DAVID C. SPEEDIE, dspeedie at cceia.org
Director of the U.S. Global Engagement Program at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Speedie has been interviewing experts in Ukraine. He said today: “Ukraine deserves a deeper, more nuanced analysis for several reasons. The view from Kiev is not enough, and that is what we get from the Western press. It can be argued that there are ‘four Ukraines’ — East, West, Crimea and Kiev. The country is split almost down the middle on pro-Russian, pro-European lines. …”
NICOLAI PETRO, [in Ukraine] nnpetro at gmail.com, Skype: nicolaipetro
Professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, Petro is currently a Fulbright research scholar in Ukraine. He recently wrote the piece “Ukraine’s Culture War” for the National Interest. Petro appeared this morning on “Democracy Now!” and “The Takeaway.” He said today: “Is it a coup? Yes. Under the acting constitution the president may resign or be impeached, but only after a review of the case by the Constitutional Court and a vote by a three-fourths majority of parliament. (There were ten less than that in the chamber). In which case either acting PM [Serhiy] Arbuzov (1996) or Speaker [Volodymyr] Rybak (2004) must become president.
“Instead, an extraordinary session of parliament was held after most members were told there would be no session and many had left town. Under the chairmanship of Svoboda this rump parliament declared that the president had ‘self-removed’ himself from the presidency.
“Their first steps are NOT encouraging:
• “The repeal of the law allowing Russian to be used locally—the main irritant in East-West relations;
• “Introduce a resolution to outlaw the Communist Party of Ukraine, the only remaining opposition party;
• “Consolidate the powers of speaker of parliament and acting president in one man, giving him greater powers than allowed under any Ukrainian constitution. Parliament now rules without any constraints on its power. It has not only concentrated executive and legislative power in its hands, on Monday it also dismissed the justices of the Constitutional Court and asked its newly appointed Prosecutor General to consider bringing charges against them.
“This sets the stage for presidential elections to be held on May 25. Will they be fair? The parliament says there is no money; vigilante militias routinely attack and disperse public gatherings they disapprove of; news broadcasts are interrupted by forces claiming to speak for the people.
“Who’s behind the Revolution? Three forces. It was set in motion by genuine civic frustration with the government’s decision to delay the signing of the EU Association Agreement. This was then seized upon by the parliamentary opposition parties, who pressed the government for further concessions. Finally, it was actually accomplished thanks to the armed intervention of extremist nationalist groups led by, but not limited to, the Right Sector.
“This has put the nationalists in the driver’s seat. From now on whatever political decisions are arrived at will be at the sufferance of the Right Sector.
“Who are the nationalists? There are just a few thousand but they have street cred. An EU Parliament resolution of Dec. 13, 2012 drew attention to ‘the Svoboda Party’s … racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views.’ Compared to Svoboda, the Right Sector is more radical, militarily organized, and is more willing to use violence.
“Given the hopes of many in the West regarding this revolution, it is especially important to note that this group is critical of party politics in principle, and skeptical of both the ‘imperial ambitions of Moscow and the West’ toward Ukraine. The former, being ever present, are easier to resist, but the latter subvert the awakening of the Ukrainian national spirit with their sugarcoated words about ‘dialogue’ and ‘compromise.’ Ultimately, however, the nation will see through these deceptions ‘and, burnished by the flames of National Revolution, be able to stand up in opposition to the “democratizers” and their local lackeys.’
“What can the West do? Haven’t we done enough?
* “Media and governments downplayed the threat of the extreme right, which is now in charge;
* “Offered no tangible economic assistance … but blamed Russia for doing so;
* “Intervened to broker a deal on behalf of the opposition, which the extreme right cast aside within hours.”