Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 12.01.2018
Since the triumph of the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, Ukraine has been fighting against corruption and making phenomenal progress. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the main impediment to greater progress fighting corruption in Ukraine is the horrendous violence of Putin’s War and the irredeemable corruption of Russia. One of the most evil purposes of Russian aggression is to prevent the success of anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. No one should talk about fighting corruption in Ukraine without talking about defeating the Russian invasion of Ukraine, whose purpose is to metastasize that corruption.
Ukraine is a peaceful, democratic and wholly European nation. As Ukrainians succeed in throwing off the shackles of generations of Russian occupation and state terror from Muscovy they become truer to their quintessentially Western nature. Ukrainians have been gaining the benefits of living in free and democratic society at an accelerated rate since the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-14. When Russians see what is really going on with their neighbours – liberation – they may become more aware that they are a slave nation under Putin. The prospect that Russians may realize that they too could live a better and a normal life, just like Ukrainians, terrifies Putin.
EuroMaidan, the Revolution of Dignity, was a genuine, spontaneous expression of the direct democratic spirit of Ukrainians. It was the “viche”: a community assembly that is a tradition of the Ukrainian people going back a thousand years to the time of Kyivan Rus’. Ukrainian people power succeeded. The colossally corrupt Putin puppet Yanukovych fled the country. A reform-minded president, Petro Poroshenko, was elected with a clear democratic mandate in a free and fair election. Ukraine achieved the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement that was the moving force at the start of EuroMaidan.
The climax of what became known as the Revolution of Dignity was 20 February 2014. The massacre on Maidan in Kyiv of the “Heaven’s Hundred” put an end to Yanukovych’s power in Ukraine and to Putin’s power through him. The Ukrainian people won their fight to move along a European path and away from corruption and foreign Russian domination. A terrible price was paid, of over a hundred lives.
Ukrainians could savour their victory for only days, because Russia was going to war. Also on 20 February 2014, the day of the Maidan sniper killings, Russia invaded Ukraine in Crimea. Invasion of the Donbas region followed a couple of months later. Geopolitics wonks think that Russia invaded Ukraine for the usual imperial reasons. They’re only partly right. What they miss is that Putin also was desperate to kill the democratic revolution of Maidan or at least stop it from spreading. By occupying Crimea and partially occupying Donbas, Putin prevented Ukrainians from participating in presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014. He also re-imposed Russian crime syndicate control with its endemic corruption on the temporarily occupied territory.
The Russian hate propaganda machine feeds a steady diet of news stories to a Russo-centric and Ukraine-ignorant Western press that Ukraine is “not a real country” and reform there is a failure. Bad news abounds in the screeds they write against Ukraine. A common theme is that corruption is as bad now as it was in the time of Yanukovych. Al Jazeera published two such Kremlin-inspired pieces recently. On January 7 a news article was published called “Exclusive: Dirty deal traced to three Ukrainian tycoons.” Also on January 7 a feature article was published called “Was Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity in vain?” These hit pieces against Ukraine talk about reform as being a failure, corruption as being as bad as it was before, and EuroMaidan as being betrayed.
What is notable about Kremlin-inspired hit pieces against Ukraine is what they do not say. They never mention Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They never mention corruption and lack of reform in Russia. They never mention Russia at all. If they do talk about Putin’s War, they present the bald-faced Kremlin lie of “pro-Russian rebels” (Al Jazeera’s feature piece) or the lie about Ukraine being a “war-torn country” (Al Jazeera’s news piece).
Russia-occupied Crimea and the Russia-occupied parts of Luhansk region and Donetsk region are life-support to the old, pre-Revolution of Dignity oligarchy, which spans the Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate in Russia and the Ukrainian oligarchs who got rich in the days of plunder in the 1990s. Out of the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas comes stolen coal, stolen factories, stolen labour, stolen everything. That is the real life-support, the real sustenance of the corruption that remains in Ukraine. If you want to talk about eliminating corruption in Ukraine, talk about liberating the Ukrainian territories of Crimea and Donbas from the Russian invaders first.