January 3, 2014
Translated from Russian by J. Hawk
The leader of the Ukrainian Choice movement Viktor Medvedchuk noted that the current Ukrainian authorities are using the militaristic rhetoric as a diversion from their own incompetence, for which the entire Ukrainian nation is made to pay.
As Ridus reported earlier, the Verkhovna Rada voted to prolong the collection of the military tax until the armed forces reform is completed.
From Medvedchuk’s Facebook account: “The 1.5% income tax for military purposes was extended indefinitely. Officially until the armed forces reform is complete. But reforms are the favorite slogan of the ‘kamikaze’ government. They have been promising changes of all sorts for nearly a year. But so far not a single genuine reform has been introduced, least of all in the military. Civil servants and politicians have no intention of changing anything, which means that the military tax is likely to become a permanent tax.”
The military tax is a 1.5% income tax leveled on physical persons. It was introduced in Ukraine on August 3, 2014, and initially was to expire by January 1, 2015.
Ukraine is in the middle of a rather remarkable experiment, in that it is attempting a military mobilization and campaign just as it is cutting essential services to its own population, a combination of policies that is unsustainable in the long (or possibly even the medium) term. Usually when one calls on the people to rally around the flag, one has to give them a positive reason, usually in the form of the state making itself relevant to its citizens. But the government of Ukraine is doing exactly the opposite: not only is it making itself irrelevant by eliminating services Ukrainians depend on, it is making itself an onerous burden by imposing additional taxes and fees. This sort of “let them eat cake” approach to governance is the stuff of which revolutions are made. This is why Medvedchuk characterizes is as a “kamikaze government” because policies it pursues are downward suicidal. However, there is another explanation, namely that it is not so much “kamikaze government” as a “hostage-taking government.” The only means of leverage Yatsenyuk et al. have on the Western donors is by threatening the imminent implosion of Ukraine—the effectiveness of the perennial “Russian invasions” have evidently worn out. However, EU and the US are about as likely to negotiate with extortionists as with terrorists, especially since by now it has become clear that any Western aid to Ukraine in order to prevent its collapse is only likely to result in…more pleas for aid to Ukraine to avoid its still-imminent collapse. The refusal of US/EU/IMF to provide additional funds to Ukraine means the extortionists’ bluff is being called. The problem, however, is that it’s not clear that the extortionists can avoid a collapse by any means other than a reconciliation with Russia, and those bridges have been set on fire when the Ukrainian government accused Russia of invading Eastern Ukraine and shooting down flight MH17. Therefore one can expect ever-more desperate actions from the Kiev government in the hopes of attracting Western support, and the brinkmanship such policies imply may actually take Ukraine over the brink.