Ukraine: Liberty in the Chapiteau Against the Background of a Concentration Camp

On Saturday, August 24th, Ukraine celebrates Independence Day. In principle, this date is coincidental. It is timed to coincide with the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine adopted on that day, in 1991. But this act was not the starting point in the process of gaining independence and was not the end point of this process.

The formal start of the process was the adoption on precisely July 16th 1990 of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine. By the way, in 1991, while Ukraine was part of the USSR, there was a provision (adopted on June 18th 1991), which appointed July 16th as Independence Day. Another thing is that then, besides a couple of dozens of marginals, no one noticed this “holiday”.

Ukraine’s declaration of independence was confirmed in a popular referendum on December 1st 1991. Thus, prior to this date it was incomplete, even from the point of view of Ukrainian legislation in force at that time. Especially since the deputies of the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, who voted in favour of this act, claimed that they adopted it in conditions of acute necessity, fearing the State Committee on the State of Emergency (SCSE). However, given that the SCSE liquidated itself on August 22nd, and the act was adopted on August 24th, they were most likely afraid of the revenge of the winners, because the Ukrainian leadership met the message about the SCSE quite loyally, having convinced General Varennikov that it was not necessary to send troops to Kiev because they will anyway ensure the calm transit of power, and called on the people to harvest. So the Act of Declaration of Independence served the Ukrainian leaders as a cover from Moscow’s possible anger. They didn’t know that at the time Moscow was busy with other things.

So three dates – July 16th 1990, August 24th 1991, and December 1st 1991 – are the three stages of the legal formalisation by the communist leadership of Ukraine’s own selfhood. The middle date was chosen as a national holiday, but in reality none of them can be considered as the start of the countdown of real independence. Even after the 1991 referendum, the leadership of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was confident that it would simply bargain for itself more tasty powers at the Union Center and forget about independence as a nightmare. The idea was traditional for Ukrainian mentality: at the same time it was large-scale in design and unrealistic in execution. In Kiev it was desired that all power (including a military group placed on Ukrainian territory) would be there (money, of course, too), whereas responsibility in front of the population would be borne by the union center.

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Wanting, in principle, is not harmful. The cunning Kravchuk, after the failure of the SCSE and the ban of the Communist Party, who succeeded to obtain the first role as the Chairman of the Supreme Council (he was elected President only on December 5th 1991), even after the signing of the Belovezha Accords, was ready to backtrack and if, contrary to expectation, Gorbachev decided to resist the plot, he would express loyalty and obedience to the union center. Moreover, in order to maintain his position, if the center held power, he would need precisely a referendum (that’s why it was held long before the Belovezha Accords, when the outcome of the fight was not yet clear). Leaning of its results, Kravchuk could refer to the need for manoeuvre in a difficult situation, when the whole nation – “as one person” – demanded “independence and again bargain for power. The more union bodies would fall under Republican control at the start of the bargaining, the stronger the bargaining position would be. That is precisely why the Kiev authorities actively sought and found generals ready to transfer both the army and the KGB to its control.

But, I repeat, for all the visible successes of “independence”, real independence could be sensed. The population perceived itself as a part of the USSR, and the structures of state administration, although they fell into partial stupor without party supervision, without understanding whose orders to follow, were still generally oriented, in case of divergence of positions between the central and local authorities, to take the side of Moscow.

So in reality, independence was granted to Ukraine by one person – the first and last President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev. On the evening of December 25th he read on television the text about his abdication as the President of the USSR, noting, at the same time, the disappearance of the Soviet Union, lowered the red flag over the Grand Kremlin Palace and the Ukrainian leadership suddenly, from the morning of December 26th, became actually independent.

