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Editorial

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’éditorial : "C’est quand la révolution ? "

by Jean-Paul Piérot

“When’s the Revolution?”

Translated Wednesday 5 March 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

“But at what stage can one speak of a revolution? In no way, if the result of such a struggle comes down to the replacement of Viktor Ianukovich, the vassal of Rinet Akhmetov, the boss of the SCM Holdings consortium (mining and steel industries, insurance and banking), by Iulia Timoshenko, who built her fortune on gas distribution.”

Thus the eighty-two dead in Maïdan square have carried away Viktor Ianukovich. The confrontation had reached the point of no return. Progressively abandoned by the oligarchs who had made him king, today the deposed president had no other choice than flight, if he wanted to avoid having to give an account after such a disaster. The demonstrators who have occupied downtown Kiev for the past three months and, beyond them, a broad section of the public in this former Soviet republic of 46 million people feel that they have won a victory.

But at what stage can one speak of a revolution? In no way, if the result of such a struggle comes down to the replacement of Viktor Ianukovich, the vassal of Rinet Akhmetov, the boss of the SCM Holdings consortium (mining and steel industries, insurance and banking), by Iulia Timoshenko, who built her fortune on gas distribution. Since 2004, the year of the “orange revolution,” the same match has been played and played again, between two clubs of billionaires, with first one side and then the other winning. The fans – the common people – have never seen their situation improve. Starvation wages, survival pensions, mass unemployment for the masses go together with the insolent wealth of a small part of the population which alone benefitted from the privatizations pushed through in the aftermath of the disappearance of the Soviet Union, in 1991.

As in Russia with Boris Yeltsin, so in the Ukraine with Leonid Kravchuk, both of whom were formerly Soviet leaders, the transition to capitalism was conducted in such a way as to permit a small number of nouveaux riches to grab titles to property and amass colossal fortunes on the cheap upon the Soviet-era big production units. In the early 1990s in the subway corridors, workers and indignant retirees were selling the few rubles in shares that they had received for their privatized companies. Thus a highly polarized society was built upon the remnants of the U.S.S.R. and we have seen the emergence of a wheeler-dealer class whose aristocracy is the oligarchs. This divide runs through the whole of Ukrainian society, in both the west, which is said to be turned towards the West, and in the east and the south, which are culturally closer to Russia. Hence it is on the social terrain, on the demands for a fairer sharing-out of wealth and of social rights that the world of labor and youth can meet and repulse the temptation of a partition which is the bee in the bonnet of certain special interest groups and nationalist currents, and of the far right in particular. If the Ukrainian people pursue their mobilization in this direction, a revolution in the post-Soviet era is possible, and not just in the Ukraine, as everybody can understand.

Similarly, the opposition between the Ukraine’s belonging to Europe, and hence cooperation with the European Union; and its proximity to Russia can only lead to a dangerous dead end. These two realities are unavoidable. One does not build geopolitics on chimeras. Thus the EU cannot behave as an appealing mask for NATO, which “is a friend of the Ukrainian people,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO general secretary, thought it well to emphasize. A wink that can only anger Moscow, when the Russian fleet is anchored in Crimea in accordance with the terms of a Russian-Ukrainian agreement. Relations between the EU and its European neighbors to the east must be rid of the worn-out garments of the Cold War. That, too, would be a revolution.


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