Thursday, September 23, 2010

A different type of Ulster! Also run by the Creoles

Last week was the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of a friend of mine Georgiy Gongadze and while I had every intention to blog on that theme, my computer decided that it was going to take a break for a few days. The video output was something that I could not get working until some time around seven on Monday morning. No I wasn't up all weekend, I was simply up at the crack of dawn on Monday to strip the box down and build it back up again. Within about an hour it was working better than most of the scrap you buy off the shelf and I hope it continues to do so for quite some time.

Not to long ago I commented on the shortsightedness of some people in the Ukrainian community regarding Ukraine, and Ukrainian culture. As a result, I'm sure calling a spade a spade annoyed some people. This included one person that took the time to comment here, but completely seemed to miss the point that Ukrainian Festivals are not for Latino dancers, or other displays of cultures other than Ukrainian. Now, I'm certain that I'm about to piss off a few more people, but in all honesty I really don't give a damn.

For many Ukrainians in the Diaspora, including myself in the past, Ukraine is portrayed in their minds as a country composed of the positive and romantic images, though in fact the realities of the country are much more grotesque than most individuals could even imagine. This becomes even more apparent if one carefully examines a number of small details that are easy to over look if you want to remain a romantic, or you are someone who simply made forays into the country as a tourist. In fact the reality of Ukraine at times borders on the grotesque, but heaven forbid that I say something like that, but it is the truth.

Last week the General Procurator of Ukraine made an announcement that the death of Georgiy Gongadze was the responsibility of a dead man! Nothing like absolving oneself of any responsibility, and finding an easy way out. The dead man, was General Yuriy Kravchenko former head of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs, who miraculously committed suicide by shooting himself twice.

My first two trips to Ukraine were while it was still part of the Soviet Union in 1990. The next trip came three years later and at this time there were incongruous aspects of the society that were sticking out all over the place, and gave me a hint that the development of the country from a command economy and non-democratic state to a market economy and democracy would not be anywhere as smooth as the democratically minded Ukrainian nationals wanted to see it. A clear example of this were the shear number of Mercedes S-Class vehicles I saw at the beginning of Shevchenko Blvd, near Khreshchaty back in 1993. There were about half a dozen of them parked and given that the base price of these vehicles in Canada was about 72K at the time I started wondering about the haves and the have-nots in Ukraine. I compared it to my home town of Montreal, and thought that I had never even seen that many Mercedes in all of Montreal in any given week, let alone at the same time. It was one of those strange dichotomies that struck me back then and little has changed in Ukraine's 19 years of independence. This was one of many factors which formed my basis for my understanding of a young democracy called Ukraine.

While, Ukraine was making positive progress to becoming a more democratic society during a period under President Yushchenko, who did have many short falls, I would to echo a colleague in one forum as well as Joni Mitchell:

Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've gotTil it's gone...

This being said, it seems to me that a sizable piece of the Ukrainian population really never had a firm grasp of democracy of democratic process, somehow focusing on elections, rather than one of the most important periods of a democracy, the inter-election period. I know of many NGOs in Ukraine that tried to draw attention to the accountability of politicians and political leaders in the last years. And while hindsight is 20/20, where was the critical mass that was necessary in order to hold Yushchenko accountable for his promises made on Maydan in the winter of 2004?

Nearly nine years ago I first came across the term “political capture” and have often used this in speaking about Ukraine with friends and journalists. However, it only seems that now, with the rights and freedoms of Ukrainians being rolled back into a nouveau-Soviet type of regime that publications such as the Financial Times are now using this term. But it doesn't mean that it did not exist, it just seems that now that the FT and others are starting to wake up and realize the realities of a contemporary Ukraine, and that it is in fact controlled by very few people. Individuals who have their own personal agendas, and that having nothing in common with Ukraine developing into a strong, stable democracy and well developed market economy.

After living in Ukraine for over ten years, working in different capacities and doing business for three of those years, together with my business partner we started to formulate a clearer understanding of what contemporary Ukraine is all about. How much of it really is window dressing and how much really hasn't changed since the early 1990s In fact we came to a conclusion that Ukraine is in fact in worst shape than it was within the framework of the Soviet Union.
With such a preamble I hope what comes next doesn't surprise too many of you, and if it does, great, that is what I intend to do. Open your eyes and stop dreaming the dreams which have as much chance of becoming a reality as winning a million dollars in a lottery without buying a ticket.
We must remember that Ukraine is ruled by four K's which in reality are just as bad for Ukrainian culture and Ukraine's future as the KKK was for a man of colour living in the south during the time of segregation, or those in a what was an apartheid South Africa.
The first of the K's stands for Komsomoltsi. For those of you who forget what the Soviet Union was, an extremely brief history lesson. The Komsomol was the youth wing of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. These are the individuals who took control of all financial matters and businesses when the USSR crumbled. In short I would summarize these people as opportunists with very few principles. They are the “me” generation of Ukraine and the former SU. In Russia one of those who clearly took advantage of his position was Mikhail Khorodkovsky. In Ukraine similar individuals could include the following individuals, some to a more than lesser degree, but nonetheless a great deal of power in the hands of a few: Serhiy Tihipko, Viktor Pinchuk, Andriy Derkach, Viktor Medvedchuk, Hryhorhiy Surkis and Rinat Akhmetov. Not to mention a whole, range of others who are not as visible but who are not friends of Ukraine or its people.
Because of an internal Communist Party decree in 1991, Komsomol members started funneling Party funds into private ventures. For a snapshot of where Ukraine's oligarchs emerged take a look at my friend Kost Bondarenko's analysis in the Kyiv Post back in 2002.
The second K, stands for Kryminal, as in criminal in English. It would be extremely naive for us to thing that the criminal elements in Ukraine have little to do with the goings on in the country, and possibly even the lack of reforms that have taken place in the country. The rule of law in Ukraine is practically non-existent, and the court system is a farce. In fact the results of Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in 2009 along with the inaction of the current Ukrainian government prompted the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to put forth a resolution on Rule of law, human rights and fighting corruption in Ukraine, which in part reads:
Ordinary citizens and private companies remain helpless against arbitrariness of law enforcement officials,
security agencies and fiscal bodies, such as police, tax police, security service, customs office. Numerous cases of ill-treatment, unlawful searches and seizures, groundless criminal persecution of business people, whereas legitimacy of their transactions was previously confirmed by final courts’ judgements, are reported; as well as collection of bribes which later go to the top officials instead of taxes.”

