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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Reset in a “sandbox”

Which oligarch will lead the “anti-oligarch” revolution?
12 December, 2013 - 11:22

Viktor Yanukovych has for the first time responded to the political crisis in Ukraine. The president said correct words, but with a considerable delay.

“The violations, which were committed by both sides on the Maidan, should be justly assessed. I appealed to Prosecutor General with a request to find a possibility to free part of the people who did not commit any rude violations. I want to turn over this regrettable page as soon as possible,” the head of state said during his meeting with ex-presidents Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, and Viktor Yushchenko.

As is known, Kravchuk previously initiated a national roundtable to find a solution from the political crisis. But the first attempt failed. After the abovementioned meeting of the presidents, a roundtable took place – the opposition did not take part in it. “We convened a roundtable, but there are none of those who are currently leading the Maidan. It is impossible to discuss these questions unilaterally,” said parliament Speaker Volodymyr Rybak.

The opposition demand to involve European mediators in the negotiations with the president. “We need a top-level EU mission of the level of the president and a commissar,” Arsenii Yatseniuk stated. He also added that the opposition had not been invited to the roundtable with Leonid Kravchuk.

“Civic activists who are on the Maidan have not been invited to the roundtable,” political scientist Viktoria Podhorna commented to The Day. “These are classical manipulation technologies being used by the power. The main aim is to tear the apolitical members of public from the opposition. But this is in fact a very dangerous strategy in the time when there is a threat of authoritarian regime. We need to stop these talks led by the government and put end to dividing the public Maidan and politicians. In fact, there is little difference between the demands of the opposition and the public. We only need to coordinate them.”

But current situation needs a deeper analysis.



Strange as it may seem, we want to mention the recent speech by regionnaire Oleksandr Yefremov on Shuster Live. It was one of the most successful ones. He said in a short and laconic way that Kravchuk has been a president for a very short time, 2.5 years. His presidency, according to the head of PR faction in parliament, compared to other presidents, is so far considered the most successful.

In this concern The Day has written many times that there may be questions to Kravchuk, but he made three things of topmost importance: 1) signed the agreement in Byelavyezhskaya Pushcha; 2) held a referendum; 3) banned the Communist Party in time of his presidency.

After the Soviet system collapsed, its utilization started. People started to say right away in Ukraine that everything went the wrong way. Volodymyr Lanovy said in an interview to The Day: “In 1992, when Kuchma became the prime minister, he appointed ‘Red directors’ to executive positions. This was practically a counterrevolution. The power again was given to Soviet-type people.”

It was followed by “Kuchma’s decade.” Namely then the system, which in one or another form still exists, was built and reinforced. After Yushchenko was elected president in 2004, it became clear that Kuchmism as a phenomenon will continue to exist. Yushchenko, with his national decor, did not touch this system. Another generation joined him on a national basis, “dear friends,” who became closer to the throne and the wealth. So, new oligarchs joined the old ones.

Yanukovych had a chance to break the system. First, it was during his presidency that a criminal case against Kuchma was launched, concerning the perpetrators of journalist Gongadze’s murder. Secondly, current power stepped on the path of EU association (till a concrete point of time), which obliged to put the European rules of game into effect. Of course, this challenge detonated – Yanukovych’s predecessors started to fight him.

The Maidan emerged. It has gone through several stages. The first one was youth’s EU romantic values-based claim for the future. It was brutally dispersed, and this dispersal may bring Yanukovych into the abyss of the dark system he had an opportunity to overcome. The second stage was when people went out not simply against a pause in EU integration, but this time against the system.

But the government has not yet explained why the brutal dispersal took place on November 30. The mass media is circulating different versions. In particular, the names of Kliuiev, Sivkovych are mentioned, but they keep silent. Liovochkin’s name was mentioned, but he is still in his office. This is generating speculations and proves the only thing: an acute fight between the clans is taking place.

The people, of course, went out, but they do not understand the situation completely. Besides, there is no elite in the highest ranks which would represent its interests. But what are its interests? To put an end to the oligarchic system.

“Even if Ukrainian oligarchs help the maidans, organized throughout the country, either financially, or by way of provocative actions, the reason is that the incumbent president together with his sons and closest milieu which was called a ‘family,’ has went too far into the business territories of Ukrainian financial-industrial groups,” economist Andrii Novak comments to The Day. “Including those who led him to power. Over the past three years the financial-economic appetite of the ‘family’ was growing and the situation has reached a critical line. As a result, the owners of our main financial-industrial groups decided either to warn the president in a mild form that he should refrain from such actions in the future, or make his reelection in 2015 impossible.”

Paradoxical as it may seem, oligarchs are ready to head the internal class struggle, take the power with the help of people, but are they ready to radically change the system? Is anyone of them ready to lead the anti-oligarch revolution? And what do radical changes within the system mean?

