The West should reject Moscow’s claim.
Lax law enforcement and indifference by the security services to the operations of the far right is being noticed by extremists from abroad who are flocking to Ukraine. German media reported the presence of the German extreme right (JN-NPD, Dritte Weg) at the rally. According to Ukrainian political analyst Anton Shekhovtsov, far-right Norwegians, Swedes, and Italians were supposed to be there too. And on October 15, they all gathered in Kyiv for the Paneuropa conference organized by the Ukrainian neo-Nazi National Corps party. "Kyiv," says Shekhovtsov, "has now become one of the major centers of European far-right activities."
Such activism, naturally, unnerves liberals as well as Jews, and national minorities. And they often result in alarmist headlines in Western and Israeli newspapers.
Coming in a year in which the white supremacist C14 group engaged in savage beatings at a Roma encampment near Kyiv, one could draw the conclusion that the far right is on the rise in Ukraine.
Both the Moscow Patriarchate and its filial structure in Ukraine, the UOC, have failed to address the pastoral issue caused by the ecclesial schism. It was addressed, however, by the church of Constantinople, which had planted Christianity in the medieval Kyivan state and was responsible for the Kyivan Metropolia (an administrative unit in the Orthodox church) until it gave Moscow some rights to manage Ukrainian ecclesial matters in 1686. On October 11, the governing body of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, called the Holy Synod, revoked these rights from Moscow and reinstated its own control in Ukraine. Effectively, the Ecumenical Patriarchate restored the status quo, which existed on the territory of modern Ukraine at the end of the seventeenth century.
In addition, the anathema that had hung over Patriarch Filaret of the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Makarii of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and their followers was lifted, and they were recognized as canonical.
Russia, of course, couldn’t refrain from commenting.
As one of the world’s most impatient people, I found myself saying have more patience and feeling like a total hypocrite. Many of my columns have urged Ukraine to move harder and faster on reform. And it should.
Even still, there are plenty of principled, young and not-so-young people, in the pipeline. They serve in city councils, in the parliament, in bureaucracies, and run many of Ukraine’s civil society organizations.
They do not have the name recognition that Yulia Tymoshenko does, although slowly but surely they are gaining experience and greater political maturity. Eventually they will assume greater positions of power.
One program designed to develop new leaders is Stanford University’s Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program.
Nevertheless, Ukraine still hasn’t sent any high-level crooks to jail and journalists and investigators say that stealing from the state has returned to pre-Maidan levels. It’s true that progress was made in cutting corruption out of the gas sector and banks have been cleaned up, but it’s also true that Ukraine hasn’t made significant progress in the last four years on any of the major indices that measure corruption. What went wrong?
Even more, he’s one of the only reform-minded candidates who might be able to unify Ukraine’s fractious opposition.
Last week I caught up with Vakarchuk at Stanford to celebrate the second class of its Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program, an intensive 10-month program with just three spots. Vakarchuk participated in the 2017-2018 program, attending classes and living in California for much of the academic year. (He even claims that he read Francis Fukuyama’s dense tomes on the nature of the political order.)
I’d seen Vakarchuk three weeks earlier at the Yalta European Strategy meeting and was decidedly unimpressed. Interviewed by BBC HardTalk presenter Stephen Sackur, Vakarchuk’s remarks were unfocused and not ready for prime time. He was also underdressed, something I pointed out.
During a coffee break in Kyiv, Vakarchuk was nothing but charming, even telling me that he reads the UkraineAlert blog and promised to give me an interview.
However, at Stanford, he didn’t want to talk on the record, even if I promised not to ask him the question that he desperately wants to avoid.
At this point, his candidacy is becoming a farce.