07.10.2006 | Myroslav Marynovych

“You just need a cradle and the babies will come!”


Public stress over the turbulence of the coalition marathon is gradually waning. All rosy illusions have been lost, all possible recriminations hurled. All party cards waiting to be burned are in ashes. The Orange team, as though on a rollercoaster hurtled down so rapidly that most of the Ukrainian public felt giddy just watching. Nearby, in another cabin, the blue and white team, also spinning from the speed, sped merrily upwards.  Even viewers from Europe felt queasy watching their dizzy pirouettes.  It would be hard to find another European state which has staggered the world so much in the last decade.

Yet should we be surprised?  Is it the first time in the history of democracy that a political faction, having won a first round, experiences crushing defeat in the second? Regular alternation of political poles is logical, and in terms of democracy, even desirable. The mechanism for democratic alternation of political elites is only falteringly starting up in Ukraine. However the situation is made specific by the fact that the alternating poles «government – opposition» at the same time oscillates between two civilization vectors – from the pro-Russian (or more accurately, quasi-Soviet) to the pro-European, and back.  Each side, losing, in turn is filled with a sense of disaster, the feeling that what is dying is the accustomed microcosm of a communist paradise never built to the end, or Ukraine altogether. Ukrainian society, therefore, unlike others, cannot simply brush all this aside, allowing politicians to play their democratic games as they please, but must each time mobilize themselves for rescue actions, whether from the post-Soviet criminality, or from the «machinations» of the nationalists.

The problem which the President faced – whether to put forward Viktor Yanukovych’s candidacy, or to dissolve parliament – was bitterly difficult. «It could go this way, it could go that – and the old lady cried and cried»[1]. Yet whatever the politicians say, to determine now which option would have been best is simply not possible. Only time can be judge of this. Whereas at present al of society, as though sitting with a fortune teller are tormenting themselves with the questions «What happened?», «What’s going to happen?» and «What will calm my fears?»

«What happened?»

During the agonized soap opera «The Creation of an Orange coalition» I couldn’t free my mind of one image: in the middle of a military camp, in a clearing, three card players are sitting, engrossed in their game, their faces filled with gambling fervour and immense delight each time one of them manages to suss out his partner’s trump cards. Through the trees one catches glimpses of the as yet unnoticed soldiers of the enemy army already in the camp 

While the Orange card players on their Kyiv clearing tried to suss out each other’s combination until they couldn’t think straight, enemy information troops swarmed unobstructed through the entire territory of Ukraine. Their victory, achieved through the use of propagandist clichés like «the threat from NATO» and «the denigrated status of the Russian language», was absolute, with seemingly not one single information shot fired from the Orange camp.  And this is although even in Lviv book and newspaper ratios show that in Ukraine the Russian language dominates, and every clearheaded person understands that the Party of the Regions and their allies are trying to obtain the right to not know, to not study, and quite simply to ignore the Ukrainian language.  Nonetheless, not one of the Orange politicians has demonstrated to the ordinary Russian-speaking person from the East the justice of what each person’s experience of life tells them: sportsmen who are running the 400 metres around a stadium in different lanes (inner and outer) cannot have the starting and winning posts imposed on one line. The lane which at present needs to be «run» by the Ukrainian language after centuries of persecution is much longer than that assigned the Russian language which has enjoyed a privileged position for centuries. It is obvious that a shared winning post is fair only where the runner in the outer lane is given a staggered start. (It would be interesting to know whether this elementary rule is clear to at least member of the Party of the Regions and Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova[2].

The Orange politicians must also take the blame for allowing the re-interpretation of one of the main rallying cries of Maidan[3]  - «East and West together!»  The uniting of East and West was seen as defence against the rigging of the election results, against the criminalization of the state, reprisals against opponents – Maidan was convinced that the East needed to be rescued from those violating it. The readiness shown by the bloc «Nasha Ukraina» [Our Ukraine»] to form a coalition with a political faction accused of these abuses was seen as shattering fundamental principles. Pro-President politicians had not only lacked the strength to cleanse the East of their criminal elements, they had «handed over» to them all of the East, reconciled with the fact that precisely the Party of the Regions would be its spokesperson – and the latter found it convenient to hide behind the shield of the Maidan rallying cry «East and West together!»