“Developing Ukrainian economy, statehood, and civic society is hardly the goal of the oligarchs who are helping the Maidan,” Novak continues. “They are more likely to be guided by self-interest which works after the ‘family’ takes away what previously belonged to the owners of financial-industrial groups, or what they wanted to get in reward for supporting Yanukovych and his political power.”

“We hyperbolize the role of oligarchs in ruling Ukraine,” Oleksandr Solontai, an expert from Political Education Institute considers, “Judging by the previous years’ results, it seems to us that they are so influential that when their positions coincide, the decision is determined. But the situation over the past two years has changed. The EU integration is a bright example of this. Oligarchs support it, the opposition supports it, people support it, but there is no progress. The question is about creation of a state machine to control everyone, including the oligarchs.”

Of course, we should not forget that the factor of Russia is beside. German political scientist Alexander Rahr in his interview to Glavkom said: “I’m afraid Russia is waiting now until the economic situation in Ukraine becomes so bad that Yanukovych will be simply driven into a corner and forced to enter the Customs Union.”

At the recent Maidan there was an interesting poster: “Vitia, don’t anger Troieshchyna [a district in Kyiv. – Ed.] You should not anger the people. They are not afraid anymore; they want to break loose from this system. For oligarchs it is advantageous to lead the anti-oligarch revolution. Otherwise a revolt against the rich may break out.”




Hennadii DRUZENKO, lawyer, publicist:

“Today’s Euromaidan is not an integral phenomenon. There are many groups, many ideas, and many motifs.

“The parliamentary opposition wants to continue the rhetoric and logic of the Orange Maidan: the revolution of millionaires against billionaires. In such a way it is fighting for redistribution of the power pie, correspondingly, financial flows in the state.

“The public is another subject of Euromaidan. Most part of the people who went out in protest today is representatives of the third sector, which in a normal state takes little interest in politics. Since we have a specific state, these people went out to the Maidan to state about their mega political demands. The thing is not about substituting Zakharchenko by Mohyliov or Moskal. People demand to reset the operations system, not replace the files. Namely this idea has united on the Maidan a variety of social groups of Ukrainians: artists, public activists, and students. All these people do not care about the faces and their substitution; they are interested in reformatting of the rules. In these terms Maidan 2013 is an attempt of revolution against the system.

“At the moment there are no big capitalists among those who want to reset the system, not replace the files. They are closely examining. It is known that until now they have staked on the personified opposition. That is why we all saw that at least a part of opposition forces coordinated its actions with a part of the power opposition, in particular, the Firtash-Liovochkin.

“The civic Maidan is lucky that it is not backed by big capital. It was clear from the way Maidan 2013 was organized. Unlike Maidan 2004, its resources were raised by people in the street, not via ‘Zhvania’s bank.’

“Incidentally, the fact that Ukrainian oligarchs are by far the most active EU integrators of the country is a myth. Real EU integration is an open competition in which these groups will lose. For Akhmetov, Firtash, and Kolomoisky it is much more beneficial to keep Ukraine in the state of an island between Russia and Europe. In the former they will be brutally deprived of their wealth, and in the latter they will be simply pushed out of the market by victory in an honest competitive struggle. This is namely the reason why our oligarchs are now fighting on two fronts: for Ukraine, independent both of European and Eurasian civilizations. They don’t spare money and efforts to keep the country in the state of a cow which was given to them for milking.

“By the way, there is another subtype of oligarchic group, ‘young reformers.’ These are businessmen who have phenomenal bios and who today are at the wheel of the state machine, or in the environment that is close to it. They entered the game later. Therefore they are interested not in the primary, but the secondary redistribution of resources and the market. That is why they are so aggressively looking for their own niche. In conditional terms, they are not on the barricades, they are attacking. EU integration is among the instruments they operate in this war. But the meaning they give to this word is a completely different from that of the public or the EU. They have found a kind of ideology niche. But their tactic has all attributes of the ‘EU integration’ of Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) in the early 1990s. As a reminder, at that time Medvedchuk was very much European as well. But that was nothing else but an ideological mask. In European conditions there can be absolutely no phenomena like Kurchenko, Arbuzov, Klymenko. And these people don’t resemble sinners who repented: they are not sprinkling ashes on their heads; therefore I am more than sure that their European rhetoric is hypocritical. Ukraine has a business which is propelling the vector of the Customs Union. But at the moment, as it is known, it has fewer levers of influence and instruments than the previous two groups. These are mostly big producers, which have close economic ties with the Russian market and are accustomed to working according to the rules when closeness to the power is a guaranty of everything. However, even in these ranks people are against complete integration into the Customs Union. They were absolutely satisfied and would be satisfied with the Free Trade Agreement with CIS countries, be it not for the actions of Russian customs service.

“There are no apparent adherents of Ukraine’s entry into the Customs Union among Ukrainian businessmen. There are single people, but their business is fed directly by the Kremlin. Those include Medvedchuk, Kolesnichenko, and other speakers of the Russian world ideas. Their business is based on politics.

“And the basis of the economic of normal states is the small- and medium-scale businesses, as well as the public.”

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