be dangerous for us? For example, Ukrainians can legally or illegally flood the labor market, and so on…
“The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko assumes that after the introduction of the visa-free regime, the number of people who daily cross the border with the European Union will increase from the present 100,000 to 120,000. It isn’t dangerous for us. However, a survey was conduced in which Ukrainians were asked what they will do in the event of a sharp deterioration of the economic situation in their country. 60% of young people answered that they will leave abroad. And it can become quite a serious problem for which we have to be prepared. The development of events in Ukraine makes this catastrophic scenario very likely.”
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