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21.09.2005 | Vlad Bilotserkivets

How could one not love you, Kyiv, my city …, or how San Sanych turned orange

   

The building crane near the building “Arsenal-2” with its board promising that this will be the Ukrainian Louvre, the endless talk over what to build on the foundation of the Desyatynna Church , the suspension of the building works on No. 9 Parkova Avenue hardly testify to revolutionary changes in Kyiv. The Kuchma crowd in the form of the personal system of power of O. Omelchenko stands firm and implacable, an island in the stormy sea called "Ukraine". One must give one’s due to the consistence of the city mayor who did say that, after the revolution, aside from the portraits of the new President in the offices of district leaders, nothing would change. Nothing has indeed changed. And here in the first place should be the term "compromise".

Regrettably, the axiom from the times of Ludovic IV that "homage makes the king" has not, as recent events show, lost their relevance in our time. During the old regime political scientists liked to quote Dmytro Tabachnyk’s comment that Kuchma’s last thought was the thought of the visitor who had last been received by the Guarantor of the Constitution. Dmytro Mykhailovych drew attention to this specifically in order to emphasize the influence of the person who yields control over the Guarantor’s office. This is a procedural issue, and involves the influence of the First Assistant to the President. However there is also an intellectual component, and here a major role is played by influential intellectuals acting as interpreters who provide the First Person in the State information as to this or that visitor, and the essence of the issue which he or she wishes to discuss with the President.

Dmytro Tabachnyk is not only a true master of intrigue, but also a rather astute analyst who quite often focuses attention on the real nature of this or that political issue. And here too it would be difficult not to agree with him that, since the Orange Revolution, virtually nothing has changed except the President himself, whereas the old political system has remained unchanged. And as is well-known, a self-sufficient political system works for itself.

We have already described the actions of the city authorities, especially those of O. Omelchenko, during the Orange Revolution, and honestly speaking, it is difficult to read about such actions without a strong tranquillizer. Activists were harassed, beaten up, detained by the police; there was an attempt on the life of the head of the Orange camp, court cases, etc. However, despite all of this, "the Power of the People" did in fact prevail in the capital.

The central and district headquarters work in precise and well-regulated fashion, it was specifically thanks to them that the first four days of the mass demonstration on Maidan (Independence Square) were organized and run, thanks to them that actions were blocked and neutralized from the central and local authorities, and from the main political opponent. The Mayor at that time was either explaining to the community why "Yushchenko wasn’t a real man", or suggesting to Kuchma that he introduce a state of emergency in the capital. He himself only appeared on Maidan after the Revolution had won - on the night before New Year, having taken Azarov with him.

Logically, the next events should have ended with the President thanking the Kyiv headquarters and using their staff potential in order to reform the system of power within the capital. We are talking here of people thanks to whom Kyiv became the cradle of the revolution. The Kyiv field commanders are waiting to meet Viktor Andriyevych in order to share thoughts with him about how to consolidate revolutionary successes in the capital.

There has been talk of such a meeting, but thus far it has always been postponed. The President’s work schedule is already overloaded. His visitors include foreign guests, businesspeople, representatives of the community, here one can even mention representatives of various Cossack associations, who people often label "poteshni" (referring to Peter the Great’s play army), etc. For a meeting with the Kyiv field commanders there never seems to be enough time.

The absurdity of such a situation at first glance is obvious, but only at first glance. A second look can note a fairly clear logic. The logic is found not in the position of the President himself, but in that of his immediate circle. It is precisely here that the full truth of the axiom "homage makes the king" becomes evident. In our opinion, the creators of this logic are precisely those people who "control and interpret the position of the President".

In speaking about the control over and interpretation of the position of the President, we are not suggesting that Yushchenko is some kind of characterless person, a Ukrainian version of “Tsar Ivan Ivanovych” who can be easily manipulated by his political favourites. Viktor Andriyevych is a self-sufficing politician, but even for a self-sufficing politician holding the rank of President, the information he receives plays by no means a small role in his activity. Precisely what to “deliver to the attention of the Guarantor” and how depends on the First Assistant to the President. The latter does not make any attempt to conceal his penchant for behind-the-scene political intrigues.

Those who have had dealings with him comment that he could outmanoeuvre Medvedchuk himself.

Raised in a family of diplomats, he picked up the rules of under-the-table fighting very early. His business experience, joint wheeling and dealing with the Tabachnyk brothers and Oleksandr Omelchenko junior also make themselves felt.

