Poroshenko: Two Roads to Nowhere

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



On the third anniversary of the taking to office of the Ukrainian President

Ukrainian politicians, in the third year of events that were called by them a “revolution”, at last understood that the process started by them is extremely dynamic. Changes are required constantly. The Prime Minister Yatsenyuk – dismissed on April 14th, 2016 – already can’t serve as a reason for why everything is so bad when it was planned that everything will be very good. Poroshenko has nobody else anymore to shift the blame onto — it was he himself who replaced Yatsenyuk with the completely under-his-control Groisman.

And here the obvious became clear to people who call themselves Ukrainian politicians in 2014 — it is necessary to change Poroshenko. He never had his political party, i.e. a systemic political force, capable of doing daily routine work to his advantage. The present Bloc of Petro Poroshenko is a concourse of conformists and embezzlers of State funds, “better” than the Party of Regions. They are ready to swear to a new leader even tomorrow [not literally – ed]  – to Oleg Lyashko, to Yulia Tymoshenko, if only provided access to the State trough. He never enjoyed popularity and the support of the people. Only in April-May, 2014, and only the American Embassy in Kiev “had data at its disposal” that over 50% of the Ukrainian voters are ready to support Poroshenko. It is like this that Americans (and at the level of the Secretary of State, but not some ambassador) also spoke about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

He is hated also because unlike the same Tymoshenko, who somehow fought on the side of the opposition, and was even jailed. Unlike other politicians, who rushed to power together with Yushchenko and who again succeeded to do it, after the February coup of 2014, Poroshenko always was in power, passing from President to President and hesitating with the“party line”. If commitment of the most part of politicians of Maidan to the “Ukrainian idea” raises doubts, the fact that Poroshenko is simply a businessman lacking ideas nobody doubts. And nationalists don’t like at all that they have to provide power and income to this dealer, at the cost of their own lives.

The West long ago, in the middle of 2015, was disappointed in Poroshenko’s ability to stabilize the regime, and wouldn’t object to his replacement with someone else. Only then, Europeans and Americans wanted it to happen in a civilized way — so that external proprieties were observed. But, in November, 2016, the US administration left, which started the Ukrainian crisis, and is therefore interested in saving face during its retreat from Ukraine. To Trump it is all the same — it’s not he who started it — ask Obama and Clinton about it. He even dumbfounded Europeans with the offer to pay for their security themselves. He didn’t promise them anything, the American budget is not infinite, while it is the American, and not German or Italian taxpayers who voted for Trump.

It is clear that the US President, showing readiness to sacrifice relations with Europe because their cost is inadmissible for the modern US, is even more so indifferent to the fate of some small Ukrainian mercenary put in power by his political opponents.

Generally, nobody loves Poroshenko, nobody supports him, and every more or less influential Ukrainian politician wouldn’t object to receiving some dividends from his replacement. Someone has their eyes on this position. Someone has their eyes on the opportunities for personal enrichment given by a change of the team in power. Someone is not against using Poroshenko’s removal to explain to the people why after all things don’t become better. It’s possible to describe for two months why Poroshenko is guilty of everything.

Someone believes that Poroshenko’s replacement with a more radical leader will allow with fire and a sword to build at last the “Ukrainian Ukraine”, in which everyone will march rank and file in embroidery, to shout chants, to sing the anthem in chorus, and to speak only in Ukrainian. There are still even naive people hoping that Poroshenko’s replacement will allow to stop war.

The opinion of the people about how life after Poroshenko must be adjusted, as usual, excites nobody. While the opinion of the political class is divided. Actually it was divided not today, but already before the victory of the last Maidan, but it is especially now, having realized at last the inevitability of the early removal of Poroshenko, that different political groups started to put forward their plans of the transformation of the Ukrainian reality. In the beginning it was marginal bandits who tested the durability of power, disguised as ideological nationalists. They started the blockade (at first of Donbass, and then of everything) and the power was deflated — dancing to their tune, showed the willingness to lead radicalization and to even steer it on the correct course (the ban on social networks and the St.George’s Ribbon).

The weakness exhibited by the authorities pushed forward Tymoshenko. She, positioning herself as the leader of the systemic opposition to Poroshenko, was long ago in full combat readiness, and is afraid to miss that moment when Poroshenko is toppled.

The matter is that the plan of her voluntary leaving of office in the form of early parliamentary elections (after which early presidential ones will inevitably follow) has already been in motion since the beginning of 2016. The implementation of this plan allowed to represent Poroshenko’s leaving as a quite legitimate procedure, and to keep control over the power from the side of systemic politicians (natives of Kuchma’s era).

