Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Yush* guy

In the course of reading up on the situation in the Ukraine, I came upon this post at Le Sabot Post-Moderne (a blog from Kiev):

Reading through my comments, I'm seeing that the situation really isn't clear to some in the West. Discounting the reflexively silly Bush-haters, there are some normal people who are viewing this simply through the lens of election corruption. That's only the surface.

You have to understand the situation in Ukraine. The country is run by a series of oligarchic clans that actually found their beginnings in the Soviet Union, and then grew fabulously rich during the early days of "privatization".

Compare the situation to Russia, where an authoritarian Putin faced off against corrupt oligarchs. In Ukraine, authoritarianism and oligarchy are fused. Yanukovych isn't just another unscrupulous candidate, he's the main man of Akhmetov -- the duke of Donetsk and the richest man in Ukraine. The current president, Kuchma, is the head of a different clan, Dnepropetrovsk. The presidential administrator is Medvedchuk, who happens to run the Kiev-based Medvedchuk-Surkis clan. He also owns the two biggest Ukrainian TV stations, which is awfully convenient.

While there is jockeying for control among these clans, the overall effect is for them to sustain one another in power. They all depend on the same system for survival, and actively collaborate to keep it in place.

A good example of the clan system in action was the recent privatization of the Kryvorizhstal factory. Western firms offered 2.1 billion dollars. It was sold to the presidents son-in-law for 800 million. His son-in-law is Pinchuk, the head of the Pinchuk-Derkach clan.

Do you start to see how life works here? This isn't about a few stolen votes. It's about an entire system of fine control over the political, social and economic life of the people. Economics and politics are incestuously fused here in a way that is difficult to imagine for those in the West.
Yes, indeed, it is hard for this blogger to fathom the incestuous fusing of economics and politics. A system of nepotism that results in unfair competition in awarding recently privatized contracts?! Collusion to maintain the power status quo?! Over our heads to be sure.

Then there was this comment on the thread:

I think in the West, we are missing a frame of reference here. I had to look up the woory [sic] oligarchy in the dictionary just to make sure it meant what I think it meant. The situation is Russia is totally alien and I think we have no idea what that is, so it doesn't make a good comparison. Now I have to go look up authoritarianism. Such strange concepts in government.

But now I understand. You're saying that power and wealth is controlled within a small, elite, inbred group. The good old boy's network, as it were. Although there are actually various clans of good old boys.

So, it isn't just about election fraud. That's almost a given. It is about an entire system that is being tipped in the balance of a few small elite groups.

The Yush* guy was some sort of democratic like candidate. Or at least, one less well connected, we are to understand?...
God will punish me I am sure but I couldn't stop myself from responding that if she needed to look up the word "oligarchy" or "authoritarianism" it wasn't because she is a westerner, it was because she wasn't very well educated. (Though I did encourage her to keep learning.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to draw spurious connections. It just was one of those moments in blogland that made me go "hmmm." But then, I am a reflexively silly Bush-hater, so take it for what it's worth.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, a pre-emptive strike and declaration of war against a man that your daddy personally put into power years prior is very different than an "evil" clan system I suppose. At least Daddy Bush hasn't been using his sons power in office to make billions of dollars by doing business with the House of Saud? Oh wait, that happened. But at least it could be worse; a son of that clan they are doing business with, the House of Saud, could have had people fly planes into buildings with thousands of people in them...oh wait! That happened too huh? Well at least they didn't turn it into a religous crusade! Okay, nevermind.

I guess them reflexively silly Yanukovych-haters just wouldn't understand what it's like to do it all in the name of Democracy that's all. The devil you don't know is better than the devil you...or is it the other way around? Time will tell.

Gordon said...

Russian (or Ukrainian) politics are kinda like Chinese opera: You know something's happening, but you're not sure exactly what.

Travis (♀) said...

Soap opera indeed. I don't pretend to understand the situation in the Ukraine well. I am still educating myself about it. And truly I really am not trying to say the US is the Ukraine or is like the Ukraine...only that the post was striking to me in the obvious similarities it laid out to prove the difference. One thing I have learned in the past few days from reading some of the Kiev blogs is that it is tough for me to see eye-to-eye with a Bush supporter whatever country he is from and regardless of the good cause he may be protesting. Sigh.

caroline said...

That little shiznit had something to say about both your and eponymous's comments:


The fact that you're trying to conflate the systems in the United States and Ukraine shows what a truly small world you inhabit. As for the condescending attitude, I think I can be forgiven for considering the source. Anyone who thinks the American system resembles the naked thuggery of the Ukrainian system is a freak.
Posted by Discoshaman at novembre 25, 2004 01:06 PM


All- I've taken the rare step of deleting epynonymous's comments. Our focus here is the Ukrainian people's fight for democracy, and I'm not going to have that diverted by some embittered Leftist wanting to rehash the last American election. My blog is not a billboard for your political grudges. If any Leftists wish to weep over their own election defeats, I suggest the ample bosom of

I'm happy for anyone of any politcal persuasion to be here. Just don't hijack the threads.
Posted by Discoshaman at novembre 26, 2004 05:28 AM ]

from Caroline, the other eponymous author

Travis (♀) said...

Don't worry Caroline. He deleted Epynonymous' comments, not Eponymous' (oops, there's my condescending attitude again!).

You know I've been trying to come up with a tag line/descriptor for my blog. "Reflexively silly Bush hater" is pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Well, I just thought he couldn't spell such a big word! :P He has this "we're special and nothing you say can change that" attitude that's more than a little sickening.