July 19, 2012

Anti-Ukrainian Western Propaganda or Another One Bites the Dust

Have you read Adam Swain's op-ed yet (Kyiv Post, July 15, Western Propaganda War Falsely Frames Ukraine Authoritarian)? It's a must. If you follow Ukraine's political life closely, you are in for some treat. I am sure that each of you will find something dear to your heart in this article. I would like to highlight three main points that caught my attention.

The first point that Swain makes is that there is a propaganda war against "democratic" Ukraine led by the western mass media.  The western mass media dishonestly describes Ukraine as a country lacking democratic norms. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that President Yanukovych wants to establish an autocratic rule of governance. 

Sure, President Yanukovych wants to build a nation with a consolidated democracy and free market economy. And he does everything to achieve these goals. First, he rigs the elections. Second, he throws dozens of opposition leaders in jails where they are deprived of their human rights and beaten up like Mrs. Tymoshenko. Third, his family takes business from opposition businessmen like Avakov, Fel'dman, Burda, Nemirovsky, and many others. And this list can go on. 

None of what President Yanukovych does has something to do with a democratic rule of governance. Instead, he is reversing Ukraine's history of political and economic development when Ukraine went from kin-based society to feudalism and then to capitalism. Ukraine is sliding back to the kinship system of governance where political and economic power is only kin-based. 

The second point that Swain makes is that the criminal case against Mrs. Tymoshenko is not politically motivated because it's legit. If a definition of legitimacy means different things in different countries, her case could be legit. But I doubt it that it's the case. The legitimacy of the Tymoshenko case is the last thing that comes to mind of anyone who has been following it. President Yanukovych used his kinship connections to push the Tymoshenko case through the judicial system. Should we even talk about how the judicial system works in Ukraine? Look, it does not work for regular people. And it cannot work when President of Ukraine has vested his interest in the case.    

Finally, Swain writes that the international pressure from western political leaders on the Tymoshenko case undermines the rule of law and the independence of judiciary in Ukraine. 

To make it a reasonable claim, you need to have the rule of law and independent judiciary in place. None of them exists in Ukraine. Cops are thugs and thugs are cops. Any court room is for sale. Any criminal sentence has its price.

To make democracy work, you need to have at least these democratic values in place: protection of individual rights, respect for the rule of law, independent judiciary, accountability of government, trust in government, and respect for tolerance and pluralism in civil society (ht Larry Diamond). To make capitalism work, you need to have freedom of contracts, property enforced and protected private property rights, constitutional rule of law, and independent judiciary (ht to Francis Fukuyama). So what does Ukraine have now? Nothing. That's why Ukraine's needs more attention from world mass media, international political community, and human rights activists.



  1. I don't understand why politics is evaluated in terms of being more or less Democratic. Is democracy a good thing? The founding fathers of the Us didn't think so.

    When two wolves and a sheep vote on what to eat for dinner, this is also democracy.

    How many decision in your personal life would you like to have decided by a majority vote of your neighbors?

  2. Democracy is much more than a majority-based system of voting. Of course, democracy has flaws. But it's so far the only available system of governance that provides protection of individual rights, constitutional rule of law, government's accountability, and respect for tolerance and pluralism in civil society.