October 20, 2012

Sick Leave Voting

I just got off the phone (actually, Skype) with my friends from Ukraine. Of course, we talked about upcoming parliamentary election. Things are getting worse every day. The pro-presidential Party of Regions just pulled another ace out of their bottomless sleeve - the sick-leave voting. Illiberal democracies watch and learn how it's done in Ukraine.

What is the sick-leave voting? All employees of public sector are forced to vote for the Party of Regions. School teachers, university professors, students, army generals, soldiers, police officers, firemen, prison guards, prisoners, doctors, and even their patients are forced to vote for the pro-presidential Party of Regions. Voting in public hospitals is a case in point. Like military base or prison, hospitals fall in a category of separate electoral district in Ukraine. To win elections in the special electoral districts, the Yanukovych administration forces doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees to take a sick leave and check in their own hospital for the upcoming election. Moreover, doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees have to check in at least two friends or patients to their hospital so that all they together can vote for the Party of Regions as one big happy family. Of course, you can refuse to do that for a very tiny cost of losing your job. That's how it's also done in the army, the police force, the schools, and everywhere else in the public sector in Ukraine.  

The Party of Regions is so power hungry that they don't stop at anything. I have already written that all TV cable companies dropped TVi that was the only independent TV channel in Ukraine. TVi was the last bastion of mass media representation that the opposition politicians could count on for the parliamentary elections. The Party of Regions proudly checked the mass media control off their election prep list. I am still amazed or dazed by how political situation has made a 180-degree turn since 2010. Less than two years ago Ukraine was a troublesome emerging democracy. Now Ukraine is a solid consolidating autocracy.

The Party of Regions or the Regionnaires (ht Alexander Motyl) were unstoppable on their way to exterminate any meaningful political opposition. The Party of Regions threw dozens of opposition politicians and businessmen to jails without any proper judicial procedures. Those opposition politicians, businessmen, and journalists who saw "the writing on the wall" fled Ukraine. The political opposition is meaningless now. It takes at least three powerful men to replace a woman. Yatsenyuk (Tymoshenko's replacement), Klitschko (yes, the heavy-weight boxing champ of the world), and former President of Ukraine, Mr. Yushchenko cannot still get their act together while the elections will be next Sunday.

Ukraine has one week left before the nation will completely fall off the political map of world democracies. Most of my friends are just sick of this situation. They are sick to their stomachs because they cannot change anything and because there is no demand for this change from the political opposition. My friends who happen to work in public sector like hospital or school are also sick to their stomachs because they are losing their freedom. They cannot vote for the opposition politician and keep their job at the same time. Neither they can vote for the odious Party of Regions and keep their dignity intact. Human dignity or job - that's a trade-off for many Ukrainians at the upcoming parliamentary elections. If human dignity paid your bills, the choice would be fair.


  1. Ukraine is one of such countries where you should choose hospital carefully. System of medical care not always provides high level services. This is my directory of Ukrainian hospitals where tourists can get appropriate services http://ukraine-vacation-guide.com/dir/hospital/28 I hope, that people who travel to Ukraine will be able to find appropriate services in emergency cases. If you know other good hospitals, add them please to this directory.

  2. It's quite simple. If you have cash in your pocket, you'll get decent medical service. Another piece of advice is to avoid surgeons under 40s. Go for the old school guys.