Ukraine after Yanukovych
By Walter Derzko
Where does one begin to write about the recent incredible events? The Globe and Mail recounts: “Grief, defiance, hope, apprehension –the challenge seemed to be which emotion to express first.”
Over the weekend, I talked to friends and family in Ukraine: there is no sense of euphoria, celebration or jubilation. Everyone is in shock from the senseless loss of life. On Sunday, Kyivans covered Maidan, Hrushevskoho and Instytutska streets with flowers – a continuous path of honor. Every single place where a hero died is marked with carnations, roses and candles. The Ukrainian Diaspora worldwide also mourned the deaths of the “Heavenly Sotnia” with candle light vigils and memorials. 86 people have died so far and 289 people are still missing. Some 50 people are to be charged with the murder of Ukrainian citizens.
Radoslaw Sikorski, foreign minister of Poland reveals the final hours of Yanukovych’s reign. “By late Friday afternoon, Mr. Yanukovych’s time had run out. Between the signing ceremony for the peace deal and his break for Olympic cheerleading, the president’s prospects had taken a drastic turn for the worse: Hundreds of riot police officers guarding the presidential compound and nearby government buildings had vanished. “It was astonishing,” He told Mr. Yanukovych that the only way to sell a deal to the opposition was to specify when a new presidential election would be held. “You need to declare on what date you’ll resign,” he told the president. Mr. Yanukovych “went white.” But the deadlock lifted after the Ukrainian leader received a phone call from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. “He came back, he was agreeing to limit his time in office,” Mr. Sikorski said. “That made everything possible.” By late Friday afternoon police officers at the most sensitive positions around Mr. Yanukovych’s office compound and the Cabinet of Ministers building were withdrawing.”
The opposition captured the moment, taking over parliament on Saturday, with a majority that included the 72 remaining Party of Regions MP’s and independents to pass a series of laws that overturned Yanukovych’s authoritarian regime and set Ukraine toward a democratic path over one weekend. Reporters and curious onlookers flooded Mezhyhirya –the ex-president’s palatial compound, as well as Pshonka’s estate. Note that there were no riots or instances of vandalism of their property, as we saw after the fall of other dictators–Gaddafi or Hussein. Ukrainians showed remarkable restraint and their true European values.
Overnight Ukraine has turned into a nation that defeated fear and apathy and regained her dignity. In lighting fashion, Parliament dismissed Yanukovych for non-performance of his duties under the constitution, reverted back to the illegally cancelled constitution on 2004, dismissed Zaharchenko, Tabachnik, Kozhara, Pshonka, and others and appointed new acting ministers in charge of the law enforcement agencies-Valantyn Nalyvajchenko and Arsen Avakov. May 25, 2014 was set for new presidential elections.
Furthermore, Maidan is demanding: the arrest of Yanukowych and all his cronies, changes to all the faces in politics as well as the system of politics in Ukraine, the release of all political prisoners and not just Yulia Tymoshenko, new parliamentary elections and Kyiv mayor elections, justice for everyone who gave illegal orders to shoot and kill protesters, lustration in all branches of government including law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the administrative branch of government, the eventual banning of the Party of Regions and the Communist Party, the break-up of Berkut riot police, reforms of the electoral system and the Central Election Commission, setting of open, transparent parliamentary elections under a proportional and open list system, ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the restart of the EU Association Agreement talks. Nothing less will satisfy Maidan. Time for Ihor Bardyn’s CUPP alumni to take charge and run for parliament..
Cautiously, people are recalling Yushchenko’s 2004 empty promise of “bandits to prison.” EuroMaidan SOS publicly called on acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to provide answers to the lack of investigations into the shooting of protesters on February 19 and 20. Why are the police not actively gathering evidence on Institutska St.? AutoMaidan promised to go into opposition, becoming a watchdog over all politicians, who take bribes or enrich themselves.
The economy, however is on the verge of default. This needs to be the top priority. Standard & Poor’s warned on February 21 that Ukraine risks default without “significantly favorable changes” in its political crisis and cut its credit rating to CCC, eight levels below investment grade. The USA, EU and the IMF said they are ready with loans of over 15 billion Euros once a new government and prime minister is appointed. But Ukraine wouldn’t need bridge loans if all the laundered money that was stolen by politicians and oligarchs was returned from Western banks back to Ukrainian government coffers. Between 20 and 30 billion dollars are laundered annually out of Ukraine, that’s 300 billion dollars over 10 years. If repatriated, that’s enough money to comfortably start rebuilding Ukraine. I can only end with -God Help Ukraine!