Saturday, 22 February 2014


Revolutionary times in Kyiv
The flight of President Viktor Yanukovych (and his government) from Kyiv may bring some momentary satisfaction in many quarters, the resultant power vacuum will, I have no doubt, be rapidly filled by a new Ukrainian government.  These developments may not however bring an end to Ukraine’s crisis as there is a great deal of unfinished business. 

The emergence of the Ukraine and Russia as independent states back in August 1991 was the decisive factor in bringing about the collapse of the much despised former Soviet Union. In Ukraine the demise of the USSR saw the start of a period of political and economic instability which saw politics and big business become deeply entwined and the emergence of supper rich oligarchs (something that also took place in Yeltsin’s Russia). The former dissidents, democrats and the Ukrainian people lost out. Ukraine today has a significant number of mega rich MP’s who have significant business interests (not to mention control of large sections of the country’s media) who have close links with the much hated oligarchs.

Recent and bloody developments in the Maidan (Kyiv’s main square) may have swung the political balance away from the increasingly autocratic pro Russian party that surrounded the possibly soon to be former President Yanukovych. Even as President Yanukovych revealed the terms of the peace deal (signed on Friday) the rats (so to speak) had been jumping ship, unhappy at the prospect of facing some potential consequences for their actions. 

Yanukovych stalwarts were spotted fleeing to Kyiv's Zhulyany airport, where aircraft records indicate that as many as 180 charter flights have been registered since February 19th. On Friday 21st February, a roll call at the parliament session on February 21st revealed that only 131 of the President’s Party of Regions' 204 deputies were in attendance. A flight log, published online, revealed flights to international destinations as well as locations in Ukraine's Russian-speaking south and east. The destinations include Moscow, Frankfurt, Budapest, Istanbul, Kharkhiv, Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk, and Simferopol.

Unfinished business
The recent debacle over the EU deal may turn out to have been the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. The reality is that other more pressing issues like institutionalised corruption, in the courts, the police and state organs, problems with the banking system, secure land tenure and difficulties many ordinary encountered while trying to make al living, run a small business or simply to get through the winter have been feeding growing discontent for years.

All of this, along with two partially successful revolutions and some very public violations of people’s human rights has contributed to this revolution along with unfinished business dating back to the country's Orange Revolution in 2004-05. What happens next may depend on where President Yanukovych has gone and whether or not he plays the Russian card and if that happens much will depend on how the EU and the West reacts. Ukraine needs to be free and the Ukrainian people themselves need to make those decisions not outsiders.

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