Daily Archives: July 23, 2006

AUR#738 Jul 23 The School Of Defeat; Ukraine’s Orange Bust; What About The Maidan? Yalta European Strategy; What Is Russian Civilization?


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CSRC, UK Defence Academy, United Kingdom
Published in Zerkalo Nedeli, Mirror-Weekly, No 28 (607)
In Ukrainian, Russian and (on the web) in English
International Social Political Weekly
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, 22-28 July 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #738, Article One in English
Washington, D.C., Sunday, July 23, 2006

RealQuickPolitics (RQP), America’s political web site
for intelligent opinion, news, polls and analysis.
Chicago, Illinois, Friday, July 21, 2006


Boston University, Boston, MA, Thursday, July 20, 2006

By Victor Pinchuk
This article was partially published in the

International Herald Tribune (IHT), Paris, France, July 11, 2006
Full article was published in the Dela newspaper, Kyiv, Ukraine
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #738, Article 4
Yalta European Strategy (YES), Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 17, 2006
Yalta European Strategy (YES), Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 17, 2006

Ukraine is keen to join the EU, but existing members are less
than excited at the prospect writes Nicholas Watt
By Nicholas Watt, Guardian Unlimited
London, United Kingdom, Friday, July 21, 2006


Some actors who should be very active, including President Viktor
Yushchenko, are not doing their job properly.
With Eugeniusz Smolar, President
Center for International Relations in Warsaw
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, July 21, 2006

By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, July 22 2006

Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
New York, New York, Sunday, July 23, 2006

FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, FIFA.com, Thu, 20 Jul 2006

COMMENTARY: By Edvard Radzinsky, The Wall Street Journal Online
New York, New York, Monday, July 10, 2006; Page A10

Places where things are getting worse such as the weakening of the
democratic, pro-western camp in Ukraine
By Gideon Rachman, Columnist
Financial Times, London, United Kingdom, Tuesday, July 18 2006

By James Sherr
CSRC, UK Defence Academy, United Kingdom
Published in Zerkalo Nedeli, Mirror-Weekly, No 28 (607)
In Ukrainian, Russian and (on the web) in English
International Social Political Weekly
Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, 22-28 July 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #738, Article One in English
Washington, D.C., Sunday, July 23, 2006

The period between 22 January 2005 and 7 July 2006 has been an object
lesson in the perils of victory. In a democracy, even an unrefined one,
victory is never supremacy, and it is always temporary.

The victor’s challenge is to alter the terms of the contest, so that when
the opponent comes back to power, he has to accept new rules, a new
discourse and a new reality. In other words, the opponent must come
back transformed.

That is what Margaret Thatcher achieved when she defeated the Labour
Party three times, and that is what Tony Blair accepted when he transformed
Labour into New Labour, embracing key elements of her consensus, which
he then artfully made his own.

That is what the Orange leaders failed to achieve. Their success would have
been far more significant than Margaret Thatcher’s. Their failure is likely
to prove far more damaging than hers would have been.

In mature democracies, governments can fail, they can even be spectacularly
incompetent, but the costs to the defeated are often trivial and are almost
always bearable.

The liberal democratic state is a limited state. Residual powers are vested
in civil society rather than ‘shadow structures of power’. The law is a
restraint on power, rather than its weapon.

There is no revolution to reverse; there is no counter-revolution poised to
reverse it. The old regime is a history lesson, not a political force.

In Ukraine, none of this is the case. In the Orange revolution, as in the
European revolutions of 1848, the old order was defeated, whilst its sources
and structures of power remained intact. The ‘revolutionary’ leaders made
their careers inside these structures.

They never fully grasped their self-serving, parasitical, rent-seeking and
(at worst) malevolent nature. They changed policies, but did little to
change the institutions that implemented them. They had a democratic,
European spirit, but no spirit of urgency and very little premonition of

In fairness, those who lacked these deficiencies-the post-Communist leaders
of Central Europe-never had to contend with Ukraine’s divisions, let alone
its harsh Bolshevik legacies and its unfavourable geopolitical realities.

Moreover, by the time these leaders came to power, their opponents had
already lost the comparative advantages that Ukraine’s Party of Regions has
nurtured and maintained: a strong vertical of authority, a cunning and
brutal approach to power and the remorseless employment of financial
resources to penetrate key institutions and buy up those who can be bought.

In 1992 a young Polish politician said, ‘irreversibility means that the
pre-revolutionary forces can come back to power, and it doesn’t matter’. In
Ukraine it matters. There is no Ukrainian Kwasniewski. There is only the
same Yanukovych. And whilst there has been very little revolution under
Yushchenko, the risk of counter-revolution is now strong.

The issue preoccupying (and, as ever, dividing) Orange forces today is how
to minimise this risk: by new elections or, failing that, radical
opposition? by normal, ‘constructive’ opposition in the present parliament?
by merger and amalgamation? Not all of these options recognise what must
be recognised: the reality of defeat.

Connoisseurs of President Yushchenko’s shortcomings might naturally
conclude that his reluctance to call new elections is mistaken. Is it?

Certainly in terms of his party’s interests, it is not mistaken, because
unless there is an epidemic of collective amnesia in the country, Nasha
Ukraina is destined to be slaughtered. But is Yushchenko mistaken in terms
of the interests of the country? Very possibly, he is not.

[1] Oleksandr Moroz’s defection might have been treacherous, but was
it illegal?

Sergey Rakhmanin has argued that it was not (ZN no 27 (606), 15-21
July). Moroz and Yanukovych certainly will be able to argue that it was
not, and they seem to believe this as well. Would the elections therefore
be conducted with an aura of legitimacy or illegitimacy?

[2] Would Regions play by the rules in these elections, as they did
(more or less) in March 2006, and if not, who would expose them? The
international community?

With a fresh war in the Middle East and a host of post-G8
anxieties to wrestle with, is it realistic to suppose that the major Western
players in the OSCE would mobilise the resources for election monitoring
that they were prepared to deploy in March? It’s far from certain.

What is certain is that Regions would go into elections feeling
not only strong, but after the aborted coalition agreement of 22 June,
aggrieved and cheated. Is that an omen for good behaviour?

[3] Is the electorate angry or disgusted? And with whom might they be
more angry or disgusted: the people who let them down on the Maidan
or the people who defeated them?

The latest depressing polls show that, despite its strength,
Regions is still disliked by the majority of the country. Yet they also
show that Tymoshenko remains less popular than Yanukovych.

When has a political process succeeded in mobilising people
against something in the absence of something they can be mobilised for?
The Weimar Republic in Germany and the Third Republic in France offer
discouraging precedents. Is Ukraine’s political order healthier than those?

[4] And if Regions returns to the Rada with a stronger plurality than
it has now, what then? The question answers itself.

There should be an elementary axiom in politics, as in war: never
attack when you are disorientated. Otherwise you are likely to experience
the fruits of the ancient Greek wisdom: ‘he whom the gods would destroy
they first make mad’.

Defeat is a time to observe, wait and think. And the first
sensible thought should be that, barring an act of gross stupidity by
Regions or their allies, there will be no new Maidan-at least not for now.

The second sensible thought should be that, whatever we have to say about
it, the remaining two options-parliamentary opposition and amalgamation-will
emerge de facto.

Those inside Nasha Ukraina who were arguing for a grand coalition months
before 7 July should see the difference between a coalition based upon a
well crafted compromise-the coalition available after 26 March-and a
coalition based upon a well negotiated surrender-the coalition on offer now.

But a fair proportion of that contingent will refuse to see it and for a
very tangible reason: the business interests which, now as in the past,
will be put ahead of their party and the country. For the same tangible
reason, the large contingent of free-lancers who joined BYuT à la Oleksandr
Volkov will also be bought.

But this does not necessarily mean that these contingents will not constrain
the options of the victors. Neither does it mean that the stragglers from
the field will be unable to form an opposition which, in time, becomes
cohesive and effective, or even, after a longer period of time, the
government of Ukraine.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then defeat should be the mother of
strategic wisdom. In the back channels of power and the cross channels
between opposition and grand coalition, strategic wisdom should be focused
on an immediate goal, a mid-term goal and a long-term goal.

The immediate goal should be the preservation of the conditions that make
long term battles worth fighting. In essence, this means the preservation
of democracy in Ukraine: the basic freedoms of speech and association that
preserve the stake of all parties in the system and the legitimacy of
Regions’ victory.

The challenge will be to sharpen Regions’ grasp of the contradiction between
the ‘administrative resource’, their natural temptation, and legitimacy,
their vital interest.

In an ideal world, someone would also persuade Regions to abandon the
financial resource as a means of governance. But we are not in an ideal
world, and no one has the slightest chance of doing that. It will be
difficult enough to appeal to the interests that Regions has. It will be
impossible to appeal to the ideals that they don’t possess.

The mid-term goal should be the mutation and reconstitution of the political
blocs that exist today. Today, these blocs are indigestible. Even at their
strongest and most noble, the Orange parties had only one aim in common:
the democratisation of state and society.

In terms of economic and geopolitical philosophy, they were divided. The
‘anti-crisis’ coalition mirrors these cleavages and, whilst repressed today,
many of them exist within Regions itself.

Ukraine also contains important constituencies-e.g. the business interests
grouped around the Industrial Consortium of Donbas-who do not fit
comfortably into any bloc. Defeat should be a solvent that melts today’s
blocs into more emollient units, diminishing the relevance of today’s
dividing lines and enabling groups to work together on the basis of common
and increasingly transparent interests.

The long-term goal should be to forge an opposition determined to change
the relationship between business and power in Ukraine and capable of
changing it.

A relationship between business and power exists in any democracy, but
in liberal democracies, it exists openly. It is the shadow element and,
inseparable from it, the criminal element which makes this a poisonous
relationship in Ukraine.

The commitment to embrace this principle of liberal democracy should, on an
equally self-interested basis, stimulate a commitment to join the community
of liberal democracies-in economic and political terms certainly, and once
the taboos and phobias are removed, in security terms as well.

A renewed bout of ‘civilised relations with Russia’ and its emerging Single
Economic Space might also rekindle an appreciation of Aleksandr
Griboedov’s nineteenth century wisdom: ‘we Russians so easily win spaces
and so worthlessly use them’.

Ukrainians should face the worst. Until the dust settles, the West is
unlikely to be of much help. This is only in part because of the war in the
Middle East, the worsening conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ever
present threat of war with North Korea.

It is also because, where Ukraine is concerned, Western governments are
entitled to be as disorientated as Ukrainians are. They also face a
dilemma. How can they possibly criticise the formation of a coalition
which Yushchenko’s inner circle has spent months negotiating?

The fact that this coalition has taken a different form from that which
Yushchenko sought is not the West’s business. But if its emergence
threatens democracy or provokes civil conflict, then whatever its rightful
business, it will certainly engage the West’s interests and provoke some
very sharp reactions.

A country’s foreign policy is never entirely its own business. Here,
Western governments must be prepared to face the worst:

[1] A resurrection of Russian dominance and a setback to security in
the Black Sea region. It is no secret that Yanukovych and Moroz firmly
oppose Ukraine’s membership of NATO.

Whilst rhetorically positive about the EU, Yanukovych is committed
to the Single Economic Space, which without Ukraine cannot become the
‘counterweight’ to the EU that President Putin seeks.

It also takes little effort to see that, whilst Yushchenko retains
formal primacy in foreign and security policy, his own weakness and the
budgetary powers of the Rada would, sooner or later, render these
prerogatives moot. In these circumstances, Georgia could lose its strongest
regional ally.

