Ukrainian Opposition: What do they Mean?
Natalia MEDEN | 10.12.2013 | FEATURED STORY

Ukrainian Opposition: What do they Mean?

On December 8 the statue of the Soviet Union's founder Vladimir Lenin was demolished capping the climax of anti-government protests, according to German Bild. The same thing happened in the days of French revolution when the statue of Louis XVI was toppled in the heart of Paris not far from Louvre. People were raptured. Instead a guillotine was erected to behead Louis, Marie Antoinette and around two thousand more in the name of liberté, égalité, fraternité (freedom, equality, fraternity). What did the Ukrainian protesters mean when a poster was stuck on the plinth where the red granite statue of Lenin had stood reading «Yanukovych, you’re next»? It may be a European-style, but the action is two hundred years late… 

Why reporting about the victory over the statue Reuters called Lenin the founder of contemporary Russian (instead of Soviet) state? At first glance it’s just a funny mistake but it speaks about a coordinated action taken against nonperishable symbols of Russia’s and Ukraine’s state unity in the past. This symbolic collision is going on and the statue of Bogdan Khmelnitsky may be the next victim of those who «fight the Moskali (Russians) for independence». The West has started a game in Ukraine and the stakes are high. The goal is to dig an insurmountable ditch between the two parts of Russian world. UDAR (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms) party is the main political force the West counts on. Bild paints its leader Vitali Klitschko as a hero: he could enjoy sun on a Miami beach or somewhere else or spend the money he has earned in sports in a casino. Instead he is openly standing up to the «regime of Yanukovych», writes an enraptured commentator. The well-informed Spiegel reports that a number of European conservative parties and German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself are intent to render Klitschko their support while speaking publicly. UDAR is said to get «logistical support» from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Konrad Adenauer Foundation) and the European People’s Party. The Party is a conglomerate of right-wing forces with Herman Achille Van Rompuy José Manuel Barroso as its vice-presidents. So all the grandees of EU politics are players in the game. 

Formally the government of Germany rejects the fact of rendering support to Ukrainian opposition. On December 4 a question about Ukraine was asked during a press-conference with German government officials and the given answer referred to the contacts with the Ukrainian opposition at the level of political foundations. In Germany they act like kind of offices of government-funded political parties with branches abroad. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is one of them being linked to the conservative Christian Democratic Union (Germany)/Christian Social Union (Bavaria). Most likely the answer implied providing funds to Western political strategists who will consult Klitschko. The members of his team don’t try to hide the fact they have held talks about it with German, French and US companies. In the past UDAR has cooperated with US political scholars from PBN Сompany и Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. Aside from funds and «specialists», public actions are taken, for instance Guido Westerwelle walking around Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) with Vitali Klitschko. No matter he is leaving politics because his Free Democratic Party suffered defeat at the last Bundestag election, Westerwelle is still filled with fervor. Before leaving for Kiev, the Minister tried to mediate between the government and the opposition. Too hastily, perhaps, because having consulted Washington, Brussels appears to choose the policy of isolating President Victor Yanukovych and his team. 

One more tendency has taken shape – the intensification of Eastern Partnership. Formally Berlin had kept some distance from this program. Moreover, media used to report that Germany (and France) was among the main opponents of it. This is understandable; Germans have other effective tools to influence Ukraine: the group of consultants to influence the government, the political foundations to literally exert influence on the Ukrainian political elite, the Goethe-Institute (Munich) for cultural impact. This country is beyond competition as the major Ukrainian trade partner. 

Germany had taken a tough stance before the Vilnius summit. Delivering a speech at the German parliament Bundestag in Berlin on November 18, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Ukraine must take «credible steps» in order to clinch a trade agreement with the EU, «We know that reforms cannot completely be carried out in a day. We also want to support Ukraine in its reforms, with offers of cooperation, with financial means from the European Neighborhood Policy. But the conditions for this must be achieved by Ukraine itself and not just sometime, but rather now», she said. With less than two weeks to go before the agreement is due to be signed at a summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, the European Union has made clear that Ukraine has not done enough to meet the conditions for a signing». As one can remember, it was Germany supported by France who froze the Ukraine’s entry into NATO in 2008. Now the situation has changed and the way the tide turns cannot but evoke concern. When the Ukraine’s President took the decision to call off his signature on the free trade agreement with Germany, it immediately turned into hot (if not the hottest) supporters of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine joining Poland in its fervor. Experts did not lose time to come up with the text of declaration calling on Germany and Ukraine to intensify the bilateral cooperation within the framework of Eastern Partnership. When the Kiev’s decision to skip signing of agreement with the European Union became known, the first reaction of German Chancellor was to discuss the issue with President Vladimir Putin to assure him the Eastern Partnership was not targeted against Russia but then she moved to the position of Guido Westerwelle. The German central media outlets started to talk about a new iron curtain. The refusal of President Joachim Gauck to go to the Olympics in Sochi is a Cold War times gesture to cause perplexity in our days. Perhaps the former East German dissident Gauck still sees the world as an arena for ideological war. Or, perhaps, Berlin has decided that such an approach may serve the interests of Europe and its relations with Moscow?