The intellectual acting as interpreter of information for the Present is the Secretary of the Council of National Security and Defence of Ukraine (CNSDU). The main specialist of the country on security, although he has stated that he is a consistent supporter of the President’s stance as regards the separation of politics from business, in fact distances himself from this position. One need only mention the ambitious program of the Kyiv Mankhenet on the Rybalsky Peninsula where the shape of the main high-rise building in some strange fashion resembles the letter “P” . It is easier to talk about showing respect than to actually show it, especially when you want your name to live on through the centuries.

The present Secretary of the CNSDU had good relations with Oleksandr Oleksandrovych before the Orange Revolution, and his relations with him remain good now. Such harmony is important for the former in order to maintain the status quo, for the latter – to ensure the successful functioning of his business plans.

It is specifically because of the above-mentioned politicians, and particularly the efforts of the Secretary of the CNSDU and of the First Assistant to the President, that the Guarantor of the Constitution was presented the version about the heroic and uncompromising part played by Oleksandr Omelchenko in ensuring the victory of the Orange supporters in the capital.

In our opinion, it is specifically due to this that the role and significance of the direct organizers and participants in the revolutionary events in Kyiv have been denigrated. We will acknowledge the talent of the main informants, who have succeeded, almost in the style of Dumas’ novel, to present a version to the President which paints their behind-the-scenes contacts with the family of Omelchenko as being necessary and epoch-making not only for the capital, but for Ukraine itself.

In this way, Omelchenko has raised his own standing in the eyes of the Guarantor and just in case has insured his business plans against unforeseen actions by Kyiv revolutionaries.

It is this then which explains the fact that the visit of the Kyiv field commandeers to the President has been put off and, it would appear, will now not take place.

Such actions by the higher members of the entourage create a rift among Yushchenko’s supporters. Moreover, the point is not just about intrigues, but about ideological differences. This involves first and foremost an understanding of the essence of the revolutionary changes in Ukraine.

I

Some, including as a rule, the business pragmatists, consider that the revolution ended with the achievement of power.

Revolution in their understanding is purely a change in the political regime, the replacement in power of one political-business formation with another. The supporters of such an approach recognize appeals to the wider population as well as the latter’s participation in events only at critical moments of political confrontation. In their perception, the people provide a kind of political screen behind which a struggle between factions of the elite is played out. They consider the main levels in politics to be deals and behind-the-scene negotiations between these elite groups.

Others – politicians and State supporters – believe that gaining power is purely the prerequisite task, the beginning of revolutionary change to the entire system of power. In their opinion, gaining power is only the beginning of the revolution. Within this framework, the people are assigned to play a major role and to be active participants in events.

It would seem that in the Orange camp, the first trend is dominant. Its supporters feel that such an approach is calmer, less fraught with problems and, most importantly, safer as regards the business structures to which they are linked.

A position like this is highly explosive. After the revolutionary events, the level of political awareness among the Ukrainian population is fairly high, with accordingly serious hopes and expectations not only as regards an improvement in the standard of living, but as regards their direct participation in the building of the country.

It would be impossible today to return people to a state of political stupor. The human factor will now permanently need to be taken into consideration. Participation of the wider population creates the opportunity to achieve a deep and fundamental restructuring of the entire system of power in the country. This path is more difficult, but also dynamic and creative.

The first path is traditional, and would sooner or later lead to a restoration of the Kuchma model of political regime. Since supporters of this model are frightened of participation of the wider layers of society, they effectively remove one of the conditions for the Orange victory. In this way their actions are, in essence, counter-revolutionary. They are, furthermore, dangerous. Certain politicians obviously have problems with their knowledge of our historic past. And they need to know that the incomplete nature of the February Revolution in 1917 ended in the October coup.

The other path is progressive. It is based on the potential for initiative of the people, on the development of a civic society, on overcoming corruption and a feudal-oligarch-based form of capitalism.

Is a compromise between these two approaches possible? Certainly, but only after a separation has been achieved between business and politics. If this does not take place, and the first trend continues to dominate, the rift between those who took part in Maidan will widen, and a new, real and not purely decorative opposition will emerge from within the Orange milieu, which will be truly orange in the understanding of those ideas which V. Yushchenko espoused. The activity of this opposition will lead to a new Maidan.

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