Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

The Washington Post: Poroshenko Is a Menace to Ukrainian Democracy

We know, we just didn't expect WaPo to say it


Here's a rare thing. A great Washington Post article from the pen of a Soros-funded activist. You don't believe us? Read it for yourself. It's excellent.

The piece from a fellow at the Atlantic Council, and founder of western-funded Hromadske TV station, places the recent move by Kiev to strip the former Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili in context. The context is that he is already removing possible threats for the 2019 parliamentary race. And he is so unpopular that even nobodies like Saakashvili are a threat to him:

Both sides have an interest in making this story all about Saakashvili and his polarizing personality. But both are also using it to conceal less palatable and far more important issues. Poroshenko wants to distract attention from his intensifying drive to crush dissenting voices, while Saakashvili aims to obscure the ignominious failure of his career. Of these two, the first is by far the more important.

Poroshenko’s animus might be easier to understand if Saakashvili posed a threat to him. But Saakashvili doesn’t have a power base of his own in Ukraine, and his popularity ratings are notably weak. Poroshenko’s problem is that he’s equally vulnerable. Ever since he became president in 2014, he and his ruling party have been hemorrhaging popular support. Not a single poll gives him a chance of victory in the 2019 election. Playing on the need for European integration or the Russian war against Ukraine doesn’t work the old magic on voters anymore, who have grown impatient with pervasive corruption and the suffocating reality of a state dominated by oligarchs.

As his time runs out, the Ukrainian leader is growing paranoid about his critics. This is the only reason Poroshenko would dare to strip Saakashvili of his citizenship, an apparent violation of international law that will do little to boost Ukraine’s international reputation. Saakashvili is not a serious electoral rival, but still has privileged access to the global media, which he is using to share embarrassing stories about corruption in Poroshenko’s inner circles.

Running on the promise of destroying the oligarchic state in 2014, Poroshenko has ended up as its fiercest defender. He now seems to be spending more of his time battling opponents than tackling the country’s urgent problems. Poroshenko’s ruling party is calling for the investigation and jailing of his main opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, on treason charges. Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of Lviv in western Ukraine and the second-most-popular politician in the country, is accusing Poroshenko of sabotaging trash collection in the city as a way of undermining his support. Some of the president’s fiercest critics in the parliament complain of being wiretapped.

Meanwhile, Poroshenko is also backing away from fighting corruption. When the newly created National Anti-Corruption Bureau started going after Poroshenko’s key allies, his ruling party launched a ruthless legislative campaign against it. The general prosecutor, who answers to the president, has just announced a criminal probe of the people running new anti-graft institutions. The ruling party and the presidential administration keep coming up with new legislative and procedural tricks against the country’s emerging anti-corruption movement on the weekly basis. It’s like fixing one leaking hole in a ship while two more open up. Many activists complain to me that the battle is becoming exhausting.

Finally, the president is also targeting the country’s civil society — the same groups that made the 2014 Maidan Revolution possible and have been pushing forward with reforms since then. When reformist activists stood up for the anti-corruption fighters, the ruling party tried to muzzle them with harsh non-disclosure laws. Additionally, the authorities are bullying the independent press, and journalists live in fear.

And that's not even to mention Poroshenko's crippling the social media under the pretense of Russian sanctions.


Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.