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Ukrainians disillusioned with national elite, hope for phantom lifeline from US

US manual control of Ukraine, of which US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to Kiev was the latest confirmation, has drawn no protests either from the anti-Russian elite in Kiev or from the popular masses, analysts say. The people just do not believe their leaders will be able to do anything, so they keep hoping for assistance from outside.

Biden visited Kiev earlier this week — for a fifth time since he took office in 2009 and for a fourth time since the February 2014 government coup.

Ukraine remains within the range of the US leadership's close attention, Biden told a news conference following a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. "I have been in your country four times over the past two years, but we have probably spent over a thousand hours in telephone conversations, and I communicate more with the President than my wife does with me," Biden said.

His speech in the Ukrainian parliament was the focal event of the Kiev visit. Alongside customary verbal attacks against Russia and direct instructions as to what the Ukrainians should to in terms of amnesty, decentralization of power and the implementation of the Minsk Accords Biden paid much attention to the need for carrying out reform and the struggle against corruption, which he likened to cancer. "We saw oligarchs ousted from power only for them to return," Biden said.

The governor of the Odessa Region, Mikheil Saakashvili, made a sensational statement. He claimed that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's entourage was defrauding the country of $5 billion a year.

In fact, nothing has changed. The old system is thriving, while the people these days live far worse lives than under the ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych. These and many other similar ideas were sounded in Kiev's center on Tuesday, where a crowd of several thousand gathered for a protest demonstration timed for Biden's visit. Among them were members of the party Freedom and organization calling itself Common Cause, employees of the National Academy of Sciences and trade union activists. They carried posters urging the United States to curb Ukrainian corruption and oust the Arseny Yatsenyuk government.

"The Ukrainian elite doesn't find US external administration annoying just a little bit," the deputy dean of the world economy and world politics department at the Higher School of Economics, Andrey Suzdaltsev, told TASS. "This is their geopolitical choice. It is highly welcome, because that's where the money comes from. One should also remember that the ideology of the current Ukrainian state since February 2014 is a harsh anti-Russian ideology. A return to normal relations with Russia is ruled out. They have no other choice. The whole Ukrainian elite is pro-Western, pro-American and pro-NATO. Nobody asks the ordinary people for their opinion. The political space has been configured to accommodate only those parties which share the core values of that state and its anti-Russian ideology. This explains why half of the electorate does not vote. They have nobody to vote for. The others may still have some illusions."

"None of the reforms the money was given for has been accomplished. Corruption is appalling," Suzdaltsev said. "Yatsenyuk's future is uncertain, because it is hard to do business with a prime minister whose rating is equal to naught. It is not accidental that Poroshenko's crony, Saakashvili, has cracked down on him with corruption charges."

The Americans have apparently decided to leave Yatsenyuk in place for the time being, says the deputy director of the CIS Countries Institute, Vladimir Zharikhin. "He does not satisfy them by many parameters, but they like his fundamental quality — he is controllable," Zharikhin told TASS. "There is hardly any other Ukrainian politician who would agree to ruin one's own popularity rating and the rating of the political force he leads with such enthusiasm just for the sake of acting on US advice. He has set a record: over the past eighteen months the rating of Yatsenyuk's party has been down from 33% to 0.5%!"

"The Ukrainian people are so certain their own political elite is unable to pull the country out of the crisis that they are prepared to pin their hopes on the Americans or any witch doctor who may come their way," Zharikhin said. "It is not accidental Saakashvili's rating in Ukraine is one of the highest. It is not so much a sign of trust in Saakashvili, as a manifestation of distrust towards their own politicians. This explains why there is no sign of massive opposition to US external administration. The Americans are their last hope."

[Source: By Ludmila Alexandrova, Itar Tass, Moscow, 09Dec15]

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small logoThis document has been published on 14Dec15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.