Great news: yet another suffering soul has been freed from the nightmare of “job lock,” identified as one of the greatest threats facing the Western world by American liberals, who prefer to address the issue with job-destroying government policies. In the Ukraine, sweet release was granted to President Viktor Yanukovych by his Parliament, which formally removed him from power over the weekend.
Yanukovych then took the Winter Olympics gold medal for the Freestyle Border Dash, fleeing to the Russian-dominated eastern border of his country. Stunned demonstrators wandered into his abandoned estate and discovered it contained, among other luxuries, a private zoo, a garage full of Rolls-Royces, and an old-fashioned galleon. You know, I think it’s just possible the old boy might have been on the take!
Alas, it seems the ousted President will have little time to enjoy his freedom from job lock by pursuing his destiny as a government-subsidized cowboy poet, because the new Ukrainian government wants him arrested for ordering the deaths of so many protesters. Fox News reports:
In a statement on his official Facebook page, acting interior minister Arsen Avakhov wrote that Yanukovych and several other officials were wanted on charges of “mass killing of civilians” in violence that engulfed Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, earlier this week. At least 82 people, most of them protesters, were killed in clashes with members of the police and security forces. Some of the dead were shot by snipers in strategic positions overlooking the main protest camp in Kiev’s Independence Square.
Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and cracked down on protesters.
Avakhov said Yanukovych arrived in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsular region of Crimea on Sunday and relinquished his official security detail before driving off to an unknown location.
So much for the exit interview. Ukrainians are bubbling with reported sightings of the deposed strongman, with some saying he’s been arrested by either the new government or the Russians, while others think he’s been placed under Russian military protection. It doesn’t sound as though he’s planning a comeback any time soon… although his patrons in Moscow are not happy about the situation, as reported by Reuters:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday said Russia had grave doubts about the legitimacy of those in power in Ukraine following President Viktor Yanukovich’s ouster, saying their recognition by some states was an “aberration”.
“We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens,” Medvedev was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
“There are big doubts about the legitimacy of a whole series of organs of power that are now functioning there.”
Fox News adds that Medvedev described Yanukovych’s ouster as an “armed mutiny.” Well, that doesn’t sound ominous at all. Russia might have a tough time re-installing Yanukovych, as his old power base has rapidly disintegrated, and it’s tough for his remaining supporters to make a case for returning him to that Willy Wonka estate full of looted treasure. The new government says President Private Zoo’s wise economic stewardship left the national treasury $35 billion in the hole, which is peanuts by American standards – that’s about two weeks of U.S. debt accumulation in our current “era of austerity,” for those of you keeping score – but a big deal for the Ukraine, where per-capita productivity is about 20 percent of the American standard, and not even half of what Western-aligned governments such as Poland enjoy. The new government is openly seeking assistance from European and American authorities to replace Russia’s cash pipeline.
Alas, the nations of the West are not exactly rolling in dough at the moment. Here’s an idea: let’s not mortgage ourselves into economic basket cases with madcap domestic spending sprees. That way, we’ll have the financial strength to help nations attempting to escape from sinister orbits.
One might almost think Yanukovych weakened his nation’s finances on purpose, to make them more dependent on Russia, and give himself an excuse for rejecting the European Union’s trade deal. He justified that rejection by saying the Ukraine could not afford it. Breaking out of that trade agreement was one of the primary causes of the unrest that brought down the Yanukovych regime.
Even if he didn’t weaponize his nation’s debt intentionally, and was more interested in completing his Rolls-Royce collection, the feckless corruption of the Yanukovych government provides an object lesson in the perils of pouring good money into bad governments. Much of the loot gets stolen – the sad fate of so many high-minded relief efforts over the past few decades – and the rest simply is not invested wisely. That might not make much of a difference to aggressive Russians looking to purchase influence with strongman regimes, but it’s a sobering fact of life for sincere reformers who seek to rescue struggling economies.
Correctly sensing that it’s not something the likes of President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry will do without prodding, Senate Republicans are urging the Administration to tell Russia to keep its hands off the Ukraine. Fox News again:
Top Senate Republicans on Sunday told President Obama to send a ???clear??? message to Russia President Vladimir Putin to stay out of Ukraine???s political crisis, renewing criticism about the president???s foreign policy and his negotiations with the powerful Russian leader.
???I believe the president needs to up his game and send a clear unequivocal public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine,??? Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told ???Fox News Sunday.??? ???This is an opportunity for the president to really be unequivocal with Putin right now.???
I seem to recall Obama getting caught on a hot mike promising Medvedev “flexibility” after he secured re-election. I don’t think the word “unequivocal” came up during that conversation.
The whole reason Obama survived that hot-mike debacle was that the Beltway-media axis regarded Russia as sort of a harmless joke, an arthritic bear with no claws. The foreign-policy component of Obama’s re-election campaign was largely based on mocking anyone who thought of Russia as a serious rival for the United States on the world stage. Certainly no one who thinks the Russians might be trouble would install a naif like John Kerry as Secretary of State.
We’ve already paid a price for that, as Vladimir Putin bounced the hapless Kerry out of the Middle East on his ear. I doubt anyone in Moscow is going to take the Obama Administration’s ire into account when planning their next move in the Ukraine, whose Western alignment could metastasize into an anti-Russian virus that scuttles their dreams of building a “Eurasian Union” to counter the European Union. That’s not the sort of plan anyone in the current U.S. Administration is going to talk them out of.