Sunday, June 15, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Ukraine’s Greatest Challenge – Continuing the Revolution While Defending against Russian Aggression

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 15 – Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has “frozen the development of the Ukrainian revolution,” but it has not eliminated the need for that revolution to go forward both to achieve its long-term goals and to deal with the temporary nature of the alliance between the Maidan and “the ‘patriotic’ part of the Ukrainian oligarchy collapses, Igor Eidman argues.

            According to the Moscow commentator, “the democratic European ideals of the Maidan cannot be realized within the existing framework of the system of Ukrainian politics,” because “the political class in Ukraine (as in Russia) is a hopelessly corrupt oligarchy” (

                That reality has been temporarily obscured by what Eidman says is a “temporary” alliance of the Maidan and patriotic elements of the oligarchy against Russia. But the latter, including the new Ukrainian president, because of their corruption and style of rule are at odds with the interests of the Ukrainian people on most issues.

                “The ‘Saul’ Poroshenko is hardly going to become ‘St. Paul,’” Eidman argues. But the main issue is not even that, he continues.  Only Ukrainians themselves, “idealistically motivated people,” as in the Maidan and again acting on their own and collectively, he says, “will be capable of realizing in politics the ideals of the revolution.”

            At present, the Moscow commentator suggests, “the participants of the Maidan have paradoxically been deprived of political representation.” The “unprivileged segment” of the population “has not yet received anything from the changes” because “real power is in the hands of the same oligarchy.”

            That can be changed “only by the appearance of a new and political political force outside of the bounds of the systemic corrupt politics” of Ukraine now.  Most Ukrainians regardless of where they live hate the corrupt bureaucracy and could come together in “a broad anti-elite, anti-oligarchic, and anti-bureaucratic movement for democratic reforms.”

            A major side benefit of this would be the support such a movement would have in “the so-called ‘separatist’ regions,” where people feel much the same and where they are “beginning to understand that no one in Russia needs them.”

             Such a movement, however appalled its members may be by politics as usual, nonetheless must take part in elections “in order to achieve the realization of their goals.” To mobilize, they must use the Internet, promote direct democracy, and even select candidates via the web. That will allow them to do an end run around the current compromised political class.

            The goals of this movement, Eidman says, must be direct democracy “at all levels,” expanded local self-government, social and ecological protections, and “a struggle against the rule of the financial and bureaucratic oligarchy.”

            Like similar movements elsewhere, such a Ukrainian movement would be directed not so much at the replacement of this or that official but rather at “the radical transformation of dying institutions”  and their replacement with ones that the population will have a better chance to control.

            Better local administration must be a key demand, Eidman insists, because “federalization under Ukrainian conditions would essentially mean feudalization,” in which the constituent elements of any new federation would “inevitably fall under the control of local oligarchs” who would run them for their benefit rather than that of the population.

            The commentator concludes by saying that “only radical democratic reforms and the creation of a new republic free from the rule of the corrupt bureaucracy and oligarchy will save Ukraine. And only the Ukrainians themselves will be able to achieve this,” however hard it may be.

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