May 25, 2007

Orange Crush

Ukraine's political crisis deepened today as President Viktor Yushchenko transferred command of security forces away from the Interior Ministry to himself, after the minister refused to relinquish his office. Vasyl Tsushko tried to seize the office of a fired prosecutor, only to lose control of the riot police altogether:

President Viktor Yushchenko has ordered Ukraine's 40,000 interior ministry troops to come under his command, amid a deepening political crisis. ...

On Thursday, President Yushchenko sacked the country's top prosecutor, Svyatoslav Piskun.

In response, Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko ordered riot police to seize control of Mr Piskun's office.

Mr Yushchenko - who is commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army - subsequently accused Mr Tsushko of breaking the law.

Yushchenko says that the prosecutor should have resigned his seat in parliament when he took the job, as required by Ukrainian law. Yushchenko fired him in April, but Piskun refused to leave the office. He claims that Yushchenko fired him in retaliation for not pursuing charges against three members of the Constitutional court, and Tsushko attempted to back Piskun by blocking his removal.

Meanwhile, in the background, Yushchenko must deal with Viktor Yanukovych, his opponent in the Orange Revolution. Yushchenko called a snap election in April, which has now been postponed until June. Yanukovych would have preferred to work with the present parliament, so he has tried to stall the elections as much as possible. Yushchenko might play right into his hands by seizing control of the security forces; Yanukovych could claim, perhaps reasonably, that elections held while Yushchenko retains dictator-like power over security would not produce clean results.

It's a 180-degree turn for Ukraine's democrats. Two years ago, it was Yanukovych grabbing power and Yushchenko leading the people against the autocrats. With power slipping from his grasp and few allies left to sustain him, Yushchenko has unwittingly become what he fought in the political revolution. He may not have been left with any choice, but the results seem to indicate that Ukraine has not yet made itself ready for a stable and clean political system.


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Comments (3)

Posted by Neville72 | May 25, 2007 9:20 AM

Seems 75 years of communism has sunk it into their genes.

Any political problems that crop up appears to result in a knee-jerk reversion to Stalinistic/Putinistic behaviior.

Say a prayer for the true democrats in Ukraine.

They'll need it.

Posted by olddeadmeat | May 25, 2007 11:53 AM

Just wanted to say thanks for keeping your eyes on less-traveled issues - the Ukraine simply would not be on my radar at all otherwise.

Your last comment is intriguing to me - is a certain culture necessary for western-style democracy to thrive?

If so, then the culture is the egg and a political system the chicken it hatches.

Maybe we should have carpet bombed Iraq with Jimmy Stewart movies first.

Thanks again.

Posted by Clyde | May 25, 2007 8:46 PM

Meet the new boss-ski, same as the old boss-ski...