The newly revived GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova)
and the larger Community of Democratic Choice could lose their rationale and
Ukraine’s cooperation with the EU in Transniestria, which is grossly
disagreeable to Russia, could end.

[2] They might multiply risks to energy security and diversity, which
to a significant extent depend upon Ukraine retaining ownership of its
pipeline network. The signal given on 13 July by the Chairman of Naftohaz
Ukrainiy, in contradiction to all previous assurances, that ownership would
be ceded to a ‘joint’ Russo-Ukrainian entity has not escaped notice in
Western capitals.

Neither are policy makers in these capitals blind to the risk that
Yanukovych will take things further and do everything to facilitate
Ukraine’s integration into Russia’s energy ‘space’.

They must also face the reality of Russian interests and Russian influence.
The Russian leadership has four reasons to welcome the scenario that has

[1] They recognised after March 2006 that the Party of Regions had
little chance of coming to power by democratic means;

[2] They have been determined to block Ukraine’s trajectory to NATO and
have been alarmed by Ukraine’s progress in defence reform over the past two

[3] They are afraid of Yulia Tymoshenko who, whatever her deficiencies,
is an astute and courageous politician with the ability and determination to
oppose them;

[4] In particular, they feared that Tymoshenko would pick apart the gas
accords of January 2006, expose the schemes behind them and purge the energy
sector and security services of individuals aligned with or suborned by the

This is a bleak picture. But the worst case is not the only one. It takes
insufficient account of the ambivalent business interests that shelter under
the Regions umbrella, not to say other business interests in eastern

In 2004, Yanukovych wanted Ukraine to become closer to Russia without
becoming subordinate to it. He wanted the Russian vector to be Ukraine’s
primarily vector of policy, but not its sole vector.

He therefore needed the West and wanted to keep it in the equation. Is
there any reason for this to change? Is there any reason for him or for
Rinat Akhmetov to bargain less sharply with Russian business interests than
they did before?

Is it certain that they would cede important energy interests to Russia
without a solid quid pro quo, and does it stand to reason that they would be
more venal or half as incompetent as Yushchenko’s inner circle turned out to
be since the January 2006 gas accords were negotiated and RosUkrEnergo

It is not axiomatic at all. Neither is it axiomatic that the West will lose
all of its leverage. The positive levers should continue to be what they
have been: the diminution of barriers between economies and a momentum
of relations that stimulates trade, investment and confidence.

The conditions should continue to be what they have been: democracy,
transparency, security and a rules based framework for conducting business.
Can Regions meet these conditions?

It is up to the West to show that cannot do so without making real choices
and without changing their behaviour. If Yanukovych embarks on this road,
he will soon discover the contradiction between his Party’s wishes and its

If he refuses to embark upon it, then perhaps someone else in Regions will.
If no one embarks upon it, then Regions and its coalition partners will be
left with brother Russia.

It is not absurdly optimistic to hope that this will not occur. It is not
absurd to believe that the quality of government and opposition will improve
in Ukraine if the West establishes this trade-off and enforces its terms.
But if it closes the book on Ukraine, everyone will lose.

Like Ukraine’s democrats, the West’s democrats have been defeated by the
Orange collapse and Regions’ ascendance. Much publicity in Ukraine has been
given to the relatively small number of Westerners who have called for an
equal coalition between the two, and much is bound to be said about the
still smaller number who welcome the hideously unequal coalition that has
now emerged.

Despite these individuals and their supposed influence, Western governments
are not celebrating. Most are saddened and worried. But Regions are now in
power, and we have to make the best of it.

Defeat is a harsh teacher. It also has its uses. It provides an opportunity
to cleanse the mind, go back to the beginning and renew one’s efforts on the
basis of a deeper and stronger wisdom.

Ukraine is not yet dead. Neither are its prospects in Europe. -30-
NOTE: The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily
those of the UK Ministry of Defence. James Sherr has been actively

involved in matters related to the government, politics and international
relations of Ukraine for many years. He is one of the top European experts
in the field and appears on the program at many conferences. He also
writes his analysis and commentary articles on a regular basis. The AUR
appreciates the opportunity to publish this article with the permission
of James Sherr. AUR EDITOR Morgan Williams.
Contact: James.Sherr@lincoln.oxford.ac.uk
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

RealQuickPolitics (RQP), America’s political web site
for intelligent opinion, news, polls and analysis.
Chicago, Illinois, Friday, July 21, 2006

KYIV – It is Oleksandr Moroz, the Socialist leader and newly minted
parliament Speaker, who will endure the greatest share of criticism for the
collapse of the so-called Orange coalition in Ukraine last week. Deservedly

The Moroz-led defection of the Socialist Party to the pro-Russia bloc in
parliament could jeopardize efforts to enact further democratic reforms and
build stronger ties with the West – both essential to Ukraine’s further
development and well-being. Against such stakes, it seems churlish to point
out that the move has also nullified a signed agreement Moroz himself

Yet Moroz should not be made to bear the burden alone. His decision was
preceded by months of deceitful talks among the putative Orange allies,
culminating in an agreement that was marked for failure. And one ought look
no further than President Viktor Yushchenko for the blame here.

His disdain for one-time ally Yulia Tymoshenko, whom he fired as prime
minister last year, was the central animating feature of the talks, which in
reality could only have ended with her reappointment.

Throughout negotiations, in fact, Yushchenko advisors let it be known, sotto
voce, that they would or could or should or might be more amenable to a
coalition with Viktor Yanukovich and his Party of the Regions – an absurd
notion for a party devoted to joining NATO and integrating with Europe. In
any case, it seems Moroz and his Socialist bloc beat them to it.

Once the embodiment of Ukraine’s hopes for prestige and modernization,
Yushchenko has turned inward and insolent in his year-and-a-half as
president. The warning signs were apparent early in his administration. Wary
of Tymoshenko, he moved a top ally into the role of state security chief in
order to balance out her power.

The ensuing clash of wills dominated the first nine months of his
presidency, ending only when Yushchenko accepted the resignation of
the security adviser, Petro Poroshenko, and dissolved Tymoshenko’s

By this point, Yushchenko was already exhibiting an unhealthy fixation on
enemies – not an unusual trait among leaders in this region, but also not
quite the spirit of “Maidan,” as the Orange protests are widely known in
Ukraine. In mid-summer last year he hinted darkly that opponents in the
state secret service were behind reports about the lavish lifestyle enjoyed
by his 19-year-old son, Andriy.

In truth, Andriy’s pampering was no less than the ordinary Ukrainian expects
from a scion of the elite; it was the news coverage of it that was so
unusual, in a country where fear once (in fact, quite recently) controlled
the media. Yushchenko botched an excellent teaching moment about the
democratic values he often extols.

All of Yushchenko’s flaws and failures might have been forgivable were it
not for his handling of the coalition talks. Having been pummeled in the
March parliamentary elections by both Yanukovich and Tymoshenko,
Yushchenko nevertheless struck a defiant stance.

He and his aides dragged their heels throughout the negotiations, evidently
in the hope that, facing a parliament deadline for organizing the new
government, Tymoshenko and her forces would accept something less
than her reappointment as prime minister. No such luck.

So in an act of jaw-dropping petulance, Yushchenko accepted her
reappointment – on the condition that Poroshenko be made Speaker of the
Rada. As if adopting the lioness meant adopting the lion-tamer. Beyond the
plain cynicism of this move, it also revealed that Yushchenko had no idea
how far Ukraine has traveled since the Orange Revolution.

His countrymen no longer view him as the heroic figure atop the stage in the
orange scarf, but rather as an inept and somewhat beleaguered administrator
who is perhaps in over his head.

His party’s 14 percent at the polls in the recent round of elections should
have been a clue to that. Yet now he was reassembling the same inevitable
mess he created when he first came to office, as if his position had
strengthened over time. Even if the ploy had succeeded, it sent an awful
message to weary Ukrainians who lost their faith in Yushchenko during the
first period of infighting.

Tymoshenko ought to accept her own share of the blame for the troubles.
(There’s plenty of blame for everyone, natch.) As the figure-head of her
eponymous party, she stressed the need to root out corruption in government
during the campaign season. Which is all well and good, since Ukraine
continues to struggle mightily with the problem.

Except that when Tymoshenko spoke of corruption, she cited not the
faceless multitude that populates Ukraine’s bureaucracy at every level,
rolling for bribes, but rather the circle of advisers surrounding

This, in fact, was a continuation of the same quarrel that brought about the
collapse of the first post-revolution government – a battle over who was
using his or her office for personal aggrandizement.

Coming in the wake of Tymoshenko’s grandstanding on the crisis-averting gas
agreement between Ukraine and Russia – she charged that the pact “sold out”
Ukraine – her attacks during the campaign were especially unhelpful, not to
say short-sighted. They alienated the very same people she would need to
deal with after the elections.

(On the other hand, Tymoshenko’s appeal comes from her fiery manner and
willingness to attack the powerful. A strong case could be made that her
party would have failed to muster its 25 percent in the parliamentary
balloting if she had held back.)

Moroz was undoubtedly correct when he averred, after his election as
Speaker, that the arrangement of personalities in the new power structure
would have inevitably – and quickly – brought about its collapse. (Less
clear is Moroz’s claim to have a document, which he has referred to but
not revealed, that “proves” the collapse was a foregone conclusion.)

But he made the agreement with the other Orange parties, without any
stipulations in that area. And his refusal to take his name out of
consideration for Speaker after Poroshenko did so suggests that concern
about the durability of an Orange majority coalition was the pretext for a
move that had been already settled.

The new majority coalition, which includes Regions, the Socialists and
Communists, is likely to have an even tougher time reaching any sort of
common accord, beyond degrees of opposition to further integration with
the West. The Communists never expected to be part of any coalition.

Now the 22-member bloc is the linchpin of the majority coalition.
Tymoshenko has taken to declaring that the new coalition will be “ruled
y the Communists.” It is just as likely that the Communists will bring about
its quick demise.

The real fallout from the Socialist defection is more psychological than
political. In the sense that the Socialists have formally aligned themselves
now with Regions and the Communists – at least, the larger segment of
Socialists that didn’t resign from the party hierarchy in protest – it is
the first real schism in the three-hearted Coalition of Democratic Forces
that formed during the Orange Revolution protests.

Yushchenko has threatened to dissolve parliament (perhaps as soon as July
20) and call new elections if the new majority coalition in parliament can’t
form a government. There are plenty of reasons to doubt its ability to do

Yet even if Yushchenko calls early elections the outcome would probably
not lessen the existential confusion for Ukraine. There is not likely to be
any sense of what constitutes a “pro-Western” majority or mandate in the
near future.

Moroz himself said last week: “Today, we are living not in Asia and not in
Europe. It is shameful to name a place where we are living.” The confusion
will ensure that every policy decision of government is weighed against the
paranoia it might elicit in Russia.

That is a recipe for paralysis. It is a reversion to the state of affairs
that existed for the 13 years of unsettled independence that preceded the
Orange Revolution. -30-
NOTE: Ethan Wallison is a journalist living in Kyiv, and the proprietor
of http://www.Room12a.com. He used to live in Washington, D.C. and

wrote for the Roll Call newspaper on Capitol Hill.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Boston University, Boston, MA, Thursday, July 20, 2006

Almost two years ago in Ukraine, up to one million people joined
together to protest against a regime that had suppressed their freedom,
supported a culture of deep corruption, rigged an election and been
implicated in at least one murder. In Independence Square, these
people they chanted slogans demanding “bandits to jail,” “freedom,”
and “Yushchenko – President!”

