For Poroshenko and Tymoshenko, it’s a do-or-die race. Both have been in politics nearly twenty years and the loser will find it difficult if not impossible to recover.
Describing her hopes for the speed of change in Ukraine, Anticorruption Action Center executive director Daria Kaleniuk said that she and her colleagues now see the project of fixing Ukraine as a generational one. And after nearly five years of intense hand-to-hand combat, civil society is exhausted.
Fortunately, some of the country’s top activists and leaders are taking much-needed breaks, logging off their devices and cracking books. Increasing numbers of US organizations are providing fellowships to help Ukraine’s leaders regroup and renew their energies.
One is the Center for European Policy Analysis, a small think tank in Washington, DC, that houses the James Denton Transatlantic Fellowship. In late September, CEPA brought three leaders to Washington for a three-week fellowship. The Ukraine fellows include an IT guy who unexpectedly became a national fundraiser for Ukraine’s army, a top lawyer and city councilman, and a brilliant strategist who is helping civil society mature.
The standard logic of economic transition goes like this: reforms are unpopular. There are short-term losers. People will lose jobs in inefficient industries and will have to pay higher market prices on utilities and groceries. There are also long-term winners. The entire population and especially future generations will benefit from a better, more efficient, and prosperous economy. But the losers—pensioners, state employees, miners—are better organized than the winners. The losers will resist the reforms. The weak “populist” politicians will listen and reforms will stall.
This appears to be the tale of Ukraine’s reforms, too.
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.