The last few days in the Ukrainian capital have been, to say the least, once again restless. Celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Nazi Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the military wing of Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists which collaborated with the Nazis, have gradually escalated into street confrontations between the opposition and the ruling regime.
On Tuesday, October 17th, the ex-President of Georgia and ex-Governor of the Odessa region, Mikhail Saakashvili, also plunged into the fray by gathering a so-called “anti-corruption rally,” which observers have suggested gathered around 4-5,000 people.
The demonstrators’ ranks have included supporters of Saakashvili’s “New Forces Movement,” Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party, Lvov mayor Sadovy’s “Self-Help”, as well as militants from the neo-Nazi Svoboda and National Corps (the political wing of the Azov Regiment), and other organizations.
The action’s participants have demanded that the immunity of Verkhovna Rada deputies be restricted, laws be adopted for an anti-corruption court, and new electoral rules be deliberated. Strangely by coincidence, President Poroshenko yesterday proposed to parliament a bill abolishing parliamentary immunity. Thus, Poroshenko has remained true to his style of politics which centers on seizing the initiative from competitors and stealing opponents’ slogans. Poroshenko’s spin doctors have clearly learned the lessons of the October Revolution, when the Bolshevik leader Lenin “stole” the “Decree on Land” from the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries. No matter, however, as to this day such an approach has borne fruit not necessarily for Ukraine, but for Poroshenko himself. To recall, Poroshenko has “stolen” the glorification of Bandera and Shukhevych, the blockade of Donbass, and the concept of a “One country, one nation, one language, one church” cultural-linguistic policy from Ukraine’s Nazis.
The slogans voiced by the new opposition clearly do not evoke a new, fully-fledged Maidan. Moreover, Ukrainian “revolutionaries” have yet to throw new slogans to the masses capable of exciting the people through social networks and TV screens to once again overthrow the government in Kiev. During the Euromaidan, such slogans were “Out with the gang!” and “Ukraine is Europe!” This new Maidan – if this action indeed claims the status of such – thus pales in comparison to Maidan 1.0 and Maidan 2.0, and lacks some of the essential attributes of an “online revolution.” For example, the Euromaidan was supported by practically all central TV channels, whereas now Ukrainian TV is almost exclusively controlled by the regime.
The main difference between the ongoing protests and the previous “revolution”, however, is to be found in another aspect. Four years ago, crowds of people took to the streets for the sake of some kind of alternative, no matter how dubious or stupid. Today, it is difficult to see any alternative to the current government in the actions of the new revolutionaries. All the above-mentioned parties currently have or have had parliamentary seats, such as Svoboda, and all of these forces and their leaders are the same ones who waged the “Revolution of Dignity” four years ago. If they didn’t gain anything then, then they can only blame themselves, and not only President Poroshenko.
What alternative do the current protesters besieging parliament propose? Eurointegration? Since January 2016, Ukraine has “enjoyed” the Free Trade Zone Agreement with the European Union, yet still the EU shows no signs of letting Ukraine further in the door. Eurointegration for “European Ukraine” stops here. So what about “out with the gang?” In terms of corruption, contemporary Ukraine far surpasses the pre-revolution level. Maybe further Nazification? The acting government is already moving evermore forward with Nazifying language and education laws. Thus, the new revolutionaries have nothing fundamentally new to demand that hasn’t been incorporated into the slogans and program of the regime.
What’s more, the current government, which comprises none other than the people and forces who seized power in the coup d’etat “revolution” four years ago, has learned the mistakes of its predecessor. In an interview with Radio Sputnik yesterday, I pointed out how Poroshenko is afraid of dispersing protests, and is instead sending “aunts,” or “civil activities” hired by the authorities into their midst. But best of all, Poroshenko is trying to “ignore” the protests altogether. It indeed looks like the regime is seeking to take this course. Today, for instance, General Prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko stated that there will be no demolition of any tent towns erected by protesters.
If all goals are contained in the old slogans and all the moves by the revolutionaries are anticipated by the government in advance, then why organize a new revolution? I think that we have already seen something similar before. Two parliamentary parties that form the core of the new, rather large opposition have besieged the Rada. To speak like Vladimir Putin, they are “not befriending Saakashvili,” but merely standing against Poroshenko. This action is thus nothing more than a test of strength, a training and breeding ground for a new opposition bloc including everyone from extreme Nazis to Lvov businessmen claiming respectability.
Just as in the 1920’s when a 100,000-strong Reichswehr was created which instantly allowed for the German army to be expanded, so today is a new opposition being founded to be capable of bringing out millions into the streets. This new opposition has two powerful human resources: (1) city and village dwellers discontent with high and still rising utility costs, and (2) ATO veterans. There can be no doubts that the new revolutionaries are working on both fronts. Since October 1st, gas prices have risen 9%, utility fees are sharply increasing, and the number of unhappy and discontent civilians is only growing. This is just what Saakashvili and co. need and want.
So, will there be a Maidan 3.0? This question is not one of possibility, but of time. Of course, a Maidan is possible if Washington wants to give the green light to replace one of their “bastard sons” with another, i.e. replace the Poroshenko regime with Saakashvili’s collective. But today I see no urgent need for such. Nevertheless, the mechanism is being created, a social basis for revolution exists, and the oligarch-president Poroshenko is keeping his balance. Thus, only the future will show in which direction the pendulum will swing.
Originally published on fort-russ.com