A treatise on the upheaval in Ukraine, in eight takes.
The money shot:
As tensions rose on the streets of the Russian-speaking eastern portion of Ukraine, the response of the new government in the capital on Sunday was not to send troops, but to send rich people.
The interim government, worried about Russian efforts to destabilize or seize regions in eastern Ukraine after effectively taking control of the Crimean peninsula in the south, is recruiting the country’s wealthy businessmen, known as the oligarchs, to serve as governors of the eastern provinces.
The strategy, which Ukrainian news media are attributing to Yulia V. Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and party leader, is recognition that the oligarchs represent the country’s industrial and business elite, and exercise great influence over thousands of workers in the east, which is largely ethnically Russian.
The office of President Oleksandr V. Turchynov announced on Sunday the appointments of two billionaires — Sergei Taruta in Donetsk and Ihor Kolomoysky in Dnipropetrovsk — and more were reportedly under consideration for positions in the eastern regions….
The ultra-wealthy industrialists wield such power in Ukraine that they form what amounts to a shadow government, with empires of steel and coal, telecoms and media, and armies of workers. Persuading some to serve as governors in the east was a small victory for the new government in Kiev.1
Has there ever been a more pathetic postscript to a putative “revolution”? This act by Ukraine’s new-old rulers encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the phony “democracy promotion” advanced by American “regime changers,” everything that’s wrong with the recent history of the post-Soviet republics, and everything that was wrong with Soviet Stalinism. It’s a sorry symptom of the sad state of politics and ideology in Ukraine, and in the whole wide neo-liberal world. More on that later.
Let’s take a careful look at what has happened in Ukraine.