David Satter at NRO has been reporting on events in Ukraine. Reading the reports one can’t help but see a common ground between the way they operate and the way the left operates here. For example, here is an excerpt.
The situation in Kiev is evolving in two separate dimensions. If one were to pay attention to only one dimension, it might seem that Ukraine’s political crisis is heading for a peaceful resolution.
At the official level, Sergei Arbuzov, the deputy premier, said Ukraine has agreed on steps leading to association with the European Union. President Yanukovych, meanwhile, is taking part in a “round table” at the Palace Ukraine with leaders of the opposition.
The regime called off what appeared to be a planned attack on the Maidan December 11 and then to general amazement withdrew all Berkut riot police and internal troops from the center of Kiev. This gesture, however, only convinced the protesters that Yanukovych had decided to change tactics. They seized the opportunity to build bigger and more formidable barricades and to set up their own roadblocks at the points that had just been abandoned by the police.
“After the fall of the Soviet Union,” said Vladimir, the director of a construction agency in Kiev whom I met in the Maidan, “people who got their hands on state property became millionaires in an hour. But once property was divided up, Ukraine began to move toward being a civilized society. When Yanukovych took over, there immediately began to be a redistribution in favor of his family and friends. This was carried out by functionaries who did not have any means. But they witnessed how it was done and began to do the same thing but on a smaller scale.”
Anders Aslund, one of the world’s leading experts on the Ukrainian economy, has analyzed the ways in which the Yanukovych family has used its control over the economy to impoverish Ukrainian society. These are embezzlement from the tax administration and the customs, the end of competitive bidding so that regime-connected firms can benefit from the inflated prices in state contracts and from the sale of gas at ridiculously low prices, which make it possible for favored companies to reap windfall profits on its resale. Aslund estimates that these three practices have generated $8 to $10 billion a year to the Yanukovych family during each of the last three years.
Ruslana Lyzhychko, a national pop star who won the 2004 Eurovision song contest and was the first artist coming out of the former Soviet Union to receive a platinum disc, is pushing her voice to the limit belting out songs nightly to keep up the morale of protesters camped out at snowy Kiev square. Rock music blaring and fists pummelling the air, she belted out the refrain of a popular hit by one of Ukraine’s most popular bands, Okean Elzy: “I won’t give up without a fight,” calling on people to wake friends to swell their numbers and rasing chants of “Maidan, exists!” Besides singing she has also been telling reporters the following.
Last night was a record for me – eight hours on stage. People look to me and they also stay.
Russia is our past, Europe must be our future.
I am Ukrainian. I believe in my people, I believe in justice. I will stand firm.
I am not afraid of your clubs, I am not afraid of your gas attacks! I am just a singer, singing songs for peace in Ukraine!
If needed, I will sing every night in Maidan until next presidential election in 2015.
You cannot lead Maidan, you can only join it. I think of myself as a volunteer … showing people that we need to be here because there is no other way.
These are ordinary people who are showing extraordinary courage. The chorus “I won’t give up without a fight” is not really from a political song. The context of that song is a young lady who doesn’t want her man to break up with her. When a regime uses its control over the economy to impoverish its citizens, then a backlash occurs. Maybe we need our own Ruslana here in America.
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