Who cares about the unity of Ukraine?

Štefan Füle, Member of the European Commission in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, speaking at the 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Štefan Füle, Member of the European Commission in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, speaking at the 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. (EC Audiovisual Services).

During the weekend, the new wave of pro-EU protests in central Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, against the government’s last minute decision to drop out from an agreement with the European Union and instead sign one with Russia, shows the deep division between the pro-western and pro-Moscow parts of the population of this country. For one thing, also yesterday, a pro-government rally was organised in a different square of the capital, albeit attracting smaller attendance. On Sunday afternoon protesters toppled the statue of first Soviet leader Lenin in central Kiev, despite the fact that Ukraine and Russia had a parallel history during the Bolshevik revolution and thereafter. The old divisions of the Ukrainian population between pro and anti-Russian (and consequently pro and anti-western) surfaced again during WWII, with many Ukrainians fighting Russia together with the Nazis.

Coming to the present, divisions have led to a situation where there is no political meeting point between the government of President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. This is a clear sign of the country’s deadend. The opposition’s tenacious demand that the government resigns immediately, even after having just won a motion of censure in the Parliament, and the Yanukovych visit to Sochi to meet the Russian president Vladimir Putin, are two extreme acts underlying the intransigence of the two sides.

Moscow calls

Yanukovych didn’t restrict his provocative acts only to meeting Putin. Under his instruction, yesterday the Ukrainian government officials who were expected to sign a long-awaited agreement to diversify the country’s natural gas supplies, didn’t even show up in the ceremony. According to Brussels’ sources, under this agreement Ukraine could buy natural gas through a pipeline coming from the west, mitigating the country’s complete dependence on the Russian monopoly Gasprom. However, other sources commented that very probably Kremlin has made a better offer for a long-term gas supply agreement, with discounted prices compared to those of other suppliers. Winter in Ukraine is very harsh and Russia seems to have taken full advantage of that.

It’s not only that however. The European Sting writer Suzan A. Kane stressed even since 19 November, one week ahead of Ukraine’s U-turn that “The River Dnieper is so wide that it actually divides Ukraine not only in two distinct geographical areas, but in two widely differing parts. Even the Orthodox church of Ukraine is divided in two, the eastern part belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate and the other part to the Kyiv Patriarchate”. The majority of the inhabitants of the three eastern regions consider Moscow as their closest ally, while it’s quite the opposite for the citizens of the three western provinces.

The West demands

The deep division of the people and their leaderships was more than evident during the weekend. Despite the plea by the President of the European Commission Manuel Barroso “for all sides should to show restraint”, the leader of the opposition party Yulia Tymoshenko asked her fellow citizens to “chase Yanukovych until the day he falls”. The message of Tymoshenko from her jail cell was read to her followers by her daughter, the only reliable medium between leader and people. It came to be that way because Tymoshenko has many times changed her close political allies. In any case, the fact that Tymoshenko is still jailed and also that she demanded that her followers ‘chase’ Yanukovych from the Presidency are the two sides of the same faulty coin.

Other leaders of the opposition like Oleh Tyahnybok are talking about a revolution. At the same time the government is mobilising the politically controlled country’s security forces and the judiciary against imaginary attempts by the opposition to impose a dictatorship.

Imposed corruption?

Last but not least, it might be true that the large crowds of the present anti-government rallies are mobilised more by the unbearable feeling of the average citizen that this government, along with the ones before it, is so desperately corrupt that nothing good can come out of it. So it had better go. This was also the reason why Tymoshenko was voted down some years ago.

All in all, the present paralytic situation in this country has to be attributed to a great extent to the deeply corrupt character of the Ukrainian politicians who run the country after the fall of Communism and the declaration of its independence. In this respect, the two foreign influences, from the West and Russia, must have affected the country very negatively. The fact that the foreign powers do not pick their local ‘protégé’ on the account of honesty but on obedience has chased away the honest Ukrainian politicians who could unite the country. But who in the West or in Moscow cares about the unity of Ukraine? Probably the opposite is true. Today even boxers can claim the leadership of the country, probably by being able to physically impose themselves on their opponents.

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