Ukraine’s new political order not accepted in Crimea

European Parliament. Plenary session in Strasbourg. Opening session of 7th Parliamentary Term with a ‘Minute of Silence’, in memory of the victims of police violence in Kiev’s Independence Square. (EP Audiovisual Services, 24/2/2014).

European Parliament. Plenary session in Strasbourg. Opening of 7th Parliamentary Term with a ‘Minute of Silence’, in memory of the victims of police violence in Kiev’s Independence Square. (EP Audiovisual Services, 24/2/2014).

With the blessed by the West Julia Tymoshenko’s men in control of Kiev’s political scenery, and Russian army units or paramilitary units of Crimean Russians in control of the Black Sea southern peninsula, the Ukrainian division seems to consolidate. The EU and the US have practically recognized the new political order which is now established in Kiev by the protestors after chasing away Victor Yanukovych, the until then lawful leader of the country. The Parliament played a crucial role in all that having validated everything. Within one week the majority of the MPs, first approved all the Yanukovych harsh measures against the protestors and then voted him out of office.

All Tymoshenko’s men

Oleksander Turchynov, interim president, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, interim prime minister, Arsen Avakov, interim interior minister, Andriy Parubiy, acting chairman of the National Security Council all of them are Tymoshenko’s men, members of her Fatherland party. All of them were briefly ordained to their offices by the Maidan, in the name of the new ‘revolutionary order’. Undoubtedly, this is an unseen before transition of political power in Europe. Even the fall of communism in those countries was realized in the ballot boxes.

However, all political order in Ukraine as it was secured during the last ten years by the Parliament, the government, the Presidency and the rest of the constitutional institutions, was in reality an illusion. The country was governed by ‘political gangs’ which also controlled the economy. During the last few years, the Yanukovych ‘family’ after having dominated the political scenery, ‘bought-out’ one after the other almost all the oligarchs that the previous Yushchenko –Tymoshenco regime had created. Those who survived, capitulated to the Yanukovych ‘family’ in the standard mafia way. In a short time, the son of Yanukovych, Oleksandr, emerged as a big businessman sweeping more than half of government contracts. It’s not only the state businesses though, that the Ukrainian government controlled. The political authorities, in a thousand ways, can intervene and set the terms of almost every important economic activity.

Russia’s reaction

Coming back to the last 24 hours’ developments, Russia is obviously playing a hard game in Crimea. Armed units of unidentified men occupied on Thursday the Regional Parliament and the administrative center in Crimea and raised the Russian flag. In the early hours of today, other army units not baring their insignia occupied the two major airports of Crimea in Sevastopol and Simferopol. A kind of spokesman for those armed units said that they are all volunteers, interested to maintain order and identified himself and the men as belonging to the People’s Militia of Crimea. Obviously, the airports are taken by Russia or Crimean Russians organized by Moscow, to block any arrivals from Kiev. Going to Crimea from the capital by car may be a high risk operation, for everyone who could engage in such a trip.

In the meantime, the Crimean Parliament was allowed to convene by the men who occupy the building. Of course this was not a favour but a well-organized operation, because the Parliament took just one decision, to hold a referendum for more administrative autonomy for the Peninsula. In 1954 Crimea was transferred from Russia to the then sister Soviet Republic of Ukraine as a gift, during the Nikita Khrushchev reign.

Moscow’s arguments

As things appear now, Russia has taken action to confirm two or three things. Firstly, that Crimea is out of the reach of the new Kiev rulers and there is no point in going into any kind of negotiations on that. The new Kiev authorities and the West have to understand that well. Secondly Moscow, by mobilizing its armies around the rest of Ukraine tells everybody that Russia is really next door while the West is very far away.

Given all that, Russia has also clarified that no economic package to support Ukraine from bankruptcy can be organized without Moscow having an active role in it. Be it under the International Monetary Fund, the US or the European Union, any help to support Ukraine has to have a large Russian content. Moscow is the largest creditor to Kiev with an exposure of $80 billion a reality that cannot be overlooked by the West. On top of that, the very function of Ukraine’s economy and its survival in the harsh winter conditions depend on supplies of natural gas pumped in by the Russian monopoly Gazprom.

All in all, the victory of the protestors backed by the West, having reversed the Yanukovych’s choice to sign an economic pact with Russia and not with the European Union would not be the end of the Ukrainian story.

 

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