December 9, 2016 -
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ - translated by J. Arnoldski -
Since the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential elections, real panic has swept Ukraine. As is known, the Ukrainian regime hedged its bets on the victory of the liberal globalists from the Democratic Party. The Ukrainians' lack of any tradition of statehood led them to offer unilateral support to Hillary Clinton, and even insult her opponent, who is now the new US president-elect.
Amidst a complete lack of progress in implementing reforms, this has spoiled the Ukrainians’ reputation in American political circles. Ukraine and its president are now associated with pervasive corruption and incompetence. Having imposed himself on the change of administration in the White House, this could have lethal consequences for President Poroshenko.
Indeed, the latest news from Ukraine has indirectly confirmed that the regime change process has already begun.
Donald Trump made his first post-victory telephone calls to those leaders who supported him during the election campaign. This itself demonstrates the vindictiveness of the new White house boss. What’s more, his demonstrative neglect of Poroshenko’s insincere congratulations confirmed that Trump takes insults seriously and, when he has the chance, will take revenge on the offenders.
But this is not only revenge as such. The former Democratic administration was deeply embroiled in corruption schemes involving top Ukrainian officials. Trump’s call to fight corruption and “put Hillary Clinton in jail” could potentially lead to the punishment of other Democrats, starting with Joe Biden, Ukraine’s patron advisor. Many Ukrainian and Western media have written about Biden’s corrupt ties with the Poroshenko regime, especially the scandal over shale gas in Eastern Ukraine. The desire to punish political opponents in both the US and Ukraine could come to killing two birds with one stone.
The possible replacement of Poroshenko with another leader has fairly pragmatic aims.
Over the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve given two interviews to the Russian radio station Sputnik which were dedicated to expected reshuffling in the higher echelons of power in Ukraine. In my opinion, Mikhail Saakashvili’s intensification of opposition activism after unexpectedly resigning from the post of governor of the Odessa region is the most visual confirmation of the storm that is brewing in Ukraine. Years ago, the Americans changed out the pro-American Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze for another pro-American puppet, Saakashvili. Shevardnadze, an experienced politician of the old Soviet school, had effectively lost control over Georgia and his credibility had fallen to a minimum. Hence the organization of the “Rose Revolution” which brought Saakashvili to power.
In my opinion, something similar could happen in Ukraine for equally similar reasons. Poroshenko is the astonishingly unpopular head of a regime with dubious legitimacy and has the image of a drunkard with abysmal popularity. In addition, he is one of the biggest oligarchs in Ukraine and is therefore particularly vulnerable to criticism from the Euromaidan supporters and Western organizations. The centrifugal tendencies in the regions have not yet passed the critical line, but they are gaining momentum. Poroshenko lacks full control in both the regions and Kiev itself.
Thus, the objective preconditions have ripened for a change of “boss” of the Maidan and Ukrainian state. Saakashvili probably left his hearty position as governor of Odessa for a reason. He most likely received a direct order from American advisers to “go into opposition.” For Poroshenko, this is a wake-up call.
But an even more alarming wake-up call has arrived. Verkhovna Rada deputy Aleksandr Onishchenko has announced that he has compromising documents on Poroshenko handed to him by American intelligence. It is difficult to believe in the miraculous epiphanies of the cynical Saakashvili and Onishchenko, two businessmen who are steeped in corruption no less than Poroshenko. But the fact that they are both tied to the Americans almost openly says that "Operation Successor” has been launched.
It is highly unlikely that the Maidan will be repeated, as this is too fraught with the danger of disrupting Ukraine’s already minimal stability. Besides, a Maidan could bring to power non-establishment forces in the form of a symbiosis of military officers and neo-Nazis. Thus, it is likely that this move will be made by means of scandals and pushing folders with incriminating materials. The change in power will take place rather peacefully. There is precedent for this: the acting president of Ukraine for the first few months after the Maidan handed over the reins to newly-elected President Poroshenko in late May 2014.
In my opinion, the question at hand is the election of a suitable candidate for the post of head of state. Ukraine has great difficulties with this. The few professional candidates for this post are a priori unacceptable to the Maidan consensus. The rest are at least no better than Poroshenko himself. What’s more, any change of government, even the most peaceful transition, will mean increased political turbulence for Ukraine.
On the eve of a cold winter with an uncertain outcome of negotiations on Russian gas exports to Ukraine (which are happening today, December 9th, under EU mediation), this turbulence will only further increase. Therefore, I do not believe that the Poroshenko regime will come to an end in a matter of weeks as some Russian commentators have suggested. First the news of the exposure of Poroshenko’s corruption needs to fly, then the gears of anti-corruption initiatives have to start turning, then the legal grounds for impeachment have to be prepared and then, perhaps, a trial. All of this requires a large chunk of time.
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