One Facebook user wrote: “Well, papa, you turned out to be unpredictable. As soon as I see any elements of reason in your behavior and hurry to tell everything about this with a cry of joy, you perplex me again.” These words characterize very well the moods of that Night.
The prerequisites for a roundtable could already be seen. The question was about a search of a platform, where not only the opposition and the power, but civil society as well would have its speaker. They were looking for an appropriate solution…
The events of the past two weeks are proof of acute systemic political crisis. And hardly anyone writes about this the way Den/The Day does. I can see several basic reasons for this. Since its first day Den was proclaimed a newspaper of civil society. The year 1999 became for us a culmination of political struggle. We were a newspaper, which published the opinion of our, unfortunately, few partisans, who thought the way the presidential candidate we supported, that the model which was taking shape in our country was dangerous.
Indeed, since 1999 Ukraine has experienced big crises. This has been a period of constant turbulence. Scandals, arrests, oligarchic wrangles, one prime minister is in American prison, another one is in jail in Ukraine, many of our ministers have fled to other countries. This indicates that our country is an unhealthy organism.
But today it has finally become clear: the dead-end branch of the regime, which in its time was called “kuchmism,” started to sink namely on Yanukovych. And this is an extremely acute challenge for our country.
Those who understand this have an acute need and duty to speak about systemic things to prevent people in the streets and in maidans from losing understanding of the situation, because there is a huge threat that this information-emotional whirlpool will absorb us. There is something at its bottom. And we need to keep in mind this thing, hidden behind the whirling.
Yanukovych’s team has driven itself into a very dramatic situation. The sooner they get out of it, the sooner we do. December 17 and possible signing of certain documents with the Customs Union is in the offing for all of us. What will we do if it happens? It is apparent that the country does not accept this choice!
There is another important observation. All presidents of modern Ukraine who were tempted by the eastern front faced huge problems. Everything started when Kuchma went to Moscow for money for elections. The young country was only rising up to its feet, and he went to Yeltsin to ask for money. Oleksandr Korzhakov writes this in his memoirs.
Yushchenko’s problems started from the same side. First, we found out quite recently (from the film I would recommend for all of you to watch, Putin. Russia and the West, BBC, Part 2) that Oleh Rybachuk (later head of Presidential Secretariat) went on a regular basis to Moscow during the Orange Revolution events. But we still don’t know why. And Yushchenko’s Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko undermined the economy by her gas agreement.
Yanukovych has made the same mistake, having decided that the Kremlin would comfort him. This chain of dramatic mistakes needs to be broken.
There is one more thing. Current power team is outdated in conditions of current information society. They simply don’t understand what “picture” they are sending to the whole world. For example, the session of the government, where the prime minister, as if nothing happened explained about the night events in the Maidan by government’s desire to clean the roads for children and mothers. This is a great grace, which I would like to call an elephant grace, but I don’t want to insult elephants. But this picture alarmed the whole world. Our time needs to be taken into account. Otherwise our government officials will look like Maria-Antoinette who peeped from the window at her outraged hungry nationals and asked in surprise: “What do they want? Don’t they have any bread? Can’t they eat some pastry?” What our government is doing the same when commenting on the Maidan, but in digital time.
The state policy in Ukraine has been ruined. Can you imagine the president to request, for example, for sociological polls results to find out what is going on in the country, how people perceived one or another problem? I am afraid that nothing of this kind exists. And namely this type of governance by trial and error, by intuition, indicates that the institutes of statehood have been degraded. It is not accidental that we haven’t found out what took place on the night the first Euromaidan was dispersed. There are many conspiracy versions. But none of them answers the most important question: who is governing the country and how?
I have often said the phrase which seemed unpopular for many: we are hanging above the abyss, hooked by the Party of Regions, and if we get rid of this hook radically, we may fall very quickly. And we will get a situation, conditionally speaking, when Putin will be ruling our country directly instead of the “bad president Yanukovych.”
These days the power has a huge responsibility. No matter how big the pressure of the opposition and biased EU negotiators was, you should have had an understanding of the national idea. Why did not you look for a dialog with society? And now it is too late. Everything must be done in time. The Day has already asked: who will defend Yanukovych?
Even now the power is not looking for social support. It seeks support and comfort from anyone but its own people. This is a bad tradition of our politicians. Because of our historic way our people has always perceived the power as an extraneous organism. But now this dissonance has grown more acute, because the power has made many unpopular steps, including the Kharkiv Accords, the Tax Maidan, and assaulting the Ukrainian language. The Kremlin’s share in the government, after all. Haven’t we seen it? Yes, we have. But we could not understand whether it was an imposed compromise or our own initiative. The Day has asked: do we have an autocrat or a hostage? Now it has detonated. We need to bring the state and the power to a sanitary norm. We have 18 months before the presidential election and we don’t have any real legitimate mechanism to replace Yanukovych. Under these circumstances the opposition must bring forth the demands which would help restore the reality within constitutional framework. If we have “controllers” in the Ministry of Economy, where are guaranties that there are none in the force authorities?
What should the president do now? As we have seen, it is an ungrateful thing to make recommendations. First, they don’t read anything. Second, they use the advice of other people. I think namely those people have brought them to this inadequacy. But we pronounce these answers to show to our readers and fellow countrymen this way on the whole and how to cover it.
Yanukovych did have a version. He could dismiss the government on his return from Vienna. But he did not. Something prevented him from doing this. And what was that? Something, which is connected with the secret talks in Sochi. I think the society understands that the clashes on the maidans were provoked by the frontline troops of “Eurasia.” Until recently Yanukovych has been forcing his party to go to the EU. And two weeks later the style of two-head eagle was traced in Berkut’s actions. What happened in Sochi?
There are also questions concerning the maturity of the opposition and its behavior. In particular, concerning its rhetoric: “we want high representatives of the EU and US to come and reconcile us.” If you understand the program with which you want to go to Yanukovych, it must be implemented. It does not appear normal to me when we are constantly waiting for Americans or Poles to treat us to cakes. This is a good picture, but it makes many people emotional as well. This is not a good tradition to reconcile the nation with the help of foreigners every nine years. Stormy emotions later will calm down, and the “solid residue” will show whether this country has people of statesmanlike thinking, whether they are able to instrumentally lead a policy which will not make people freeze on maidans every nine years.
And Europe should understand its role too. Handing out cakes on the Maidan is not enough. It needs to sort out the acuteness of the situation and intrude. The columnists of The New York Times wrote quite fairly what Europe will pay for the war with Russia.
The president has a chance now to turn. He should feel no need to keep to the agreements he made with Putin. We consider these agreements illegitimate. Relying on the Maidan, he has a perfect right to say: I cannot do this; the people want an association with the EU. And when he will be sent for money to the West, the president will need a team which is able to work for a long time. It means that those who have their “hundred years of right” since “Ochakov time and conquest of the Crimea” must be dismissed. He must get rid of the feeling that he is giving up on friends. The president should work with the best people, not his friends. And the best people in our country must be gathered to regulate the current situation.