October 4, 2014

You Can't Teach Old Dog New Tricks

In three weeks Ukrainians will elect new members of the parliament. In absence of lustration reform these elections are probably the only short-term solution to the inner political issues related to the Ukraine crisis. Of course, President Poroshenko has promised to sign the lustration bill into the law this or next week. And he is correct that the lustration bill needs a number of significant revisions. The bill on the special status of Donbass region, including the separatist-controlled area, was also poorly written. Nonetheless, President Poroshenko signed it into the law.

So the Ukrainian politics needs a significant overhaul. Since it will not come from the executive branch of power via the lustration reform, it can be done only through the parliamentary elections. Without any doubt, the lustration is the best option because it puts under scrutiny all branches of power: judicial, legislative, and executive. The parliament elections are the second-best option if the elections are democratic. Can these elections be democratic? Not in the remaining three weeks.

I can't talk about every part of Ukraine. But I can tell you what's happening in Kharkiv where I am from. Kharkiv is the second largest city of Ukraine. It's about a six-hour drive from the separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Is there any ethnic or linguistic divide in Kharkiv? No. Everyone is at least bilingual. Kharkivians speak both Ukrainian and Russian fluently. In general, Kharkiv is racially and ethnically diverse urban center of Ukraine.  Enough talking about the demographics. Let's talk about politics.

The current campaign is not democratic. The ruling elite blocks other candidates from public gatherings. Officially, Kharkiv is divided in several parliamentary districts. Unofficially, each district is divided in at least several areas of influence. Since Kharkiv has a long history of being the educational hub of Ukraine, the informal demarcation of constituency is campus-based. The city hall backs a candidate who controls an area around the law school. So you can't even give out your campaign ads there. By the way, the Kharkiv Law School is quite famous. The Ukrainian constitution was written there. While you can still campaign near some campuses, you can't meet and greet college students indoors. Since all colleges are public, the city hall decides who gets to speak to students or not. The city hall restricts access to other public buildings, including factories, hospitals, and army bases. Unfortunately, the EuroMaidan has come and gone. But you can't teach old dog new tricks.   


  1. He has arisen! I thought he went to fight in
    Eastern Ukraine?
    I guess that once one attains academic degrees
    he no longer wishes to communicate to less

  2. Ah! a posting at last! A croaking sound rather than a croaking economist. How about some productivity in the comments? Afraid of FSB?