Expectedly, Poroshenko disagreed then, and he will disagree now also. It’s not for this that he received the presidency in 2014, it’s not for this that he took the responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, in order to simply transfer into the hands of others the only position in Ukraine that gives the chance to retailor someone else’s property in one’s own favor and to continue to enrich themselves in the conditions of accruing resource hunger, when not only people become poorer, but also the oligarchs. It will mean that it’s not someone else who will steal, while it is Poroshenko who will have to be responsible for everything. He doesn’t agree to this.

Tymoshenko’s proposal was ignored during the whole of 2016. But at the beginning of the 2017, the power obviously became very weak, while Tymoshenko accumulated enough pretexts to harshly criticize the authorities. And Poroshenko’s team publicly initiated a repeated criminal case under the contract of 2009 on the supply of Russian gas. They want to put Tymoshenko in jail for what they themselves released her for, having exonerated her with a reference to the decision of the European court. At the same time they began to verify the financing of the “Fatherland” party to paralyze the activity of the political device of Tymoshenko.

If now Poroshenko isn’t able to force Tymoshenko to be silent and, at the same time, won’t be able to implement the threat of putting her in prison, then all of the systemic political class led by oligarchs will rush to tear him apart. All quarrels, disputes, and contradictions will be for a while forgotten, and the slogan will prevail: “We will sort it amongst ourselves later — now it is necessary to tear the weakened one apart”.

If he manages to send her to jail, it will become obvious to other opponents that it is possible to displace Poroshenko only by force, and most likely, there will be a need to kill him (or to allow his murder by a crowd of “grateful fellow citizens”).

Such a proposition also exists. In Ukraine there has long been conversations about the need for a dictatorship. Maidan office pets dream of an anti-oligarchical dictatorship, but they don’t like the corrupt regime, and also are afraid of the neo-Nazis walking on the streets. Turchynov constantly hints about the need for a national dictatorship that will, at last, unleash open war with the hated Russia. The recent head of the Lugansk military civil authorities, and nowadays the deputy minister of the occupied territories recently spoke about a dictatorship that is capable of stabilizing the internal political situation using rigid quelling of “anti-Ukrainian forces”. Before him and besides him, tens and hundreds of more prominent nazis insist on the same thing — different kinds of “volunteers”, “heroes of the ATO”, and simply “patriots”.

The force already exists that is ready to try to implement a dictatorship. Biletsky’s structures (the “Azov” regiment, the “National Corpus” party, and others) in the last month actively put in their pocket the movement of nationalists and the bandit militaristic marginality who passed through the ATO. Today he, with the assistance of Avakov, to who “Azov” is formally subordinated as a part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, managed to create in Ukraine the most systemic and widespread political network. Moreover, this is the only political organization reinforced by a real motivated, ideologized, and structured military force.

Poroshenko becomes a hindrance. He stopped to bear the load of negativity and can’t repress opponents of the regime rather effectively. Both Turchynov and Avakov have enough strength to resolve the issue of the seizure of power during a few hours if the latter doesn’t come to the authority’s defence. Everyone understands that an internecine war of two forces will critically weaken both. Both of them don’t trust each other, and this prevents them from coming to an agreement.

But the demand of the moment is stronger than personal preferences. If Turchynov together with Avakov aren’t able to unite nationalists, it will be done by someone else. Does it matter for Ukraine how its Fuhrer will be called?

In general, for post-Poroshenko Ukraine there are two options. Tymoshenko’s proposal, remains of an oligarchical and systemic politicum. In its framework Poroshenko will be changed for another figure. Democracy will be declared as rescued. Further, nothing happens. Simply a new team rushes into power with a lower level of initial support, with a smaller period of expectation (during which society is ready to give to the new power carte blanche), with a thirst for the budget’s money and someone else’s property no smaller than the predecessors.

In case this (soft) scenario of a change of power is implemented, radicals won’t disappear anywhere. They will only strengthen due to the weakness of the authorities. People will be disappointed in the ability of the political elite to do something useful only more strongly, they will become more hardened, and will be ready to morally support the idea of nazis – the need to hang all oligarchs and to redistribute all their wealth. And then, anyway, it is nationalists who will come to power, and anyway, they will establish an open dictatorship. The question lies not in whether Ukrainian systemic politicians will manage to preserve democratic institutes for themselves, with the full suppression of the people (as Poroshenko now practices, and to what Tymoshenko strives), but in when will radicals be ready to take power in their hands — right now or slightly later.

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