Rostislav Ishchenko: Ukraine is Europe… 15th Century Europe

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


People were always unfair to their lesser brothers. Especially to those who they for some reason didn’t like. They glorified a dog, but also despised it, for its fidelity. They positioned a horse as a faithful assistant in everything: for agricultural works, for transportation during war. While rodents were not liked by mankind, because they stole food and spoiled houses, making passages in walls.

Rats always and everywhere were shown as negative characters: in fairy tales, in epos, in the latest literature, in proverbs and sayings. They were depicted as greedy, predatory, insidious, and at the same time vile and cowardly freeloaders.

Meanwhile, grey small animals (which are much more widespread than their black and white comrades) always showed remarkable intelligence, an ability for collective actions, and a tendency to avoid conflicts. Rats, coexisting together with people throughout all human history, prior to the beginning of the 20th century always had the opportunity to completely quell the human population at the expense of their number and their ability to hide during the day and to attack sleeping persons at night. But rats never attacked people.

Everybody knows that only a rat driven into a corner starts fighting. In this case, the little grey small animal becomes dangerous not only for a much larger cat, but also for a person, to whom he can inflict mutilations (including lethal). But whilst there is still a road for retreat, the rat recedes, avoiding conflict.

Exactly in the same way people say: “Rats flee the ship”. This is a deliberate malicious distortion. It is people who run from the ship. They run when it already obviously sinks, and that’s why it’s rare that everyone manages to escape. As a rule, from a quarter to 90% of the crew and passengers perish together with the ship. Precisely because people in panic run at the last moment, squashed against others, aren’t capable of organizing themselves normally and often don’t use obvious means of rescue. Sometimes it can happen that a team, rushing overboard in a panic, instantly sink together, and after this the ship quietly floats for months.

Rats never run. They quietly beforehand evacuate – they leave accurately, “having collected bindles and suitcases with things, having packed everything valuable, and having not hurriedly gathered the children”. They bring with them everything that can be taken. When there is the opportunity they simply move with their things to the next ship.

Ukrainian politicians are often compared to rats. They indeed are very provident, even more provident than their grey brothers. It can happen that they leave the political ship not only before the leak appears, but when it is still in quite decent condition and can float. It’s not they who leave the sinking ship, but it is the ship that sinks, abandoned by the team.

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Ukrainian politicians started to flee from Poroshenko. At the moment, carefully, not obviously, leaving the opportunity to pretend that nobody was going to go anywhere. But, with each passing day this fleeing will accrue.

Poroshenko has exactly the same situation that Yanukovych had. Only time goes quicker. Time is pressed. In the first couple of weeks of Maidan Yanukovych could have solved the problem using the bludgeons of Berkut, with some injured noses, broken hands, some dozens – at most hundreds – of detainees, and a dozen of criminal cases. He didn’t dare. Since this moment it became clear that he will lose.

With each passing day the price of the question became higher. In the beginning the number of affected still continued to reflect potential mangled persons, then later – corpses. Farther, it already reflected dozens of corpses, thousands of arrested, and hundreds of criminal cases. Finally, having not yet dared to decide on anything, he barely saved his life, and the country paid for his indecision with tens of thousands of killed, destroyed cities, and a demolished State.

Precisely demolished. Already demolished. A person lying in a coffin also looks like alive, but they are dead. The Ukrainian State seems to function. The parliament works. The government makes certain decisions. In regions nobody proclaims people’s republics, except the ones already proclaimed. But in reality this is a coffin painted in gold.

I was repeatedly given examples of the survivability of Ukraine and was told that Poroshenko was stronger than ever, that he strengthened the vertical, that he created an army, and in general he will conquer Kamchatka tomorrow. While I considered and still consider (and history backs me up with many examples) that external signs, like a military parade, beautiful flags, and even a representative in the UN don’t speak about anything. China was once represented in the UN by the Kuomintang, which controlled only Taiwan. And Somalia and Afghanistan have a representative in the UN too. And? Someone compares them at least to Romania?

The crossing of the Ukrainian border by Mikheil Saakashvili – Stateless, wanted in his Motherland on charges of numerous crimes, a person without serious support in Ukrainian society, without a base, without a resource, without roots, without ideas – is the best proof that there is no State in Ukraine anymore.

Poroshenko (the nominal President of Ukraine) tried in every way to prevent Saakashvili from entering Ukraine. Nevertheless, Mikhail Saakashvili indeed broke through into Ukraine, with the help of only 3,000-4,000 supporters, who were able (despite attempts to blockade their columns) from all corners of Ukraine to arrive to the border crossing. Neither border guards nor the National Guard, which was beforehand pulled together to the region, could stop him. Moreover, after a couple of hours he occupied Lvov, and Lvov obeyed him. In 1941, the German Army moved forward more slowly, while it showed the wonders of a high-speed advance.

