Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Ukraine crisis is part of a bigger game

The Ukrainian Rada is often presented as an example of rude democratic health in comparison to anaemic parliaments in other former Soviet republics. That is to say that it is so fractured as to be almost unworkable, with a myriad of tiny parties forming larger blocs which must in turn coalesce in order to form a government.

Ukraine’s president is Vistor Yuschenko whose Our Ukraine faction claims just 14% of Rada deputies. In 2004 he enjoyed the support of the Bloc of Yulia Tymoschenko when he sought election in the disputed presidential election against Victor Yanukovich (whose Party of the Regions forms Ukraine’s biggest single bloc).

Having pulled his bloc out of coalition with the BYT, he is reportedly providing more time for Prime Minister Tymoschenko to form a coalition with Yanukovich. Yuschenko refuses to reconstitute the BYT’s preferred coalition with his bloc, because the Prime Minister has refused to follow his slavishly anti-Russian line on the Georgian conflict.

The Ukrainian president is threatening to dissolve the Rada and plunge Ukraine into another divisive election. Meanwhile western leaders use Ukraine as a pawn in a wider geo-political game with Russia. These two facts are not unconnected.

Ukraine must be allowed breathing space to develop politics based on its unique cultural and geographical circumstances. Whilst its politicians are encouraged to align along pro Nato lines against the prevailing cultural and ethnic sensibilities of the entire east of the country, instability will always be the result.

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