Defeating Communism Isn't Enough for Ukraine

NEW YORK: Leonid Kuchma may have trounced his nearest contender -- the Communist Petro Simonenko -- but his recent election to a second five-year term as Ukraine's president is no victory for democracy. Nor is it a victory for Ukraine. Indeed, Kuchma seems to have torn a page from Boris Yeltsin's 1996 campaign manual, employing strong-arm tactics to intimidate and silence the opposition, as well as a tainted privatization process to buy support from Ukraine's powerful and corrupt oligarchs.

While election day itself was relatively free from fraud and thuggery, the process leading up to the ballot was fraught with abuse. President Kuchma's administration has proved a jealous overseer of Ukraine's media, particularly the electronic outlets. Out of four national television stations, two are directly controlled by Kuchma, and a third by his allies. The fourth, STB, initially tried to present a balanced picture but was intimidated by tax police raids and forced to become yet another pro-government organ.

In this environment of intimidation, those who yet dared oppose the President got a clear warning through official channels. Partisan abuse of the country's administrative structures to discourage dissent is widespread, particularly the use of tax collectors to harass opponents. On November 1, the day after the first round of voting that later pitted Kuchma against Simonenko, three governors were unceremoniously dismissed when returns in their oblasts did not favor Kuchma.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/oGO8q7P;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now