Under such circumstances it would be logical to also renounce one of the other main calls from Maidan: «Bandits to prison!» Guided by temporary political needs, the Orange faction (primarily the President and «Nasha Ukraina») in full view of a shocked nation allowed state criminals to turn into innocent and untouchable political opponents. Today the criminals are not simply protected with their status of parliamentary immunity, but are actually in power.  And the courageous and committed Orange activists of the East are simply ignored and forgotten, and who now in the East will dare to speak out against that force which is so good at protecting its own?

And none of the Orange team wants to take responsibility for the present situation. All of them, beginning with Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Moroz down to the least important party figure, have simply forgotten the word «sorry». We are not speaking of internal party «takeoff plans» where they all undoubtedly said masses of unpleasant things to each other. We mean a public acknowledgement of their guilt before the voters and their attempt to understand.  Only this can ensure catharsis among those remaining in the Orange camp and begin their recovery. It would seem as though the political technologists have imposed a ban on any kind of apology, considering it a step towards political suicide. Only one Orange politician – the journalist and now young State Deputy Andriy Shevchenko – apologized to the voters in the program»Svoboda slova» [«Freedom of Speech»], and as if to shame the above-mentioned professional oracles, his popularity rating among the studio audience sharply rose.

It is quite likely that soon Yushchenko’s decision will be called a fatal mistake however I could physically feel that incredible psychological burden upon the man.  He had to choose between variants, each of which was perhaps fatal.  The courage with which he took this, and the dignity with which he spoke in parliament, having effectively «blurred» the victors’ triumph, once again convinced me that Yushchenko with all his obvious miscalculations is a major figure for Ukraine. Our current President is one of those historical figures who, being in some things weak and ineffectual administrators, truly enter into the Book of their nation’s existence those letters which the people may temporarily protest at, but which are, seeming, those reflecting God’s Will.

«What’s going to happen?»

Since the Verkhovna Rada approved Viktor Yanukovych’s government, the main intrigue of the moment has been how quickly and painfully the Party of the Regions will «throw out» Yushchenko and negate the conditions of the Fifth Universal.  That this is inevitable is not doubted by most of Orange Ukraine. How this intrigue is resolved will effectively determine the historical legitimacy and fatefulness of Viktor Yushchenko’s decision.

The logic of the appointment of the blue-white contingent of the government attests to its being conceived as a government of revanche. The majority of those whom the Prime Minister himself appointed belong to the old Kuchma «clique» which the Orange Revolution swept from power. For them, returning to their offices was the same as for Ludovic XVIII to return to the Trarieux Palace. There are no grounds for saying that in their future actions nothing will be for the good of Ukraine – I can’t say that even about the regime of Kuchma and Medvedchuk. However those people, the communist Hrach is right, were trained back under the Soviet regime, and at best they will build Ukraine according to those post-Soviet models, applied in Russia to create a quasi-democratic, and in actual fact authoritarian, state. It will be based on an economic modal which sooner or later will clash with the freedom of speech we have thanks to Yushchenko and both his governments, and therefore the democratic nature of our society which has thus far differentiated us so favourably from Russia.

How the people put forward by the President will work in Yanukovych’s government is difficult for me to predict, I lack specifically administrative experience. However the question of how to get rid of them will permanently torment the victors. I would like to believe that they won’t chose the most radical way, changing the Constitution in order to turn a parliamentary – presidential republic into a merely parliamentary type.

One may assume that the Party of the Regions will continue to become familiar with the special features of roller coasters which allow, after the giddy ascent, for the government track to tilt downwards. However it is possible that the party will be able, having enjoyed the enjoyable symbolism of revanche to nevertheless bear in mind the experience of Maidan and to not extend to all of Ukraine the methods of administration they have so successfully tried out in Donetsk.

While «Nasha Ukraina», will perhaps manage to fathom what happened that so many of its members could have coolly repeated the words of Maidan’s anti-hero: «You won’t push us out of power!»

However the most vitally important lines will be those through the opposition camp. I was impressed by the undaunted manner in which the recent almost-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced her move to the opposition to the government, and then to the President. However what criteria will she apply in choosing her new team?  Will Baba Paraska[4] continue to form her unfailing background? Personally I see the only chance of success being to implement as soon as possible the successful BYuT [Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko] video clip: «There can be nothing without you».  For that, however, an atmosphere needs to be created in the opposition camp which is favourable for specialists of a new age. The litmus test for me will be the response to the question whether Andriy Shevchenko, already mentioned above, will be able to stick it in Yulia Tymoshenko’s team, and whether Arseny Yatsenyuk and Viacheslav Kyrylenko will be able to join it.

