The new Ukrainian Government cannot be regarded as Russia oriented

Posted in Europe | 17-Oct-05 | Author: Stanislav Belkovsky

Stanislav Belkovsky, Director of the National Strategy Institute (Moscow, Russia)
Stanislav Belkovsky, Director of the National Strategy Institute (Moscow, Russia)
I would like to dwell upon some aspects of the September political crisis in Ukraine and upon the developments after the Orange revolution. It is especially important since the Russian mass media often assess the situation either skin-deep, or in a wrong way.

The resignation of Yuliya Tymoshenko’s Cabinet was inevitable as I had said in January 2005. It was clear from the very beginning that Viktor Yushchenko and Yuliya Tymoshenko could not work together.

Tymoshenko is a leftist, whereas Yushchenko sticks to right and liberal views. Neither their characters, nor their backgrounds do match. Yushchenko represents the conservative world with its appreciation of traditions, whereas Tymoshenko adheres to the ideology of industrialists, who put efficiency above traditions.

Tymoshenko’s appointment as Prime-Minister was stipulated only by the source of legitimacy rooted in “Maidan”.

As Tymoshenko was the key actor of “Maidan”, the decision to nominate her as a Premier was conditioned by the desire to stress the revolutionary legitimacy of the new authorities.

From this perspective one can consider the first phase of the post-revolutionary transformation to be finished. Yury Yekhanurov, a new Prime-Minister belongs to the technocrats. His Cabinet has nothing to do with “Maidan”. In Tymoshenko’s government there predominated those politicians, who put themselves on record in “Maidan”. The job-related experience didn’t matter.

Such members of the Cabinet as Mykola Tomenko, Yevhen Chervonenko and David Zhvania were not the best choices for the posts they used to hold.

The new Government is the offspring of the intra-elitist compromise. Therefore, one can fix the qualitative change of the source of legitimacy of the new Government.

We can also speak about reconfiguration of the political opposition. If before the Tymoshenko’s Cabinet resignation among the opposition were those who lost the elections of 2004, now the oppositionists are being centered around Yuliya Tymoshenko. As for the ruling coalition, it comprises politicians not only from the West, but from the East and from the South as well.

It means that now there is no divide between the winners and the losers of the presidential election of 2004, between the West and the East. Since now both, the ruling coalition and the opposition would be mixed.

Such a transition may only be profitable for Ukraine. There would be no rivalry between the West and the East in the elections of 2006. There would encounter two mixed coalitions, which would put forward national goals that are vital for all the population.

It’s quit clear that the ruling coalition would represent the interests of political and economic elites.

So, Yekhanurov’s Cabinet, like many other Ukrainian Cabinets, is the Government of large proprietors and exporters. Tymoshenko’s Cabinet was not the Government of exporters; it was populist and oriented towards population.

There are no outstanding politicians in Yekhanurov’s Cabinet. It is quite possible that the new Government is far more functional than that of Tymoshenko.

Correspondingly, the opposition will also be mixed. It will call upon the social justice, review of the privatization results; it will assert that Tymoshenko’s Government has fallen victim to large proprietors.

If nothing extraordinary happens in Ukraine till March 2006, it is possible to forecast the opposition’s great success in the parliamentary elections.

I believe that Tymoshenko is able to rank first in the overall races. But she will not get the absolute majority. However, taking into account that Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions has good chances to rank second, these two forces can form a new coalition Cabinet.

With this in mind one should not overestimate the agreement between Yushchenko and Yanukovych. It is a very short-term deal. Yushchenko enters into commitment to cease persecution of the partners of Yanukovych in exchange for his support to Yekhanurov’s Government. Now that the agreement has been implemented the parties can set new goals. It’s absurd to believe that this alliance might be lasting.

It is also absurd to believe that the Yekhanurov’s Government is Russia oriented. As a matter of fact, the Ukrainian authorities’ political priorities didn’t change. There are no any signs of intention to legalize Russian as a second state language.

The only sign of Yekhanurov’s Cabinet taking kindly to Moscow is its consent to renounce the denationalization of the enterprises that are controlled by the Russian business.

It’s worth mentioning that Yekhanurov’s visit to Moscow was not successful as it is considered to be.

Tymoshenko’s visit to Moscow was successful only to a certain degree. The Russian officials have made it clear that she might be used as a tool to put pressure upon Yushchenko if he evades performing his commitments.

Thereby Russia has given to understand that its relationships with Ukraine will be focused upon property issues rather than the political ones, such as the status of the Russian language and the Black Sea Navy.

Ukraine should not expect grace from Moscow, at least, up to March 2006. During his visit to Russia the new Ukrainian Prime-Minister was set before the key numeric that indicates Russian attitude towards Ukraine – $180 per one thousand cubic meters of gas since the January 1, 2006.

Yushchenko hopes to convince Moscow to raise the price gradually. But Tymoshenko would benefit due to such price explosion since the beginning of the year 2006. Moscow has already given the encouraging signals to the both parties.

This brings up the question of what can possibly prevent implementation of the scenario that guarantees Tymoshenko and Yanukovych’s victory in the elections.

It may be the radical scenario, which is able to put aside the first one. I refer to the design of Yushchenko’s impeachment, which dates back to June 2005. This project used to involve key persons of Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (United), its leader Viktor Medvedchuk, and former President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk.

This design could have never got off the ground if the power configuration had not been changed. It is Tymoshenko who can consolidate the opposition and launch the radical scenario. And there are a number of politicians, who incline her to initiate the impeachment.

In my opinion, there are no reasonable preconditions for power change before the elections. For this reason, in case of an attempt of impeachment, the orchestrators of this scenario would loose. Moreover, it would increase the legitimacy of Yushchenko’s authority.

However, it does not mean that an attempt of coup won’t be made. For the moment the preparation for it is at full speed.

Thus, there are two case scenarios for Ukraine. It can be either a quiet scenario that would bring the victory to the opposition represented by Tymoshenko and Yanukovych or a radical one that would increase ruling coalition’s legitimacy. Though it would hardly lead to the latter’s victory in the parliamentary elections, it would definitely diminish Tymoshenko’s chances. It would bring about the fragmentation of the Parliament and as the result the strengthening of the President.

Stanislav BELKOVSKY, Director of the National Strategy Institute (Moscow, Russia)

The text is based on Stanislav Belkovsky’s address at the press conference: “Political situation in Ukraine: the prospects for a coup”

Published in: Eurasian Home web site