The Ghost of November Past!
Commentary by Myroslaw Smorodsky
President Yanukovych is experiencing a variation on the classic December tale “A Christmas Carol”. Rather than seeing a revelation about the true meaning of December’s Christmas, it is the prior events in the month of November that are giving him sleepless and frightening nights. The irony of the situation should not be ignored. In 2004, it was November’s Orange demonstrators that were in vogue on the “Maidan” [Kyiv’s central plaza that hosted the Orange Revolution] and denied Yanukovych the presidency of Ukraine. Now it is the Tax Revolution with small business owners from all political persuasions that have taken to the “Maidan” and are throwing a wrench into his allegedly “unassailable” administration.
One of Yanukovych’s lynchpin planks in his political program was purported tax reform. It was his Party of Regions that crafted the legislation and guided it carefully though Ukraine’s Parliament – the Verchovna Rada. Its passage was lauded by international political pundits and applauded by the EU as a step in the right direction paving the way for IMF financing of Ukraine’s deficit economy.
But “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The
The Ukrainian middle class, small-business owners were outraged that the alleged “tax reform” gave preferential treatment to the rich oligarchs at their expense. Having no response from the legislators to their pleas, they did what all good Ukrainians do – they decided to demonstrate. So a tent city began to sprout on the Maidan. And now Yanukovych seems to have blinked first. He and his administration have stated that there is a strong probability that he will veto the legislation. We have yet to see whether these statements are accurate. If he does not veto the legislation, then we can anticipate that the tax revolutionaries, having drawn first blood, will escalate their occupation of the “Maidan” creating a critical showdown with the president – which many observers predict he will lose.
In any event, the present situation has clearly shown that Yanukovych is not a replica of Putin. Yanukovych’s administration is susceptible to the pressures of public opinion and his invincibility cloak has been compromised. This may foreshadow future Maidan showdowns if Yanukovych attempts to mimic the repressiveness of Ukraine’s neighbor to the north.
see RFE/RL reports on protests at http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine_tax_protest/2234226.html