[...] the elections will establish whether a majority in this European, but not necessarily pro-NATO, country believes that Yanukovych's visceral pragmatismwill ensure that he, like Kuchma, does not become 'a vassal of Russia'. To ordinary citizens, who experience at first hand the infirmity of property rights, the incoherence of the law, the harassment of small business and the venality of police and the courts, this is a distinction without a difference.
THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JANUARY 2010 PAGE 25 UKRAINE James Sherr, HEAD, RUSSIA AND EURASIA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE Democratıc Dangers On January 17, Ukrainians go to the polls for the third time since President Viktor Yushchenko took office five years ago. The country has since evolved from a virtual democracy into an immature democracy. There is little danger that this process will unravel, but every danger that it will go no further. Add to this the political misuse of the H1N1 flu d ANGER IS HARDLY A FAR-FETCHED term, because in the midst of the worst economic crisis to befall the country since 1991, respected and competent government has become a national imperative. Yet neither today’s incumbents nor their opponents have persuaded the country or Ukraine’s partners of their determination to place national interests above their own. Will this change once a presidential candidate becomes president? epidemic, a dire economic crisis and enigmatic deals It did once. As a candidate, Yushchenko’s predecessor, Leonid Kuchma did not impress. with Russia; the election remains open and it is not But his first term from 1994 to 1998 swiftly clear what problems it will solve. revised perceptions of his country as a ‘basket case’. P R I M E M I N I ST E R S V L A D I M I R P U T I N O F R U S S I A A N D Y U L I A T Y M O S H E N KO O F U K RA I N E A P P H OTO/ R I A- N OVO ST I , A L E X E I N I KO LS K Y, P O O L THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JANUARY 2010 PAGE 26 The cancerous corruption of power that became the hallmark of Kuchma’s second term from 1999 to 2004 had the paradoxical effect of strengthening civil society and raising civic standards. Yushchenko’s presidency has been the beneficiary of these standards but also their victim. To judge from opinion polls, which give him less than five percent support, few people believe he has met them. His Orange Revolution victory and his almost certain post-Orange defeat are testimony to the defining feature of Ukrainian political culture: distrust of power. What has changed since 2005 is that nobody fears the authorities. Were this not so, Viktor Yanukovych, the personification of all that the Orange Revolution reviled, would have no realistic chance of becoming president: in other words, converting his thirty percent base of
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