Ukraine's Crisis and the "What if" in Ukrainian History

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Taras Kuzio is a Toronto-based leading international expert on contemporary Ukrainian and post-communist politics, nationalism and European integration at the Centre for Political and Regional Studies, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta and Non-Resident Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR), School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University.

In completing the writing of my 1,200-page Contemporary History of Ukraine (which will be published as an 800-page book) that spans Ukrainian history from 1953 to the present, I was often forced to ask the question of “What if” in Ukrainian history. This is especially the case in relation to two recent events: the Orange Revolution and the 2010 presidential elections.

What would Ukraine look like today if the Viktor Yushchenko presidency had not been a total failure? What if Yushchenko had managed (as in the 2000-2001 government) to work with Yulia Tymoshenko for the good of Ukraine’s national interests?

Ukraine would have joined MAP in 2006 and NATO by 2010 and Brussels would have come under greater pressure to offer Ukraine a membership perspective in the EU. More importantly, if Viktor Yushchenko and Petro Poroshenko had not permitted Yanukovych to return from the wilderness in 2005-2006 this would have led to a weaker Party of Regions and its inability to win four subsequent elections. The so-called “pragmatic” Lyubi Druzi wing of Our Ukraine and NUNS (Poroshenko, Yuriy Yekhanurov, Ivan Plyushch, Viktor Baloga, etc) through their destructive policies towards orange coalitions and both Tymoshenko governments facilitated the return of Yanukovych from the wilderness and his resurrection in 2010.

What of the What If” in the 2010 elections?

If the so-called “pragmatic” wing of the national democrats had not hated Tymoshenko more than they loved Ukraine they would not have supported the “proty vsikh” (against all) campaign. These proty vsikhs directly facilitated Yanukovych’s victory, his four-year violent autocratic rule and complete theft of Ukraine’s assets, Dmytro Tabachnyk’s Ukrainophobic education policies, and the 2012 language law. Why was it that I, based in North America, could see the mafiosi in Yanukovych more than these so-called “experts” and politicians who backed proty vsikh.

Without proty vsikh Yanukovych would have been defeated and he would have been replaced as Party of Regions leader. The Party of Regions would not have transformed parliament into a rubber stamp institution and it could not have won the 2012 elections. Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko would not have gone to jail on trumped up charges. There would have been no Kharkiv Accords, no dropping of the policy of Ukraine seeking NATO membership, and the SBU would not have been infiltrated completely by Russian intelligence.

Without Yanukovych, Ukrainian voters would not have been provoked into the Euromaidan revolution that culminated in his exile but also in 102 murders and thousands of injured protesters. I predicted long ago that Yanukovych would always try and stay in power (whether in 2014 or 2015) by the use of violence. What else do you expect from somebody with a criminal past who as Donetsk governor facilitated the formation of the Donetsk clan’s krysha that incorporated organized criminal leaders in Donetsk, Odesa, and the Crimea? Without Yanukovych, the Crimea would not have been occupied by Russia and there would not be violent separatism in Donetsk.

The proty vsikhs no longer call for a vote against both leading candidates in this year’s presidential elections – as they did in 2010. The proty vsikhs, as the descendants of Lyubi Druzi and the so-called “pragmatic” Our Ukraine, backed Vitaliy Klitschko and UDAR and they now support Poroshenko.

Remember therefore the past baggage of whom you are voting for when you cross the box on May 25. 




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