Beyond the Cusp

February 24, 2014

Ukraine Gets New Face Overnight

Yesterday the world awoke to find a new parliament and new Parliament Speaker attempting to straighten out the tangled disarray resulting from months of violence between government forces and demonstrators. Oleksander Tuchynov is the new Ukrainian Parliament Speaker and will hold the position until elections which are scheduled for May 25. The parliament will not have an easy task especially in the first initial weeks as they try and put the Ukraine back on a normal footing and return the society to a normal routine which has been impossible during the months of demonstrations. This will be even more difficult as the demonstrations melded together some disparate groups which each have their own agendas with some of them being so opposite as to be impossible to satisfy simultaneously. Some of the initial changes were the foreign minister Leonid Kozhara and the education minister Dykmitro Tabachnyk have been relieved of their posts, sixty-four protestors have been released from jail, and the president’s estate at Mezhyhirya has been nationalized. They have also declared that Ukrainian will be the sole official language of the Ukraine thus removing recognition of Russian usage in official circles. It will remain to be seen if there will be any place for the Russian language going forward though such is highly doubtful.

 

While it will very probably be many weeks before normalcy will have returned to Kiev, the rest of the Ukraine should have somewhat easier task of returning to normal as outside of the capital the demonstrations were less disruptive for much of the period only gaining power in the final weeks. The real question will be over the eastern and southern provinces where the population includes many Russians. There is a chance that these provinces may decide to split from the Ukraine and might even petition to become a part of Putin’s Russia or an autonomous state aligned more closely to Russia than to the Ukraine. It has been reported that there were some in these areas who had requested Russian protection should the protests break out in their regions. The reactions from the eastern and southern regions will require delicacy; something that could easily turn ugly if not handled deftly and with some degree of understanding. Making such tasks even more difficult will be the fact that the demonstrators do not come from one viewpoint and some of the groups who had banded together consisted of far right nationalists with a separate vision than many of the other parties and groups. The three main political parties, UDAR, Fatherland and Svoboda, which had claimed to have been working jointly during the demonstrations to oust President Yanukovych, will now be in direct competition in order to field and win the most seats they can in the upcoming elections.

 

The initial problem of removing the thuggish and dictatorial Presidency of Yanukovych and his cronies has now been realized may eventually prove to be of great benefit for the future of the Ukraine but right now it simply leaves a plethora of unanswered questions and a tangled web of new problems. Those tasked with putting the Ukraine in general and Kiev particularly back together and operating for the mutual benefit of all the people will be an uphill slog challenging those who are assuming power. The election in May is a mere quarter of a year, three months, into the future but the people will be expecting progress from their newly emplaced leaders before then and they will not be given much of a grace period. The real peril right now is the potential for a strong populist leader offering to solve all the problems if the people will simply trust them and give them the tools with the power to wield them effectively taking the elections and becoming an even worse problem than they just removed. This will become even more pressing of a possibility should the new government elected in May result in an ineffectual problematic governance that is basically a failure both economically and in keeping order. Should inflation become an even larger problem and start to run rampant, then there will be the situation which is susceptible to favor such a solution being adopted. It was just such a scenario with rampant hyperinflation and ineffectual governance of the German Weimar Republic after World War I that led to the rise of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. The Ukraine currently has an enormous debt and a very weak economy that has suffered greatly from the disorder of the months of demonstrations. Their situation was partially due to the economic downturn which struck much of the world just over five years ago and the Ukraine still has not fully recovered. The economic recovery should be the first order of business once a newly elected government is in place. The only advice that they should receive is that government is more likely to be the problem than it is to be the solution. The best track for the government to take would be to make themselves as unobtrusive as possible, reduce regulations to a bare minimum, lower taxes on both the people and businesses and rely on free trade and unburdened free enterprise to lift the entire nation and people providing the best opportunity for a healthy economy. They should try to take a path which allows them to maximize their abilities to trade with the entire world and take steps to increase foreign trade relations as much as possible. This will require tactful handling of Ukrainian relations with Russia but they need to tell Putin that the Ukraine expects to continue to do business with Russia but also expects to be free to trade with the rest of the world as well. Europe also may need to step up and take steps to assure that the Ukraine will be accepted and thus allow them an alternative to survive any pressures from Putin and Russia. The one thing I am sure of is I am glad I will not be elected to any position in the next Ukrainian government and I wish those who are the best of luck.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

Update: The Russian government, which means Vladimir Putin, has recalled their Ambassador to the Ukraine to Moscow for consultations on the “deteriorating situation” in Kiev. In the United States National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin against attacking Ukraine in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” where she was quoted stating, “the United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people” having democratic elections with “the opportunity for the people of Ukraine to come together in a coalition unity government” representing them honestly after former President Yanukovych was removed ending his questionable Administration.

 

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