That’s where it started. Suddenly it turned out that there was a country, but no one knew how to manage it. But the Ukrainian leaders started an active fight for former union-wide property. The “everyone owns what remained on its territory” position adopted without the least discussion was, first of all, in the interests of Ukraine – on its territory remained the largest economic complex (40% of agriculture, 50% of heavy industry, 60% of the Union’s MIC), as well as a huge number of universities and research institutes, which provided this economy with scientific personnel. Ukraine also housed the largest and best equipped military group. Only in terms of fleet size and number of nuclear warheads alone was Ukraine inferior to Russia, and in other indicators exceeded.

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With such wealth that suddenly fell on its head, the Ukrainian leaders started penny-pinching in an attempt to privatise the Black Sea Fleet.

At the same time, while the Kiev leadership fought for a fleet it did not need, enterprises stopped in Ukraine, and those who stopped working lost markets for their products, began to work at the warehouse, people were paid for products (services, teapots, sugar, even fishing hooks). The economy was collapsing, the people became impoverished, outrage boiled, but the leaders were passionate about dividing up property. It came to the point that Kruchuk almost started a hot war for the fleet. And only the realisation that the fleet would start shooting in response cooled the hot heads of the leaders of the not yet Nazi and not pro-American, but quite “brotherly” Ukraine.

Nothing has by and large changed since. The economy happily died, and the Ukrainian government enthusiastically divides up the surviving property, at the same time, because the domestic resource is finished, trying to get foreign financial support not in order to deal with the restoration of the “independent” state, which they allegedly love so much, but only so that the holiday of the partition of the resource not created by them can continue. They are still afraid to fight Russia. But it is necessary to fight someone, otherwise the angry people will start a war with their government, so they started a civil war. And this war will expand, no matter what Moscow, Washington, Berlin, Paris and Kiev think about it.

The accumulated hatred of the people for power, for their own state, for hopelessly spoiled life, must be channelled somewhere. The Nazi regime of the Third Reich channeled problems into external wars. Ukraine cannot wage an external war. She’s in such a state that even Moldovans throw eggplants at her. That’s why the war is internal. Some of the most active are disposed of at the front, and the authorities are given the opportunity to use repression (up to extrajudicial killings) against the rest, accusing dangerous anti-system activists of “working for the aggressor” and throwing informal “death squads” at them (in cases where even the Security Service is unable to find a reason to lock a person in one of its secret prisons).

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Only one change happened in Ukraine during its 28 years of independence. If before 2014 the real owners of the country (the oligarchs and the highest bureaucracy, which merged with the oligarchs) were eager for power, in 2014 the real owners for the first time carried out an experiment with the transfer of formal power in the first post-Maiden government to their puppets. In principle, it turned out well, but President Poroshenko partially returned to the old system (when the President is the country’s main oligarch). In 2019, the system of replacing the country’s owners with puppets in formal authorities reached an apogee. The clown-president puppet and the puppet clowns make up the majority in Rada. They also made up the apparatus of the head of state. It remains only to appoint the same Ministers and the Ukrainian state will finally take the form to which it seeks. In the foreground there is the chapiteau, in which the crooked freaks play around with power, and in the background there is a concentration camp in which everyone who was not lucky to notice that power in the country is represented by the grimacing freaks is held. In the interval, hidden from the attention of the people by the paintings of the chapiteau, the true owners of the country are engaged in the redistribution of a many times divided resource. They cheerfully despoil, and sometimes they kill each other, but the broad popular masses do not see it. For them, there is an endless play on the stage of the chapiteau about the evil aggressor who ate their lard.

Those who don’t like the play are sent to the concentration camp. Those who remain at large flee this Kafka “paradise” as far as possible. Those who cannot flee either die out, under the caring supervision of “doctor death” Suprun, or cheerfully kill each other in the fight for a free “Ukrainian Ukraine.”

This total liberty (not freedom, not independence, but namely anarchist liberty) has always become the dominant idea of Ukrainians as soon as this territory remained without imperial supervision. This was the case in the 17th century, this was the case in the early 20th century, and so is the case now. And the longer this “liberty” walks around Ukraine, the less people remain in it, but the more lavish the chapiteau and the higher the fences of the concentration camp.

Rostislav Ishchenko

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