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All the Ukrainian State failed to stop one marginal politician, who has a very indirect relation to Ukraine. Is this a State?

And the grey brothers from among Ukrainian politicians understood everything. The principal part of the question is resolved. Saakashvili had to either not get into Ukraine, or to be immediately detained and sent to Georgia, where the prosecutor awaits him. Whether he is needed in his Motherland by Georgian politicians is a secondary question, which couldn’t worry Poroshenko. If he entered Ukraine, this is already a severe defeat for Poroshenko. But he didn’t simply enter. He occupied the large regional center – the sixth-in-size city of Ukraine, and the historical capital of Galicia. In Ukraine dual power appeared.

Poroshenko could have prevented him from crossing the border, with the help of bludgeons. Now there will be a need to shoot, and this is scarier. If a tough decision on the quelling of the mutiny, the nominal head of which is Saakashvili, but the roots of which are in the Ukrainian get-together, will not be made, in some (very short) time Poroshenko won’t be able to even escape.

Yes, Saakashvili is only the face of the mutiny. Behind him there is Kolomoisky and Tymoshenko, who Poroshenko already offended in 2014. Behind him stands Ukrainian oligarchy, which is regularly dispossessed in favor of Poroshenko – the last Ukrainian oligarch. Behind him stand these same “activists of Maidan” – dissatisfied with their insufficient weight in Ukrainian politics, many of which became Deputies and battalion commanders. Behind him stands the same Avakov, who understands that it is too narrow for two bears in one den, and that Saakashvili, according to Ukrainian measures, is not a bear, but, at best, a squirrel.

Saakashvili is a battering ram against Poroshenko, useful to Ukrainian politicians, each of who was afraid to be the first to oppose the hated President, having given in such a way the possibility of a choice to the rest: to support Poroshenko against the mutineer or the mutineer against Poroshenko. Saakashivili suits everyone as the nominal leader of the mutiny, because he has nothing in Ukraine: neither an economic base, a power resource, nor prestige among the people. He must be the pocket leader of an oligarchical party, which under his cover expects to share out power.

It won’t share it out, because there is enough power in Ukraine. It is property that there isn’t enough of for everyone. That’s why access to power means the opportunity to share out property in your own favour. That’s why an oligarchical consensus in Ukraine is impossible. The unity of the country remains until at its head there is a plenipotentiary dictator. If they aren’t present, then every oligarchical clan, in its standoff with others, will rely on its own regional base. The weaker the President is, and the stronger the clans are, the more obvious the already-occurred disintegration of Ukraine is.

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Now the State lives in a feudal regime. Today at the head of it there is a not very strong or authoritative king, but his right to power is recognized by both barons inside the country and in neighboring States. Tomorrow power can appear in the hands of a plethora of barons, each of which will by right consider themselves to be much more legitimate than the king, and the surrounding States won’t give a damn about the problems of this reserve of untamed neo-feudals. They will think exclusively about the opportunity to remove some valuable thing from the corpse (to return the primordial territory).

I am not sure that Poroshenko still has an opportunity to quell the mutiny using an armed hand. Maybe his orders won’t be executed. But in his place I, at least, would try. In the event the fear of consequences is stronger, then there is no need to pose as the nationwide leader, but to flee, taking away everything that he managed to collect.

Rats fill up the bindles, gathered suitcases, and habitually switch to the last ship. If the captain of the vessel doomed to sink wishes to save his life, it is necessary to leave it before panic captures passengers and team. Because panic will show itself quickly. Euphoria from a victory over Poroshenko will quickly end. Even if he doesn’t manage to flee, his corpse hanging on a lamp in front of the Presidential Administration building will not entertain people for long. Everyone will want to eat. And everyone will begin a fight for food.

I have been writing for three years that the most interesting and most awful thing in Ukraine still hasn’t begun. Now the country approached closely to the beginning of the processes destroying already not the State, but the population.

And the West simply observes. Whatever happens, it won’t hurt the West. Whether Poroshenko will win or not (which is almost unreal, but it is still theoretically possible), the authorities appointed by the West will confirm its legitimacy and its capacity to act. Whether Saakashvili (more precisely, the oligarchs standing behind him) will win or not, the West didn’t sign up for this coup and its hands in relation to Ukraine are free, space for political manoeuvre is freed up.

Ukraine wanted to be in Europe. Ukraine in Europe. Welcome to the France of 1415.

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