Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Poor Yushchenko

Ann Applebaum published a new op-ed in Washington Post named “Poison and Power In Ukraine”.

One of the first things he told me was that the criminal investigation into his poisoning had stalled. When he first came to office, the Ukrainian chief prosecutor -- still loyal to the previous, post-communist regime -- had dawdled, prevaricated and let the top witness in the case depart for Russia. The president, whose face is still mottled by side effects of the poison, said that Ukrainian authorities had asked the Russians to hand the witness over for questioning. And? He shrugged. "You see how it is," he said.

The dog ate my homework, indeed! Just a year ago Yushchenko was absolutely sure about who poisoned him. Now – you see how it is. We just sit here doing nothing and waiting when Russians (who swear they don’t know a thing about the mysterious witness) hand him over. Such behavior is outright stupid as more and more people begin to believe that his “poisoning” was a result of unsuccessful rejuvenation operation.

Far from omnipotent, he is surrounded by corrupt officials, many of whom are easily won over by a Kremlin awash in oil money, most of whom are still loyal to the previous, pro-Russian, post-communist regime. As president in a parliamentary system, his powers are limited in any case, but in Ukraine, where secret information his police officers intercept is more likely to be sent to Moscow than given to him, they are almost nonexistent.

Kuchma, the author of the book “Ukraine is not Russia” – is pro-Russian?! Big hairy invisible Russian hands everywhere. Ukrainian police officers, awash in Russian oil money, reporting directly to Putin, skipping their poor president on the way. Those pesky dogs eat all of my homeworks, Mrs. Applebaum.

But the truth seems much more straightforward to me. There is Yushchenko, alone in his big office. There is Ukraine, a country of 50 million people. And in between the two are thousands of people -- civil servants, politicians, journalists, business people -- who have deep financial and personal interests in maintaining the corrupt status quo. For Ukraine, the Orange Revolution was the easy part, compared with what lies ahead.

This passage is a good example why Washington Post proudly bears the name of Pravda on Potomac. As Petrovich from inosmi forum pointed out, here we see almost a word-by-word translation of numerous Pravda “op-ed” published in the early 30’s just before the infamous “purification” of the Communist Party. The picture is the same. There is good and hardworking Comrade Stalin, working late at night in his Kremlin office. There are millions of Soviet workers and peasants. And in between the two thousands of people – corrupt civil servants, secret Trotsky admirers, American spies, and unrepentant White Guards officers – who have deep interests in maintaining the corrupt status quo. For the USSR, the Great October Socialist Revolution was the easy part, compared with what lies ahead. What lies ahead, Mrs. Applebaum? How can we get rid of these enemies of the people? Should we tolerate them or should we crush them with our revolutionary implacable fist of steel? Should we be afraid of their nasty conspiracies or should be wipe them clean from the book of history? In the name of freedom, democracy and equality. Amen.

4 comments:

Tim Newman said...

And in between the two are thousands of people -- civil servants, politicians, journalists, business people -- who have deep financial and personal interests in maintaining the corrupt status quo. For Ukraine, the Orange Revolution was the easy part, compared with what lies ahead.

Not sure what your problem with this passage is. Are you saying that there is nobody, or an insignificant number, with an interest in keeping the corrupt status quo?

As for your parallel with the '30s, Applebaum is not suggesting that anyone is killed or removed. But the problem she identifies is there and does exist, and for Ukraine to prosper it needs to be solved. Typically for a journalist, she doesn't offer a credible solution, but to compare this passage to Stalinist propganda is nonsense.

Greg said...

The image that Applebaum is trying to create is that of a lone knight battling the vile imps who answer to their meddling Russian puppeteers, when in fact Yuschenko is born and bred within this system of corrupt bureaucracy that he helped create, and is at least as corrupt, if not more.

This denial of obvious history is what qualifies Appleboum’s piece (and many other W. Post articles about Russia) as Pravda material.

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