November 15, 2010

Life under Yanukovych

I would like to explain why I disagree with the Economist on the local elections in Ukraine (“Life under Yanukovich”, November 6-12, 2010). The Economist writes that President Yanukovych cannot mirror Putin's policy because, "unlike Russia, Ukraine does not have enough resources to carry on without (economic) reform." If there is a resource requirement for a sustainable autocracy, I am not aware of it. The Economist argues that President Yanukovych has to implement economic reforms to remain in the office for the second term. If reforms fail or stall, President Yanukovych will be tempted to hold on to power by repressive means. But it is exactly what is going on in Ukraine now. The local elections show that the Yanukovych administration is the ruthless repressive bureaucratic apparatus. The state prosecutes and interrogates political opponents. Many allies of Mrs. Tymoshenko are arrested or under investigation. The government ruthlessly manipulates election laws and thuggishly rigs the elections. The official results contradict the exit polls for the first time since the Orange Revolution. If local elections happen to avoid falsification, the Yanukovych administration forces the democratically elected mayors or members of city councils to join the ranks of the presidential party, the Party of Regions. The list of repressive means goes on and on.

I agree that the Orange Revolution serves as the reminder of the failed repressive regime of President Kuchma. The Yanukovych administration that mainly consists of the Kuchmists remembers really well those events. But Niyazov’s Turkmenistan, Nazarbaev’s Kazakhstan, Aliev’s Azerbaijan, and Lukashenka’s Belarus tell President Yanukovych that Ukraine can carry it on without the resources of Russia. Is there life under the repressive regime of President Yanukovych? No.

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