POLITICS IN UKRAINE 2021
In almost every country all-around-the-world politics and politicians divide, betray and disappoint. Ukraine is no exception, in fact in some areas they take it to a whole new level
To understand Ukraine's current political situation you need to know a little about recent political and social history.
In 1991 on August the 24th 90.32% of the Ukrainian electorate voted in an Act of Declaration of Independence. After more than 70 years of Soviet rule, Ukraine voted to be independent. The result was a political earthquake that sent shock waves through the world, but none more so than Russia. It was particularly worrying for Moscow as the result demonstrated the preference of more than 11 million ethnic Russians living in Ukraine to break free of soviet communism.
In Ukraine the political establishment were rocked to the core. Not least the Communist Party which controlled the majority, the so-called "Group of 239," in the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Council. Leonid Kravchuk, then chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, put forward a proposal to hold a republican survey simultaneously with the Soviet referendum regarding the preservation of the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics". Whilst both sides claimed victory Kravchuk cleverly out maneuvered the communist party in Ukraine by stating that the parliamentary majority was no longer the monolithic Communist-controlled voting bloc that it had previously been. In 1991 the Communist Party was first suspended, then banned on the basis of evidence that its leadership supported Moscow against the independent interests of Ukraine. The Communist-dominated majority in the Supreme Soviet council announced its self-dissolution, the balance of power in Ukraine was now shifted to democratic forces. Whilst this was a welcome move, it merely masked a bigger problem. Previous communist sympathisers were still in parliament, albeit under a different party political name.
Independent Ukraine 1991 - 2004
In 1991 shortly after gaining Ukraine's independence Leonid Kravchuk was elected president. He remained president until 1994 until he was succeeded by Leonid Kuchma. Kuchma's period of presidency was fraught with broken promises and failed economic policies. Kuchma won the presidency by engaging former communists and stating his intention to integrate Ukraine into EU structures. Whoever, his words did not match his actions. His undemocratic rule was full of corruption scandals and human rights violations. Kuchma walked a political tightrope, Ukraine continued to align itself with the CIS but at the same time maintained Ukraine's pro-west ambitions. In 1994 Ukraine joined the Partnership for Peace Programme as part of NATO. And in 1995 Ukraine joined the Council of Europe.
In 1996 Ukraine achieved a degree of macroeconomic stabilisation when it introduced the long awaited currency, the Hryvnya. Despite this Ukraine's economy continued to falter, heavily over regulated and bureaucratic policies stifled growth. Communist roots and the deeply embedded culture of corruption inhibited development and politicians self-interest prevailed.
In 1999 Kuchma was re-elected president in a vote that most observers agreed was riddled with irregularities. Later that year in December Kuchma appointed Viktor Yushchenko as prime minister. Under Kuchma's presidency candidates affiliated with the communist party had a resurgence and closer ties were developed with Russia. Ukraine's political landscape became polarised creating a clear division between Eastern and Western Ukraine. Kutchma received his support from the largely industrialised Russified regions in the east. Whereas in western Ukraine where Ukrainian speakers and national democrats dominated, they were broadly opposed to Kutchma.
The new millennium saw some significant disturbing events that sowed the seeds of the Orange Revolution. In 2000 the Georgian politician and Ukrainian Journalist Georgiy Gongadze was murdered. Secret recordings made by Kuchma's own security staff suggested he was complicit in the death of the opposition journalist. The incident epitomises the corruption sleaze and violence of the Kuchma era and leads to civil unrest.
In 2001 further problems build on Kuchma as the Deputy prime minister Julia Tymoshenko is arrested for fraud and gas smuggling (charges she denied). She spent a month in prison before being released with all charges being dropped. Viktor Yushchenko appointment as Prime minister in 1991 had been heralded as an opportunity for economic and political stability. However, communists within the party frustrated his attempts and only limited changes were made. In May 2001 Yushchenko fell victim to a vote of no confidence, it was orchestrated by the oligarchs and communists within the party who disliked his attempts to curtail their influence in Ukrainian politics. Significantly Kuchma had failed to support his prime minister, thus endorsing and allowing corruption to flourish. In 2002 the opposition party tried to have Kuchma impeached.
It was also the year that saw the authentication of the Georgiy Gongadze murder tapes and Kuchma's involvement and approval of the illegal sale of a radar system to Iraq, which was in direct violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution .
The Orange Revolution and modern Ukrainian Politics
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