14:39, Mikalai Khalezin — Opinion
The situation is unique: the European Union refuses to help people who fight for the idea of European integration.
Maidan stands. It is rising high, despite all pessimistic forecasts, skeptical remarks of opponents, apathy of most of the Ukrainians. I should probably spit over my shoulder or knock on the wood not to chase away future victory, but I won’t. Maidan will prevail without these virtual prejudices. But I’m sure that Yanukivoch is the one who should be knocking in his own forehead, for he has spit on his nation.
Maidan is teaching everyone a lesson. This is a lesson about the struggle between cynical powers and those who protest against injustice. Intelligent people should be able to use this lesson wisely.
Maidan has no political leaders; neither Yatseniuk, nor Tiagnibok, not even Klichko is a leader. Their authority is minimal; their position vague, their alliance is not even slightly as powerful as the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko alliance in 2005. Many people crave for bright leaders, they say that the lack of a leader is bad, but as a matter of fact there are more pluses than minuses in this situation. Or to be more precise, in the near future, after Yanukovich the positive side of this situation will become Ukraine’s advantage.
Maidan gives birth to new leaders. Every day new people join in not only in Kyiv, but all over Ukraine. These are the new leaders who have demonstrated excellent organizational skills. You will not see them on TV in Brioni suits delivering bogus messages; they are out there, in the fight, under extreme circumstances that make it very difficult to show one’s personality. It is easy to establish a party with money kindly given by a local oligarch who has shaken off shareholders from a confectionary factory. But it is not so easy to organize a self-defense campaign, food supply, medical aid, coordinated work of all units under the pressure of well-trained fully-armed thugs.
Maidan unites. Today the Ukrainian revolution is resonating in the entire world. It creates a new crucial world-wide platform of communication with those who support Maidan, those who are not indifferent to Ukraine and who are ready to do more. And here, it is very important that the Ukrainians who have organized their forces for the street fight will be able to organize their forces for thorough and responsible assignment: to keep contacts with the outer world, that are so vital for the country’s future.
When eurosceptics talk about a crisis in the EU their diagnose is correct, but in most cases their reasons are false. Europe has learnt to cooperate but it still hasn’t learned to co-exist.
The European decision-making mechanism is amorphous, ineffective and vicious. If one of the EU countries votes against a proposal, there cannot be a coalition, which may seem perfectly reasonable. But, for example, during the past years Belarus has often witnessed selfish indecent behavior of certain countries. Lithuania, Latvia and Italy cynically refused to press Lukashenka for the sake of their economic and political concerns. Slovenia acted in a most appalling way. Its leadership admitted that it had sabotaged the voting on the Belarusian issue because Lukashenka had let them build a hotel, a deal worth EURO 150 mln.
Today Lithuanian President Dalia Gribauskaite “expresses concern” with the situation in Ukraine and offers those who have been wounded in Kyiv medical treatment in Lithuania. A commendable initiative that oddly enough comes from the very president who had been so involved in transit business with Lukashenka that she ignored political murders in Belarus. She simply had to prioritize the impressive volumes of the trade with Belarus and good relations with the country’s “Belarusian friends”, Gribauskaite explained.
Today Ukrainians are masters of their fate. They have to count only on their own strength, and doing so they avoid the mistakes of the Belarusian opposition who spent years waiting for the EU to help them. Today this is the most effective standpoint because Europe still hasn’t got a recipe for a fight against authoritarianism. When Belarus was “Europe’s last dictatorship”, the EU could solve the problem in no time with simple sanctions. The continent would be clean from the dictatorship. But during the 20 years of Lukashenka’s rule the EU hasn’t done anything like that. Now the EU leadership has a three-headed beast as a neighbor. And the beast may as well burn Europe with its fire burp by pushing thousands of refugees to its borders and poisoning its economy with numerous corruption schemes.
Could the EU prevent bloodshed on Kyiv’s streets? Of course it could. Ukrainian deputies and their oligarch-supervisors keep most of their assets in Europe. They obviously don’t consider Ukraine with its poor possibilities for a full life or Russia traditionally hostile to Ukrainian money as proper countries for an investment. Even Rinat Akhmetov, recently Yanukovich’s main “moneybag”, is a UK resident and owner of London’s most luxurious penthouse. Today Akhmetov’s control over the Ukrainian president is not as strong as it used to be. Yanukovich has already signed off as many assets as possible to his “family” members. But Akhmetov’s influence on a part of the Rada’s ruling fraction is obvious. In the meantime, the EU, who possesses a tool of economic impact on Akhmetov, Kliuyev and other oligarchs, lacks political will to use it.
