Why won’t Odessa rise up on May 2nd? Part 2


May 2, 2016 – 

Svyatoslav Knyazev, PolitRussia – 

Translated by J. Arnoldski 

Continued from Part 1 

There will be no second round of the Russian Spring

Of course, opinion polls have indicated that the majority of the population in South Ukraine as a whole and in Odessa in particular still hold anti-Maidan views. According to the results of studies commissioned by the International Republican Institute of the USA and the government of Canada, around 90% of the population of Odessa and Nikolaev believe that Ukraine is moving in the wrong direction and that the economic situation in the country has deteriorated over the past year. The report reads: “Around 60% of the population of the South do not support the idea of Ukraine joining the EU, and approximately 70% oppose NATO. A significant part of the residents of the southern region openly condemn the National Guard.”

If elections were held today, the Opposition Bloc would win with a huge margin in Odessa and Nikolaev, voting for which constitutes a protest against the actions of the Kiev government for the population. But what does this solve in practice? Unfortunately, nothing so far.

First of all, following Crimea and Donbass’ exit, around 70% of the population of Ukraine, i.e., the residents of the South and Center of Ukraine, support Russophobia parties to their last breath. “Voting them out” in the South, even with the remnants of the East, has no chance. 

Secondly, no real oppositional, conditionally pro-Russian forces capable of becoming an alternative to the current government exist in Ukraine. The “Opposition Bloc” is made up of former “regionals,” and not even the best of them. The oligarchs controlling the Opposition Bloc cooperate with the authorities and at one time seriously aided the Maidan and Poroshenko. No one can afford to register a normal, pro-Russian political force in Ukraine today. 

Thirdly, with the exception of Kherson, in which the political situation is even more complicated than in Odessa, there is no border with Russia. 

Fourthly and most importantly, the Anti-Maidan and opposition have no clear goals, objectives, or vision of the future. What is supposed to come after protests? The creation of an Odessa People’s Republic? Is such a republic, in the conditions of existing in the midst of hostile surroundings (even taking into account Transnistria) even viable? As Kiev has already shown, there will be no negotiations with rebel regions. There will be only bombardments. And early elections will solve nothing. the government will once again be taken by Kiev, Lvov, and Ternopol. 

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The chance to change anything dramatically at an early stage was missed in the spring of 2014. If not a few hundred, but a few dozen thousand had stood in the center of Odessa on May 2nd, the tragedy could have been avoided. If tens of thousands of residents had stood up on the first day and gone out in the streets in every city of the South-East, then with great likelihood even the war in Donbass could have been avoided. 

As experience shows, the soldiers of the UAF en masse, though not high in morality and intellect, did not want to shoot their neighbors. Without relatively combat-capable units standing in Odessa, Nikolaev, and Dnepropetrovsk regions (2 mechanized brigades, 2 airborne brigades, 1 tank brigade, plus a special forces unit), Kiev would most likely have not decided to go on its monstrous adventure. Ukraine in its current form would already have ceased to exist and would have been re-formatted into a federation or simply partitioned. 

Theoretically, an uprising “from within” in the South-East would be successfully only if it happened in all regions at once, but this is very, very unlikely. 

Novorossiya’s chance for liberation

So does the South-East not stand a chance? Will things come to going extinct within the borders of an impossible mutant that was once the state of Ukraine? No. There is, after all, still a chance. There are even as much as two! 

The first chance: Ukraine opts for a decisive escalation of the conflict in Donbass and is defeated by the forces of the DPR/LPR which would liberate all the territories oriented towards the east, and then determine their future over the course of international negotiations.

Judging by the crime in Elenovka, there is quite a high probability of such a scenario. But the position of the US has complicated things. The Americans, suddenly and in spite of everything said and done before, have publicly demanded that Kiev comply with the Minsk Agreements and even grant Donbass a special status in the Constitution. This might be a bluff to reduce the public image of Washington covering an unspoken command to attack, or an attempt to “freeze” the situation before US elections (and shift responsibility to the new administration).

The second chance: the total collapse of the entire Ukrainian post-Maidan project. The rise in gas and heating prices in Ukraine on May 1st is very symbolic in this regard. According to the calculations of Ukrainian journalists, from autumn 2016 the owners of small houses will have to pay 3.5 thousand hryvnias (almost 11 thousand rubles) just for heating each month, and a modest, 50-square meter apartment in a high-rise block will cost nearly 2.5 thousand hryvnia (about 8 thousand rubles). The average “dirty” salary in the country at the beginning of 2016 was 4.3 thousand hryvnias, while clean salaries landed only 3.5 thousand in one’s hands. In the provinces, after the deduction of taxes, people earn on average around 2.5 thousand (around 7.5 thousand rubles). Thus, already from autumn next year, housing utilities for a two-bedroom apartment or a small home will exceed the average “provincial” salary. 

Under these conditions, even elementary survival will become a problem for the bulk of the population. In this case, the possibility arises of protests simultaneously erupting around the country, followed by a crisis of government. In this situation, simply no one would be able to prevent the independence of an Odessa People’s Republic or Greater Novorossiya. 

However, all of these are just speculative models. It cannot be excluded that Kiev will be able to prolong its existence by increasing repression in the same way as some tyrannical regimes in Africa and Latin America. This scenario is possible if the West aids this stagnation by renewing scant credit for some time. Or, on the contrary, someone might “light a flame with a spark” over the May holidays. 

But logic still dictates that the realization of one of these two scenarios (defeat of the UAF with the subsequent disintegration of Ukraine’s territory or the collapse of the regime following a major crisis) is likely in Ukraine over the next year or two. A “nice” way out of the crisis unfortunately no longer exists for Ukraine, including the South-East, but today these two possible developments represent lesser evils. 

Talk of the preparation of an uprising on May 2nd, 2016 is ultimately used by the junta’s supporters as an excuse to tighten the screws, transfer militants to Odessa, launch another moral mobilization of the electorate, and distract people from solving pressing economic problems. 

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