Saturday, 22 March 2014


Sleepless nights in Minsk?
The real message of the Ukrainian revolution (and Russia’s ongoing attempt to annex the Crimea) despite the best efforts of the Kremlin and some of the energy compromised Middle Europeans to muddy the waters, remains crystal clear. Putting aside the minutiae of Ukrainian politics recent events in Ukraine have been shown those Russians and Belarusians who are bitterly opposed to the corrupt self-serving oligarchies that run Ukraine’s near neighbours what is possible.  It would be nice to think that events in Kyiv have caused more than a few sleepless nights amongst the oligarchic political elite in both Moscow and Minsk. People in Kyiv united to remove Viktor Yanukovych, who contrary to the Kremlin’s spin, appears to have had been caught bang to rights with both hands well and truly in the till. The interesting thing is what can work in Kyiv (admittedly at a price) can work equally successfully in Moscow, Minsk or elsewhere, this is something that even a hastily activated (but perhaps long planned) crisis in the Crimea cannot hide.

After the revolution comes austerity?
The knowledge, that at some point in the future they may face the consequences for their actions (not to mention consequences for helping themselves to former state assets) may lead to hopefully more than a few sleepless nights. The problem for Ukraine, despite the revolution and the Russian occupation of the Crimea may only just be beginning. Now the immediate Crimean crisis is grim enough, but faced by an end to relatively easy credit, cheap energy supplies (at least on Russian terms)  and the consequences of having the state coffers plundered by Yanukovych (and his supporters) there is now a serious fiscal crisis. The EU, the USA and the World Bank have offered to help out financially, but, this help will come with a hefty price tag. The austerity (and reconstruction) package will bring in some eye watering cuts to pensions, government services and subsidized fuel prices, etc. Beyond the immediate eye watering ouch, the austerity package is something that could doom any future democratically elected Ukrainian government at future elections. 

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