January 5, 2015
Translated rom Russian by J. Hawk
Ukraine will experience constant civil unrest during 2015. That’s the forecast made by the Verkhovna Rada deputy from the Radical Party and the former Chair of the Electoral Committee Igor Popov in an interview with Ukrainian Vesti.
“Vinnitsa, Zaporozhye, and other similar events expected in the near future show that the masses can’t take it any longer. Which means the authorities’ ability to keep order is under question. Either by effective messaging, or by compromises on social services, or by force.”
The deputy believes that demographics dissatisfied with government policies will assemble in Kiev to organize protests.
“And if they are joined by unhappy oligarchs or out-of-work politicians, the situation can escalate into civil disobedience and the seizure of government buildings”, believes Popov.
According to Popov, it is precisely the marginalized politicians and oligarchs who are liable to encourage escalation.
“Of course that does not mean they would necessarily seize power. Revolutions are not easily controllable and they often devour their own children first, so to speak. But this has never stopped anyone before,” remarks Popov. He believes that the next revolution would lead to the disintegration of the Ukrainian state, which would be replaced by a consortium of field commanders in the center and regional elites on the periphery.
Popov is entirely correct to be concerned, except that perhaps his concern is, as we say in America, a “day late and a dollar short.” Or, in this case, a year late and at least $15 billion dollars short. The twin consequences of the Maidan were the destruction of the always fragile Ukrainian national consensus and the severing of the economic lifeline to Russia. The government that assumed power after the coup against Yanukovych evidently made a calculation that a new national consensus could be built around anti-Russian sentiment (and this was evident already during the Maidan when Yanukovych was accused of being a “Putin stooge” and the FSB was rumored to be responsible for the deaths of protesters), which would not only restore the unity of the very diverse Ukrainian nation but also endear the new Ukrainian government to the West sufficiently for it to throw it an economic lifeline. This calculation backfired on both counts. The overt anti-Russianness of the Maidan provoked the unrest in the Crimea and on the Donbass (as well as other parts of the country, which are kept under control through sheer intimidation). The West, while it might welcome Ukraine as a market, is viewing the whole Ukraine project strictly through the lens of “cost-benefit” analysis, and so far the actual and potential drain on EU and US finances, due to the need to prop up its feckless Ukrainian “ally” and to the loss of the much greater Russian markets due to Russian counter-sanctions, far outweighs whatever benefits Ukraine’s alignment with the West might bring. So the Kiev government is faced with a range of choices, each less desirable than the next: do we risk another Maidan that will sweep us out of power and possibly result in a country-wide civil war, or do we find an accommodation with Russia?