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by
Rick Moran

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February 23, 2014 - 7:13 am
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The Ukrainian parliament put the finishing touches on its legislative coup that overthrew the Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich. They named the new speaker of parliament president, impeached Yanukovich, seized his opulent country house, and appointed new ministers to fill out the cabinet. They plan to vote in a new prime minister by Tuesday.

Two questions overhang the events in Ukraine: What will Russia do about this turn of events, and will the rest of Ukraine accept what parliament has done?

As for the latter question, signs are hopeful that Yanukovich’s party will accede to reality and allow the change in government.

What will Vladimir Putin do? At the moment, the Russian prime minister is taking a “wait and see” attitude.

Reuters reports:

“In these days the most important thing is to form a functioning government,” said Vitaly Klitschko, a former world boxing champion and a leading figure in the uprising.

“We have to take very important steps in order to ensure the survival of the economy, which is in a very bad shape,” he told a news conference. He denied there had been a coup.

“Parliament is the last legal official institution in Ukraine,” he said. “Nobody knows where the president of Ukraine is. We tried to find him all day yesterday. His location is unknown. He left the country without a president.”

Even the president’s Party of the Regions, backed by many of the wealthy “oligarchs” who dominate Ukraine’s post-Soviet economy, seems to have given up on a wavering leader with whom Moscow had last week appeared to be losing patience.

“The changes that have happened, have happened. It’s already done,” said Tatyana Bakhteyeva, a parliamentarian from Yanukovich’s home region of Donetsk. Party lawmakers issued a statement blaming Yanukovich and his entourage for the crisis.

Instability in Ukraine, a vast territory of 46 million, is a major concern for both Russia, where President Vladimir Putin supported the Yanukovich administration financially, and for the European Union to the west, which had offered Ukraine a far-reaching trade pact that Yanukovich rejected in November.

It was that decision, taken after threats of retaliation from Moscow, which sparked the protests. The European Union, which has worked closely with the United States on Ukraine, said the trade deal was still open, and EU aid was on offer.

Klitschko is expected to challenge Tymoshenko for the presidency, elections for which have been scheduled for May. And while Tymoshenko has a large, loyal following, the corruption charges that landed her in jail will probably dog her campaign.

As Christopher Dickey points out at the Daily Beast, Tymoshenko is no angel:

In a country with endemic and rather extraordinary corruption—which is really the most important issue for many Ukrainians—Tymoshenko’s best hope may be that Yanukovych has left behind such obvious symbols of his stupid cupidity. On Saturday, the people of a nearly bankrupt nation flooded into his Yanukovych’s country estate to gaze in wonderment at the extravagances he left behind, from gilded bathroom fixtures to his own-brand vodka, terraced gardens, and a personal menagerie.

All that makes Yulia Tymoshenko’s alleged corruption look rather like ancient history, but it doesn’t erase the memories altogether. It is a fact she half-acknowledged when she apologized to the crowd in Kiev last night for the unspecified mistakes of the past and talked about turning the page.

Ukrainians remember that in the 1990s, before the braids, Tymoshenko was a shrewd businesswoman with dark hair and a dark side: tough, unrelenting, unforgiving, and in a league with then-Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. She amassed an enormous fortune in the natural gas business. People started calling her “The Gas Princess.” And there she was helped by the sweetheart deals Lazarenko allegedly sent her way.

Given all the talk that later charges against Tymoshenko were trumped up or falsified in the Ukraine, it’s probably important to know that her ally Lazarenko was prosecuted in the United States, where he was convicted and imprisoned for money laundering and other crimes. Tymoshenko was not charged in that case and she has denied wrongdoing, but she was named explicitly as part of the conspiracy detailed in the indictment.

Walter Russell Mead doesn’t see a “Ukrainian Spring” either:

There are three possible futures for Ukraine. In the short term some kind of continuation of the status quo of indecision and drift seems the most likely alternative, but such a volatile and unsatisfactory status quo is unlikely to endure into the indefinite future. When and if the status quo finally ends, Ukraine can go one of two ways. One is partition: the east and the west go their separate ways, as the eastern portion returns to the Kremlin’s embrace, and the west prepares for the EU. The alternative is that either Moscow or the West succeeds in drawing the whole country to its side.

