Home/Daniel Larison/The Real Viktor Yushchenko

The Real Viktor Yushchenko

What is obvious is that the West’s preference for Yushchenko stems not from his democratic credentials or his championing of the rights Ukrainians, but precisely the opposite: from his contribution to increasing the cost of living in Ukraine. Prime Minister Yushchenko succeeded in selling off several regional electricity distribution enterprises (oblenergos) in western Ukraine to foreigners, including to the American company AES. Those familiar with AES’s history in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia will know that the privatization had disastrous results for the electricity sector there, and left many Georgians in the dark and cold in winter. This sort of change – privatization, scarcity, increased prices – is why Yushchenko’s candidacy is really valued in the West, not for democracy, “civil society,” or any of the other slogans the West trumpets. Apparently, despite Yushchenko’s support among the “enlightened” urbanites of Kiev who long to be “cool” and “Western,” and despite the control that pro-Yushchenko supporters have been able to exercise over the electoral process and machinery in Kiev and much of western Ukraine, a majority of Ukrainian voters in the 2004 election nevertheless remembered Yushchenko’s true legacy, and chose not to return to it.

As with Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia, Washington has clearly groomed Viktor Yushchenko for the Ukrainian presidency for many years. Yushchenko’s wife, Yekaterina Chumachenko, is an American citizen from the Ukrainian Diaspora, her parents having emigrated from Ukraine at the time of the Second World War. In the 1980s, Ms. Chumachenko worked as assistant to the US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, then in different capacities in the White House Office of Public Affairs and the Department of the Treasury. From 1994-99 she was head of the Ukrainian representation at Barents Group LLC, which acted as a consultant to the National Bank of Ukraine when Yushchenko was chairman. It was at this time that she met Yushchenko and her influence over her husband is said to be enormous. While increasing numbers of Ukrainian politicians are denied visas to America, Yushchenko has little to worry about if he ever wishes to visit the United States.

In the final analysis, Yushchenko fits the New World Order bill like a glove. Can it be any wonder that George Soros – reviled in Ukraine – has offered his support so heavily to the pro-Yushchenko cause? The Soros world agenda centres largely on the idea of a financial-administrative elite and a global central bank, or World “Gosbank,” whose commanding heights will be the new nomenklatura. Who could be better suited for such a role than former Soviet Gosbank apparatchik Viktor Yushchenko? Unless something goes seriously wrong with the West’s plans in Ukraine, Yushchenko can be expected to appear shaking hands with George W. Bush in the White House in a matter of months. His ally, the gas industry oligarch Yulia Timoshenko (rumored to be a billionaire from Russian gas sales), should be joining him. For although she is wanted on an Interpol warrant in Russia for bribery, her name has recently disappeared from the Interpol website, presumably due to her vigorous support of the Orange Revolution. Evidently the Western scales of justice can be tipped by piling enough cash onto them. ~ British Helsinki Human Rights Group

In another example of the preposterous lengths to which Western news media seem prepared to go to circulate bizarre pro-Yushchenko propaganda, the AP wire carried stories of rumours circulating in Kiev about “Cossacks and miners” from eastern Ukraine interfering with the elections or coming to Kiev (as if this would be significantly different from the Orange hordes who have been making a public nuisance of themselves in the capital for the past month).

Vague warnings of Cossacks (!) fomenting trouble must be intended as still more old-fashioned Russophobic scaremongering and an attempt to impose an image of brutality and authoritarianism on the supporters of Prime Minister Yanukovych, as Western audiences are inevitably familiar with Cossacks only in their capacity as shock troops and forces used to suppress revolutionary demonstrations in tsarist Russia. This not only does a gross injustice to Cossacks in general, but it also exaggerates their present-day numbers.

In the first admission of Yushchenko’s ties to anti-Semitic statements and virulent Ukrainian nationalism that I have encountered in the Western media, AP also reports that some of Ukraine’s Jewish community are having some difficulty deciding between the two figures. This even though Mr. Yushchenko did not join the government in advocating a ban of the newspaper Silski Visti for several weeks after it ran an article claiming that Jews had aided the Germans in WWII during their invasion of the Ukraine. (Also note that in the Western media universe the correct, “Western” position is precisely the heavy-handed, statist option of shutting down a newspaper that publishes politically incorrect views.)

When so many of Yushchenko’s backers indulge in the trash quasi-Nazi nationalism frequently encountered in the impoverished post-communist world, it is astonishing to find this information coming out on major news wires only two days before the “re-run” of the election–in any western European country, the slightest hint of association with such people or such views (or even a false accusation of such associations) would make a candidate politically radioactive and completely unacceptable, the party of the candidate might be banned for its racism or the country that accepted such a party would have sanctions imposed upon it. Even in this admission the AP report manages to reproduce the same stale myth that Mr. Yanukovych represents “heavy-handed Soviet-style leadership” as opposed to the “pro-Western reformer” Yushchenko (the alternatives in the post-Soviet world are of a series of Soviet-style rulers who either mouth democratic platitudes or do not–I rather trust those that don’t bother to insult our intelligence with false claims of liberalism).

Yet it is precisely Mr. Yushchenko’s reluctance to support state censorship that has earned him his only Western criticism to date! Nonetheless, the reality remains that Yushchenko refrained from criticising this newspaper because it expressed views with which his voters sympathised, even though such views would normally put him beyond the pale of “Western” acceptance–such is the craven pandering of an evidently unprincipled man and the desperate need to undermine Russia on the part of Washington and Brussels that he would tolerate such trash and our government would subsidise someone who would tolerate it.

If Yushchenko wins this latest election, extremists will have triumphed, the rule of law in Ukraine will have failed and what little integrity that remains in American foreign policy will have disappeared in a puff of rankest hypocrisy and double standards.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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