Oct 7, 2021
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Authoritarianism and isolation: where Zelensky will lead the Square

In the photo: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a press conference dedicated to two years of his tenure as head of state.

In the photo: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a press conference dedicated to two years of his tenure as head of state. (Photo: Irina Yakovleva / TASS)

Ukraine is threatened with gradual transformation into an authoritarian country with a bias towards isolationism, which will lead to tragic consequences. This was announced on the air of the Nash TV channel by a Ukrainian political scientist. Ruslan Bortnik

“The tilt towards authoritarianism leads to conflict with big business and opposition within the country, the tilt towards isolationism leads to conflict with foreign partners,” he explained.

In such circumstances, according to the Ukrainian expert, only two classic solutions await the country: either large-scale protest actions or a military exacerbation.

Bortnik is sure that even with a strong desire, Kiev is not able to hold new elections in the near future, reforms and achieve broad discussion. He also believes that the main danger lies in the inability to predict the cause and date of possible protests.

It is worth noting that Bortnik recently announced that in the event of a political crisis, the territory of Ukraine could be divided by neighboring states. According to him, earlier they did not dare to take this step because of the “different European policy” and the influence of the United States. And he is not the only one with such forecasts. Apocalyptic scenarios are regularly heard in Ukraine: the country will freeze, fall apart, and a civil war will begin etc. Is it worth paying attention to such alarmist statements? Or are they more hype?

– I saw the statement itself only in the retelling of the Russian media, but I doubt that it was made for the sake of the hype, – says political scientist, head of the Open Analytics project Roman Travin… – Ruslan Bortnik is already one of the most cited Ukrainian experts and, as a rule, makes balanced comments.

As for the “apocalyptic scenarios” of the relative future of Ukraine, the further loss of territories is indeed one of the possible options for the future of this country. What many political scientists, including me, had to talk about, and even before 2014, too. In general, a good forecast is always scenario-based and it is necessary to consider both optimistic scenarios for the development of events, and pessimistic, and this applies not only for Ukraine, but also for any other country. Russia as well. So such forecasts must necessarily sound in the public space, and adequate authorities should pay attention to them.

“SP”: Is Bortnik right in this particular case? Is Ukraine really threatened with gradual transformation into an authoritarian country with a bias towards isolationism? Which Zelenskiy is an authoritarian ruler? Or could the future president be like that?

– All Ukrainian presidents strove to strengthen the presidential vertical of power as much as possible. Zelenskiy is no exception. But since he and his team turned out to be unprepared to solve the problems they face when governing the state, they often act very clumsy and in gross violation of the Constitution and laws. In my opinion, they sometimes do not even fully understand the depth of violations that they allow themselves.

There are plenty of examples of this. This is also a conflict between the Office of the President and the Constitutional Court. And the decisions stamped by the NSDC. Now there is another round aimed at strengthening the power vertical. Within its framework, Zelensky gets rid of the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, who allows himself to confront Razumkova… So while this may sound comical, Zelenskiy himself and the current regime in Ukraine are indeed becoming more authoritarian.

“SP”: What kind of isolationism? The West supports Ukraine in everything, indulges everything like …

– Recently, Zelensky, and not only he, but also Ukrainian diplomats, allow themselves quite harsh statements about the leadership of European countries. In particular, they intensify blackmail in the spirit: if you don’t help us more actively, then we … and further there may be different options, up to “reorient ourselves to China.” I think if they continue in this spirit, even though they are more careful towards the United States, it may well lead to isolation. Not that directly all of Ukraine, but Zelensky and his entourage are so accurate. A fresh leak about Zelensky’s offshore is a wake-up call.

“SP”: What do you think the Ukrainian authorities should fear more: the people, the Nazis, the oligarchs, the loss of approval by the West? How can this really end for the authorities and for the country? And when? Bortnik vaughn says that the main danger lies in the inability to predict the cause and date of possible protests …

– I think you have correctly ranked the threats in terms of their significance. Actually, Zelensky is not afraid of the people, it is no coincidence that he acts contrary to the expectations of the overwhelming majority of his voters. For the time being, the radicals have little personality and are under the control of more serious forces, however, this does not mean that it will always be so. In any change of power in Ukraine, through the Maidan or elections, the oligarchs have always, one way or another, participated. This is a serious threat. Today, many of them support Zelensky financially, media, politically, but everything can change overnight. Well, I continue to believe that the main threat to him is from the West. If there is a fundamental decision to change Zelensky, then even if he resists, he has no chance.

