The Financial Times has published an article called ‘Yushchenko hits at Moscow ahead of poll’ on Monday, 14 of September. I’ve read this story only today, and couldn’t stand but to share my strong disagreement with some points, so categorically stated by the author. So, let me give some comments to this article.
‘Yushchenko hits at Moscow ahead of poll’
By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev
Published: September 14 2009 14:16 Last updated: September 14 2009 14:16
Viktor Yushchenko, the embattled Ukrainian president, complained of Russian meddling in Kiev’s domestic affairs ahead of a high-stakes presidential election, which the pro-western leader is expected to lose to a more Kremlin-friendly candidate.
---To be pro-Western doesn’t mean to be totally anti-Russian. I don’t think that the spoiled relationship with the official Moscow may be called as the advantage of the presidency of Mt. Yushchenko.
In a Financial Times interview, Mr Yushchenko said Moscow had waged a smear campaign against Kiev and could try to manipulate Ukraine’s electorate – claims that were also made in 2004 when Mr Yushchenko was propelled to power against a Kremlin-backed candidate. Voters remain split in an east-west axis between Russian and Ukrainian speakers.
--- It is wrong to state that the Ukrainian electorate is divided to Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers. The author either have never visited East of Ukraine (but I hardly think so), or just wanted to make a witty statement to attract more attention of foreign readers. I would say that there are a lot of Ukrainian speakers in Eastern Ukraine, especially in a countryside: even my own relatives who are living near Donetsk are using Ukrainian as a language of family communication. Yes, there are lot of Russian speakers in the Eastern and Central part of Ukraine – mostly due to the labor migration from other regions of Soviet Union caused by the industrialization growth. But let me assure the respected author of the article that most of the Russian speaking people are feeling themselves as citizens of Ukraine, not servants of Russia as some people want to demonstrate.
The problem of the split of electoral preferences in Ukraine is not the question of language, but sort of a regional solidarity. People from Eastern Ukraine support Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions, first of all, because they think he is going to support their interests, and to make their own regions more prosperous. Such an antagonism to other opponents of Mr. Yanukovych is a simple reaction to their rhetoric, which often sounds unfriendly to the Eastern regions of Ukraine – people from there had been called as thieves, extremists, betrayers, Russian henchmen and so on. The same situation we may see in Western Ukraine, when some politicians are trying to win extra-support, setting Ukrainians against each other.
The issue of Russian interference in Ukraine’s election emerged last month when Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, accused Mr Yushchenko of waging “anti-Russian” policies by seeking membership in the Nato military alliance, and urged the country’s future president to be more friendly.
--- What is a problem with being friendly to your neighbors?
Mr Yushchenko said he expects Russia to stir up separatist sentiment on Ukraine’s Russian-leaning Crimean peninsula. But he ruled out escalation into a military conflict of the kind seen last summer in Georgia, another pro-western ally on post-Soviet turf. Moscow continues to firmly back the independence aspirations of two Georgian breakaway enclaves, one of which, South Ossetia, was at the centre of the war.
Many in Kiev fear a similar scenario in Crimea.“They will try to exploit the ‘Crimean Card’. But, I don’t see a risk that the situation in Georgia would repeat,” said Mr Yushchenko when asked if separatism or military clashes could erupt. “Ukraine is not Georgia,” he said, referring to the country’s larger population, military and geopolitical significance.“Strength today is not in a military position. Employing it would be complete stupidity,” he added.
--- I agree with the statement about the ‘Crimean Card”. Nevertheless, the military scenario in the Crimea is unfortunately possible, but rather in a form of a provoked inside disorder.
Referring to last January’s natural gas stand-off between Kiev and Moscow, which disrupted European supplies, and relentless Russian warnings that recession-battered Ukraine was unable to pay its gas bill, Mr Yushchenko said: “There are a lot of hidden and cynical schemes being played through information airwaves, aimed at discrediting Ukraine” in the eyes of Europe and the world.
Mr Yushchenko said: “We are witnesses of how the politics of totalitarianism is reaching its apogee against the principles of democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Georgia is a sign of how, unfortunately, the Pan-European community did not stand up to defend these fundamental principles. It was a setback,” he said.
--- Nothing to say. Was the EU supposed to dig up the hatchet against Russia?
The Ukrainian president said he hoped soon to meet US President Barack Obama to discuss these and other issues and expressed solidarity with a plea to Western leaders made last week by members of Ukraine’s intelligentsia. In an open letter, politicians, artists and experts had called for western leaders to provide Ukraine with stronger security guarantees against an increasing threat from Russia.
--- ‘to discuss these and other issues’ – it’s rather strange interpretation of the interview with the President of a country.
Mr Yushchenko trails three frontrunners in the election who are actively seeking to harmonise relations with Russia. They include Yulia Tymoshenko, prime minister and erstwhile Orange Revolution partner, and ex-prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, the Moscow-backed candidate in 2004. Mr Yushchenko accused them of pandering to Moscow, selling out Ukrainian interests as “trading cards” to get Russia’s support for their candidacies.
--- Is it bad to seek to harmonize relations with a neighboring super-power? I think that the most preferable way for Ukraine to build its foreign policy and strategy of its implementation is making friends, not enemies. Russia will never disappear from Ukrainian border, and the smartest way is to try to build a system of checks and balances based on the multi-vector policy.