Their chants followed a presidential election found by all
internationally accredited election monitoring organizations to be
unfair and not free. During the election, then-Prime Minister Viktor
Yanukovich’s government reportedly used state resources and well-
paid “private” security services to, among other things, bribe and
intimidate voters, while altering the vote counts in some areas.

After 17 days of protest, the election was invalidated, a new ballot
was held, and Ukraine welcomed its new President Viktor Yushchenko.

“The people won!” said Anya, after the announcement that Yushchenko
had been elected. “For 70 years we were slaves,” said Andriy. “In 1991,
we received freedom on paper, but it was still slavery, just different
masters. Now, people want to hold their heads up. People want
freedom. … This was a victory of the nation.” (1)

What a difference two years make.

On 18 July, Viktor Yanukovich was nominated by the new parliamentary
majority to return as prime minister. Since Ukraine has now become a
parliamentary-presidential republic, Yanukovich – the man disgraced,
discredited and literally chased out of town in 2004 – could now become
more powerful than the president.

Two days later, the bloc of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
walked out of parliament in protest, calling on the president to
disband the parliament, with bloc members draping their seats in a
massive Ukrainian flag as they went. (2)

The return of Yanukovich officially occurred as a result of the
disintegration on 7 July of the “orange coalition of democratic
forces,” comprised of the parties that had led the revolution protests
– Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc
(BYUT) and the Socialist Party. But it was actually a much longer
process – beginning in September 2005, when Yushchenko dismissed
Tymoshenko from her position as prime minister, thus splintering the
“orange team” – and intensifying after the parliamentary elections of
March 2006.

Following the parliamentary elections, the three “orange” parties
together could have secured a slim majority, and should have been
able quickly to put together a coalition to create a government.

But the disappointing third place finish of President Yushchenko’s
party, following a series of (legally unproven) corruption charges
against some of the top names on his party’s electoral list, made
negotiations difficult. Neither Yushchenko nor his allies appeared
able to accept that their party had finished behind the bloc of former
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko – until then, always a junior ally.

But, in March, Tymoshenko’s calls to clean up corruption and fulfill
the “goals of the Maidan” (Independence Square), resonated with
voters. Her party’s 22 percent of the electorate placed it well ahead
of the 14 percent gained by Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, and the 5% of
the Socialists. When seats were redistributed after subtracting the votes
given to parties that did not pass the electoral threshold, the three
partners would have had a majority of 239 out of 450 deputies.

Still, Yushchenko and Our Ukraine delayed, seemingly hoping that by
postponing a coalition agreement, they could extract bigger dividends.
The biggest, of course, was the prime minister’s post, which Tymoshenko
immediately claimed, as the leader of the largest party in the
potential coalition. Our Ukraine officially balked, suggesting that
their party, as the party of the president, should choose the prime

Our Ukraine also undertook “secret” negotiations (although they were
reported throughout the media and confirmed by individual party
members) with the party that placed first in the poll– Viktor
Yanukovich’s Party of Regions. Drawing on the heavily populated,
Russian-speaking Eastern regions of the country, Yanukovich’s party
received 32 percent of the vote.

The Our Ukraine cat-and-mouse game with BYUT and the Party of Regions
continued for almost three months, leaving the country with a caretaker
government. Clearly, Our Ukraine and the president had a difficult job
and a difficult choice – one not made easier at all times by the
demands of BYUT.

But Yushchenko’s delay in choosing to unite with his former revolution
partners was costly. By that time, the Party of Regions had badly
outmaneuvered the “orange” team. Regions had gone behind Yushchenko’s
back to “steal” the Socialist Party.

Just days after Our Ukraine, BYUT and the Socialists announced their
“coalition of democratic forces,” Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz
switched sides and joined his party with the Communists and Yanukovich,
creating a new majority. (3) From the parliamentary tribune,
Tymoshenko claimed that large amounts of money had changed hands, while
the deputies in her faction chanted, “Moroz is Judas!” Regardless, the
“democratic majority” was over before it began. (4)

The episode was oddly and ominously similar to the situation following
the parliamentary election in 2002.

Then, Our Ukraine, BYUT and the Socialists officially attempted to form
a majority with certain members of the Communist Party and other
unaffiliated deputies. However, throughout the negotiations to form
Ukraine’s first ever “democratic majority,” Yushchenko also negotiated
with then-President Kuchma’s United Ukraine Party.

In exchange for a promise to name him prime minister, Yushchenko
reportedly agreed to work with United Ukraine instead of the Socialists
and BYUT. But at the last moment, United Ukraine reneged on its
promises, used various techniques to convince individual deputies to
desert the “democratic forces,” and created a majority without Yushchenko,
BYUT or the Socialists.

“The agreement to appoint Viktor Yushchenko as prime minister was
brilliant bait,” Yulia Tymoshenko said at the time. “While the
businessmen of United Ukraine made a show of discussing details of the
agreement with Yushchenko, the authorities were actively pulling away
people’s deputies from the opposition majority.” (5)

The Party of Regions also used the prime minister position as bait in
2006. The party reportedly said it would allow Our Ukraine to name the
prime minister – something the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc would not do.

It seems, however, that this offer may have been intended to be fulfilled;
Yanukovich told several officials privately that he had agreed to give
up the position. In the end, Yushchenko turned this offer down. But,
it appears the delay had irreparably damaged the orange coalition.

This damage, ironically, had been predicted by Tymoshenko. “It would
be a tragedy,” she said on 29 March, “if we lost the chance to form the
coalition of our three forces. All these votes could be lost . . . if
we lose time. . . . In 2002, we lost this chance to create such a
coalition. I don’t want to repeat this mistake and these bad results.

I don’t want this to finish the same way. I appeal to Our Ukraine and
all the leaders of the bloc not to postpone under any circumstances
these negotiations.” (6)

At that time, Tymoshenko’s allies privately suggested that
representatives from the Party of Regions had begun calling individual
deputies and offering various incentives to leave the coalition. It
appears that, with enough time, these incentives worked.

Following the announcement of the new Communist-Socialist-Party of
Regions majority, several citizens groups set up a new “tent camp” on
the Maidan to protest a possible government led by Yanukovich, and to
urge the president to dissolve parliament and call new elections. BYUT
and the Ukrainian People’s Party (Rukh-Kostenko) quickly joined them.
Our Ukraine did not.

After negotiating again with both BYUT and Regions, Our Ukraine
declared itself in opposition. But a number of media reported that
negotiations continue with Yanukovich, to try to bring Our Ukraine into
the government. “Our Ukraine has no right to be in the opposition,”
Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said. “We must influence the process
of development of our state whoever the Prime Minister is and whatever
coalition is formed.” (7)

Our Ukraine’s desire to influence the government makes it unlikely that
Yushchenko will take the drastic step of dissolving parliament, as BYUT
suggests. Even more, Our Ukraine’s poll ratings have slipped
considerably since March, meaning a new election is likely to diminish
the party’s influence further.

In Ukraine, where a central power has always ruled strongly and
exclusively, there is a limited understanding of an opposition’s role.
Nevertheless, a number of politicians within the Our Ukraine party –
reform-oriented politicians who have always supported a “democratic
coalition,” and who worked hard to unite the parties – have announced
their intention to construct a “shadow government.”

The Our Ukraine members also are working with BYUT to determine
how they will influence and monitor the cabinet. This assumes, of course,
that BYUT will return to the parliament, and that Our Ukraine will remain
in the opposition.

Since the government will likely include a number of individuals
previously charged with crimes, the monitoring function of the
opposition will be essential. Should the new “democratic opposition”
prove able to effectively monitor and influence the government in
power, Ukrainians will be able to say that the gains of the orange
revolution have not disappeared. -30-
(1) Author interviews, Dec 04, Independence Square, Kyiv.
(2) Parliamentary Session, 19 Jul 06 via Rada TV/5 Kanal.
(3) Agence France Presse, 1210 GMT, 7 Jul 06 via Lexis-Nexis.
(4) Parliamentary Session, 8 Jul 06 via Rada TV/5 Kanal.
(5) “Ukrainian Former Deputy PM Claims Role of Opposition Leader,”
Segodnya, 17 Jun 02, p. 4.
(6) Press Conference of Yulia Tymoshenko, 29 Mar 06.
(7) ForUm, 1124 GMT, 7 Jul 06.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


COMMENTARY: By Victor Pinchuk
This article was partially published in the
International Herald Tribune (IHT), Paris, France, July 11, 2006
Full article was published in the Dela newspaper, Kyiv, Ukraine
Full article in the Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #738, Article 4
Washington, D.C., Sunday, July 23, 2006

Orange or blue? West or east? EU or CIS? Ukraine seems to be confined to
making “either-or” choices and thus condemned to cutting the Gordian knot.
But must it be resolved like this? For Ukrainians and those interested in
Ukraine, the answer is no.

Geographically, we are located between the European Union on one side and
Russia on the other. From a cultural standpoint – whether languages,
religions or history are involved – our heritages are intertwined. From an
economic standpoint, we exchange almost equal amounts of goods and raw
materials with the European Union as we do with Russia.

Such a position should push us towards building bridges rather than erecting
walls. We should be thinking more of “and”, and less of “or”. Not Russia
“or” the European Union, but Russia “and” the European Union. It is in the
interest of Ukraine to develop good and strong relationships with its
neighbors rather than conflicts.

It is also in our interest not to allow Ukraine to be a pawn in an
international geo-strategic game between east and west. For the good of
Ukraine, we must develop our own ambitious, proactive and modernizing
approach based on a clear assessment of our strategic needs.

Some of our specific challenges need to be overcome with deeper relations
with the east, some others with the west. And they all should be implemented

Our relationship with Russia is essential, historic and strategic for the
future. One third of the Ukrainian population has Russian as its
mother-tongue and about twenty percent consider themselves ethnic Russians.
We also have strong and extremely important economic links with Russia,
including in the field of energy.

For the benefit of Ukraine, it is therefore vital to develop our cooperation
and to exercise vigilance so as to not damage our general relationship.
Ukrainians would have a lot to lose in doing so, both economically and in
terms of cohesion and unity of the Ukrainian nation.

This is why for example the vast majority of Ukrainians do not support
Ukraine joining NATO, as it would be more divisive than uniting. The
benefits are not clear, but the risks are.

On the other hand, I believe that the rapprochement with the European Union
is also absolutely essential as Ukraine faces three specific challenges:

The first challenge is the development of a more robust democracy, one that
serves both the will of the people and the good of the country. Ukraine has
made undeniable progress over the last years.

However, having free and fair elections is far from being enough.
Participative democracy, professional and effective civil service, mature and

dedicated political servants – those are what is needed to build upon the

The second challenge is the realization of a society truly governed by the
rule of law. There are huge obstacles to overcome, but for the good of the
country we must move from justice “à la carte” to justice dispensed by an
efficient, non-corrupted and independent judiciary system.

The third challenge is the nurturing of a legitimate, prosperous and
independent market economy, free from political interference. Much remains
to be accomplished in order to modernize the economy, to simplify its
regulatory and fiscal framework, and to create an environment that is
favorable for investment and job creation. Political leaders need to
understand what the Soviets taught us: a government cannot successfully
micro-manage a market economy.

I believe that the rapprochement with the European Union is the galvanizing
political project that can unite the Ukrainian society and inspire our
leaders to modernize our country in these directions. The prospect of
membership in the European Union is a powerful driving force that will goad
our political elites in the face of painful but essential reforms.

History can be our guide. Look at what happened in the ten countries that
joined the EU in 2004: in the space of ten years, they brought about reforms
in a manner and to an extent that would have been impossible without the
prospect of membership.

