12.12.2001 | Roman Romanov, Sevastopol

The time when the lost dreams return


On 26 April a new hope was born in Ukraine. For the first time after the autonomous Ukrainian state was restored a political figure appeared, who is trusted by common citizens, who is supported by the West and is capable with his authority to unite distinct political groups of national-democratic direction. Strange as it is, but the birth of Viktor Yushchenko as a politician and a potential democratic leader began with his dismissal from the post of the Prime Minister. His work at this post made him popular among the population. Unfortunately, the system of relations at the top is such that the popular support did not assist the government head, but, on the contrary, became a reason of his fall. Once Prime-Minister Evhen Marchuk overdid, in President Kuchma’s opinion, his efforts to create his political image and… lost his post. Yet, the dismissal of Viktor Yushchenko looks somewhat otherwise. Yushchenko’s authority and his support by the majority of various oppositional forces did not promise any good to the President, if he risked to dismiss the Yushchenko due to such motives. It was difficult to find other reasons for the dismissal. But the figures of popularity ratings and trust ratings of the President and the Prime Minister led to unambiguous conclusion, once being the motto of Choronovil’s Rukh: ‘Changes are needed’. The Ukrainian political elite with great pleasure got rid of Yushchenko. His wish to change the system that had been supported by his predecessors, that was based not on professional, but on personal relations, which weight much more than laws and morals, had to cause the protest of the authorities. Yushchenko’s attempts to change the system were not radical and they were sometimes unnoticeable. Oles Daniy, a representative of the present anti-Presidential opposition and a well-known participant of the students’ hunger-strike of 1990, once said that he did not see any principal difference between Kuchma and Yushchenko. He even called Viktor Yushchenko ‘a Kuchma in a smoking’. His actions often looked inconsequent: sometimes, using lengthy and incomprehensible phrases, he expressed his disagreement with the actions of the structures directly subordinated to the President, or, on the contrary he declared his support of the President and criticized the opposition. Yet, even after the notorious statement with President Kuchma and speaker Pliushch, few believed that Yushchenko’s position in this document was genuine. The only question was who and how could make him to sigh the document, thus disappointing a great number of his backers. That was a complicated search of admissible compromises, but the boundaries of them are already reached. Yushchenko’s obstinate refusal to make substantial personnel changes in the government marked these boundaries and demonstrated his firm political character.

One may say about Yushchenko that he was a successful Prime Minister. Economic achievements of the government headed by him are undoubted. One year and a half ago it was difficult to believe that any positive changes were possible. The economic growth in Ukraine that began in 2000 and continues now is one of the most dynamic in East Europe.

The trouble with Yushchenko was that he could not afford to be an economist only. The democratic political elite is too weak and cannot provide the political support of economic reforms. That forced Yushchenko to become also a politician, but he failed, since the post of the Prime Minister in modern Ukraine does not permit it. The system based on the full personal devotion to the head of the state is intolerable to independent politicians. It tries to annihilate them. Yushchenko managed to dodge any acute conflict with the power. For this he was just pushed to the roadside, and that was the mildest measure he could expect.

Now much would depend on Yushchenko himself. He got a unique chance to become a leader, who is the embodiment of the new Ukrainian dream for many citizens. He has a great capital for the start. His authority in national and democratic layers is doubtless. Will he be able to find the common language with all his real and potential partners and allies? The time of election is steadily approaching, and the question is whether he will preserve the support, to say nothing about its increase. Yushchenko’s personal and organizational features will determine his future as a politician.

If one assesses Yushchenko’s activities in the economic sphere, in particular, his methods of filling the budget, one gets an impression that the Prime Minister understood that he was very limited in time to create the Ukrainian ‘economic miracle’. His successors will have many troubles, in particular, in the budget sphere: Yushchenko’s government have already used a significant part of the state budget income for several future years. We mean that income that was guaranteed (for example, the licenses for trade in alcoholic drinks and cigarettes).

The dismissal of Yushchenko and his government caused a government crisis. The chances to appoint a new government are not great, taking into account the difficulty of uniting interests of all Yushchenko’s opponents. It is easier to vote against a government than to agree various contradictory interests and elect a Prime Minister. The anti-Yushchenko coalition is situational, it may not be long-living.

The present political elite of Ukraine is rooted in the communist-time nomenclature. It consists of those, who were trained in the Soviet economy, and those, who got accustomed to the conditions and relations of the present day. Since 1991 there was no outstanding political figure in Ukraine not connected with the socialist past. Now we observe the birth of such a politician. This causes the appearance of mass dreams and illusions about the civilized and democratic way of Ukraine. Many people have already begun to idolize Yushchenko. Unfortunately, Ukrainian society has accustomed to live in an illusory world and requires illusions. The success of a politician depends much upon his ability to create positive illusions in citizens’ minds. Up to now any illusions melted fast after the election. Cruel reality remained that did not resemble any recent hopes. Yet, perhaps for the fist time one can speak that the illusions connected with V. Yushchenko have some real grounds confirmed by the experience and achievements in economy.

One year of work under Viktor Yushchenko’s guidance is, in my opinion, a demo-version, that is the work of a program gratis for some time, but the user must pay, if he wants the program to work further. For the Ukrainian society the term of free work of the program ‘Viktor Yushchenko government reforms’ is over. We must pay for the further work. The only opportunity to pay for penniless Ukrainian citizens is to vote at the election. That will be not a charity, but a fast capital investment. The program seems to be profitable, so it is worth of pooling capital!

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