Ukrainocentric Account of Modern Ukrainian History?

I would like to have a more realistic understanding of modern independent Ukraine.

I remember Putin making a remark, perhaps around the time of 2014’s Euromaidan, that Ukraine was like a 1990s Russia where oligarchic rule never ended (as opposed to Russia, where after 2000, the oligarchs were gradually subordinated to Putin’s government).

I was also struck by something the Ukrainian sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko said, which is that Ukraine’s parties can be divided into un-ideological parties that are really just fronts for particular billionaires, and “radical nationalist parties” that are “probably the only parties in the real sense of the word ‘party’”.

Taken together, it suggests a particular perspective on post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine. Both of them got taken over by unscrupulous businessmen and bankers who got hold of the old state-owned enterprises. In Russia, the oligarchic period only lasted about ten years, and then the centralized state regained its strength; but in Ukraine, the oligarchic period lasted for a generation, until Euromaidan, at which point (1) Ukrainian nationalists became a political force as well (2) the civil war in eastern Ukraine began.

(An ironic appendix to this, is that Russia’s own nationalists have often been unhappy with Putin - but with his 2022 war to subdue Ukraine, they feel he has come into their camp.)

We should probably bear in mind that ten years before Euromaidan, Viktor Yushchenko beat Viktor Yanukovych in a Ukrainian election, only to almost die from dioxin poisoning, widely blamed on a Ukrainian secret police official who later fled to Moscow. (A macabre detail: the protests that ensured Yushchenko’s victory were called the Orange Revolution, and dioxin is the poisonous part of Agent Orange…)

Yanukovych made his comeback six years later (2010), beating Yushchenko’s deputy Yulia Tymoshenko, only to run to Moscow himself in 2014 when Euromaidan occurred. Then came Poroshenko the chocolate billionaire, and in 2019, Zelensky the comedian backed by the billionaire Kolomoisky, and here we are.

A real political history of independent Ukraine would also have to say more about what happened to the Communist Party of Ukraine (led by the same guy since 1993, still part of the political equation as recently as 2002, but banned in a 2015 decommunization edict following Euromaidan, and currently with negligible support), and something about how post-2014’s lethal conflict between nationalists and separatists, emerged from the old dour politics of oligarch-run parties.

1 Like

A poll in Ukraine.

No end in sight. Zelensky represents the views of the Ukrainian people, who are unready to accept the compromises Putin would offer.