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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maidan 2.2: Still Going Strong; Slams Court’s Makeup, Cabinet’s Conduct
Against all meteorological odds — up until showtime, it rained cats and dogs — Maidan 2.2 mobilized itself on Friday, at Yevropeiska Ploshcha (European Square), our makeshift venue. One could look at it as the long-awaited service pack for the Mar. 31 edition. On that day, we had rekindled the spirit of Maidan, only to be followed by weeks of silence stemming from our leaders’ stay-at-home school of thought.

Yevropeiska Ploshcha, our next best alternative, has its historical roots in events leading up to the Orange Revolution. We flocked to a place where, on Sep. 18, 2004, presidential candidate Yushchenko held his first rally since his yet unsolved Sep. 5 poisoning. A lot has changed since then. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, our heroes, overpromised and underdelivered. Moroz and Kinakh, our darlings, changed their views. And we, the mortals, merely allowed ourselves to swap venues. (Yanukovych, our only source of stability, too, overpromised and underdelivered, but he doesn’t seem to like the idea of power changing hands.)

These days, Yanukovych supporters hang out at Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the geographic epicenter of the good old Maidan of ‘04/05. Ironically, it is there that they painstakingly try to recreate the spitting image of the very institution they’ve been slinging mud at all these years.

It rained intermittently throughout most of the day, and on my way to the metro I got soaked wet. As I braved the pouring rain, I couldn’t help but paint a dim picture. With the weight of the clouds heavy upon me, I steeped myself in a heart-wrenching calculus, as I expected attendance to be abysmal. All through my underground journey, I thought of what a sad sight Maidan must be. I visualized a lonely place, a murder scene.

These emotions grew ever more intense with scores of homebound Blue brothers moving down the escalator at Maidan Nezalezhnosti Station. But when I emerged at my point of destination, I witnessed a miracle! Not only did the sun come shining brightly, but so did the Orange crowd. I wasn’t the only one with the will to carry on.

My doubts dried up and my spirits soared. And then I almost wet myself. When studying the Blue Maidan from across the street, I heard — you’re gonna love this — Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” So here I am, at the height of my curiosity, caught off guard by Elvis’s crooning of his lovesong. (Click here to watch the video.) I couldn’t believe my ears. Hey, what about Panslavic solidarity?! It turned out Yanuk, Russia’s best friend, had left the stage minutes ago, and the DJs there were throwing a dance party, shamelessly experimenting with repertoire. Those pervs! You can’t leave them for a second. Once you leave them to their own devices, they burst into a NATO song.

This rare episode of latent love for Western civilization added a comic edge to the much-publicized rant by would-be First Lady’s Lyudmila Yanukovych, who alleged that Orange revolutionaries wore American-made valenki and consumed oranges syringed with mind-altering substances.
Worst of all, it evoked memories of the ubiquitous Yanukovych ‘04 campaign big board that read “Tomu shcho poslidovny.” (“For he is consistent”) Consistent with that immortal message, I wonder what was next on their playlist. Was it U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me?” Or was it Status Quo’s “You’re In The Army Now?” (From 1958 to 1960, Elvis Presley served at a U.S. military base in Germany.)

I decided I had more important things to do than to stay and find out. To prevent full contact, police cordoned off the two Maidans. Thankfully, they didn’t employ Draconian security measures. I made it safely through Checkpoint Charlie, or should I say Checkpoint Cherno, and joined my folks. It felt so good to be around folks like yourself, who kept flooding European Square. Given the misery of my rain experience earlier in the day, never in my wildest dreams had I imagined so much sunshine, so many flags, and so many friendly faces. (Click here to watch the video.)

After a bunch of Limp Bizkit-like bands warmed up the public, the incredible duet between Taras Petrynenko and Tetyana Horobets stole the show. (Click here to watch the video.) The late 80s-early 90s songs they customarily perform at Orange events, rich in melody and vocals, make up the theme of Ukraine’s struggle for independence during perestroika. Every time I listen to them, I get a flurry of flashbacks that make me feel some sixteen years younger. I remember Gorby and Bush Sr. singing in unison, trying to mend the pieces of a broken evil empire. I remember those August ’91 Rukh rallies, when I stood with my dad outside the Rada chanting well-rhymed and sharp-witted spoof slogans like “Hi zhyveh KaPaEsEs na Chornobylskiy AhEs!” (“Long live our CPSU, may Chernobyl be with you!”)