Recently, without the constant pressure from Brussels, Romania and Bulgaria
never would have initiated their courageous and necessary reform of their
judicial systems. Similarly, such an EU carrot-and-stick approach is
essential if Ukraine is to overcome these three internal political

Clearly then, Ukraine should start an EU-integration process, not because my
country should turn west and not east, but because this process of joining
the EU is a way to force change. It is also in the EU’s best interest to
have a more democratic neighbor, subject to the rule of law and thriving
with a growing economy.

This is a very ambitious goal, which will require much work, because neither
the European Union nor Ukraine are ready for membership in the near future.

That is why more than two years ago I took the initiative with others of
launching YES (Yalta European Strategy – www.yes-urkraine.org), an
international network aimed precisely at promoting and concretely supporting
the membership of Ukraine in the European Union.

The path – i.e. the reforms – matter more than the objective – i.e. EU
membership. Indeed, the present EU is far from perfect. And no one knows
what the EU of the future will look like when Ukraine is ready to take its
place there, or even if it will be attractive. Presently, the European Union
is in crisis and does not have a clear vision for its future. Defining its
identity, its role and its frontiers is the imperative challenge for the EU.

The world of tomorrow will be very different than that of today, because it
will be multipolar and dominated by several regional superpowers. If the EU
wants to play an important role on the international stage and defend its
interests, it must extend its influence and consequently its perimeter. In
that context, Ukraine’s accession will become an obvious necessity, not a
question, as will the strengthening of the EU’s ties with Russia.

Here is my dream. That today the European Union will initiate rapprochement
with Ukraine in order to help and encourage my country to institute
reforms – this is in the interest of everyone. And that tomorrow, a newly
ambitious, prosperous European Union, with a vision and a plan for the
future, will unite all the countries of Europe and defend our common
interests and values in an ever more complex world. -30-

NOTE: Victor Pinchuk, Founder and Board Member of the Yalta European
Strategy (YES), is the Founder of Interpipe Corporation, one of Ukraine’s
largest industrial holding companies. He served in Ukraine’s Parliament from
1998 to 2006.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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Yalta European Strategy (YES), Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 17, 2006

The Third Annual Meeting of the international network Yalta European
Strategy (YES) took place from 13th to 16th July in Yalta (Crimea, Ukraine).
The meeting culminated in a presentation of the “Agenda 2020”, a strategic
document developed by YES.

This Agenda defines all the specific steps to be made by Ukraine and the EU
from the full implementation of the EU-Ukraine Action Plan, through the
Association Agreement, to the start of the formal process of Ukraine’s
accession to the EU.

The “Agenda 2020 for Ukraine in the European Union” shows the way in

which the objective of Ukraine’s accession to the EU can be reached through
successive stages. In other words: what needs to happen for Ukraine to join
the European Union in 2020?

2005-2007: EU-Ukraine Action Plan
— Enhancing effective and participative democracy
— Reforming the judiciary system to reinforce rule of law
— Joining the World Trade Organization and moving towards

EU-Ukraine free trade area
— Developing market economy with a friendly business climate
— Enhancing energy cooperation
— Visa facilitation
— Common foreign and security policy

2005-2008: Association Agreement
— Soon, review Action Plan implementation process to include

negotiation on Association Agreement
— 2006 : preparatory work on the framework of Association Agreement
— 2007 : conclusion of negotiations
— 1st January 2008: Association Agreement comes into force

Association Agreement: The basic objectives of the Association

Agreement should be:
— the further extension of the 4 freedoms: free flow of goods,
capital, services and people
— enhanced political cooperation
— involvement in common foreign and security policy
— a separate chapter should deal with issues of energy security.

2010-2012: EU Accession Strategy
— 2010: Ukraine should implement an EU Accession Strategy

which should be accompanied by an intensive diplomatic campaign.
— 2011: Ukraine application to the EU could be submitted during the
Polish Presidency.

2014-2019: Accession Negotiations
— 2014 : Opening of talks
— Spring 2019 : Conclusion of talks
This will coincide with the conclusion of negotiations on the

Financial Perspective 2021-2027.

2020: 1st January Accession

Marek Siwiek, Member of the European Parliament, Poland Chairman of the
Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and

member of the Board of YES, declared: “This scenario is within reach. Its
fulfillment rests on the political will. The European Union has rarely been
in the position to do more for a neighboring country as well as for itself
than by inviting Ukraine to become a member.”

Stephen Byers, Chairman of YES, declared: “This agenda will enable each of
the actors of Ukraine’s future to measure the work to be done to reach this
largely shared objective. This is also a strong incentive to implement the
reforms that Ukraine needs.”

On July 13-16, 2006, the Third Yalta Annual Meeting took place in Yalta and
gathered key politicians, experts, civic activist and representatives of the
business community from Ukraine, the European Union, Russia and the United

The key issues addressed at the meeting included the new Ukrainian political
landscape, the vision of the EU in Ukraine, the energy challenge, the
establishment of the rule of law in Ukraine and the reform of the judiciary,
the economic reforms and the investment

The participants of the Meeting focused on practical tasks faced by Ukraine
in order to enable better understanding of Ukraine’s prospects by the EU,
and increasing interest of the EU in moving from the existing neighbourhood
policy to wider and closer engagement prospects, while supporting Ukraine’s
reform and modernization path.

YES is an international network established to promote the development of a
just, free and prosperous Ukraine, to open the country to the rest of the
world and to support Ukraine’s membership to the European Union. We

believe the debate of new ideas and fresh thinking is at the heart of a strong
and healthy democracy.

YES is an open forum for the exchange of views which allows to learn from
international best practices, and operates beyond the traditional ways of
looking at issues. It also proposes and promotes concrete policy solutions.

YES is an independent organization which brings together high-level
participants in Ukraine and internationally: policy-makers, business leaders,

thinkers, researchers and journalists.

YES hosts lectures, working groups and public debates in Ukraine and in the
European Union, publishes regular contributions and organizes an annual

summit in Yalta. -30-
Yalta European Strategy – www.yes-urkraine.org
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Yalta European Strategy, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, July 17, 2006

KYIV – Stephen Byers, President of the Board of the international network
Yalta European Strategy (YES) announces the appointment of Alexandr
Kwasniewski as Member of the Board of YES. YES organized its Third Yalta
Annual Meeting from 13th to 16th July in Yalta (Crimea, Ukraine).

Alexandr Kwasniewski, former President of Poland (1995-2005), will join the
Board of YES, which is currently composed of Stephen Byers (President of the
Board), Mario David, Victor Pinchuk, Stéphane Fouks, Alexander Rahr,
Jean-Pierre Saltiel and Marek Siwiec.

Alexandr Kwasniewski declared: “I am very grateful to have been chosen as a
new Member of the Board of YES. I am very happy and I hope it will help for
integration of Ukraine in the European Union.”

Victor Pinchuk, founder of YES, declared: “Alexandr Kwasniewski has a unique
experience of political reforms and integration process in the European
Union. He has made a strong work as President of Poland to support a closer
co-operation between Poland and Ukraine. I am sure this experience and his
enthusiasm will be of great help to YES.”

On July 13-16, 2006, the Third Yalta Annual Meeting took place in Yalta and
gathered key politicians, experts, civic activist and representatives of the
business community from Ukraine, the European Union, Russia and the United

The key issues addressed at the meeting included the new Ukrainian political
landscape, the vision of the EU in Ukraine, the energy
challenge, the establishment of the rule of law in Ukraine and the reform of
the judiciary, the economic reforms and the investment

The participants of the Meeting focused on practical tasks faced by Ukraine
in order to enable better understanding of Ukraine’s prospects by the EU,
and increasing interest of the EU in moving from the existing neighbourhood
policy to wider and closer engagement prospects, while supporting Ukraine’s
reform and modernization path. -30-

Yalta European Strategy – www.yes-urkraine.org
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
Ukraine is keen to join the EU, but existing members are less
than excited at the prospect writes Nicholas Watt

By Nicholas Watt, Guardian Unlimited
London, United Kingdom, Friday, July 21, 2006

Passing under an ornate marble arch and into the Livadia Palace, high on a
hill above the Black Sea resort of Yalta, a hush descends. No explanation is
needed as visitors brush past the large round table where Stalin, Roosevelt
and Churchill carved up Europe in the last months of the second world war.

The simple table, decorated with the flags of Britain, the US and the former
USSR, provokes powerful emotions for Poles whose country was thrown
behind the iron curtain when Stalin staked his claim to his neighbour with
the chilling declaration: “Throughout history, Poland has been the corridor
through which the enemy has passed into Russia. Poland is a question of life
and death for Russia.”

Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former president of Poland who first visited the
Livadia Palace in the 1980s when he served as a communist minister in
Warsaw, highlighted the emotions Poles feel when he recently made a return

“We were victims of the treaty signed in this palace. When I was first here,
this table and these chairs were much bigger. Today, the table is not big
and the chairs are modest. This is a sign that the Yalta treaty does not
exist anymore. Europe is not divided, but now we have new challenges.”

Mr Kwasniewski was speaking at a conference where leading political figures
from across Europe contemplated the ultimate trashing of the legacy of the
Yalta treaty: charting a course to admit the very soil where the iron
curtain was created into the European family.

The world’s worst butcher will probably be turning in his grave at the news
that a cross-border group, the Yalta European Strategy (YES), wants to admit
Ukraine, the bread basket of the Soviet Union, into the European Union.
(Stalin has his nemesis to blame for this. Nikita Khrushchev handed Crimea,
then part of Russia, to Ukraine in 1955.)

At its annual conference in Yalta this month, YES outlined a timetable that
would see Ukraine join the EU by 2020. This is an ambitious aim that would
be launched with a formal application when Poland holds the union’s rotating
presidency in 2011.

Mr Kwasniewski, who was instrumental in admitting Ukraine’s neighbour,
Poland, into the EU in 2004, threw his weight behind this goal when he told
the conference: “My deepest conviction is that Ukraine should occupy a place
in European institutions. You cannot talk about an integrated Europe in the
21st century without Ukraine. It has a place in the European family.”

Ukraine has every right to expect a place in the EU. As the largest country
by land mass in Europe, Ukraine has the right under the union’s founding
rules to be considered for membership.

But Ukraine will be lucky if it makes it in this generation, or the next, as
a series of factors conspire against the country of nearly 47 million
people. In the first place, Ukraine appears ungovernable as the orange
revolution collapses into a rather pathetic mess.

Victor Yushchenko, whose victory in 2004 over forces who appeared to think
that life revolved around awaiting the next set of instructions from Moscow,
pulled out of the conference as he struggled to cobble together a new
government. Mr Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party may now have to share
power with Moscow favourite Viktor Yanukovich.

The dismal petty back-biting of Ukrainian politics was highlighted by a
cross-party group of politicians who bickered at the conference and
offered no vision for their country.

Mr Kwasniewski told the conference: “I am a bit afraid. The political
leaders are so engaged in this small place – the tactical place of
parliament – that they are forgetting about Ukraine.”

This is not lost on European leaders who are growing tired of an
ever-enlarging EU and who are wary of upsetting Vladimir Putin. “Russia
still sees Ukraine as part of an integrated space organised by Russia,” Mr
Kwasniewski said. “That is not just a political strategy. It is also part of
history. Ukraine is not a neighbour, it is a part of the family.”

Germany, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in January, believes
it has struck on the right formula to keep alive Ukraine’s membership hopes
while ensuring that nothing happens overnight.

