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Anne Applebaum has a remarkable interview with Viktor Yushchenko, the man who lead Ukraine to independence from Moscow and away from corrupt clan rule a little over a year ago. Now, facing the reality of ruling over a former Soviet republic where many still prefer closer ties to Moscow, Applebaum gets to the essence of Yushchenko's conundrum:
In any country, poor relations with a larger neighbor could damage a president's political career. But for Yushchenko they pose a particularly difficult problem. Far from omnipotent, he is surrounded by corrupt officials, many of whom are easily won over by a Kremlin awash in oil money, most of whom are still loyal to the previous, pro-Russian, post-communist regime. As president in a parliamentary system, his powers are limited in any case, but in Ukraine, where secret information his police officers intercept is more likely to be sent to Moscow than given to him, they are almost nonexistent.
This might be true even if the Russian government were deeply committed to keeping Yushchenko in power: But Russian authorities have never tried very hard to hide their disapproval of Yushchenko, who was declared winner of the election only after mass demonstrations -- the Orange Revolution -- of a kind the Russians themselves fear.
Applebaum lends her considerable talents to a bleak but not hopeless portrait of the quiet democrat in transition, trying to undo the corruption that goes back generations and that holds Ukraine back from its full potential. Read the whole thing.Sphere It View blog reactions
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