Anyway, at about 7 pm, our heroes mounted the stage: Tymoshenko of BYuT, Kyrylenko of NSNU, and Lutsenko of Narodna Samo’oborona. All present and accounted for, they took turns in delivering a progress report on the current crisis.
Tymo focused on the Constitutional Court’s political breakdown. According to her scan, of the eighteen Justices, we could count on only five. (Click here to watch the video.) She didn’t fail to mention Kuchma’s rising fortunes. Aside from producing yet another masterpiece, “After Maidan,” the former president got his pension perks back a few days ago — a good supplement to his memoir-writing business. (One of Yushchenko’s first decisions was to trim Kuchma’s overblown retirement package.) At the same time, Kuchma’s son-in-law, Viktor Pinchuk, got his NZF plant back thanks to the High Court’s recent reversal of its own decision.

Kyrylenko and Lutsenko told us how, by self-canceling their parliamentary mandates, BYuT and NSNU have burned bridges and thus have ensured the “survivability” of new elections. They blasted the Cabinet’s sabotage of the dissolution decree and urged supporters to stand their ground, adding that the only acceptable compromise would be to have the elections rescheduled. One could hardly discover anything new in those messages, but the meeting itself was an important communication that helped the people connect with their leaders.

Now that the case is pending in the limbo of a possibly corrupt Constitutional Court, there is no reason to be ecstatic. The issue of legitimacy, propelled by the Stanik Affair, gives rise to a high degree of uncertainty as to whether the Court’s decision will be accepted by both sides.
Some consider an out-of-court settlement to be the most viable, win-win solution in the battle of two Viktors. However, in the betrayal-ridden culture of Ukrainian negotiations, the line between a settlement and self-delusion is very thin.

As always, the meeting closed with Taras Petrynenko’s “Ukraina,” our country’s unofficial anthem. And as its final chords fell on Yevropeiska Ploshcha, people walked away into Friday night with that “show must go on” feeling.


davut said...

Say: He, Allah, is One
Allah is He on Whom all depend.
He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And none is like Him.

David said...

You rock, man!

Nice Job!


Anonymous said...

Great video - pls. put them up on as it is quicker download and they can be shared (not ripped) but can go into the

Elvis "the King"
(great one btw esp. as during Soviet times it was such a no-no, that the Beatles and jeans)
I tried to download the Elvis one and would see on the screen "CANTHELP.AVI" would mutter curses and try again until yes, realized that that was the name of the video! LOL! Sometimes, I just slay me!

BEAUTIFUL write up btw (you are a very gifted and talented writer), and wonderful to hear how your spirit has been renewed! ! !

My father was instrumental in my life, of passing on love of one's country and people. I miss him a great deal but feel a closeness to him. Sorry watering pot me - but GREAT to read a new post from you. I was afraid something had happened. Again - beautiful, deeply moving post. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Not much has changed since 2004 - btw where is mama Yanukovych?

I remember "Orange Sky" catchy little tune and it is one of my fav. from the OR compilation album. There is also one about crashing down ceilings that is a hard rock number - excellent. And "Happy Eggs"? Though the Yanu/Putin skit on Maidan was for me hilarious.

Ah, the Blue Maidan will have memories but they will not the emotional truth of OR. Glad it was re-ignited in much better weather :)

David said...

check out Taras K's latest...

The long and short seems to be that if Putin wants to make strongly critical statements of US neo-imperialism, he can't call similar statements by others about Russia as cold-war-mongering...


Taras said...

Davut, Ukraine’s Muslim community numbers about a quarter of a million people, comprised mainly of Crimean Tatars.

Some of them have learned Ukrainian faster than their Russian-speaking peers, longtime residents of Ukraine.

I strongly believe Ukraine can be a place where people of different creeds leave in peace and harmony:)

David said...

more, man, more...

They don't all have to be masterpieces like the above, but more details and stories wd be appreciated and a service for your country!!!


Taras said...

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!

I’m still very much alive:) Sorry for being such a Johnny-come-lately these days, and thank you so much for your feedback:)! You give me inspiration at a time when inspiration often runs low.

