Ukraine (SCF) – Ukraine is currently in limbo: it has lost the guidance of its American mentors (due to Hillary Clinton’s failure in the US presidential elections), Europe is busy with its own problems, and the past year has not brought…
In Ukraine, revolution and reform has given way to reaction, with vested interests entrenching themselves even further.
Last week, as the world prepared for the Christmas holidays, Ukrainian MPs gathered in parliament at 10am, and departed 20 hours later. This legislative marathon happens every year, when, in a regime of secrecy and sleeplessness, Ukraine’s parliamentarians pass the budget for Europe’s biggest country. After all, when else can you carve up assets in a country that has seen the overthrow of an authoritarian president, a revolution and occupation by Russian forces?
For the past three years, parliamentary deputies, unashamed of television cameras, surround the country’s prime minister in the chamber as they trade for benefits and state contracts. Take Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party. Since 2014, this party, known for its populist rhetoric, has managed to triple the level of state support for a company that builds fire engines. In 2017, direct state financing of the company in question (which, of course, belongs to members of Lyashko’s party) will reach $25m. The Radical Party, meanwhile, positions itself as an opposition platform, yet still votes for the state budget from year to year.
Recent unconstitutional legislation is smoothing the way for direct rule in Ukraine — and repeating past mistakes.
Petro Poroshenko was elected to Ukraine’s highest office in May 2014. Today, there are indications that Ukraine’s presidential institution is winning the fight against both the parliament and the government again, while continuing to consolidate power. What makes Ukrainian presidents expend significant resources to subjugate other branches of power? Does the establishment of personalistic rule pose a threat to Ukraine?
It is easy to be pessimistic when looking at the history of independent Ukraine. In the 25 years since the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine has had 17 governments and several significant political crises, while its economy has mostly failed to grow. Moreover, Ukraine has lost part of its territory following Russian invasion and a separatist revolt in 2014, and is currently fighting a war with both.