Now if this is going on at an official level, where the official bodies are pitted against ordinary citizens, then certainly where the criminal elements of society are involved, the courts too become the recipients of dirty money from those who stand on the wrong side of the law.

The third K is for the first letter of the predecessor of the SBU (Sluzhba Bespeky Ukrainy) the KGB, which in all honest, should be above all the politics, but clearly the current president is creating a police state buy using this body as well as other law enforcement bodies. Though this only touch the surface of the who is controlling Ukraine. In addition, according to a STRATFOR report, reprinted in the Kyiv Post, the SBU is realigning its interests with that of its Russian counterpart the FSB. So what does this mean to the west and democracy minded individuals and states? Think about it a bit!

Now let's get to the fourth K of the KKKK, acronym. This K stands for Kreoly, or Creoles. So what are Kreoly. While I had heard the term many times and understood its explanation, by friends, the best written explanation was in an interview I read with Ukrainian writer, publicist and what I would call contemporary and commoner's philosopher Mykola Ryabchuk. But before we get to my translation of that definition, we have to remember, is that these Kreoly really don't give a rat's ass about the diaspora nor do most of the population of Ukraine. For the most part the Diaspora for them has and will continue to be a cash cow for projects which they can easily steal from. Besides stealing from the Diaspora these individuals have become very good at stealing for the state coffers by developing projects which are funded by state money instead of private money. If these individuals ever gave a damn about the Diaspora things would have played out very differently in the early 1990s, and many more professionals would have been invited to Ukraine to help develop a country that was strong and independent.

As Ryabchuk says in the interview I mention above:

“If you call things >by what they really are, then back in March there was a coup and power was seized by a thunderous mixture of the most criminal oligarchs from the most-mafia-like, most-soviet-like, most-totalitarian region and Moscow's agents, related first and foremost to the FSB and GRU of the oil and gas business. In cultural terms, this colonial power, though not Russians, but "Creoles", as some would say. In other words colonists and their descendants and indigenous peoples who assimilated into "a higher" form, as they see it, into a "white" language and culture and who are seeped with a deep hatred and contempt for their "black", those non-assimilated relatives (the Ukrainian ignorant natives they sarcastically call "kolhoz", "bulls" or "boors", opposed to their acquired hatred towards "Nazis", "Ukrainian isolationists","Banderites" and "nationalists").

“Russia, for “Creoles” - is not their homeland, but simply a situational ally, required for domination over the aboriginals. Something like the Ulster “creoles” require London, in order to dominate the Irish. If the aboriginals of Ukraine were weaker or fewer, the the local “creoles” would be able to cope themselves without Moscow – as this has been done in the last while in Belarus by the creole regime of Lukashenko. Or as was once done by the creoles in North and South America – having separated from England and Spain, - not quite for that reason completely, but to develop the countries of the Aztecs and the Maya.”

So after having said all this, those who have to deal with Ukraine, particularly with the current anti-democratic and anti-Ukrainian government be the Ukrainians in the Diaspora  or others they must be firm and resolute in what their demands are. They should also be clear in pointing out the faults and anti-democratic actions of the Yanukovych regime to their respective governments.


  1. You paint a very clear (if grim) picture of the political situation in Ukraine, expecially vis-a-vis the diaspora.

    One fragile step forward (under Yuschenko) and about 10 steps back since.

    Someone once said "We have seen the enemy, and it is us."

    Someone else said: "True evil happens when good men (and women) do nothing."

    When will this sink in, and start to generate positive action?

  2. The first of those quotes can be attributed to Walter Crawford Kelly Jr, in his comic strip "Pogo" though as Kelly put it the quote was: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    The second quote is often incorrectly attributed to Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke.

    Pawlina, however, this problem doesn't just exist here, it exists in Ukraine. There are people who are considered pretty progressive in their thinking, but as they say, if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Ukraine currently has no "independent" leaders, it will take some time to cultivate these. In 1993 my aunt in my father's village asked me, "When will we see the independent Ukraine that we once dreamt of?" Back then I said to her that it would take three generations. Somehow, I am starting to believe that statement even more now than when I said it over seventeen years ago.