BRAMA, December 1, 2013, 11:00 AM ET|
An Open Letter to Viktor F. Yanukovych
By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Dear Viktor Fedorovych:
Congratulations. Although some gave you the benefit of the doubt, it is now official. You are Europe’s imbecile, Putin’s lackey, and the coward who attempted to sell his country to Russia as an economic serf.
If you thought former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s political trial and conviction gave you sleepless nights and too many headaches to count, be assured your problems are just beginning.
At the last minute you determined the cost for Ukraine to integrate into the European Union (EU) would be too high. Members of your regime, including yourself (note I said regime, not administration), are now blaming Russia’s heavy-handedness with threats that would have amounted to the destruction of the Ukrainian economy.
Is this a surprise? You’ve been negotiating an agreement with the EU for how many years and you didn’t take this into consideration? Are you blind, naпve, or simply inept and don't understand geopolitical politics.
In addition, if Russia tried to crucify Ukraine economically, as it has done so many times throughout history, not unlike an abusive child with an identity crisis still demanding money from its mother, did you not realize world opinion would decisively turn against Moscow? Russia would have been isolated.
You could have had enormous leverage and received US and European economic assistance to help Ukraine through the years ahead as its economy transitioned. Of course there’s China. China would have loved political and economic leverage over Russia and would have been inclined to discretely help Ukraine’s economy.
You, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych, could have single handedly played Vladimir Putin for a fool on the world stage and elevated your status as something more than a former thug turned third-rate politician. Even someone with a rudimentary understanding of geopolitics would have seen the opportunities.
Yet, I suppose, it is understandable you didn’t when allowances are made for your intellectual limitations and conditioning as a Russified Ukrainian, who can’t speak Ukrainian very well, and who thinks in terms of obedience and subservience.
You’re not a leader. You’re a mediocre manager driven by self-interest, personal insecurity over a woman you jailed, and a Soviet mindset that Ukraine should know its place in Muscovy’s shadow.
Ever since you announced Ukraine’s decision to back out of a hard-negotiated agreement with the EU, tens of thousands have gathered throughout the country to protest your cowardice to let Moscow determine the future of 48 million Ukrainians. The latest rally has been reported in Kyiv as exceeding 150,000. So much for the court order you had imposed to prohibit peaceful marches.
Now what? Did anyone in your cabinet think through the short- and long-term implications of rejecting the EU agreement? Did no one foresee the protests? Did no one anticipate the revitalized political opposition?
Do you plan to declare martial law? Will you shut down all the media outlets? Is your regime prepared to arrest a majority of the population that supports European integration?
Remember Viktor Fedorovych, Ukraine isn’t Russia and there are too many civil liberties, many of which you keep trying to take away, Ukrainians have become accustomed to, unlike their politically oppressed Eastern Slavic cousins in Russia and Belarus. Your ongoing attempts to emulate Putin’s authoritarianism will fail.
Incidentally, what will you do if tens of thousands of Ukrainians also march to the prison where you jailed Yulia Tymoshenko after a shameful and shameless show-trial and storm it to free her?
Remember the Bastille during the French Revolution? The people of France stormed it to free those unjustly imprisoned.
You probably don’t know much history because while others were learning it you were out committing crimes and keeping company with people of questionable character in your younger days. Funny thing, you’re still keeping company with those of questionable character, like the pro-Moscow, Russian-speaking prime minister you appointed who has undermined Ukrainian culture, spirituality, and economic independence on many occasions.
What a mess, Viktor Fedorovych. Now what? Do you plan to turn guns on your own people? Police in Kyiv are already overreacting. We’re seeing the photos in the West of beaten and bloodied Ukrainians.
One of your henchmen had the audacity to blame these people for “throwing garbage.” What tough men. And by the way, it wasn’t as if they were throwing effigies of you, at least not yet.
If things continue to get out of hand, and there clearly is no sign of things letting up, do you plan to call on your condescending, big brother, Putin, to send in Russian special-forces? After all, history is filled with many examples where Ukraine’s Russian overlords turned guns and swords on the Ukrainian people who struggled for freedom.
In light of the environment you’ve created there is a certain irony that could be in your future. The EU urged you to give Tymoshenko political exile. Perhaps in the near future, you and the Russian-speaking prime minister you appointed might need political asylum instead. The mob is very angry and this one has a brain.
Paul Peter Jesep, JD, MPS, MA*
*Paul Peter Jesep, JD, MPS, MA is a New York attorney, policy analyst, and consultant. He also is a bishop in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. He is the appointed U.S. spokesperson of Metropolitan Myfodii of the UAOC.
The views expressed here are strictly personal and in no way express those of any church or organization.