22.05.2000 | E.Zakharov, Kharkiv

‘Unruly debauchery of democracy’


Newsman: I hope you have voted for the future?

Man leaving the voting station: I have voted for yesterday.

N.: But you have made another choice!

M.: Certainly, I could vote for the day before yesterday.

From an interview near the voting station, 14 November 1999 about 16:00

When Prime-Minister Pustovoytenko detained directors of enterprises in the palace ‘Ukraine’ for their debts to the pension fund, I discussed the event with a younger colleague, as well as general ways of leaving the bog in which my native country stays. My colleague expressed hopes that the new generation of leaders would get the Western education and would not apply such barbaric measures. I retorted that our country would grind any reformers or drive them to the countries more convenient for civilized life. I am still sure that no Western education will save our political and economic system based on fear and suppression, since such a system is incapable to any amendments in the modern world. But this is exactly the system that develops and ripens in our country. This was vividly demonstrated by the last election campaign. The ‘correct choice’ was insistently and brutally imposed on voters. L. Kuchma’s team distorted the election to such a degree that it did not generate any emotions except aversion and shame. Many employees had to give the obligation in writing to vote for Kuchma, medical doctors had to promise to guarantee the number of votes for Kuchma equal to the number of beds in their hospital. It is senseless to mention weaker violations, like the difficulties for Kuchma’s rivals to speak on electronic mass media. The people, who tell about similar violations in whispers, do not want to denounce them publicly, since they are afraid to loose their jobs.

Certainly it is good that the communist candidate lost the campaign, but we cannot agree with the statement that Ukraine said a final goodbye to communism. The methods implied in the election campaign were communist, although the political words were combined in the other way. People are helpless and dependent on the state machine, and those, who try to be economically independent of the state, encounter administrative dictatorship. It is impossible to do profitable business and observe the existing laws. That is why in this sphere everybody is vulnerable. On the other hand, is the advantage of Kuchma so great that it enables his supporters to cry on the convincing victory? And how many people voted for Kuchma against their best judgement, because they were afraid of the victory of communists? I think that about one quarter of voters.

And what can be said about other political forces? The election has shown that actually there is no opposition in Ukraine. The leftish opposition has in fact no platform: their propaganda was pure populism without constructive elements. The right opposition is too weak now and is unable to counteract anything to administrative pressure. The weakness of the opposition provokes the winners to declare that we do not need any opposition. The authorities again threaten the Supreme Rada which seems to be in the way of the ‘reforms’. But we need not unity, but the freedom of discussions, supposing that the style of the polemics is more important than its subject.

Some days ago a TV journalist spoke on the national channel about Kuchma’s victory as the victory of democracy. In two minutes Kuchma himself in his interview confessed that he appointed Marchuk to break ‘some bones’. Such a democracy has a suitable term: totalitarian democracy. To prevent our country to fall into the precipice of such a ‘democracy’ we all must soberly evaluate our today’s position, to look at ourselves, at our public organizations, at our political parties, at our power. We must see that we amply deserve what we have. We must cooperate with state bodies wherever it is reasonable and learn to negate all the attempts to restrict our moderate freedom. We must not be afraid of the future, even if it is magnificent.

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