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Plus ça change
Same-Old Corruption in the New Ukraine

The New York Times has a lengthy piece on the story of what has happened to former Ukrainian leader Victor Yanukovych’s palatial home since he fled the country in the wake of the Maidan protests. The estate, which boasts such excesses as solid gold fixtures and a private zoo, became a symbol of the success of the revolution when ownership of it was ordered to be transferred to the Ukrainian state.

But since, it has become a perfect symbol of the growing failure of the revolution, and a perfect microcosm of the political reality in much of Ukraine; it has been taken over by a strongman who is using it to generate funds for himself. The Times reports:

In the confusion, the whole lot has fallen under the control of Denys Tarachkotelyk, a burly former businessman and now the self-declared “commandant” of a 350-acre estate, nearly twice the size of Camp David. The boss of a small transport company who supported protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, he arrived at Mr. Yanukovych’s Mezhyhirya residence on the morning after the president fled and somehow managed to outmaneuver rival revolutionary avengers to gain control of the entire property. […]

The struggle for control of Mr. Yanukovych’s estate, however, shows just how hard that will be in a country where who really owns what is often hidden in an opaque fog. Mr. Yanukovych and his cronies are gone, but government bureaucracies remain stacked with underpaid officials shaped by their corrupt ways.

The Russian troops in the east are less dangerous ultimately to the future of Ukraine than the dysfunction, disorganization and corruption in the west. Putin’s Ukraine policy rests fundamentally on the premise that Ukraine isn’t a real country; he thinks that the west isn’t committed enough and that Ukraine isn’t together enough to build a functioning economy and government, and he hopes that by stirring the pot in the east he can contribute to the destabilization process in the west.

The only way to change that is for the third Ukrainian revolution, unlike the first two, to produce a working government and a strong state. So far, that hasn’t happened. Putin’s sinister plan is working.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Might the Ukrainian people actually be better off being governed by Putin?

  • Arkeygeezer

    You have a third Ukrainian revolution going on. It will result in two countries (east and west). Both counties will be self-governing under some sort of political system acceptable to the inhabitants.

  • Duperray

    For western controlled media Putin will soon overtake Staline + Hiro Ito altogether in terms of danger !
    OK, it’s present media hysterical moto, governed from where we all know, let’s them play with their toy.
    This is not an important issue to argue about.
    The real one, Walter, is that one you pin pointed in your paper: Massive corruptor #1 exited by massive corruptor #2 in Kiev, with a long line of further corruptive oligarchs (local billionnaires) who are ever smarter than western billionnaires, they control their own Army fitted with heavy weapons (Priviy Sektor,..). They are ready to take over at any opportunity.
    Therefore, since its departure from USSR circa 1991, Ukraine is now back to square one. Maiden has been an episode full of population’s hopes which fruits have been quickly crop by one totalitarian political party. I dont know which Ukraine future is, but looks like east and west sections will never live again together, due to bloodshed to “fight terrorists”, merely separatists. How would US react in case a president of some leftists latin America state would fight “terrorists” in his country with heavy artillery and heavy rockets upon cities full of civilians, killing 2,500 to (exaggerated by UN) 30,000 of them ? Certainly US would scream very loudly. But not a single whisper about past 5 Donbass months…
    True, Ukraine is under quick political and social decomposition, has many outside enemies but has also a false friend, worst than enemy, US which aroused them up to civil war, for the sake of extending NATO land.
    The nilly willy european politicians slowly start to understand thie reality and claim verbally full US support, then act differently…
    I dont think Russia has any benefit to recover Ukraine, due to so many ethnical, religious, historical hate and political factions fighting each others. Nor does it needs more land or more underground resources, they have plenty.
    But Russia can neither accept NATO to install offensive weaponry the other side of the border (remember Cuba crisis, 1962) nor have its Black / Mediterranean Seas accesse blocked. I simply repeat here what Harry
    Kissinger recently voiced.

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