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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, September 18, 2009, 9:00 AM ET

    Op-ed

    Yes, Yulia Tymoshenko Makes a Difference — and She Can Win
    (If the 3% Super-Patriots Don't Mess It Up)

    By Boris Danik

    This relates to my recent Brama op-ed commentary (Prime Minister Tymoshenko is denounced by the Ukrainian National Association Press in the USA, August 3, 2009). The editor of The Ukrainian Weekly, in her response published in that newspaper on August 23, p.6 characterized my opinion as very high about Ms. Tymoshenko and very low about the diaspora. The word "very" is misleading.

    LINKS
     ·  The Ukrainian Weekly
     ·  Svoboda
    Wiki logo
     ·  Yulia Tymoshenko
     ·  Viktor Yanukovych
     ·  Viktor Yushchenko

    There is part of the diaspora with an outlook like in The Ukrainian Weekly or Svoboda. The stated mission of these newspapers is about topics "of concern to the Ukrainian-American Community," but that concern does not seem to include the issues at the center of home foreclosures, pink slips, and loss of healthcare insurance on a large scale — except when it happens on the other side of the Atlantic.

    These newspapers rightly berate the monied elite in Ukraine, but don't dare to blast the outrageous behavior of America's oligarchies. Characteristically, The Weekly prints a right-wing column.

    The diaspora's connection with Ukraine appears to be a mix of exultation (the independence anniversary) and upbraiding (the oligarchs, fuzzy law enforcement, political paralysis).

    But in Ukraine, making the ends meet and putting the food on the table is the top priority for the average family in the very though economic recession with severe unemployment.

    It is this priority that engulfs the public mood in Ukraine and shreds the highfalutin agendas — the kind that excites the diaspora.

    In parts of the diaspora, the prospect of NATO membership has been seen as if it were a salvation for Ukraine, long after it had dissolved into a fantasy — and still is for some, as in Svoboda's editorials.

    It is no secret that the big problem for Ukraine is the deep identity fissure — a 50-50 split that undermines its statehood (and makes Mr. Putin's appraisal of its viability not quite as wild as some would have it). NATO cannot solve it for us. The Europeans have a historic memory of the disastrous French military intervention in the south of Ukraine in the civil war in 1919.

    More significant than NATO fiction is the connection between Ukraine and the USA — as long as the latter is willing to continue to factor Ukraine into the now existing chain of containment of Russia as potential rival to America's interests (oil and gas) on Russia's periphery.

    This connection can exist if Ukraine continues to embrace the same pro-democracy orientation it showed at Maidan in 2004. Its impage and the Orange glow are the essential defining symbols if the change demanded by protesters during that winter is to move forward now. That change had been stopped by President Viktor Yushchenko when he settled for much less (called "stability" in the wake of a brief gasoline panic) and fired Prime Minister Tymoshenko and her entire cabinet in September 2005. (The Ukrainian Weekly applauded the move in its September 18, 2005 editorial: "The president did the right thing, albeit reluctantly." It was neither right nor reluctantly.)

    And now, five years after the memorable events at Maidan, Yulia Tymoshenko can be again who she was then, still capable of insisting with some credibility that the dream of a better Ukraine will not fade.

    Credibility is a scarce commodity in Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovych need not even bother about being believable. He will get pro-Russian vote and the anti-government swing vote. As Dr. Taras Kuzio pointed out ("Ukraine Tightens the Screw in Sevastopol"), his win in the upcoming elections for president would be disasterous for Ukraine.

    Concerning the role of Yulia Tymoshenko, who has a record to stand on in this very difficult time, Dr. Kuzio puts it succinctly: "Of the candidates who have emerged from the former Orange camp, only Ms. Tymoshenko has the ability, charisma, determination, and experience to defeat Mr. Yanukovych."

    On the other hand, an outlook offered by the venerable Svoboda seems to rely on some back-door magic. Its editorial (August 7, p.6) says: "The 15% to 20% of voters, who are ready to vote for each of the two candidates (Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Yanukovych), will not be able to change the present direction of Ukraine toward integration into European economic structures and NATO." This is what may be called confidence second to none, if indeed the core of the Tymoshenko base were anti-Western (this is one of the more reckless flap-doodles).

    Incidentally, I did not miss the apparent inference that it matters not which of the current two frontrunners prevails.

    Remarkably, among Viktor Yushchenko's 3% supporters, there seems to be an indifference as to which of the two leading candidates wins the presidency. The Ukrainian-American community should be alarmed when a newspaper published by the UNA takes a very wobbly position (to say the least) concerning the choice between the two current poll leaders.

    Dr. Boris Danik
    North Caldwell, NJ
    September 12, 2009

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