Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
In Ukraine there is talk about the first Maidan, the second Maidan, a future Maidan, and an aborted Maidan (“Ukraine without Kuchma” event). Politicians, political scientists, journalists, and already even scientific historians (if it is possible to call as such the people representing Ukrainian historical science) discuss the quantity of Maidans in the history of the “European nation”, as well as their correct periodisation and world-wide/ historical value.
This is good and correct. An exact definition of the quantity and quality of Maidans – both realised and not realised ones, both peaceful and not peaceful coup attempts – indeed allows us to come to global generalisations, and to define – being accurate within one year – the exact moment when the US transitioned to a regime of a confrontation with Russia (without reporting about it officially yet). Consequently, when the “multi-vector policy” stopped to suit them (we will note, a quite pro-American multi-vector policy), which is characteristic not only for Ukraine, but also for all the post-Soviet space.
This is a very important moment of a strategic geopolitical U-turn. It is precisely the decision of the US not to drag things out, biding their time for when Russia suffocates from their “friendly” embraces, but to finish it off within the framework of a direct and open confrontation, having created a belt of hatred along its borders out of the former Soviet republics, that gave Moscow the chance to do a U-turn in a lost geopolitical game in its own favour, which Russia was able to take advantage of, despite all the scantiness of this chance.
The creation of a belt of hatred demanded to remove the compromising (from the point of view of the domestic policy of the relevant states) “multi-vector” regimes and to replace them with radical nationalist, “Euro-atlantic”, forces, whose representatives didn’t enjoy special popularity in their own countries. It wasn’t a question of the elites of post-Soviet states being against integration into NATO and the EU, but of radical contradictions between semi-marginal groups of “ideologists”, who fed themselves from American grants and in principle weren’t interested in the economy, and the emerging national oligarchy, which fed itself from the national economy, desired to control the domestic market, and had some interests and ambitions in foreign markets – in particular, the Russian market.
Creeping “suffocation from embraces” assumed taking into account the interests of the national oligarchy. Such “taking into account” excluded a transition to a forced offensive on Russia. National economies should have been sacrificed for the nationalist ideological mobilisation of the peoples against Russia.
It was possible to achieve success in such a situation only by a coup. But the open putsch of marginals would be suppressed by the authorities and wouldn’t be supported by the world community. That’s why it was necessary to mask it under a color “people’s revolutions”. Nevertheless, the coming to power of radical nationalist-russophobes was so destructive for the interests of local elites that in most cases the coup didn’t take place, and pathetic attempts were easily suppressed by the authorities, despite the sluggish protests of the “civilised world”.
The coups succeeded in separate cases, but even here in most cases the old elites were able to preserve control over the situation and also the “multi-vector” strategy. Only in Georgia and Ukraine did Russophobic regimes (Saakashvili and Yushchenko) remain in power for a long time. But in the end Saakashvili’s regime in Georgia fell, and his successors are quite “multi-vector” russophobes. Whereas in Ukraine Yushchenko’s regime, having degraded in five years towards full marginality and having lost power, was again revived in 2014 in the form of a direct radical nationalist dictatorship, which was carelessly veiled with the pseudo-democratic regime of Poroshenko.
Now the new “opposition” tries to unite against Petro Poroshenko on the basis of this same “multi-vectorism”. And it seems that they are having some success. But here it is a question of changing the person who is the president and about firing several dozens (or maybe only several) of his closest employees, who have compromised themselves too much by their proximity to the criminal regime. It isn’t at all a question about changing the principles of governance. They speak about the need for reconciliation with Russia, but not about recognising the Russian status of Crimea. They speak about terminating the war, but not about recognising the People’s Republics of Donbass as equal partners in negotiations on solving the crisis. But there is no talk about condemning the coup or about holding accountable those who violated the constitution and the laws of the country, committed massacres and illegal arrests, humiliated people, used the army against their own people, and bombed and shelled their own cities. They also don’t oppose the plans to create a “local church“. The “opposition” is “anti” only Poroshenko and corruption – because it is connected to Poroshenko, and “pro” everything being like it was before the coup, but without a revision of the political results of the coup.
We can ascertain that irrespective of whether or not the “opposition” appeals to the East (Boyko–Rabinovich) or to the West (Tymoshenko), whether or not it has a pro-American (Yatsenyuk), pro-European (Klitschko), or pro-Russian (Medvedchuk) reputation, we are dealing with the opposition of Maidan, and not the opposition to Maidan. They fight not against the results of the coup, but for the power in the country created by this coup. They – being in the center of events, unlike many Russian experts, who consider that Ukraine becomes stronger – directly say that the state crumbles and not very optimistically estimate the timeframe of the final disintegration. They understand that the resource for the stabilisation of the situation and the preservation of statehood is situated in Russia, and they want to receive this resource, but at the same time not refuse any of Maidan’s “gains”.
They are ready to sacrifice Poroshenko. But not because Poroshenko somehow doesn’t govern the country as he should. Ultimately, today’s oppositionists to the “corrupt regime” have had serious parliamentary representation. For more than two years Poroshenko hasn’t been able to implement his initiatives via the Rada without the support of the opposition, i.e., the opposition has a formal parliamentary majority, albeit non-united and non-structured. The head of the government also pursues a rather independent policy, and the decisions of the Cabinet of Ministers are influenced more by Avakov’s position than Poroshenko’s. The sources of the influence of the president are the Ministry of Defence, the SBU, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Prosecutor-General’s Office. This is enough in order to remain in power, but it isn’t enough to pursue an independent policy.