Berlin is planning to rewrite the European neighbourhood policy for
countries whose membership hopes are distant or impossible. Germany will
reach out to Ukraine, which could join, by separating it from countries,
such as Algeria, which could never join because they are not in Europe.

But Ukraine appears to be stuck in an awkward place. It is keen to join the
EU, while there is little appetite for this in Brussels. The one institution
in the west that appears to be keen to admit Kiev — Nato — is hugely
unpopular in Ukraine.

Some Ukrainians appear to be realistic about their chances. Victor Pinchuk,
one of the country’s richest men who is the driving force behind the YES
group, admits that membership is a long way off. “I am not sure that in 10
to 15 years Ukraine will be a member of the EU,” he said. “But we need
these reforms: democracy, a market economy and the rule of law.”

His intervention is highly significant: Mr Pinchuk is the son-in-law of
Leonid Kuchma, the former Ukrainian president whose authoritarian rule
fuelled the orange revolution.

In Mr Kuchma’s last days in office, Mr Pinchuk bought the giant
Kryvorizhstal steel mill for a bargain Euro670m, to the outrage of the
Orange revolutionaries. The state bought it back and later sold the mill for
its true market price of Euro4bn to the Mittal group.

Mr Pinchuk gave Mr Kuchma pride of place in the conference’s front row,
but he would be wise to retire his father-in-law before next year’s

Promoting a former authoritarian leader, with a questionable record on human
rights, may not be the best way to impress the EU. -30-
NOTE: The travel, accommodation and food costs of the Guardian were
met by the conference organisers.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
Some actors who should be very active, including President Viktor
Yushchenko, are not doing their job properly.

INTERVIEW: With Eugeniusz Smolar, President
Center for International Relations in Warsaw
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, July 21, 2006

PRAGUE – Among the countries looking with greatest dismay at the political
chaos in Kyiv is Poland, with its strong cultural and historical ties to
Ukraine. Polish officials have actively sought to bring Kyiv into the
Western fold since Warsaw joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.

The ongoing parliamentary impasse in Ukraine has alarmed many in Poland, who
see it as a shift away from the promise of the Orange Revolution. Eugeniusz
Smolar, the president of the Center for International Relations in Warsaw,
talks to RFE/RL about Poland’s perspective on Ukraine’s political struggle.

RFE/RL: Over the past four months, we have watched Ukraine try, but fail, to
form a coalition uniting the allies of the Orange Revolution. This was no
doubt a very disappointing development for many in Poland.

Eugeniusz Smolar: Poland has never tried to suggest to Ukraine how they
should solve their own problems. However, of course, as democrats and those
who have fought for democracy in the past, we have our own preferences. And
of course, the preference for many, many people here who feel very warmly
about Ukraine, who feel very passionate about it, is for the Orange
Revolution camp to form a government.

For many people here who do not have the opportunity to follow Ukrainian
events on a day-to-day basis, [the failure to create an Orange coalition] is
quite a shock, and many people can’t understand why it didn’t happen.

RFE/RL: How do you explain this protracted political impasse?

Smolar: To many of us, it seems that too much politics based on personality
clashes, rather than programmatic differences, is actually occurring. So if
you ask what we think about it, we think it’s very bad, we are shocked, we
don’t understand the situation.

We feel that some of the personalities are pushing their line very strongly,
maybe even too strongly. And some other actors who should be very active,
including President Viktor Yushchenko, are not doing their job properly.
Full stop.

RFE/RL: Polish officials have continued to express support for Ukraine’s
integration into the European Union and NATO. Former President Aleksander
Kwasniewski was in Kyiv as recently as last week attempting to mediate
discussions, but said he emerged “pessimistic” about the fate of the
Ukrainian government. In Poland’s view, can a working government emerge
from the chaos in Ukraine?

Smolar: Kwasniewski has the political and moral authority to get involved.
He knows all the personalities. I know he talked to each and every one of
them, to all the major actors. He tried to persuade them to get some kind of
a working agreement.

But at the end of the day, Poland, as a country — starting with the top
politician and ending with civil society here — is going to work with
anyone who has the authority to hold power and who is a democrat.

RFE/RL: The final composition of the government is still unclear, but right
now we’re facing the scenario of a parliament dominated by the pro-Russia
Party of Regions, and with the pro-Western president, Yushchenko, in the
opposition. Is it important for Poland which of the major players ends up on

Smolar: If the situation is Ukraine ends with the decision that the only
working coalition could be a coalition of two currently warring factions,
well then, let it be that way. For us, the most important thing is not who’s
running the country, but what the program is — whether it’s
Western-oriented, whether it’s aimed at European and trans-Atlantic

Whether they are going to continue with the policy of democracy and respect
for human rights and Euro-Atlantic integration. These are the most important
questions and Poland will work with anyone who will go that way.

RFE/RL: What about Viktor Yanukovych, Yushchenko’s rival in the election
that sparked the Orange Revolution? Is he a man Poland can work with?

Smolar: It’s very difficult to say. When I was in Ukraine I heard different
stories about him, and some of what’s being said is that he’s a very
pragmatic politician. But the only worry I have, from what I know of him, is
that he’s not a totally independent politician.

RFE/RL: Does Poland remain suspicious of Russia’s influence in Ukraine?

Smolar: People who know more about it than I do, they say this is one of the
important factors in the whole game. And of course, knowing what Moscow’s
reaction to the Orange Revolution was, and also the pressure that was put on
Ukraine in the context of gas negotiations, I believe that the game has not

RFE/RL: Ultimately, the failure of the Orange coalition appears to be due,
as you said, to personality clashes — specifically between Yushchenko and
Yuliya Tymoshenko, his one-time prime minister. Are these power struggles
the reason that Ukraine has no government nearly four months after
parliamentary elections?

Smolar: This seems to be the basis of the existing situation. Whether this
is in fact so is not for me to say. But the fact that the politics of such
an important country as Ukraine is being reduced to the personal
confrontation between major personalities is not helping Ukraine and its
image in the world.

RFE/RL: Kwasniewski’s recent remarks on Ukraine have been very bitter,
almost resigned. Is there a sense that Poland has given up on Ukraine, or is
there more that it can do to keep Kyiv on a pro-Western course?

Smolar: Poland will never give up where Ukraine is concerned because we
believe in democracy. And we have this feeling that we ourselves achieved as
much as we did not only because of our own efforts, but also because of the
assistance which was provided by the government trade unions, Amnesty
International, and international organizations which construct civil

And what we are doing at the moment — what all of us are doing —
is giving something back. We are actually trying to help those who, at the
moment, are less fortunate than ourselves.

RFE/RL: How much does geographic and historical proximity affect

Poland’s allegiance to Ukraine?

Smolar: Ukraine for us — and Belarus as well — are very close to our
borders, and they are very close people to us. And even if there are some
political difficulties, it will not influence our general attitude.

Poland will never abandon Ukraine or Belarus. More specifically, we will
never abandon democracy and human rights in those countries.

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, July 22 2006

KIEV – Viktor Yushchenko has cancelled a visit to Moscow this weekend to
attend a meeting of leaders of ex-Soviet states, as time runs out for the
Ukrainian president to end the country’s worst political crisis since the
Orange revolution of 2004.

Mr Yushchenko is facing a grim choice: to work out a compromise with the
coalition backing the candidacy of his arch-rival Viktor Yanukovich or to
dissolve parliament – a move that would prevent Mr Yanukovich from becoming
prime minister.

The Moscow-leaning former prime minister appeared confident on Thursday at

a meeting with Mr Yushchenko, despite having not received guarantees that his
candidacy would be supported. “I saw a great desire on the part of the
president to unite efforts,” Mr Yanukovich said.

He is hoping to make an extraordinary comeback since losing the contested
2004 presidential vote to Mr Yushchenko, whose public approval ratings have
sunk in recent months.

The return of Mr Yanukovich, who was backed by Moscow in the 2004
presidential vote, would raise questions about Mr Yushchenko’s ability to
push through his programme of western integration through membership of

Nato and the European Union.

Ahead of March parliamentary elections, Mr Yanukovich’s camp vowed to

revive strong ties with Russia, while seeking long-term opportunities for EU
membership. But it opposed Mr Yushchenko’s rapid Nato integration agenda.
Mr Yanukovich’s party mustered just over 30 per cent voter support, the most
of all Ukrainian parties.

The political crisis arose this month when the previous coalition comprised
of camps that backed Mr Yushchenko in the Orange coalition collapsed after
the Socialists backed out to join Mr Yanukovich.

Constitutional changes that took effect this year require Ukraine’s
president to submit the candidacy of a coalition for prime minister within
15 days of receiving it. Mr Yushchenko has the option of dissolving
parliament if a new government is not formed by July 25, or 60 days after
the previous government tendered its resignation.

The president has warned he will not allow his reform plans to be derailed.
He could avoid a repeat of last March’s elections by striking a compromise
involving support for his agenda and possible top posts in the government.
But this could prove challenging, given the divisions on reforms and foreign
policy that exist between him and members of Mr Yanukovich’s coalition.

Mr Yushchenko has also urged legislators to swear in new judges for the
constitutional court, which has not functioned since last autumn.

[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
New York, New York, Sunday, July 23, 2006

LVIV – OUT of the blue, my nine young companions broke into a folk song,
their plaintive melody sung in Ukrainian and delivered slightly off-key. I
hadn’t a clue what it was about, but the cognac-fueled tune was moving. It
was around midnight at a cafe in Lviv’s historic city center, and we were
the only customers in the house.

Earlier that evening, Katarina, a woman with auburn hair and one of this
clique of early 20-something artist types, had described the burgeoning arts
scene in Lviv. Yuriy, bright-eyed and happy-go-lucky, wanted to practice his
English and wrote down each slang word I uttered. Several others were
curious about what I thought of Ukraine and their city.

Such friendliness was in short supply during my prior four days in Kiev, the
capital of this Eastern European nation. But this was Lviv, a city of
830,000 people, the so-called capital of western Ukraine, an architectural
gem of a city that’s the hub of a culture in a country that, in many ways,
still feels Russian.

Roughly 45 miles from the Polish border, Lviv has a polyglot past and
precious few years of independence during its 750-year history. In the 20th
century alone it changed hands between Austria-Hungary, Poland and the
Soviet Union, and was called Lemberg, Lwow and Lvov depending upon
who was in charge.

With its ornately handsome buildings and its gala Viennese ball, Lviv still
bears vestiges of its days as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But
behind the Old Europe vibe is a city that has reclaimed its Ukrainian
heritage in a bi-polar country still trying to find its identity after
gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Orange Revolution in 2004 installed a West-leaning government with
aspirations of European Union membership, but the nation’s predominately
Russian-speaking eastern half wants to maintain strong ties with Russia.

The peaceful, populist-driven Orange Revolution essentially was a free
marketing campaign that raised Ukraine’s profile and helped attract more
tourists to one of Europe’s last travel frontiers.

The attention, coupled with Lviv’s proximity to the West, provide the city a
spotlight to shine alongside better-known Eastern and Central European
cities similarly rich in history and architecture.

Lviv’s medieval layout can be a warren of confusion, as I discovered last
May soon after I arrived and tried to find breakfast at Café Veronika, one
of the city’s more popular restaurants. But my meandering along cobblestone
streets lined with shoulder-to-shoulder buildings and centuries-old churches
of various faiths was a pleasant way to meet the city’s people and its

My wanderings took me through a downtown market where old women in
scarves sold flowers and vegetables from the countryside.