Originally, I kept this blog for work portfolio purposes only. (Vestiges of self-promotion can still be found in its URL:)

Thanks to my “special” pay-per-traffic plan, which I can’t upgrade at the moment due to my provider’s tricky technical capabilities, I can’t upload the videos to YouTube. That’s why I had to make do with (I’ve already used up my monthly quota of non-Ukrainian traffic:(

Thanks for your patience;) I’m glad you’ve managed to help yourself to Elvis, and I’m happy that my reflections helped you come in touch with the role our parents play in shaping our worlds:)

Luida, I’ve produced a few politpranks myself, but I wouldn’t dare share them for fear of infringing copyrights:| For those of you who still haven’t seen one of the saddest rejection scenes in history, here’s the “Candyman” link:

David, I’ve heard about Tymo’s containment article. While she may sound a bit too hawkish in her manifesto, the way she takes on Russia doesn’t give George Kennan enough reason to roll over in his grave even one degree:) It’s no big news that the Kremlin, intoxicated by the cornucopia of oil revenue, has been building an Energy Empire using blueprints form the Evil one.

This kind of aggressive and expansive architecture needs to be contained, provided that we contain the regime, not the rank-and-file. We should keep in mind that there’s always the “Other Russia” — millions of well-educated Russians who want to live in a different country. They want higher standards of living, and they want their rights and freedoms protected. Their Russian Dream and Putin’s demoilgarchy just don’t connect.

That’s why containment policies have to be smart.

Rest in peace, Uncle Boris.

Taras said...

There hasn't been a whole lot of earthshaking news in the last couple of days. But as soon as something big and nasty happens, I'll do my best to let you guys know:)

David said...

Well, I think we agreed over at OU that it shd be the EU's job, not Ukraine's, to call Russia to task for its backsliding into tyranny...

I think even small stories that compare Maidan 2.2 with Maidan 1 would be interesting...

Over at foreign notes, Levko posts that some think the current crisis is primarily one of the elites in Kyiv, with most of Ukraine being non-commital. Some think that the wealthiest members of all parties could work together to get the governors to mediate an agreement to end the crisis.


David said...

More required reading for Ukrainians who want their country to develop autonomously. I got it from one of my former students in Mexico.


Anonymous said...

Life goes on and in the meantime the PoR is sittin in the house helpin themselves to a little bit of this and a little bit of that from the state fund, country and the Ukrainian people.


Sorry the policy that BYuT and NSNU is terrible! Do not agree with it at all. There is NO reason for cat-bird-in-the-seat sittin PoR to compromise until they have sung 'it's all mine, it's all mine' and only then will there be "compromise".

btw Yushchenko's policies are pushing the Tartars straight into Wahabism because they are so frustrated. The voted for him and he does not give back.

Yes, T. we worry about u and about Ukraine. Never far from our thoughts or hopes or dreams for a better life for all.


PS you cannot 'contain' business (or in this case country) in a globalised world esp. when the commodity is so desirable. What you do is diversification or alternatives.

Taras said...

David, I’m sure you agree that the EU is doing a crappy job of moderating Russia’s behavior.

In Germany, they’d probably rename Baden-Baden to Putin-Putin for an extra shot of Gazprom’s product line. So who qualifies for the job and, more to the point, who cares about it? I think Hanne Severinsen does neither: She does admit that the Court may be corrupt and then urges us to abide by its ruling. When it comes to headhunting for friends of Ukraine in the Old Europe, there's not much of a talent pool.

Lately I’ve been greatly disturbed by the events in the country whose language I once tried to learn. I’m talking about France. You see, the French look like a deeply-divided nation to me. And what makes it even worse is that they seem to have no idea how close they’ve come to a civil war. So how about they stock up on Holovaty, Manafort & Kivalov and start preparing for it?

They should get their Force de frappe ready for some hot action. It’s the only practical way they could put those Concordes to use again — by airlifting Donetskites to the Champs-Élysées 24/7 in a feat that would catapult Air France far ahead of the U.S. Air Force’s lackluster performance in the Berlin Crisis:)))

Sarcasm aside, of course, to a large degree, it’s a clan thing. But if we stand on the sidelines, we’ll only let the clans get their kicks.

Luida, you’re right, YanuCo can’t get enough of a good thing. As you probably know, they’re already targeting businesses with fundraising letters that sound like extortion. That’s why we need a system of checks and balances, a system that will put their hands where we can see them.

First and foremost, containing the Putin regime is about raising our standards of living — through building a diversified knowledge economy. As long as we have a commodity economy, and one infested by crony capitalists, the Kremlin will continue manipulating us.

It’s important that we realize that Yushchenko does not run the Crimean Autonomous Republic. Still, I do agree with you that he could do more for Tatars — and for the entire Ukrainian nation — if he were a better president and had a better team.