A new victory will be achieved not by Maidan’s rallying cries, but by its values which are those by which the new opposition must be guided. It would be simply fatal to rush this. All fighters in the opposition need to calm down. The more emphatically they talk about «a betrayal of Maidan» and «the crimes of the President», the most clearly they exude an aura around them of defeat. They need to move back into the rear, radically regroup, work out a new strategy and ensure the human and material resources. It would not hurt, as well, to learn from their opponents. It’s unlikely that the present shock experienced by the Orange faction is greater than the prostration the white and blue guard was in after the Maidan victory. They did however recognize their defeat, and having regrouped, set to work.

«What will calm my fears?»

I can’t express how sad I feel watching how the politicians of the Orange camp reduce the essence of Maidan to mere political slogans. The State Deputy from BYuT who attached an Orange flag with a mourning ribbon to the President’s chair does not himself realize how he is distorting the deeper meaning of Maidan. It is no less depressing to listen as ordinary Maidan activists plunge into disillusioned regrets: «We froze then in Kyiv for nothing!»  To the delight of the present victors, the most impassioned supporters are en masse denying Maidan. Yet was the political slogan «Down with Bandryukovych!»[5]  really what encapsulated the whole sense of the Orange Revolution?  Can they really have forgotten the mora stand  «We’re not cattle, we’re not goats»[6]?

True, at first glance, the snowy orange fairytale ended when Yushchenko greeted Yanukovych as Prime Minister. The symbolism of that television image was especially potent. Maidan can not forget that the newly-appointed Prime Minister represents the never expiated nor punished sin of election fraud. People are appalled not because two politicians who were enemies before have shaken hands. In politics that’s normal. The anxiety is aroused by the fact that people understand the irreconcilability of their styles of government.

However human fears are not confined to this. The swift degradation of the Orange regime killed the hope of Maidan that the new regime could radically transform Ukraine. Moroz’s betrayal in the moral sense was no different from that of Taras Chornovil[7] In both cases the driving force was political gain. The stubborn pushing into a leading post of Petro Poroshenko against the will of the majority of the Orange camp (not to mention the white and blue faction) was no different from the stubborn thrusting forward as presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych against the will of the majority of the people. In both these instances the will of the people was disregarded. The Orange politicians forgot the word «sorry» just as it was forgotten by Yanukovych, Kushmaryov and Kivalov. Therefore after the somersault performed by Oleksandr Moroz and the election of Viktor Yanukovych, the difference between the orange and the white and blue has not simply been lost once and for all, something that I personally cannot regret since we really do need to bury any political «zbruch»s [Slavonic pagan idols – translator]. What is much worse is that all that endless alternation of betrayal, manipulation, outbursts of ambition, open political opportunism gives grounds for asserting that our entire political elite is not capable of distinguishing good from evil. I do not regret that I was on Maidan, I am just sorry that its moral impulse proved insufficient.

I once expressed certainty that a spiritual revolution is of a pronouncedly quantum nature. I would illustrate this idea through the process of photosynthesis: each particle of chlorophyll contained in a green leaf receives a quant of light from the Sun and passes the energy received to other cells of the leaf which carry out certain biochemical work. Our particle of chlorophyll is Maidan, which received from God a huge quant of spiritual energy. What happens in society after that is the using of this energy, its distribution, fulfilment of certain social and political work. Here two processes mutually contradictory take place at one time.

We have first the inertia from «Kuchmism» which wants to be revived. In this case we see what in despair we call the frittering away of Maidan’s potential, as graphically seen in recent events. At the same time, however, we have a process of renewal which is perhaps less noticeable, but nonetheless undeniably there. Here the energy of Maidan is assimilated as the beneficial energy of creation. Do we not notice the increase in dignity of Ukrainian citizens, their conscious sense that they «are not cattle and not goats»? Do we not observe how normal we already find freedom of the press, freedom of elections, social activities of different groups, all that we had to wrench from the regime of Leonid Kuchma with such a struggle?  All that is also the energy of Maidan, and it would therefore be a sin before God to say that standing in the snow then was for nothing.

