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Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Know What You Didn’t Do Last Summer: A Marriage by Arrangement Not Yet Consummated

Following a honeymoon complete with travails of one sort or another, half-pregnant NSNU still hasn’t said yes de jure.

Lo and behold, the re-enthronement of Russia’s favorite son Yanukovych found Ukraine in pain at the pump and at the kitchen stove. Other miracles include an expected 2007 natural gas bill of $135, talk of “innovation-oriented” wage freezes, and the lightspeed schedule of VAT rebates for the “Ultimate Region” of Donbas, totaling 221 percent of the amount owed. Terrific, isn’t it? Think about it.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, welcome the strange bedfellows who got lost between the sheets of the Universal of National Unity. Watch them enter the back-to-school season having an unfinished homework assignment. How could this be? Five weeks into cohabitation, these not-yet-marrieds blame paperwork and each other for the embarrassment of not having finalized their union legally.

So infuriated are snoopy Snoozers (NSNU) with rugged Regs (Regionalists) for not keeping commitments outlined in the Universal that some of them even threatened to break off the engagement right in the middle of labor and join the opposition.

Perhaps a controlling C-section will be negotiated by President Yushchenko, in the spirit of preserving and protecting test-tube baby “Ukraine United.”

Uncle Yu Wants You for the Yanuke Army, No Questions Asked
NSNU’s presence in the Yanukovych Cabinet includes defense, interior, foreign, and justice ministries, aside from a number of less influential positions.

Key is the question of whether NSNU will join in whole or in part. In all likelihood, a small faction of conscientious objectors will remain outside, acting as a public relations safety valve. This antenna will be used for communicating the “punks not dead” message to the distressed voters in western Ukraine.

Short of that, nobody walks out the door unchallenged. Embryonic plans by splinter activists like Mykola Katerynchuk to spin off a separate party true to the ideals of the Orange Revolution have been stifled by the top brass.

So far, NSNU has not abandoned the idea of having the CPU brushed off, a reapportionment which would effectively entitle NSNU, the second largest power, to a golden share in the coalition.

To the Moon and Back
Hardly a year passes by without Ukraine making some pivotal achievement in the realm of democracy. For the first time in Ukrainian history, moonlighting ministers have been shorn of their parliamentary seats in strict compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine. The last two men standing at the bitter crossroads of choice making are Justice Minister Roman Zvarych and Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky.

BYuTy and the Beast
Just before Yanukovych flew to Brussels, where he ducked the NATO issue we’re-not-ready style yet took pains to sell Eurocrats on the Europeanness of his Cabinet, his fellow Regs waged war on the welfare state.

No longer beating the drums for “Better Living Today,” the PRU has killed a motion by BYuT to impanel a commission to investigate the recent utility hike mandated by the government.

Having warmed herself up as the Gas Princess of the 90s, Tymo probably knows what she’s talking about when grilling the government. The brunt of her argument: Ukraine produces enough natural gas of its own to cover domestic consumer demand. — and at much lower costs than those built into gas exports from Russia and Turkmenistan.

So, she says, murky traders with connections in the government peddle this cheap in-house gas abroad at a fat profit while forcing Ukrainian households into funding expensive gas imports. That’s how corruption burns Ukraine’s gas candle at both ends, adding to the grand fortune of the few while decimating the tight family budgets of the many.

More to the point, Tymo concludes, the premium price paid by Ukrainian households for exports goes straight to the coffers of RosUkrEnergo, hardly a see-thru business.

Meanwhile, three Byuties have deserted the opposition camp for greener “anticrisis” pastures, prompting Tymo to seek legal action against the culprits so as to expel them from Parliament. Eight more are believed to be runaway-minded.

Some Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Alas, junior coalition partners SPU and CPU may be in for a rude awakening to their silly status in the coalition’s division of labor. King Yanukovych (traditional) and Queen Yushchenko (transgendered) lay down the house rules. They can play hardball, enjoying a two-for-the road bill-passing capability. This allows them the safety of making “capitalist” laws independent of the other two also-rans.

Judging from these potentially exclusive behavioral patterns, several ideas come to mind.

On the one hand, the best way to think of the role reserved for Socialists and Communists is that of eunuchs in King Yanukovych’s and Queen Yushchenko’s court. (Caught in the blatant act of collaboration with capitalists, these votaries of Marxism-Leninism from time to time have to cover themselves with the fig leaf of Das Kapital.)

On the other hand, should the PRU chose to fraternize with the SPU and CPU on legislation of common interest to them and Moscow, they still would have NSNU and BYuT standing in their way and would hardly scramble the 300 votes necessary to overcome a presidential veto.

The Sad Air of the Approaching Anniversary
Still, whatever bargaining chips NSNU brings to the table, there’s no mistaking betrayal.

As Ukraine moves closer to the second anniversary of Maidan, creative agony overwhelms Yushchenko’s speechwriters. How many people does their patron hope to enchant now that Maidan’s has been downgraded to something of a Ground Zero?

Despite the obvious overstatement in the above analogy, the concept of zero gravity comes in handy. It best describes the attachment between the promises made by those who took turns in mounting the rostrum and the actual outcomes they delivered.

So, fellas, what do we expect at showtime? Some autistically pompous, “still-going-strong,” “that’s-how-it-was-supposed-to-be” peroration? “Yee-ha! East and West Together!” “Wasn’t it what you folks stood for?” Save the lecture for your kids, Mr. President. We know better than that.