As far as I know, Ukraine remains the only former Soviet republic to assist Crimean Tatars in their repatriation efforts after decades of Stalin’s deportation. Despite ethnic tensions, heated up by land disputes, Islamic fundamentalism has been virtually nonexistent in Crimea. (Not so with Russian separatism.)

Any chance they will kick Wolfowitz’s woeful ass out of the World Bank?:)

David said...

I think Bayrou will eventually direct the lion's share of his support to Royal. This will not end the conflict, though, of course.

Sadly, in a post-Christian society like France, there seems to be little efforts at reconciliation/detente among political enemies.


Anonymous said...

Wolfowitz out? forget it you idealistic dreamer.

and re: la belle France! I think that Ukraine should do a can-can and boot out all things a la Francaise for the very simple reason that WAY too many people seem to be Ukraine as the black soil where socialism could succeed and so try to manipulate to their own ends and purposes and not giving a fleur de lis for the Ukrainian people. While the Germans, just want to get their cheap energy and not upset Putin at all!

I also agree that the Tartars are a a missed opportunity and they are not used by Yush only because they are Muslim not Christian. How to p'o' a pro-RU in Crimea? arm a Tartar with support and information and media rights!

My whole opinion has been to take the entire set of issues to the east, to the south and then bear down. Too easy for them if it remains in Kyiv because they control what is said back home.

Anonymous said...

f you want elections then why does not Yushchenko accept call on Yushchenko to resign and hold fresh Parliamentary elections in conjunction with fresh presidential elections.

After all it is Yushchenko that is the cause of the problems facing Ukraine today.

His unconstitutional decree in dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament is a direct attack on democracy itself.

Let the people decide who should represent them and who should be Ukraine's head of state.

A clean sweep democratic elections for both president and parliament without the conflict and division.

Yushchenko betrayed the 'Orange ideals' even before he was elected president.

The current crisis is of his making, a power struggle between the office of the president and the parliament.

Is it not also important to protect the right of a democratcioly elected parliament to represent the people.

All the public opinion poll show the same outcome but only worst. Party of Regions will most likely secure 50% of the parliament in their own right.

I some how do not think they are scared about holding elections just oipposed to the unconstituitional actions of a despoot president, something that is also worth protesting about.

Taras said...

It’s a close race in France, and I know they have their can of worms, but at least nobody talks of breaking the country in two. Chacun pour soi et Dieu pour tous! (Everyone for himself and God for all.)

There’s a nice perestroika joke. A socialist, a capitalist and a communist agreed to meet. The socialist was late. "Excuse me for being late, I was standing in a queue for sausages."

"And what is a queue?" the capitalist asked.
"And what is a sausage?" the communist asked.

We’ve had our fair share of Stalin’s communism, Brezhnev’s socialism and Kuchma’s capitalism. We need to try something different, something that stimulates the strong and safeguards the not-so-strong.

I don’t think Yushchenko shortchanged the Tatars because they are Muslim and he is not. He did that mainly because he didn’t know how to do his job, and Crimea was low on his agenda.

The problems the Tatars have faced are a microcosm of those experienced by Ukraine in the international arena: Everyone is afraid to upset the Russians. And the Russians are not afraid to upset anyone.

Taras said...

Even though I do support Yushchenko’s decision, I don’t tend to idealize him. To me, he’s the king of missed opportunities, and Tymoshenko is the queen.

Holding presidential elections sounds like a fair idea, but it lacks constitutional foundation. On what grounds should we hold presidential elections? Didn’t President Yushchenko see to it that Ukraine held free and fair parliamentary elections? Didn’t President Yushchenko give Yanukovych a chance by signing into law his coalition, despite it based on a confidence trick that the Socialists played on their voters?

And yet, Yanukovych and Moroz failed to appreciate the gesture. They wanted it all. They set out to acquire a constitutional majority — the 300 votes that would give them the carte blanch to do whatever they wanted with this country.

That would be about 60 votes too many (at the very least), if we mind the spring 2006 election results. After all, the Ukrainian people entrusted the Coalition with only 237 votes — that is, if we pretend that the Socialists' 33 votes allied themselves exactly as their voters expected them to.

Come on, if the Regionalists could count on 50 or even 40 percent of the vote, they’d be the first to demand elections, wouldn’t they? To be realistic, the best they can get in a free and fair rematch is 32 percent, a remake of their ‘06 score. They can’t expect more, having failed to deliver the ‘better living today’ they promised

We need to have both sides well represented. And this can only be done when they play by the rules of law and by the results of the elections.