Finally, once again doubting the ability of the Ukrainian people to take care of their own fate, do we notice how it is precisely they, the Ukrainian people, who are a potent passion force which is already for the second time overcoming the stagnation of the Soviet social «material» and is providing the parameters for a new existence?  During the memorable television debates with three representatives from Rukh [Narodny Rukh Ukrainy - The Popular Movement of Ukraine] at the beginning of the nineties Leonid Kravchuk was still threatening «chickens get counted for autumn». Within half a year he had already been forced to adopt all the symbols from Rukh and to become a supporter of independence in order to hold on to power. Before Maidan Viktor Yanukovych was the epitome of an absolutely cynical force which was trying to bring all of society to its knees. Today it is he who, in order to return to power, who is reassuring the anxious that «nobody is going to bring anyone to their knees». 

It is he together with the known separatist Yevhen Kushnaryov who uses the rallying cry of Maidan «East and West together!»  All of that shows that each such outpouring of Ukrainian identity has radically altered Ukraine’s socio-political landscape. Without such outpourings Raisa Bohatyryova would never have sang «Shche ne vmerla Ukraina!» [the Ukrainian National Anthem – translator] with such fervour!

In those freezing days in 2004 the Lord raised an invisible curtain and showed us who we can be. It is no accident that the history of Maidan has recorded the words of one woman as she turned to a priest: «Father, will there be such love among people in Heaven?» The people who stood there were not saints, however they were blessed by what they radiated – faith, hope and love. Non-violent Maidan became a part of humanity’s spiritual treasure as an event which in its significance can be compared with the non-violent resistance of Mahatma Ghandi in India. However such an apotheosis of love carries with it a potential danger since we all know that only one step divides love and hatred. After the spiritual surge forth of non-violence, India plunged into a bloody civil war and finally split up. Who knows, whether it was not the painful decision of Viktor Yushchenko, «immolating» himself in the fire of Orange criticism, that was the act which has saved Ukraine from bloody conflict and a subsequent split?

A little time is needed and then the positive influence of the Orange Revolution will make itself felt both in the West and in the East of Ukraine, just as in the USA where today both the North and the South welcome the abolition of slavery. It will be only historians who recall the division of society into orange and white and blue … and also those foolish politicians the sense of whose political careers rests in confrontation. And we will all recall those who in one way or another helped to protect Ukraine. Since it was not for nothing that one poet of the Shestydesyatnyky [the Sixties activists] wrote: «You just need a cradle, the babies will come!»


About the author:

Myroslav Marynovych, writer and publicist, theologian and human rights activist was one of the founding members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group in 1976 for which he spent 7 years in the Perm political labour camps , and a further 5 years in exile, and the organizer of the Ukrainian Association of Amnesty International.. 

Another related article can be found at:

and more information about Myroslav Marynovych himself at:

First published in Ukrainian in «Krytykf», № 7-8 (105-106), July - August 2006

[1] The author refers to a well-known proverb «Надвоє бабка ворожила: або вмре, або буде жива» literally: the old lady / grandma foresaw two possibilities: either she would die, or she would live on»  [translator’s note]

[2] Nina Karpachova ran for parliament on the candidate list of the Party of the Regions in 2006. Despite repeated calls from human rights organizations well before the elections, she did not resign from her post as Human Rights Ombudsperson  (translator’s note)

[3] maidan literally means «square».  The word is increasingly used to refer to the Orange Revolution, and what those who stood on all the squares in Ukraine were there to assert (translator’s note)

[4] The person who became known to all of Ukraine (and the world) as Baba Paraska is Paraskovia Korolyuk, an elderly lady who both brought food for those on Miaden in Kyiv and stayed during the tent city vigil. (translator’s note)

[5] A play on words, mixing the word for bandit and the name of the then Presidential candidate Yanukovych (translator’s note)

[6] «My ne bydlo, my ne kozly» .  It seems necessary to stay with the literal version, since there was a very specific reason for the word «goat».  This word in prison slang is a derogatory term, which Yanykovych used in a speech to his supporters about those who (also in prison jargon) get in their way. The words became part of the song by Green Jolly (translator’s note)

[7] Taras Chornovil, son of a famous and respected dissident, having been active in the movement «Ukraine without Kuchma» suddenly changed political affiliations, becoming a key spokesperson for Yanukovych in 2004 and State Deputy from the Party of the Regions (translator’s note)

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