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¹7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard – and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Ukraine Today

Turning the Tables

The wheels fell off President Viktor Yanukovych’s unchecked roll on power in late November. A failed Association Agreement with the European UNI0N was the catalyst, and then, slowly but surely, the protests evolved. The Yanukovych administration is under siege, but how did it come to this point? What’s On looks at the rapid rise and potential fall of an alleged dictator as Ukrainian people fight back against the country’s biggest bully.

 When Viktor Yanukovych assumed the mantle of President of Ukraine in late 2010 he was primed and ready. However, his interests did not lie with the people, and that became obvious with incredible speed. There were warnings, but the Ukrainian people seemed ready to forgive, forget, and give him a chance. It was no small feat given his background, and while international observers were prepared to declare the presidential election results democratic, transparent, and fair – stories of voter coercion of employees of those within Yanukovych’s circle of influence being told “how to vote” abounded. Following failed promises, scandal, intrigue, and corruption in two decades of Ukrainian independent politics, Yanukovych was ostensibly given a second chance. He paid back by exploiting that chance...ruthlessly and like no other before him.

Phoenix From The Ashes
Yanukovych’s disgrace was brief – it shouldn’t have been – his modus operandi was exposed during the Orange Revolution. That revolution from late November 2004 to January 2005, came in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 presidential election, which was marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud, primarily in Yanukovych’s home region of Donbas, in attempt to rig the election in Yanukovych’s and his Party of Regions favour. The protests succeeded when the results of the first run-off were annulled, and a revote was ordered by Ukraine’s Supreme Court.
In the middle of the crisis, the parliament ratified constitutional reforms that shifted crucial powers from the president to the parliament. Under intense domestic and international scrutiny, the second run-off was declared to be “fair and free”. Viktor Yushchenko received about 52% of the vote, compared to Yanukovych’s 44%. Yushchenko was declared the official winner, and with his inauguration in January 2005, the revolution ended.
Yanukovych had had a taste of power as Prime Minister of Ukraine from November 2002 to December 2004 under President Leonid Kuchma. Surprisingly, Yushchenko showed his magnanimousness by again appointing Yanukovych Prime Minister from August 2006 to December 2007. By 2010, all was seemingly forgiven, and Yanukovych was ready to become Yushchenko’s successor.

Building Power
Yushchenko’s leadership had been lacklustre, the changes to the constitution hammered through in the middle of the revolution created an unclear division of power, which later led to constant in-fighting between Yushchenko and then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Yanukovych watched, waited, and would later use those internal squabbles for political gain.
There were clues to his intentions even before the presidential elections of 2010 – especially when it came to Tymoshenko of whom he said “has her own programme, and I do not think that she would agree to implement somebody else’s. And what is even more important, even if she agrees, I won’t believe her; President Yushchenko believed her twice, and she deceived him, I don’t and can’t have any confidence in Tymoshenko”. That was polite; he also likened her prime ministerial term as being “like a cow on ice”. At the polling booths voter turnout was poor, but the result was emphatic: Yanukovych won the right to govern.
Yanukovych had choices; his redemption at the hands of voters gave him those choices. He could have become a president for the people. He could have committed himself to promoting the rights of those who elected him. He could have dedicated himself to setting Ukraine on a path of reform and European integration. He could have promoted those qualities the west prizes – democracy and freedom. He could have...but he didn’t...

Within weeks of his election it was clear; Ya­nukovych was going to use his office for his own ends and fast. His foot pressed the pedal to the metal and he did not hit the brakes. He reversed many of the changes adopted post-Orange Revolution and annulled the 2004 compromise that reduced the power of the presidential office – transforming parliament back to a rubber-stamp institution. Control back in his hands, he started to hunt his rivals.
First he secured constitutional court rulings to oust Tymoshenko, replacing her with someone from his own “camp”. The following year he went further, Tymoshenko was – sensationally – jailed for seven years. The electoral system was next – the proportional-representation structure was replaced with a hybrid in which 50% of deputies are elected in single-member districts – critics were quick to point out this could only work in the Party of Region’s favour. They were right; the 2012 parliamentary election delivered more seats to the ruling party than it would have won previously and weakened the opposition.
Yanukovych still found time to fiddle elsewhere. Media and public freedoms were curbed; inner tensions between the Ukrainian people, particularly between east and west, were inflamed. The fiddling also included the books, where Yanukovych, and particularly his sons, amassed fabulous, improbable, wealth, which they flaunted shamelessly. When asked to explain, the reply was dismissive and akin to a juvenile “just because”. Where Ukrainians sighed and initially said “we only have ourselves to blame”, that self-flagellation could only be internalised for so long. Inward regret transformed to outward resentment and, inevitably, anger. In late 2013, EuroMaidan would erupt.

by Jared Morgan

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didn’t Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Univer­sal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they don’t understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street – the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades – children’s favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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