Mead points out that the latter possibility is unlikely, writing: “Ukrainian society is unable to produce a strong and united government that could limit the influence of foreign interests and lobbies so that the Ukrainian state and people would follow a consistent course toward either Moscow or Brussels, much less find some kind of effective pathway in between.”

And Putin?

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All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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Well the Obama/Biden regime along with its neo con allies in the Republican party have a new excuse to go to war with Russia. Is that not what McCain and Clinton have wanted all along. Here we go WWIII and the Americans leading the killing machines.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
What on earth makes you think that Obama wants to go to war with Russia? His reset policy is essentially a total capitulation to Putin. Obama has no stomach for confrontations with the enemies of America, just his enemies WITHIN America.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's next for Ukraine? She's all ours, old good USA should take care of her now. I do not think US taxpayers have a choice, US government promised help to Ukraine and MUST deliver. It's about €10 billion a year for 10-20 years. We promised MUST cash in like it or not. Besides it's a short change for us anyway, who's counted?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tymoshenko is worn out for the Ukrainian new generation, though she remains as a unifying voice for representing a temporal alternative to a void of representation.

The Young Ukrainians are in use to communicate though the net medias, and aren't likely to be sheepherded like they were before
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
And this. First blog post is about large numbers of Ukrainians giving up and emigrating. Scroll down for a great (2012) blog post about the Ukrainian economy.
http://ukraineeconomy.blogspot.com/
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"today in Kerch in Crimea, a town located on the western side of a narrow strait dividing Crimea from Russia. The video shows a opposition-organised memorial for the dead, amongst those locals, which is attacked violently by government supporters. The crowd begin shouting “You’re fascists!” before pushing them from the square, roughing them up and trashing their equipment. One opposition supporter is chased down the street as men shout “banderist” at him, before savagely beating and kicking him. Towards the end, the crowd cheers as cars drive past carrying the Russian flag."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqwAgJPZlCk

This drama is just starting.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The accusation of "Banderist" is interesting. It refers to Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist leader who was assassinated by the KGB in 1959. He had opposed both the Germans and the Soviets during WW II to aid in the establishment of an independent Ukraine. He is a highly controversial figure to this day, even in Ukraine, as the Wikipedia article about him makes clear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepan_Bandera

I think you're right, Viator, this isn't over. The protesters can declare victory and Obama can try to take the credit but I'm afraid that may all be premature....
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I understand they're going to build a Disney park in the Sochi Olympic grounds! If Odessa were not in play, if Putin did not foresee a separation, why host the winter Olympics in your most southern city? At least now i have a fanciful answer to the why Sochi question?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Isn't a more likely outcome that Yanukovich and his party contest the May elections and again win a seat in the government- especially if the opposition is split between Klitschko and Tymoshenko end up fighting each other for control?

I just see no really good outcomes here- the country is just too divided to settle down into a stable government minus really strong-arm, repressive police power.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

Even though it seems to be heavily into "mergers and acquisitions" mode, I'm still having a hard time seeing the European Union as anything close to a "white knight" especially in view of its brow-beating of the Swiss for their referendum vote to limit immigration which apparently flies in the face of its "free movement of people" ideology. It may be a large part of their culture that the Ukrainians are kissing off when they accept the EU's embrace. The EU may be less despotic, but it still will want its way and political shenanigans are not beyond its pale.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
...teh corruption charges...

You're loosing it.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks - fixed it before you posted your comment.

And if you're going to criticize someone for misspelling, don't you think you should learn how to spell "losing"?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
In my opinion, the divide between American conservatives who see the EU as a proto-world government and the true 'prison house of the nations' of Europe (Greece, Spain, Italy all blocked from leaving euro zone) and those who view it merely as a useful fig leaf for Anglo-American hegemony in Eastern Europe is not bridge-able. Remember the neoconservatives hate Sen. Rand Paul far more than they do Obama, and Rand isn't even close to being as hardcore non-interventionist as his Dad!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
*snicker*
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Uhh...dat wuz da point.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
A point that fell rather flat, yam.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
So it seems.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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