Maidan Reforms or Maidan Meltdown?

photo yatsenyuk

by Gordon M. Hahn

The Maidan regime in Kiev is lurching from crisis to crisis with no end in sight. No sooner did the confrontation between President Petro Poroshenko and Ihor Kolomoiskii quite down (https://gordonhahn.com/2015/03/27/poroshenko-1-kolomoiskii-0/), before a series of corruption charges hit the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the neo-fascist warlord and Right Sector leader Dmitro Yarosh was appointed an advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister. Reports of Yatsenyuk’s possible removal from the prime minister’s post were preceded by allegations of corruption within his own circle as well as in government offices under his watch.

Some data points of recent vintage from Ukraine:

(1) In mid-March, Swiss prosecutors file criminal charges against Rada deputy Mykola Martynenko, a close Yatsenyuk ally, for taking bribes (CEPI Ukraine Watch, Central European Policy Institute, 30 March 2015, http://www.cepolicy.org).

(2) Interpol also places National Front Rada deputy Mykola Knyazhytskiy on its wanted list, sought by Cambodia over allegations of child-rape, but is later removed from the list because, according to Cambodia’s Interpol office, “the case involves politics in Ukraine and Russia” (CEPI Ukraine Watch, Central European Policy Institute, 30 March 2015, http://www.cepolicy.org).

(3) On March 18, the State Financial Inspector, just removed from his post, announces corruption in the privatization of Ukraine Telecom (http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/92925-jeks-glava-gosfininspekcii-vo-vremja-otcheta-v-rade-obvinil-jacenjuka-v-korrupcii).

(4) On March 28th, the head and deputy head of Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Ministry, both included in the quota of government positions given to Yatsenyuk’s National Front in the wake of the elections to the Rada, are arrested before television cameras at a cabinet meeting (http://www.regnum.ru/news/polit/1909926.html#ixzz3Vuz8aiUO and http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/93768-glava-gschs-bochkovskogo-zaderzhali-na-zasedanii-kabmina).

(5) Ukraine’s General Prosecutor orders on March 29th that the investigation into the Yatsenyuk government’s alleged corruption to be completed within one month (http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/94275-genprokurature-dan-mesjac-na-rassledovanie-faktov-korrupcii-v-kabmine).

(6) On April 3rd Petro Poroshenko Bloc deputy in the Rada Sergey Kaplin calls Yatsenyuk’s removal from executing the powers of prime minister presumably for the duration of the investigation into alleged corruption in his cabinet (http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/94997-v-rade-iniciirovali-otstranenie-jacenjuka).

(8) On the same day, Poroshenko introduced into parliament amendments to the law on martial law (http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/95036-poroshenko-reshil-opredelit-pravila-vojny-v-ukraine).

(9) On April 6th, independent Rada deputy from the Svoboda Party, Yuriy Levchenko, accused MVD chief Arsen Avakov of covering for the Yatsenyuk government’s corruption and functioning as a protector for the machinations of the arrested Emergency Situations Ministry officials (http://nbnews.com.ua/ru/news/146969/ and http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/95003-v-bpp-obvinili-avakova-v-kryshevanii-korrupcionnyh-shem-bochkovskogo).

(10) On the same day an official search of the office of MVD deputy chief Sergei Chebotar discovered a hidden bookkeeping record, gold bullion and other valuables, reported Rada deputy Kaplin (http://vesti-ukr.com/politika/95209-otstavka-jacenjuka-potopim-premera-potonut-vse).

(11) The Rada establishes a commission on April 6th to investigate “Yatsenyuk’s machinations” and corruption in the cabinet, including in the housing and communal services sphere (http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/95307-rada-dogovorilas-rassledovat-mahinacii-jacenjuka).

(12) On April 6th, two of the three large ultranationalist party factions besides the National Front in the Rada indicated their support for Yatsenyuk’s possible removal; the Radical Party’s leader Oleh Lyashko was less unequivocal than Ftaherland’s Yulia Tymoshenko who said her faction would support Kaplin’s initiative (http://vesti-ukr.com/politika/95209-otstavka-jacenjuka-potopim-premera-potonut-vse).

(13) On the same day, in the now ritualistic Maidan fashion, Rada deputies in National Front’s Rada faction, Viktoriya Syumar and  Miksim Burbak, state directly or imply, respectively, that “Russian agents” and Moscow are behind the move to discredit the Yatsenyuk government (http://vesti-ukr.com/politika/95209-otstavka-jacenjuka-potopim-premera-potonut-vse).

(14) On April 6th, leader of the non-parliamentary neo-fascist party ‘Svoboda’, Oleh Tyahnibok, called for a mass demonstration at the walls of the Supreme rada calling for Yatsenyuk’s resignation (http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/95218-svoboda-pozvala-vseh-na-antipravitelstvennyj-miting-pod-stenami-vr).

(15) On April 2nd, President Poroshenko, speaking at Chernigov State University founded in the 17th century, states: “I think there are few universities in Europe that trace their history from 17oo. When there had already been cathedrals in Chernigov for several centuries, Moscow was only a swamp” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrSvZXcS2nU).

(16) Notorious neo-fascist Right Sector leader Dmitro Yarosh is appointed an advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister on April 5th.

It appears that Poroshenko is administering the carrot and the stick to bring potential challengers into line. Poroshenko may be only marginally better than the corrupt actors in the government and the extremist actors of the Right Sector. It should be noted that there are Right Sector members and associates in both Yatsenyuk’s National Front party and in Poroshenko’s Petro Poroshenko Bloc, some of whom were removed from its Rada faction and from positions in the Dnepropetrovsk Oblast administration after Kolomoiskii’s defeat. In terms of corruption, Poroshenko has not relinquished his business holdings as he promised in his various political campaigns, and remains the owner of Ukraine’s Channel 5 television, Roshen, and much else. These holdings were not put in a trust, as is the practice in democratic states.

If Yatsenyuk is removed, it can be expected that the nationalist parties will attempt to move an even more nationalistic politician into his office. Tyahnibok may entertain fantasies in this regard, or he may try to orchestrate a demonstration into a neo-fascist Maidan 3. Tymoshenko may position herself for a comeback, which cannot be entirely ruled out. Poroshenko may find it difficult if not impossible to hold together the parliamentary majority he formed with the National Front. The latter might split, allowing the one or more of other nationalist factions to emerge as kingmaker.

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Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.

About Gordon M. Hahn