David said...

Je lis francais. Un peu de mes ancestres etaient huguenot francais!

Peut-etre, tu peux ecrire sur Ukraine en les blogues francaises aussi!

It has been shown empirically that the degree of acrimony between opposing political parties harm their ability to work out lasting compromises and affect their tax-rate levels and the growth of their economies.

iow, that whole "love your enemies" thing also rings true for les politiques...

I don't believe that Yanuk has any constitutional basis for calling for new presidential elections, but I also believe that if Yusch really wanted to do the best thing for Ukraine and the Ideals of the OR that he would reschedule an early presidential election after the early parliament election, perhaps in half a year or so.

I wrote the following in resp to questions by IIU at OUkraine about why Yusch wd let go of the presidency.

"Because it has been largely due to Yusch's poor leadership that post-OR-politics failed so badly, leading to the present crisis.

I'm not saying he will, I'm saying that if there was someone else well respected and committed to the OR-ideals in a moderate (Yusch-style) way that it might be better for Ukraine if that person was elected president.

Yusch has only recently started to act in the way that he shd have been acting all along and I don't have much faith in him continuing to fight the good fight. I think he was too scarred psychologically from being poisoned and/or had the wrong temperament from the beginning.

I see the bargaining process as follows:Yusch has shown a willingness to compromise publicly by delaying the election another month. Now Yanuk has done likewise, by agreeing to early elections so long as there also are early presidential elections. Now, perhaps the next move is for Yusch to allow for early presidential elections, but some time(months/half a year) after the parliament elections and without him as a candidate. That would be yet another public display of compromise, as Yanuk currently thinks that early presidential elections are a poison-pill.

But I believe that if Yusch admitted before the Ukrainian people that he has seriously fallen short of the OR-ideals and is willing to step-aside early that it would reignite more of the hope from the OR. That's my dream that politician-leaders will care more about their country, their ideals than cleaving to power as much as possible. I know it sounds very unlikely, but hey I do believe in miracles..."

I guess that makes a hack/wishful thinker, but I believe a president being willing to admit that he messed up seriously and step down from power wd be an incredible act of power of the sort that the world has never seen before. That's the sort of self-sacrificial love that I want to see more of in our world!

Taras said...

David, you have a remarkable grasp of your genealogy, and your French looks far more impressive than mine:)))

I can only trace my ancestry back to the late 19th century, and I’ve been out of my French practice for almost a decade. So, aside from occasional interpolations, the only language I could contribute to French blogs would be anglais. I figure it wouldn’t make every French person happy;)

Ukraine would certainly benefit from electing a better president, preferably one who doesn’t mess around with the lyubi druzi and one who speaks a little English. Yet if we hold presidential elections in the time frame you specified, we will end up with either President Yanukovych or President Tymoshenko.

I doubt that either of them would be a quantum leap for Ukraine. In the near term, I don’t see any first-class leader on our political horizon that would match the criteria.

It’s OK to have Tymo as PM, Yanuk as Speaker, and Yushch as President-Moderator — until a new wave comes along. In this arrangement, they would compete for power and would thus prevent each other from getting too much of it.

Anonymous said...

C'est dommage! Si on n'utilise pas une langue, il est perdue.

I guess my "dream" would be for a "redo" where Yuschenko wd get behind a "moderate" like himself that is a more capable leader, whom Timo would also support mainly to retain western support.

But I think the more important part of the dream is about a public acknowledgement that the ideals of the OR were failed and needed renewal, especially by Yuschenko but, to an extent, by all of the OR.

I guess this is the same dream I have for George W Bush, where he gets genuinely convicted for his failures as a leader and acts accordingly in non-trivial ways that break from the past. I believe that such is possible, but I know it has been very rare among those in power in the past.


Taras said...

I guess I’m just as idealistic and skeptical on this one as you are, except that America is a superpower, and Ukraine is not.

In America, you may disagree on national security, gun control, and fiscal policy. But you never call into question your country’s independence, territorial integrity, and official language. In Ukraine, we do. And that makes you Americans — both liberals and conservatives — better citizens than some of us Ukrainians are.

In Ukraine, we’re still living in the shadow of a country bent on reverting to superpower status. Let us hope that our presidents will make fewer mistakes and will have the guts to repent in their valedictory addresses.