I ambled past the trove of old buildings in Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and
neo-Classical styles in central Lviv that make the district a Unesco World
Heritage site, and stopped at the bronze statue of Danylo, a 13th-century
Galician prince who founded the city as a trade route fortress and named it
for his son, Lev.

Lviv’s location along trade routes made it a gathering place of Germans,
Poles, Austrians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Armenians, Jews and others. But
its east-west straddle also left Lviv vulnerable to military and political
invasions over the centuries.

Yet, somehow, Lviv maintained its Old World charm. Unlike Kiev, which was
devastated by both the Nazis and the Soviets during World War II and, some
might say, devastated even more after the war by Soviet architects, Lviv
survived its conquerors with its old structures intact.

I arranged a tour with Oleksandr Ruchko, an artist and tour guide. Alex, as
he’s called in English, looked to be in his mid 30’s and bore a resemblance
to the late Clash frontman Joe Strummer.

He took me to Plosha Rynok, or Market Square, the heart of the old city
where the 210-foot-tall Town Hall is ringed by 44 three- and four-story
buildings in earth tones and charcoal that were once 16th-century town
houses for the nobility and wealthy merchants.

Over the centuries, the buildings have been refurbished and reflect various
styles, including Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance. Fountains with statues
of Greek gods and goddesses frame the four corners of the square.

Here, German and Polish tour groups wandered about, and at the cafe in front
of the Town Hall people sipped beer under the green and white Lvivske beer

During our tour, Alex and I looked up at many ceilings. “We have the most
beautiful frescos in our town,” said Alex as we gazed upon those in the
Armenian Cathedral, one of the city’s oldest buildings. But Alex seemed more
of a street-level person with his finger on the pulse of Lviv.

We stopped at an outdoor cafe near Market Square, ordered a round of Lvivske
Premium Lagers, a potent local brew, and Alex talked about his participation
in the Orange Revolution, of how the throng that was jammed into
Independence Square in Kiev drummed its feet to create an earthquakelike
effect he believes rattled the powers that be.

Lviv has become “an open-minded place that’s good for creative people,” he
said. “Those over 40 years old here don’t interest me because they’re too
old to change. They complain too much and they’re too complacent. My
20-year-old friends here are very optimistic and are trying to do good

It was here, at a cafe on Shevska Street called Bookva Punkt, or Letter
Point, that we met up with his young friends who would give me a taste of
Ukrainian folk music as we drank late into the night.

The next morning I returned for breakfast at Café Veronika, a Vienna-style
coffee shop and restaurant on Shevchenka Street. The day before, I had dined
downstairs in the dark, cozy brick grotto lighted only by Tiffany-style
lamps. This time I dined alfresco on homemade pastries and an omelet full of
veggies. My meals there were delicious, but the service – like that just
about everywhere in Ukraine – was very slow.

Later I returned to a museum that Alex and I visited the day before on
Virmenska Street, a narrow thoroughfare that encapsulates both old – the
1363 cut-stone Armenian Cathedral, for instance – and new.

A couple of blocks up is the Dzyga Cultural Center, a museum of contemporary
art housed in a former Dominican monastery of an 18th-century Baroque church
that is currently showing the ceramic artworks of two local artists, Lesya
and Oleksandr Ros. The indoor cafe displayed a portrait of the former
President Leonid D. Kuchma dressed as a peasant woman.

DZYGA, or “spinning top,” is the nexus of bohemian life in Lviv. It’s run by
an association that puts together music and ballet performances and art
events across the city. A few people wandered through the gallery; others
sipped beverages in the indoor cafe or sat, as I did, under an umbrella on
the patio.

From my vantage point, I could see that Lviv was showing its age. Virmenska
Street, for instance, is lined with 19th-century buildings painted rust,
tawny, yellow and pale green. Some were pockmarked by crumbling cement

and frayed cornices. The cobblestone street itself was sunken in spots.

Although outwardly attractive, Lviv is a relatively poor city, and many
centuries-old buildings that seem in need of a little plastic surgery will
have to wait because the city has other pressing needs, like trying to
provide a 24-hour water supply to the outlying sections of the city.

“It’s hard to make money here,” said Katarina, one of the artists I had met
the night before, as we walked along Prospekt Svobody, or Freedom Avenue,
the main thoroughfare.

Tough economic conditions aren’t as evident on the avenue’s wide,
chestnut-lined esplanade, which is usually crowded with strollers and lined
with packed benches, some with chess matches going on that never fail to
attract spectators.

Nearby, the plaza in front of the Lviv Opera and Ballet House, a majestic
1900 building with a richly decorated, neo-Renaissance facade, is a busy
playground of horseback rides and kiddie go-karts. At night, people cram the
restaurants and outdoor cafes along Prospekt Svobody, and ubiquitous
Eurobeat dance music is everywhere.

The following day at dusk, I was near Prospekt Svobody when I heard the
throaty, operatic roar of beautiful singing coming from what I thought was
an outdoor performance at the Opera House. Instead, it came from a crowd of
older people standing informally farther down the esplanade.

They sang a song, stopped, chatted and lingered, then sang again. And on it
went for an hour or so. “You have seen people who enjoy their independence
and they prefer to demonstrate it by singing folk songs,” Alex, my guide,
explained later. “This is possible to see quite often.”
GETTING THERE Direct flights from New York to Kiev cost about $1,100.

The overnight train from Kiev to Lviv costs $30 a person in a four-person
compartment. The country dialing code is 380; the city dialing code, 322.
The Grand Hotel, 13 Prospekt Svobody; 72-40-42 or 72-76-65,
www.ghgroup.com.ua. The Grand, in the heart of Lviv, is the city’s most
upscale hotel. Built in 1892, it reflects the ornate stylings of
turn-of-the-last-century Austria-Hungary. Doubles from 795 to 1,590 hryvnia
(about $170 to $340 at 5.35 hryvnia to the dollar).
Hotel George, 1 Mickiewicz Square; 72-59-52, www.georgehotel.ukrbiz.net.
Also in central Lviv, this 1901 Neo-Renaissance structure combines Viennese
charm with amazingly affordable rates. Doubles range from 185 to 535
hryvnia, including breakfast.
Apartments in or near central Lviv are a slice-of-life alternative to
hotels. I rented a comfortable apartment for $50 a night through Astro
Travel, 2204 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1N4; (905) 804-8826;
www.ukrainetour.com .
Café Veronika, 21 Shevchenka Street; 97-81-28. Best breakfast in Lviv,
including fabulous pastries. Full-scale dinner menu, too. Dine outdoors, or
choose from two downstairs dining rooms. Entrees from 25 to 100 hryvnia.
Videnska Kavyarnya, 12 Prospekt Svobody; 72-20-21. Fine food, with
ground-level and rooftop patios. Entrees 25 to 75 hryvnia.
Dzyga Cultural Center, 35 Virmenska Street; 75-21-01. A contemporary art
space with a music hall and bar.
The National Museum in Lviv comprises two buildings: the original museum
at 42 Drahomanov Street, 72-57-45; and the newer museum at 20 Prospekt
Svobody, 74-22-82 or 72-89-60, across from the Grand Hotel. Highlights
includes Ukrainian icons from the 14th through the 17th century.

The 220 spiral metal steps of Castle Hill, northeast of the city center,
lead to the crumbling remains of a castle that is supposedly on the spot
where Danylo founded Lviv. Here you’ll find spectacular views of the city
and the distant Carpathian Mountains.
Oleksandr Ruchko, 75-59-35 or 38 067 9243309 on his cellphone,
www.guides.lviv.ua, serves as guide and interpreter in and around Lviv.

Very reasonable prices and reliable service. -30-
LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/travel/23next.html
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, FIFA.com, Thu, 20 Jul 2006

“You never forget the first time,” so they say. Ukraine’s first bite at the
FIFA World CupT cherry certainly lends weight to this old adage. In their
first steps on the most prestigious of stages, the erstwhile Soviet republic
surprised everyone by venturing all the way to the quarter finals. Thanks in
part to their admirable exploits in Germany, the eastern Europeans have made
a spectacular leap up the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

Born in 1991 following the break-up of the Soviet Union and adopted by the
FIFA family the following year, the 15-year-old Ukrainian nation may still
be an adolescent in world football terms, but the summer of 2006 brought
with it early rites of passage into adulthood.

Having hovered between 40th and 50th place in the world ranking for the last
two years, Ukraine currently occupy a well-deserved 15th position following
their commendable first FIFA World Cup campaign. In what was their first
involvement in football’s flagship event, Oleg Blokhin’s charges went all
the way to the last-eight stage before being felled by the future world
champions from Italy.

This achievement is all the more remarkable given that Ukraine’s debut at
the tournament had begun badly. Presumably a touch overawed by the occasion,
the new boys slumped to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Group H opponents
Spain. Many observers drew the conclusion that the standard of Blokhin’s
charges had been vastly overestimated and predicted that their stay on
German soil would be a short one. One such doubter was the Saudi Arabian
boss, Marcos Paqueta, who unwisely described his next opponents as “weak”.

Paqueta was soon forced to eat his words, as Ukraine proceeded to silence
their critics by dishing out their own 4-0 thrashing to the Sons of the
Desert. The yellow and blue machine was now ticking over nicely and would
not stall again until the quarter-final, by which time it had contested
three encounters without conceding a single goal. “I’m not disappointed at
all. In fact, I’m satisfied,” declared Blokhin after their elimination by
the Azzurri. “We’ve achieved something unique for Ukraine by reaching the
quarter-finals at our first World Cup.”

However, it must be remembered that Ukraine’s leap of 30 places is only
partly accountable to their achievements in Germany. The eastern Europeans
are greatly benefitting from the reduction of the Ranking evaluation period
which is now four years rather than eight. Therefore, their excellent
results during the preliminary phase have helped as much their feats in
Germany. So, to unearth the real reason for their rise to prominence, it is
necessary to look further back.

A great player and a great coach
As recently as September 2004, Ukraine were languishing at lowly 87th place
in the international ranking. They had never qualified for a major
tournament and had just flunked another qualifying campaign in the race for
UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal. It was at this moment that the Ukrainian
federation decided to entrust their team’s destiny to Oleg Blokhin.

Crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1975 and nothing short of a
living legend amongst followers of Dinamo Kiev and the former Soviet Union,
the retired striker was given the task of securing qualification for the
2006 FIFA World CupT.

In a group containing reigning European champions Greece, Turkey,
third-place finishers at Korea/Japan 2002T, and those veterans of major
international competitions Denmark, the task facing Blokhin’s boys was a
daunting one. But the fledgling national coach never baulked at the
challenge, predicting from day one that Ukraine would reach Germany without
having to go through the play-offs.

Such bullishness provoked general incredulity on the streets of Kiev, but
not for long. Just 12 matches later, Ukraine joined their German hosts in
the draw for the tournament when they became the first European country to
secure their place at the Finals. In the process, they had risen from their
unremarkable 87th place to a healthy 45th position by May 2006, having even
peaked at 35th in June 2005.

The former Ballon d’Or winner has transformed his team into a winning
machine, instilling not only the self-assurance needed to compete with the
best, but also the maturity and motivation required not to drop points
against lesser nations.

The other key to Blokhin’s success has been the judicious blend created
between bright young talents such as Oleg Gusev and Andriy Rusol, and
reliable old hands like Serhiy Rebrov and Andriy Gusin.

Ukrainian forward Artem Milevskiy (L) fights for the ball with Italian
defender Fabio Cannavaro (R) during the World Cup 2006 quarter final
football game Italy vs. Ukraine, 30 June 2006 at Hamburg stadium.