They are ready to gift Poroshenko’s head to Moscow simply because they themselves need his removal, but removing his head is better. I.e., they want to pay for this support with what they will do anyway – because if it’s not they who will remove him, then it will be he who will remove them. And moreover, it’s not a question of support in the course of elections. They perfectly understand that if they won’t be able to resolve the issue of power in Ukraine by their own efforts, then nobody will help them – neither Russia, nor the US, nor the EU. It is about massive financial-economic support (by granting credits, financing joint production projects, and opening Russian markets for Ukrainian production) for the new government.
In fact, the Ukrainian “opposition” hopes that Russia will financially support a neomaidan government in exchange for its main face being replaced. At the same time, since the issue of power after a coup is resolved not by voting, but by armed support, the “opposition” needs to obtain support or at least the neutrality of nationalist (legal and illegal) armed formations. First of all, this concerns Biletsky, who already declared that since Tyagnibok refused to head the united right-wing radicals, it will be him (Biletsky) who will do it.
Biletsky controls the most numerous and branched structure, which includes, besides the “Azov” regiment, up to 10,000 reservists who have combat experience and who, thanks to accumulated stocks of illegal weapons, can be deployed in two-three brigades, with their own quasi-police formations present in every settlement from the district center and further and with a branched party structure leaning on public and youth organisations. At the moment he, apparently, tries to enter into an alliance with Tyagnibok, due to the influence of “Svoboda” in 3 Galician regions, and the only thing that is left for other right-wing radicals – including the once legendary Yarosh – to do is to join Biletsky as younger partners. In addition, he has Avakov’s support, and thus the Ministry of Internal Affairs too. Moreover, it is especially Avakov who is more interested in preserving interaction with Biletsky, i.e., the latter is rather free in his political gestures.
He already made his first demand. He wants the political system to legalise the carrying by his activists of the illegal military weapons collected by them. It is possible that this isn’t the only price of the neutrality of the extreme-right that he will demand to pay. Of course, it is possible to refuse him, and he will be refused on some points, but there will be an obligation to accept some of his conditions. And it means that the extreme-right will become stronger and more centralised at the back-end of the Ukrainian presidential campaign. Any government – be it old or new – will be forced to reckon with this.
Thus, Maidan – if to consider that it isn’t just the periodic festival of marginals on the central square of Kiev veiling a banal coup, but the steady movement of Ukraine along the way of more and more Russophobic and more and more terroristic regimes emerging – will be continued after these elections, irrespective of their results. Maidan in Ukraine is in general eternal. It started before the declaration of independence (“revolution on granite”) and it will exist for some time after the disappearance of the Ukrainian state, irrespective of whether it will be divided, absorbed, or will simply collapse into many small “gulyai-pole” [power changing hands frequently – ed] and “Malinovka“.
Three sources, three components feed the Eternal Ukrainian Maidan, which is the prerequisite for, as well as the symbol and sense of, the existence of independent Ukraine:
- Non-professionalism of the provincial bureaucracy, which turned out to be incapable of governing an independent state, fatally afraid of its own people and therefore feeling the need to transfer its sovereignty to an external manager, having become its vassal. Such a position initially excluded a union with Russia. Moscow possessed the situation in Ukraine too well and Kiev was afraid that it will demand too big a slice for protection.
- The inability of the oligarchy to transition from a burglarious economy to a productive one. Work in accordance with the scheme “stole-sold-stole” doomed not only the country, but also the oligarchy to the quick exhaustion of cash resources and the fight over dividing up what remains, and thus – a split in the elites and their inability to effectively defend state interests. Finally, this resulted in the purely Ukrainian theory that state interests as such are a myth.
- Concentration of the people on consumer expectations. The independence of Ukraine, the plans of “European integration”, all Maidans, and a confrontation with Russia were considered by the people as a certain mystical action, after which capitalist communism – when nobody works, but “to each according to his needs” – will immediately come.
Of course, in Ukraine there were sensible managers, gifted politicians, talented businessmen, and simply a mass of adequate people. But the idea of independence is the idea of Maidan, and the idea of Maidan consists of doing nothing but having everything. Independence dooms Ukraine to an Eternal Maidan. Any opposition in Kiev that comes out with whatever very beautiful slogans, but is “for” the preservation of independence, supports also the preservation of the Eternal Maidan.
But in Kiev there is no opposition that wouldn’t support independence. In 27 years such opposition was completely ousted from politics, and now it is being ousted also from life. Kiev fears even federalism like the plague, since it guarantees the fast end of independence. Regions will quickly figure out that nearby there are federal centers that serve the interests of their province much more qualitatively and cheaper.
That’s why during the approaching elections it will become a question not of the fight of Maidan vs. anti-Maidan (this fight was definitively lost by anti-Maidan in the spring of 2014), but only of the form of Maidan. But since neither the vector nor the principles of Ukraine’s development change, we can ascertain that having travelled – within the framework of the Eternal Maidan – the path from a soft nationalist democracy, through an oligarchical republic, to an oligarchical dictatorship leaning on the extreme-right, Ukraine moves towards a barefaced dictatorship of the extreme-right. The only question is will the state live long enough to see an extreme-right dictatorship or will it collapse earlier than it will be destroyed by this dictatorship that yearns for power in order to strengthen it [the state – ed].
The only thing that Ukrainian politicians can do to influence matters is to accelerate or slow down the processes leading towards the inevitable end that they can already see. They try to slow it down, but I think that for Ukraine it would be better to accelerate it, because it is that case when a horrible end is better than horror without an end.
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