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December 03, 2004

Ukraine: power politics

Ukraine is conventionally seen as part of the Russian sphere of influence, subordinated to an autocratic Russia's imperial interests, and a problem in east–west relations. It is not seen as an independent country in its own right.

Martin Rowson, Ukraine's Election Crisis

The political struggle in Ukraine is more than one about an election it is a geopolitical struggle. The traditional response is these kinds of European views, criticised by Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian.

Standing up against an autocratic client regime is people power, in the form of massive, peaceful protests protesting election fraud. From what I can gather the “orange revolution”, formed from a desire for statehood independent of Russian tutelage, connects back to Solidarity in Poland, autonomous social institutions of civil society and Poland's escape from the old Soviet empire. If this interpretation is on the right lines, then the old dictatorial, communist, political class in Eastern Europe is once again resisting a popular, democratising wave.

The conflict around the push for democracy in the Ukraine continues. Whilst the Supreme Court cosniders the election results, the manoeuvring between the main protagonists in the crisis continued. The forming consensus is that some kind of solution to the election impasse appears to be edging a little closer.

The tense situation is still in a standoff. It is one of dual sovereignty: a corrupt, authoritarian client regime backed by the population in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern provinces and Russia’s political elite; and the opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko backed by millions of ordinary citizens- ethnic Ukrainians, Russian-speaking Ukrainians, ethnic Russians, and other minorities---who want a more democratic, independent Ukraine.

Australian commentary on this issue of Ukrainian democracy can be found over at John Quiggin's place here and here and here.

My judgement is that the best option for the authoritarian regime of the old communist political class of the Kuchma-Yanukovych regime is an ordered withdrawal, under some consensual compromise, which will allow a more liberal democratic, market-oriented and western–oriented Ukraine.

Update:4 Dec.
On Friday the Supreme Court declared the results of Ukraine’s disputed presidential run-off election invalid, and ruled that the run-off should be repeated by Dec. 26. The court said its ruling was final and could not be appealed.

The space for democratic freedom is opening up. More news here, as interpreted from the orange revolutionary perspective.

Is my interpretation a fairytail narrative?

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at December 3, 2004 09:26 AM

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