Established talent confirmed and fresh buds unearthed
With such assets at their disposal, Ukraine’s presence in planet football’s
top 15 is hardly surprising. And given the team’s displays in Germany, this
best-ever global ranking could well be a mere staging post on route to
higher places. In the course of their feats in Germany, the FIFA World Cup
novices’ big-name players were able to showcase their skills while their
rising stars revealed great promise for the future.

Although scarcely over a serious injury, Chelsea’s new acquisition Andriy
Shevchenko scored two goals at the tournament, while Bayer Leverkusen’s
Andriy Voronin was a thorn in the side of opposing defences before picking
up an injury against Switzerland.

At the back, the 23-year-old Andriy Rusol has continued to belie his years
to stake his claim as one of Europe’s most accomplished performers, while
Oleksandr Shokovski kept his goal inviolate for three consecutive games and
achieved a notable FIFA World Cup first by not conceding a single penalty in
the shootout with the Swiss.

Among the revelations, midfielders Maksym Kalinichenko and Anatoliy
Timoshchuk stood out on two counts: their long blond locks and prodigious
ability. But the greatest hope for Ukrainian football surely lies in the
feet of Artem Milevskiy, the heir apparent to the great Shevchenko and one
of the four budding talents plucked by Blokhin from the U-21 side that
recently finished as European runners-up.

During the tournament, the Ukrainian coach declared that “my team played
results-based football.” Call it what you like, but their quarter-final
finish and world ranking of 15th show it is certainly effective.

With the qualifying campaign for the next European Championship commencing
in the autumn, Ukraine could well put the experience acquired in Germany to
good advantage to claw their way a few more places up the global pecking
order. -30-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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COMMENTARY: By Edvard Radzinsky, The Wall Street Journal Online
New York, New York, Monday, July 10, 2006; Page A10

Russia is an exceptional place. In the 20th century, over a single
lifetime — 70 years — it saw three civilizations. Each of the first two
was rejected by its successor, forcing people to renounce their convictions.
You can imagine the chaos of ideas and beliefs in their hearts.

The era of Muscovite czars and the following 300 years of Romanov reign was
one of ruthless autocrats. The opportunity to destroy the autocracy appeared
rarely, but it did appear. For example, in the early 1540s, the boyars (or
nobility) ruled the country as regents of an infant czar. They could have
established an aristocratic republic.

Instead, they squabbled furiously, without forgetting the main occupation of
Asiatic bureaucracy — stealing. The military governor in Pskov robbed the
city so thoroughly that, as a chronicler recorded, “There were no rich or
poor left — everyone became impoverished.” While the boyars argued and
stole, the fledgling czar grew up.

Teenaged, he set his hounds on the most highborn boyar before the boyars’
own eyes. And the people sighed in relief, for stealing by officials in
Russia could only be limited by the choke-leash of a czar.

But amazingly, the boyars themselves sighed in relief because their habitual
servility before the czar was restor! ed. As an historian wrote, “It is
easier to imagine Russia without the people than without a czar.” The
teenage czar grew to be Ivan the Terrible.

The suppression of the dynasty of Muscovy czars led to the Time of Troubles
(from 1598 to 1613). But upheavals and chaos, even as they take away the
people’s well-being, are supposed to give rise to new ideas. One would think
that Russia, having lived through years of turmoil, would start building a
new order when the old collapsed. But it ended the way it began. Muscovy
gave birth, again, to an Asiatic autocracy — the Romanov dynasty. The
foreshadow of 1917 lay in the 17th century.

The reign of Alexander II was another of those rare times when autocracy
could have been transformed. This Russian Lincoln not only emancipated the
serfs in 1861; he became the father of perestroika, reforming all parts of
Russian life. But he was a typical Russian reformer, a Janus with one head
facing forward, the other looking back.

The reforms stopped in the first half of his reign. A contemporary wrote
what could serve as the epigraph to all Russian perestroikas: “For some
reason everything good in Russia is fated to start but not conclude. With
one hand we create . .improvements, with the other, we undermine them . .”

The czar was hated by liberals for stopping reforms, and by conservatives
for starting them. Russia was still an autocracy, and the young — seduced
by the reforms — felt deceived. They thirsted for a parliament and a
constitution, but were repressed.

Alexander II, as did Gorbachev a century later, came to understand a bitter
truth: If starting reforms is dangerous, it is much more so to stop them. An
unprecedented terrorist organization was born in Russia, and in some
measure, the czar was to blame. The nihilists called terrorism “the strength
of the powerless.”

The most insightful realized that the child they had created was long-lived.
“When we are gone, there will be others,” wrote their leader. The “young
people pure of heart,” as a contemporary called them, gradually turned into
cold killers, assassinating Alexander II in 1881. When the prosecutor
spoke — at the regicides’ trial — of the innocent bystanders who were
killed, the terrorist leader laughed. The prosecutor! ‘s response, repeated
throughout Russia, was: “When people weep, they laugh.”

“Balancing on the edge of the abyss” was Dostoyevsky’s description of Russia
then. After Alexander II’s death, society was persuaded that the way forward
was the way back. His son, Alexander III, returned Russia to the ruthless
autocracy so dear to the hearts of its rulers. He dreamed of reverting to
the times of his grandfather, Nicholas I (1796-1855), who had said,
“Despotism exists in Russia because only it is in accordance with the spirit
of the people.”

But toward the end of his reign, Alexander III asked his adjutant-general:
“[T]here is still something wrong in Russia, isn’t there?” The reply should
be memorized by all of Russia’s rulers: “Your majesty, imagine an enormous
steam boiler filled with simmering gases. But there are people with hammers
around it diligently riveting the smallest openings. One day the gases will
break though a section that they will not be able to rivet back.” The czar,
according to accounts, “groaned, as if in pain.”

His son, Czar Nicholas II, became the victim of the explosion. That is how
the first Atlantis, the autocracy of the Romanovs, perished.

Astonishingly, it was members of the ruling class, the intellectual nobility
who would not accept autocracy, who fomented the revolution. A poet wrote in
the 19th century: “In Paris the cobbler revolts to become a landowner —
that’s understandable. In Russia, when the nobility makes a revolution, is
it because they want to be cobblers?” In Russia, poets are often prophets.
The son of a shoemaker, Joseph Stalin, became the first Bolshevik czar, and
the No. 3 man in his government was a former shoemaker.

The fantastical came to pass as a result of the Russian Revolution. In pious
Russia, unknown radical Bolsheviks took power. Lenin seized power with the
dream of destroying the state, only to create the most ruthless state, and
of destroying the bureaucracy, only to create the most powerful bureaucracy.
The Romanov Atlantis drowned, but autocracy was immortal.

The essayist Alexander Herzen predicted back in the mid-19th century:
“Communism is merely Nicholas I’s barracks transformed.” The Bolshevik state
created by Lenin became ridiculously similar to Nicholas I’s ruthless
monarchy. The barracks were completed by Stalin, child of the Russian
Thermidor, an Asiatic Napoleon come to consummate the new Bolshevik

This civilization was astounding. It had a Nocturnal Life and a Daytime
Life. In the Daytime, the population awoke to the unsilenceable radio,
zealously rushed to work, enthusiastically attended daily rallies where they
condemned the enemies of the USSR, and attentively read the thin newspapers
with reports on the trials of the enemies of the people, which proved the
reliability of the NKVD, the Bolshevik secret police.

Deprived of freedom, not daring to have their own opinion, leading miserable
lives with several families to a communal flat, they sincerely pitied the
exploited workers in the West, the oppressed Negroes and everyone else who
did not have the fortune to live in the USSR.

On Bolshevik holidays, they went with their families to Red Square and
joyously recounted how they had seen Stalin. Did they fear the NKVD? They
would have been outraged by the question: The NKVD was feared only by
enemies. Did they know about the arrests, the hundreds of thousands of their
fellow citizens in the camps? Of course! Many of their acquaintances had
been arrested.

But they were obliged to believe, and did believe, that they had been
enemies. They were surrounded by enemies! Anyway, arrests usually took place
after midnight, in the Nocturnal Life. They did not affect them.

The Daytime Life was like the one William Shirer described in Nazi Germany:
“The observer would be surprised to see that the Germans did not consider
themselves victims of threats or pressure from a heartless and cruel
dictatorship. On the contrary, they supported that dictatorship with
unfeigned enthusiasm.”

Stalin worked at creating a sense of conquest in the people. The radio
blared cheerful marches, as it should in the land of conquerors. They had
conquered czarism and the monarchists. Now they were conquerors in their
Daytime Life.

In the course of two or three Five-Year Plans they were going to surpass the
rest of the world. At every trial, they conquered enemies and spies. And
they had conquered religion: All that was left of Holy Russia were beheaded

But Stalin had studied in a seminary, and said that Russia needed god and
czar. He gave it a new religion: Asiatic Marxism. As befitted medieval
religions, dissent was heresy, punished ruthlessly by death. The greatest
temple was the Mausoleum, where, following the model of the imperishable
saints, lay the body of imperishable Lenin. Many in the West did not believe
in the “eternally living Lenin” and insisted that there was a wax dummy in
the Mausoleum.

In the 1930s, Stalin decided to prove the great power of the party that had
conquered death to a group of Western journalists. Louis Fischer, a
biographer of Lenin, was among them. He wrote: “Zbarsky [the biochemist who
mummified the body] opened the glass case, and . . . pinched Lenin’s nose
and then turned his head right and left. We all could tell that it was not
wax. It was Lenin.”

The passionate atheist and iconoclast had been turned into a holy relic. The
Mausoleum workers felt like priests, keeping watch over that horri! fic
parody of the Lord’s Coffin. (Zbarsky recounted: “I was on call to the
Mausoleum 24 hours a day. I taught the workers there: If even a fly gets
into the sarcophagus, I categorically forbid you to get rid of it without
me. All my life I had this nightmare — they call from the Mausoleum:
‘Comrade Zbarsky, there’s a fly in the sarcophagus!?’ And I jump up and rush
over like a madman* Then I would wake up in a cold sweat.”)

Parks turned into centers of collective merrymaking, and Stalin personally
oversaw the religious propaganda there. Every path had posters quoting the
Bolshevik New Testament — the words of God Stalin and God Lenin. Through
the trees glistened the mandatory white statues of holy martyrs: the pioneer
Pavlik Morozov, who had informed on his father, a kulak (or wealthy
peasant), and was then murdered by other kulaks; and party functionary
Sergei Kirov, who was also murdered (allegedly by Trotskyites).

A great number of statues of these martyrs were required and sculptors
worked round the clock. Sometimes their efforts ended in tragic farce. The
sculptor Viktoria Solomonovich, who specialized in Pavlik Morozov, was let
down by a carelessly made skeletal frame. One of her plaster Morozovs
collapsed on a poor woman, who was killed by Pavlik’s plaster bugle.

The collective, the masses, were everywhere, as befits a barracks: The
collective at work and at home (since most apartments were communal). The
collective at rest: All the professions had their own holiday (Day of the
Miner, Day of the Construction Worker, Day of the Metallurgist, etc.), so
that the collectives could have a day to drink and be merry (together, of

At the height of the terror, in 1938, there were carnivals for labor
collectives in Moscow’s Central Park of Culture and Rest. Millions relaxed
insouciantly, happily. This constant massivity, this dissolution of the
individual in the collective, brought about the most valued attribute of
Bolshevik civilization: collective conscience. Personal responsibility died
out and collective responsibility remained.

