March 01, 2010
Ukraine: Five years after the “Orange Revolution”, Zoltan Zigedy, ZZ's Blog
Five years ago, my colleague, Louise Michel, and I posted several articles on MLToday divulging the intrigues behind the Ukraine Presidential elections. Michel placed the celebrated “Orange Revolution” in the context of the other orchestrated “color” revolutions organized and encouraged by NGO’s funded by EU governments and the US. Michel and I “sought to expose the enormous amount of money and resources flowing into these countries from such noble sounding institutions as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and many others”. “It was apparent to [me]” she wrote, “that these ‘popular risings’ were far from spontaneous, but rather highly manipulated, and compatible with US foreign policy objectives”. She recounted “AP reporter Matt Kelley's revelations about more than $65 millions worth of US influence peddling in the Ukraine…” Michel argued persuasively that the contested election and the subsequent new election were more properly viewed as a coup, rather than victory for democracy. She cited a New York Times writer, C.J. Chivers, who “exposes some of these machinations… [T]he Times article really chronicles how the Ukraine government's decision to halt the highly orchestrated, well funded opposition demonstration in Kiev were thwarted by the surreptitious, behind-the-scenes maneuvers of high ranking security and military officials within the government. They used their influence to undermine the government response.”
Michel’s careful scrutiny of the mainstream media dug up another suggestive revelation of the phoniness of the “democratic” revolution:
How deeply did this corruption and perfidy go? Very deeply, if a recent communication in the New York Review of Books (2/10/05) is to be believed. Peter Savodnik — identified as the political editor of The Hill newspaper in Washington, DC — writes to "share with your readers a story I've come across here in Washington that may be of interest."
And indeed it is.
"Last month", he goes on, "between the first and second rounds of voting in the Ukrainian presidential election, Lytvyn [the powerful speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament and former chief of staff for Kuchma] made a brief, low profile trip to Washington, where he met with Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Senators Richard Lugar and John McCain, and Representative Henry Hyde…"
"In any event, the Americans apparently thought Lytvyn might be able to help Viktor Yushchenko win some key support in the Rada.... Interestingly, on December 1, Lytvyn permitted the Rada to hold the no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Yanukovich's government [Yushchenko's opponent]; this proved to be a critical development that was soon followed by the Supreme Court's ruling that the runoff was invalid because of fraud."
Soon after the new President took office, the “democratic” victory had become a colossal farce. I wrote: “The showdown with Russia over establishing world market prices for natural gas was portrayed widely as a victory for the Western-friendly President Yushchenko. Apparently, the Ukrainian people disagree. Buoyed by poll figures leading up to the March parliamentary elections that show the formerly elected and then unelected Presidential candidate’s bloc leading over both of the "Orange" stars, the current parliament voted 250 to 50 to fire the Prime Minister and his cabinet.” The script written by Western powers was not setting well with the Ukrainian people.
And a year after an election result agreeable to Western imperialist powers, Yushchenko, chastened by confrontation with Russia over natural gas prices, proposed an approach embarrassing to his Western sponsors. I wrote:
Today’s news (January 14, 2006) brings the latest desperate move on the part of puppet-President Yushchenko: faced with the ominous threat to his power spawned by the natural gas fiasco, he now proposes nuclear power as an alternative to the countries dependency upon Russian natural gas. "We must change our ... policy on the use of uranium for peaceful purposes.... We must cooperate with international allies on a serious political and economic level, so that we can have a full cycle of processing and production of nuclear fuel ..." stated Yushchenko on national TV. Of course this is exactly the policy that has created hysterical Western threats to the DPRK (North Korea) and Iran. As Yushchenko spoke, Bush was declaring Iran a "grave threat" because it announced the resumption of its nuclear reactors and its own nuclear enrichment program.
The hypocrisy of allowing Ukraine to develop a nuclear program while threatening Korean and Iranian programs was apparent even to Western news services who noted: "Mr. Yushchenko’s call could put his Western allies in an awkward position as they seek to balance the desire to help Ukraine shed Russian influence with concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation and their campaign to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions" (cited on www.post-gazette.com/nationworld).
The hypocrisy is blatant on all sides. Imperialism intervened in Ukraine’s internal affairs, engineering a coup masking as a democratic revolution. And the designated “liberators” proved to be incompetent, corrupted, and unpopular.
Now, five years later, The Wall Street Journal makes a candid admission. In a front page feature, writer Richard Bourdeaux exclaims that “Rent-a-crowd entrepreneurs find people fast to cheer or jeer for $4 an hour.” This is the face of the new Ukrainian democracy. “’We’ll do business with any political party. Ideology doesn’t matter to us’ says the 21 year-old web design major at Kiev Polytechnic Institute. ‘It matters less to most students’, he adds grinning. ‘They have become tired of politicians. They will rally only for money.’”
As comrades at the City of Future paper (www.stbudg.ucoz.ru) in Kharkov point out, Simonenko, the candidate of the Communist Party of Ukraine received 22.4% of the presidential vote in 1999, but only 5% in 2010. With the privatization of the state sector, public ownership has been reduced to 12% of economic enterprises (the state sector accounted for 90% of enterprises in 1990) and the role and influence of money in determining outcomes, the corruption of political life, and the distortion of democracy has increased dramatically. Contrary to media mythology, the ascent of capitalism stifles democracy. Today in Ukraine, a candidate for president must post roughly US$300,000 to even run for office. Following the US model, candidates must gather signatures to achieve ballot status, regulations that effectively undermine minority party candidacies. The massive 2004 intervention in Ukrainian political life by Western imperialist powers has produced its intended result – not an infusion of democracy, but a decided shift to the right. Even much of the left has shifted rightward in a response the new rules of the political game. Rather than promoting democracy, foreign intervention – expressed through the “Orange revolution” – has shaped a sham, money-driven pseudo-democracy dominated by powerful elites.
Ironically, matters have come full circle. The once demonized Victor Yanukovych won election in 2010, defeating the former darlings of Western imperialism. Julia Tymoshenko – a caricature of vulgar nationalism and Sarah Palin-style populism – held out her concession, hoping for another Western-backed, manipulated challenge to the elections. This time it didn’t come.
As I promised four years ago, “[w]e continue to hold Ukraine under our Marxist microscope…” in order to expose the cynicism of Western “democrats” and the degradation of democracy by capitalism.