Does anyone wonder what happened to Euromaidan?
In February this year, after Ukraine’s deposed president Victor Yanukovich fled. Yulia Tymoshenko, frequently described in the Western press as “jailed opposition leader” and whose release was a rallying cry of the protesters, spoke before the crowds assembled in Kiev’s Independence Square. Tymoshenko, who in the subsequent election, characterized by low turnout across the South-East, moderately high turn-out in the center and sky-high turn out in Lviv, Ternopol and Ivano-Frankovsk regions, got just under 13% of the total vote*, urged the protesters to remain on Maidan to put pressure on politicians.
More militant types did not. After first flirting with the idea of running for president,** Pravy Sektor leader Dmytro Yarosh, focused on forming privately-financed National Guard troops that the US is slated to train next year. While National Guard was shipped to Donbass to fight the insurgency, others regrouped into urban mobs, like those used in Odessa massacre.
By the middle of summer, the types who stayed on Maidan did so because they had nowhere to go. The newly-elected Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, one of the leaders of the winter’s protests, removed the activists in early August. The occupiers of the barricades resisted some and burnt a few tires, but were easy to evict.
Yet now, barely a month and a half later, Maidan appears to be back. The nationalist faithful, who witnessed the retreat of Ukrainian armed forces on the eastern front, feel betrayed by their talentless generals. Plus, they are frustrated with slow pace of political transformation, mainly lack of action on lustration of their most hated opponents, Communists and Party of Regions. That the revolutionaries are unhappy became clear with two resignations. One was that of Ukraine’s Security Chief and a co-founder of Svoboda (formerly Nationalist-Socialist Party) Andrey Parubiy from the Cabinet, and another — of Tetiana Chornovol, an anti-corruption crusader and a widow of a national guardsman, from the national anti-corruption committee.
On September 17, several hundred protesters, most of them with Svoboda signage,*** burnt tires outside Rada demanding adoption of lustration bill. Kiev Post reported:
Earlier on Sept. 16, Ukrainian MPs failed to pass this legislative initiative, to which the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov said that lawmakers will not leave the session hall until the bill is adopted.
The law was adopted on the 3rd attempt. Russian news agency ITAR-TASS picked up that the bill will not apply to President Petro Poroshenko who, as Turchynov explained, ” is not falling within the ambit of the lustration law because he was elected by people at elections.” Poroshenko comes from Party of Regions stronghold of Odessa and has been on all sides of Ukrainian politics, including a stint in Yanukovich’s government.
“Public art” piece captured above was recently erected in Dnepropetrovsk, a city that in an April Gallup poll showed to have a Russian-leaning majority. The local newspaper cheerfully described the installation as ” a remarkable monument to Lustration in the form of French guillotine with Ukrainian Trident” Here is an ethnic angle: One of the popular Maidan chants was “москоляку на гиляку” or “Moskals (derogatory for Russian) to the gallous”.
On Sptember 17 Pravy Sektor waived the flags of the Nazi-era Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists protesting in front of presidential palace. They protested another recent law which granted autonomy to the separatist-controlled areas in Donetsk and Lugansk regions and amnesty to separatists. Yarosh threatened to march his men back from Donbass to Kiev within 48 hours, but this threat is yet to materialize (link not click-safe).
The Right Sektor’s relationship with its more moderate allies had been a rocky one. In March this year, for instance, they besieged the Ukrainian Parliament demanding revenge for the killing of their buddy Sashko Bilyj, allegedly shot while resisting arrest, but, the gossip has it, could had been assassinated on orders of Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party.
Time is not on Poroshenko’s side. He ran out of resources for the war, his country’s economy is in a tailspin and it is not clear how he plans to keep his compatriots warm in winter. Last week, Poroshenko went to Washington, bringing back a few throws and comforters, but no salo. As conditions on the ground deteriorate, I’m not sure who would be the forces, inside Ukraine, loyal to its current president.
Earlier this month Russia watchers noted the disappearance of references to “Kiev junta” from Kremlin-controlled TV channels, which led to speculations that some sort of deal between Putin and Poroshenko had been worked out. This is not to say that Poroshenko will turn on his people because a pivot towards Russia might be exactly what Ukrainians wanted him to do.
Another interesting Ukrainian poll was released a few days ago. Ukrainians were given names of foreign leaders and asked whether or not they view them positively. A run-away winner, admired by 62% of responders, was Oleksander Lukashenko, the dictator of Russian satrapy of Belarus. It could just be that Ukrainians never wanted a revolutionary pro-Western type as a head of their country. They wanted a triangulater, somebody who can reconcile the East and the West, and who, if he steals, hopefully he wouldn’t steal too much, or would at least do something for them, too.
*Curiously, Tymoshenko’s wiki page is as shy about the disastrous 2014 presidential run as it is defensive of her multiple luxury real estate holdings.
** The winner of the “far right” vote was the dwarfish terrorist Oleh Lyashko of Radical Party who made out with over 8% of the electorate.
*** The protesters weren’t bothered by Svoboda’s own Oleh Tyahnybok’s mansion in a national park near Kiev.