Friday, December 03, 2004

Ukrainian Election Aftermath : How can they predict such a rosie picture?

I was just watching a professor from Rutgers named Motyl speak about the Ukrainian "crisis" ("Crisis" being the CNN word for "we hope there will be shooting").

This guy was so optimistic it was laughable. He says that Yuschenko will win by a landslide, and then the Europeans and the IMF will come to make things so much better (wish I could remember his exact fairy tale words).

Come on bud? You live in Jersey and you are that Optimistic? Take a look at Serbia and the replacing of Milosevic. (And don't give me that bull that we Ukrainians are not like the Serbians - something that all eastern European countries like to claim when in fact these sort of issues are almost freakishly like some photocopied plotline). Serbia is going through the massive every-tooth-a-wisdom-tooth teething pains due to IMF demands and Serbian Nationalistic sidestepping, for example.

Ukraine has what, 50 or 60 million people (10 times Serbia) and a smoky eastern region that is full of Russian wannabees. Landslide? Perhaps, but there will be huge problems. This bailout could ruin the IMF. I would tell them to stay away.

But, alas, the vultures will circle, the USAID jerks will come in with their Chief of Parties and funny named neologistic plans. Huge fees will be made and the eastern worker will go back to his vodka and dream of the days with guaranteed housing and work.

Corruption? It will remain, no one should ever wish it will go away. Better not to expect too much. When I lived in Ukraine there was always the arrogant cops and ubiquitous mafia. I have not been for 5 years but it is reportedly much better... in Kiev and Lvov or (Lviv? I forget which is more politically correct). But these major cities are in the focus and have the pro-west demostrators. Go the heartland, bub.
Today Russian is the language of choice. Many people don't realize its only the western third that really speaks Ukrainian day to day.

They have it very, very tough there. And its a huge place that the BBC and CNN don't go to much. Sure, there is no Rwandan type massacre and no accessible terrorists. But it is a study in human misery, with a very tough people.


Anonymous said...


Thanks. I was wondering what your take on all that was, seeing as you had lived there.

I got a question for you: If the original elections were rigged, how are they going to make sure the next election is fair?

Also, how is the corruption/non-democracy-friendly situation (mobsters, bad cops, petty officials, robber barons, rigged elections etc) in the Ukraine different from Russias? Compare/Contrast if u get time. One of the tings I was specifically thinking of is that oil tycoon Russia put in jail recently. Was he really a crook, or did Putin have it in for him? Are there the same kind of issues in the Ukraine?

Dantravels said...

"Compare and Contrast"? Who are you, my sophmore year poli sci teacher?

I am no smart-ass, psuedo-intellectual liberal that has all the answers. I am just saying it won't be that easy. Ukraine is BIG! Even the OSCE type voting booth monitors could not cover the whole country.

Comparing to Russia : I would only be assuming what its like there since I never lived there (even if you believe that would make me an expert; there are plenty 'experts' here in Prague that get it all wrong). Comments along this line run the risk of saying "Russian and Ukraine are so similar" when someone may say the same of Poland and Czech. Buzz! Wrong answer.

However, when Russian took over the Oil Tycoon's empire you can bet that neither side in this debate were angels. From outside the state taking over a huge company like that could be defended on the grounds of how important this type of industry is to the economy along with the primary tax-avoidance issue. But why so heavy handed; why not with some better methods with due process of law??

Because you are not in Kansas! It is not the USA, our rules don't apply. Constantly the pundits want to apply the rules of the USA or the EU.

A friend of mine once told me that the Russians (sorry, some derogatory comments coming) missed the enlightenment, the reformation and the rennaisance. Ask me how to explain these periods and you get mindless chatter. The point is they went from a monarchy/peasant state to a communist/idustrial mess without much of the mind altering changes that the west went through. How can we possibly talk about human rights or a democratically elected government with an aware electorate, there?

Back to Ukraine. I believe Yuschenko will win but will be dogged in parliament and entrenched by worker strikes in the east. Separation from Mother russia will be fought in the parliament and he will probably be marginalized. (Working on the Serbian example, here). The economic stewardship of the IMF and the leech-like aid agencies will cause painful austerity packages will cause widespread strife. If the Union leaders (here are some crooks!) are smart they will make sure the western press get more of this story.

Got to run and make my wife a latte.