– Social protests in Ukraine are long overdue, – I am convinced editor-in-chief Andriy Manchuk… – The country continues to grow rapidly in consumer prices – against the background of falling living standards, decommunized medicine cannot cope with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, gas prices are growing, which threatens with dire consequences for the economy and social sphere. Finally, society is dissatisfied with the usurpation of political power, which Zelensky’s team is quite openly occupied with in order to compensate for the constant drop in ratings.

People are very disappointed, because the “servants of the people” cheated them corny and put into practice the policy Poroshenko – only “at maximum speed”.

However, the information field in the country has been cleaned up – the last opposition media are blocked with the help of extrajudicial sanctions by the NSDC, opposition activists are intimidated or squeezed out of the country, and the real political opposition is practically not represented in the public political field. There is practically no one to organize and coordinate social actions, as is done in democratic countries. Because the potential leaders of the protest will immediately be called agents of the “aggressor country”.

In the coming days, a mass action of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine will take place in Kiev. Servants of the People voted in favor of anti-social amendments to labor laws that strip unions of their basic historical rights – to permanently undermine their influence and resources. The trade unions are trying to resist, but the authorities have a repressive apparatus on their side, and they are always ready to use it.

Nevertheless, a significant protest potential has been accumulated in Ukrainian society, and a difficult winter period lies ahead. So the situation promises to be very unpredictable – both in the socio-economic and political dimensions.

– Authoritarianism and isolationism in Ukraine is no longer threatened, it is a fait accompli, – I am sure political scientist Alexander Dudchak.— But the degree of authoritarianism may increase.

“SP”: How is it shown? Does Zelenskiy look like an authoritarian leader?

– His task is nominal, as a human function. He does not look like a leader at all and plays this role badly, and I just want to say: “I don’t believe!”. Behind him, like behind a screen, the work on establishing comprehensive control over the state is being completed. This can be seen at least from the reform of the SBU, which for some reason is required from Ukraine by the “big seven”. Many functions of the SBU, for example, in the economic sphere or in the information space, or on pre-trial investigations are transferred to other structures controlled by the West, but its counterintelligence capabilities and tasks are sharply increased, and also under the control of the Americans with complete impunity and infinity of repressive actions.

“SP”: What’s worse for the president of Ukraine? Conflict with the oligarchs or the population? Or maybe with a nationalist “street”?

– More terrible for the so-called. the president of Ukraine is disliked by Washington, which provides the legitimization of the Kiev regime. If there is a need to replace him, then there will be problems with the oligarchs and the nationalist street, which is well managed.

“SP”: What about isolation? Ukraine is striving to become a part of the West …

“This is not isolation, but Ukraine’s definition of its place in the“ food chain ”of the West after all the“ reforms ”that followed after the 2014 coup. Yes, this is how it becomes part of the West, but as a servant and a source of resources. And if you compare with what happened before, then yes, it looks like isolation – Ukraine has lost its important positions in the international division of labor, cooperation and specialization, destroying high-tech industries, and is turning from an important transit country into an international Dead End.

“SP”: According to Bortnik, in such circumstances Ukraine will have only two classic solutions: either large-scale protest actions or a military aggravation. Do you agree?

– So far, large-scale protest actions can be successfully suppressed as long as there is no mobilizing force. This does not mean that it cannot appear. But so far, the efforts of the West in Ukraine are directed at preventing the emergence of resistance – the same reform of the SBU presupposes this. A military exacerbation is possible, and Kiev is able to turn Ukraine into a kamikaze country by launching a full-scale offensive in the Donbas. The likelihood of such a scenario grew, for example, with a sharp drop in gas transit through Ukraine – they simply would not have anything to lose, and when the frozen heating pipes in Ukraine began to break, Russia would be blamed for all sins. But here, too, the Kremlin seems to have outplayed the insane Ukrainian leadership by guaranteeing not just payment for transit, but the transit of gas, which could have been avoided under the transit agreement.

“SP”: Bortnik believes that even with a strong desire, Kiev is not able to hold new elections in the near future, reforms and achieve broad discussion. Why?

– The elections could have been held if such a task had been set. “Reforms” is a dirty word; in the case of Ukraine, they only imply the elimination of what was before, but not the creation of something effective new. Nobody needs discussions in Kiev, because they do not give rise to ideas and solutions that will be implemented in practice – Kiev receives a program of action under the post-Maidan regime by mail.

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