Commentary by the Kharkiv human rights protection group on election-2004


As the Ukrainian media have already noted, the progress of the 2004 Presidential election is characterized by stiff, even savage confrontation between candidates nominated by different political camps, as well as by ultimately law moral standards of conduct manifested by the acting executive power.

We speak, though, not only about the notorious «administrative resource,» undisguised compulsion, pressure, even harassment exercised toward the population, which could hardly be assessed just as election campaign «for» and «against.» The pressure and harassment are not new for the Ukrainian voters. The compulsion was a mass phenomenon in the Soviet times. The dissidents were compulsory fed in mental hospitals, today the Ukrainian population is compulsory «fed» by the election big-boards with V. Yanukovich. It is not difficult to predict that the reaction to the informational compulsion will be similar to that on the nourishing solution compulsory poured into Andrey Sakharov or Petr Grigorenko’s guts. «Love cannot be compelled,» says a Russian proverb, so the authorities even deserve our sympathy. 

What is more important in the present election, though, is a clear ethical confrontation between the authorities and civil society, and that confrontation is of moral and revolutionary nature, rather than of political and opposition one. Once again, the country’s air is being filled with a breath of the Prague’s Spring and long-drawn Velvet Revolution. The masses do not want to go the old ways, while the leaders do want to go the old ways, but can’t do it well. 

In this connection we recollect a social and psychological theory on «logic of conscience» by V. Lefebvre. According to that Western professor, the Soviet establishment adhered to the following rule: «The end justifies the means; everything is moral, what serves the victory of Communism.» At those times, a well-known Stalin’s joke, «How many divisions does the Pope have?» looked quite witty.

In time, though, despite the hundreds of divisions and iron discipline of the Communist ranks, the witty chief was removed from the Communist mausoleum. The emotions of life defeated the totalitarian order, the divisions drifted away, like did F. Engels’s ash over the sea. In contrast, the Holy See has been still in place. And Greenpeace nowadays enjoys its respect only because it uses as explosive its ethical power. In the today’s circumstances, V. Yushchenko uses his ethical power. 

Therefore the confrontation between Yanukovich and Yushchenko is a confrontation between the «apparat» politics and common sense, rather than a confrontation between the authorities and opposition. It is the hypocrisy vs. sincerity; «paradoxality» of Dzhangirov-Korchinskiy-Pikhovshek vs. intellectual honesty; bureaucratic ethos vs. people’s freedom.

In due time, classics of political science V. Pareto and G. Mosca, relying on the vast historical material, have proved the inevitability of degradation of each and every elite. The most striking in their texts is the logical account over the dying of political classes. Morally exhausted elites resort to any means of self-preservation: engage the Armed Forces, hire spies, bribe, and blackmail. But the process of their inner decomposition is unavoidable. After a while, speaking metaphorically, all canvases in palaces of the higher-ups turn into the portrait of Dorian Grey… 

Something similar is happening today with the Ukrainian post-Communist authorities. Contrary to all official, rhetorical and ideological sediments upon the background of our independence, the image of the acting executive power resembles a false icon, «the old paint» refurbished in dull colors. Looking at the motives and real typology of the authorities’ behavior, we recollect Yaruselskiy and N. Chaushesku, rather than L. Walensa and V. Havel. As to the victims, the parallels are fairly close too: our G. Gongadze – their Ya. Palakh and Ye. Popelyushko…

No surprise then that our political elite is losing the tone of healthy life. A series of tactical informational failures experienced by the authorities continues their strategic failures with the «Referendum-2000» and «Constitutional Reform-2004.» We will not guess, whether the «authorities’ united candidate» ends up in failure. The question, whether today’s Ukraine will turn into even more living picture of Tolkien’s Mordor or Orwell’s Animal Farm remains open.

In this sense, though, we can recollect one quite clear-cut claim made by V. Medvedchuk in a recent interview: «Yushchenko will not be a president.» Taking into account the well-known further developments, we are curious: what was it in fact – passionate wish, deep insight, or concrete plan?

10 October 2004

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