Woe to those who felt the stirrings of personal conscience. The writer
Arkady Gaidar ended up in a psychiatric ward and described his symptoms to a
friend: “I am tormented by a thought — I’ve lied too much! * Sometimes I
feel close to the truth* sometimes it’s ready to leap from my tongue, but
some voice harshly warns me: Beware! Don’t say it! Or you’ll be lost!” He
left the hospital only when he stopped hearing that call of the truth.

Stalin gave the country a new religion and he gave it czar and god in one
person. Lavrenty Beria, chief of his security apparatus, explained the task
of the film, “The Vow,” to its director during production: “‘The Vow’ must
be an exalted film, where Lenin is the biblical John the Baptist and Stalin
is the Messiah Himself.” Stalin’s name was repeated all day on the radio.

“Stalin this and Stalin that. You can’t go to the kitchen or sit down on the
toilet, or eat lunch without Stalin pursuing you: He got into your guts,
your brain, he filled in all the holes, he ran nipping at your heels, called
into your soul, got under the covers with you, and shadowed memory and
sleep,” wrote a woman in her diary.

At the end of his life, Stalin signed a resolution to create a statue which
could be compared only with the Colossus of Rhodes. Almost 50 meters tall,
it was erected on the Volga-Don canal, built by convicts. One day, the
keeper discovered that birds liked to rest on the head. You ! can imagine
what the new god’s face would look like.

You couldn’t punish birds, but the local authorities, smelling danger, found
a solution: high-tension electricity passed through the giant head. Now the
statue stood surrounded by a carpet of dead birds. Every morning the keeper
buried the little bodies, and the earth, so fertilized, flowered.

This was the symbol of the Bolshevik civilization built by Stalin, the
second Atlantis, which drowned in 1991.

Now is the time of the third civilization. Russia, a sphinx that seemed to
have fallen asleep forever beneath the strict supervision of its autocrats,
woke up not long before the end of the second millennium — and did so
rather peacefully, as never before in its history.

Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin — the two names of the last rulers of
the 20th century — will be side by side in Russian history, despite the
fact that they heartily disliked each other. This is not a paradox, but is
very Russian. As an 18th-century nobleman said: “We Russians don’t need
bread, we devour one another and are sated.”

Gorbachev began the path toward freedom, Moses moving eternally through the
desert. It was a difficult journey. The republics spoke up. Stalin had built
the USSR in an inviolable way, the republics held together by economic
chains. Gigantic collapse was looming.

The center did not want separatism, but the republics did. Young people in
the republics, hot-headed, were ready to die for independence. Civil war
stood on the doorstep of a country filled with nuclear warheads. A world
catastrophe was very near.

The peaceful dissolution of the USSR will be Yeltsin’s greatest contribution
to the history of the new Russia, which is only starting on its path. How
difficult it is to build capitalism in a country where the unrighteousness
of wealth is a beloved popular idea, a country without rule of law for a
millennium, where the concept of “law” successfully substitutes for the
concept of “justice,” and where the bourgeoisie is brilliant at making money
and totally useless at governing.

The sad fact of Russian history is that the bourgeoisie has no experience of
state leadership. How difficult it is to build democracy in a country where
the dream of equality always trumped the dream of freedom. How difficult it
is — not only for the rulers, but, alas, for the people as well — to
reject ruthless autocracy in a country where it has reigned for centuries.

A major reason for Gorbachev’s fall was that he did not understand this. He
tried to become an ordinary politician, a political dancer — step to the
left, skip to the right. But the public, after a millennium of autocracy,
needed yet another czar, albeit in democratic garb. A czar does not dance, a
czar commands. Yeltsin was like that.

If an American president commanded the dollar to stop falling, he would
certainly be deemed mad. But during the default of 1998, outraged by the
ruble’s capricious behavior, Yeltsin commanded it to stop falling. And, for
a period, the ruble froze in fright.

Yeltsin’s tragedy was that he was an autocrat who sincerely tried to be a
democrat. He forced himself to put up with what is most odious for a czar —
freedom of speech, that is, public insults from Communists and other
opposition parties. He knew how to shut them up, of course.

He knew, but did not do it, for he was a democrat, and what would his best
friends — Friend Clinton and Friend Kohl — say! This constant tension, of
knowing what to do but not being able to do it, made him seek solace in the
bottle and destroyed his colossal health. The end of his reign was marked by
chaos and wild corruption.

So once again, the people, as in the days of Ivan the Terrible, wanted a
strict father. Yeltsin’s majesty lay in doing the impossible for a Russian
czar: voluntarily giving up power. Surprising the country, he turned the
reins over to an unknown person. His fantastic sixth sense did not let him
down. He selected a man the country wanted to see.

After a president who made people wonder whether he would be able to get up
from a chair, came a normal, modern and young man. He skied, and spoke
breezily, without notes. He was probably the first Russian leader that
teenage girls got crushes on.

Vladimir Putin has ended the era of Kremlin ancients who elicited sarcasm in
the West. He decisively executes what the majority wants from him: Authority
has been strengthened, stability established, and the concept of “super
power,” without which Russians cannot live, is being returned to Russia.

He deals with the oligarchs in a manner that befits a czar. (As Paul I, son
of Catherine the Great, said: “In Russia an important person is only the one
I am talking to and only as long as I am talking to him.”)

But besides the will of the people there is the will of History, and they do
not always coincide. Does History want a continuation of Yeltsin’s royal
democracy? Or does it demand an understanding of what Alexander II saw much
too late? — that it is dangerous to begin reforms in Russia, but much more
dangerous to stop them.

“Russia! Where are you speeding? Answer me!” the great Gogol once asked,

in vain. In 1916, in a village above the Polar Circle, where it gets to 40
below, lived an exiled prisoner. He was 38, his wife was dead; he belonged
to a pathetic, underground party, with most of its members in prison and the
rest fled abroad. He would spend days at a time lying in bed, face to the

Who would have guessed that just two years later that exiled Georgian,
Joseph Stalin, would be in the Kremlin, ruler of half the world? Who would
have guessed that a middle-aged provincial party functionary, Boris Yeltsin,
appointed to lead the Moscow Communists, would destroy the USSR just

a few years later?

Gogol gave the only truthful answer to the question he asked Russia: “It
does not answer.” -30-
Mr. Radzinsky is the author of “Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar” (Free
Press, 2005). (This essay was translated from the original Russian by
Antonina W. Bouis.)
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Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
Places where things are getting worse such as the weakening of the
democratic, pro-western camp in Ukraine

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: By Gideon Rachman, Columnist
Financial Times, London, United Kingdom, Tuesday, July 18 2006

In a crisis people fall back on familiar instincts. So, as the fighting in
the Middle East escalated, the Americans defended Israel, the French
condemned Israel, the British searched for the middle ground and the United
Nations called for restraint. The Group of Eight in Moscow nonetheless
managed to issue a joint statement. But this facade of unity could soon

The fighting has broken out at a time when Americans and Europeans were
already facing an unusual number of serious and worsening security threats.
The latest – and possibly gravest – crisis will severely test an unheralded
new period of transatlantic co-operation that had been quietly closing the
divisions opened up over Iraq.

On the day the Israelis began to bomb Beirut airport, I met a European Union
diplomat in Brussels. In an effort to lighten the gloom, I asked him if he
could think of a part of the world where western diplomacy was working well.
After a long silence, he said: “Moldova”.

I intend no disrespect to the Moldovans, but this seems a small item to mark
on the positive side of the ledger compared with the other places where
things are getting worse – Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Palestine,
Lebanon. Western diplomats are also worried about the weakening of the
democratic, pro-western camp in Ukraine and a looming crisis in European and
US relations with Turkey.

Even a couple of months ago, things looked a lot better. In April, George W.
Bush, US president, was greeting Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister,
at the White House and proclaiming that Lebanon “can serve as a great
example of what is possible in the broader Middle East”. That same month,
John Reid, then Britain’s defence secretary, visited Helmand province in
Afghanistan and expressed the hope that British troops would be able to
complete their deployment there “without a shot being fired”. Then, at the
end of May, hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis
received a boost, when the US offered to open direct talks with Iran in
exchange for Iran stopping enrichment of uranium.

Just a couple of months later, Lebanon has been plunged into bloody chaos.
In Afghanistan, it is clear that previous declarations of victory over the
Taliban were premature: the British are losing men and having to bring in
reinforcements. In Iran, hopes that the government might accept the nuclear
deal are dwindling away; and the British and the French think that the
Iranians may be six to 12 months away from acquiring the ability to build a
nuclear bomb. This month, North Korea resumed missile tests for the first
time since 1998. Meanwhile, in Iraq the conflict is claiming more than 1,000
lives a month.

Europeans have taken a certain grim pleasure in sticking a “made in
Washington” label on to the Iraq crisis. But take a look at the other items
on the list of crises and it is striking that these are all issues on which
the Americans and Europeans have been working closely together.

In fact, European diplomats have been quietly delighted by the ascendancy
of the State Department since Mr Bush’s re-election and the renewed
American commitment to working with its allies. “The truth about the
second Bush term”, said a senior British diplomat recently and with evident
satisfaction, “is that Condi rules.”

Ironically, some of the first public evidence that the transatlantic
partnership was working again came in Lebanon last year, when the French and
Americans co-operated to get the Syrians out. The Americans and Europeans
have also been pushing a joint position over the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict – promoting the “road-map” to peace and a two-state solution that
Mr Bush committed himself to in 2003. As the fighting escalated in Gaza last
week, Condoleezza Rice’s first instinct was to appeal for both sides to
recommit to the road map – an appeal that sounded as forlorn as any
statement issued by a Brussels bureaucrat.

So what conclusion should be drawn, now that all these splendid examples of
transatlantic co-operation have run into difficulties? The uninspiring truth
is that foreign policy is difficult. Just because military force and US
leadership have run into trouble in Iraq does not mean that diplomacy and
multilateralism are going to succeed elsewhere.

Pre-September 11 2001, Mr Bush was all too aware of this. In his first
presidential election campaign, he called for a “humble” foreign policy that
was realistic about America’s ability to change the world and warned against
the idea that “our military is the answer to every difficult foreign policy

The current array of crises may encourage Mr Bush to relearn that lesson.
But there is also an alternative and powerful interpretation doing the
rounds in Washington. This argues that the problems America is encountering
round the world are precisely the result of the Bush administration’s
renewed willingness to work with its allies.

According to this thinking, weak-kneed Europeans have lured the US down the
path of appeasement in Iran, North Korea and the Middle East. The result is
that America’s enemies have been emboldened.

William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard and one of the
intellectual godfathers of neo-conservatism, argued this weekend that the
fighting in the Middle East was part of a broad-based attack on “liberal,
democratic civilisation” and had been encouraged by western weakness:
“Weakness is provocative . . . The right response is renewed strength – in
supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel
and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran.”

He urged Mr Bush to order an immediate “military strike against Iranian
nuclear facilities” and to fly from Moscow to Jerusalem to demonstrate
solidarity with Israel.

Mr Kristol’s argument is characteristic of the neo-conservative world-view –
both in the seductive ease with which it links different crises and proposes
a simple solution; and in its alarmingly casual attitude to military
escalation. This neo-con combination of “moral clarity”, radicalism and an
appeal to military force carried the day after 9/11.

After America’s experience in Iraq, it seems less likely that Mr Bush will
take his advice from this quarter. But crises can shift attitudes quickly.
If Mr Bush heeds even half the advice he is now getting from the radicals in
Washington, the European-American divisions that were evident in Moscow this
weekend will be just a foretaste.
Gideon Rachman’s column appears every Tuesday. Gideon.Rachman@ft.com.

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