It was clear already during the Vilnius summit that Yanukovich would lie and that there would be no agreement with the EU. Europe failed to guarantee that Yanukovich would get the funds needed to mend holes in the Ukrainian budget made by his thievish officials and their patrons from the presidential administration. Already back then the EU should have taken a firm and clear position, without trivial “concerns”. It was clear long ago that it is impossible to communicate with persons ruling in the post-soviet Slavic triumvirate with bare diplomatic notes.
All three members of the alliance of “KGBist, Kolkhoznik and Bandit”TM hate each other - and yet at the same time they use each other very effectively because they realize that under certain conditions the end of one triumvirate member will lead to the end of the other two. Today, Putin and Lukashenka are very happy to see what their colleague is doing. Compared to the street shootings orchestrated by Yanukovich, the other two satraps almost seem like pure angels. But let’s leave KGBistTM and KolkhoznikTM to their gladness; they still have a common body with Bandit’sTM.
Had the EU leadership done its history homework long ago it would be easier to fight back on the dragon. The EU should have recalled mechanisms of resistance to the communism during the martial law in Poland, the lessons learned from Hitler’s military successes in the beginning of the WW2, the cooperation of allies that lead to victories.
The present situation is unprecedented: the EU refuses to notice and help people who under the bullets fight for the idea of European integration. And today it is obvious that it wasn’t just five Ukrainians that the officers controlled by Yanukovich have shut dead; it was entire Europe. So much pathos in this sentence, one could say, but it is the time of pathos in Ukraine. Otherwise it won’t survive.
Russian media, who in 1991, after singing anthems to Yeltsin climbing a tank, announced the “coming of democracy to Russia”, today call Ukrainians standing at Maidan and fighting for their freedom “extremists”, “members of nationalistic groups”, “Nazis” and “terrorists”. Each report contains secret information “obtained” by journalists that proves that the USA funds Maidan.
The defenders of Maidan would probably be glad to get some help from the US, but for those who know a few things about politics such reports from the Russian media look like a note from a mental hospital cast over a fence.
It is enough to check the world map to understand that the “global policeman” – the function that the US took on by itself - is dead. Today nobody can help victims of dictators besides the victims themselves. And John Kerry’s Department of State that lacks any clear doctrine just proves this fact.
In Syria, where dozens of thousands have been murdered and this number is rising, the entire region has spent many months in critical tension. Once in a while leading countries express their “concern”, while people are still dying. And there is no “global policeman” who could send troops and stop the war. Initially this function was assigned to the UN Security Council, but this structure proved its incompetence in 1994, when during the genocide in Rwanda members of the Council spent several days “working with papers”, and thus postponed sending troops of Blue Berets which resulted in mass murder of almost 250 thousand tutsi.
There is no point in comparing the situations in Ukraine and Rwanda, but today Ukraine’s example demonstrates how helpless international political institutions are. Not a single one of them can influence the starting conflict. Today the Ukrainians only have solidarity of common people all over the world, but this is basically moral support that can keep the desperate people of Maidan going for some time.
Today the protestors need three things: to get more cities join the protest, to encourage a part of officials and military to take Maidan’s side, and to feel international solidarity. These three things would definitely boost the process.
The structure of the power built by Yanukovich will collapse because this structure is standing on feet of clay. It rests on only one unstable foundation: the security agencies loyal to the powers while they get funds and guaranteed wellbeing for their families. That is why it is so crucial that the EU and US introduce target sanctions against deputies, officials and security agencies. The sanctions may only concern visa regime to being with. Ukrainian officials who are frequent travelers to Europe and the US are not ready even for this local half-measure.
History shows that between two decent scenarios dictators always choose the third that never leads to anything good for them. No matter how long Viktor Yanukovich procrastinates, hoping that the solution will appear by itself, this tactic is meaningless. The pregnant woman will bear, and the Ukrainian situation will see a logic solution. In an ideal world it will not lead to more bloodshed. But Viktor Yanukovich, Nikolay Azarov, each Ukrainian deputy must realize that this blood is on their hands. This blood is a consequence of their will, orders and laws. Only when they realize this fact the violence can be stopped and the consequences of this crisis can be softened.
It is tough to make forecasts. Some months ago even the most reckless person couldn’t predict the mere fact of Maidan – I’m not even talking about the seizure of the buildings of district administration in Rovno and Sumy. But it is fairly easy to make one certain forecast, and it will definitely come true. Ukraine will never be what it was before Maidan.
Mikalai Khalezin for charter97.org