It has been 10 years since the all-Ukrainian referendum about sovereignty and the introduction of the post of president was carried out. Ten years ago, about 95 percent of the voters were for Ukrainian independence.
And how today does the situation look? Recently, the Democratic Initiatives Fund, a Ukrainian program of market reforms, and the SOTSIS firm have carried out a poll among 1,800 adults. The results were surprising. Only 48 percent of Ukrainians would support the idea of Ukraine’s sovereignty if such a referendum were carried out today. While 27 percent of Ukrainians would vote against Ukranian independence, 10 percent of the people would not take part in the referendum at all, and 15 percent could not determine their position. According to 35 percent of people who took part in the poll, the changes that took place in Ukraine since 1991 were rather negative for Ukrainian citizens. Twenty-two percent of the people suppose that the changes were positive, while 43 percent of the people could not determine their view on this question. However, while answering the question if the system existing up to the year 1991 (in the USSR) should have been changed, 42 percent of the people said “yes,” while 38 percent of the people did not agree and 20 percent could not answer this question at all.
Less than a half of the asked people – 40 percent – suppose the democracy chosen by Ukraine is the best form of ruling. Twenty-three percent did not consider this way to be the best, and 36 percent of the asked people evaded the question. According to most Ukrainians, the trouble is probably in the local peculiarities of democracy’s functioning, because 73 percent of the people who took part in the poll are not satisfied with how democracy functions in Ukraine, while only 4 percent are, and 23 percent hesitated to answer.
While answering the question about which of the two Ukrainian presidents was the best, 45 percent of the respondents answered “both of them." Fifteen percent of the polled people said that Leonid Kravchuk was better than Leonid Kuchma, while 12 percent of the people said vice versa. Only six percent of the people suppose both of them were good for Ukraine.
These results seem to have been influenced by the warming of relations between Ukraine and Russia. Here, the role of the Russian leader is very important. The most complicated ordeal for Putin was when the Russian airliner was downed by aUkrainian missile. Many people in Ukraine understood this to be the “work” of Ukrainian air-defence forces, which forgot how to fire because in today’s circumstances, it is too expensive for Ukraine to carry out such training. However, the supreme Kiev leadership prefers to say only what is advantageous for it and even denies its mistakes, however obvious they appear. There was a danger that Leonid Kuchma could persuade Vladimir Putin to write off the tragedy as a result of some technical defects or of collision with another flying device, probably even with an UFO. However, the fact that the Russian leadership refused to carry out such undercover negotiations and made the Ukrainian leadership admit its responsibility for the tragedy raised the Kremlin’s rating in Ukraine.
Th distress of many people in Ukraine is obvious. According to some data, about 83 percent of the population consider themselves to be poor or even beggars. They are sure this was caused by the destruction of the USSR. Pumping national hysteria had worsened relations with the closest neighbor.
In addition, demonstrative estrangement of Ukraine from Russia towards the West and NATO was caused when Kiev met Moscow in Washington and Brussels. In other words, now Russia stands in Ukraine’s way to the West, therefore the 10-year-old slogan “the father from Moscow, nearer to the West” turned out to be just fiction.
This also should be considered as the Russian president’s merit. His purposeful rapprochement with George Bush’s position seems to be a way to stabilize relations between the two biggest powers and a very cheap method to gather the lands of the former superpower.
However, it does not mean Ukraine and Russia intend to unite into one state. The years of independence brought up several generations who prefer to be independent of the Kremlin and permitted the Ukrainian radical pseudo-democrats to feel the taste of power. However paradoxical it may look, namely the president of the Ukrainian state is against closer contacts between Kiev and Moscow. An example of this is the fact that Leonid Kuchma refused to sign some documents of the recent CIS leaders’ summit. This is not strange. You see, to be a minister of a big state is one thing, but to be a governor of Ukraine is a completely another thing. Ukrainian independence is more necessary now for Kuchma’s team than for the most of the western part of Ukraine, Galichina, whose people in their time most actively supported Ukrainian independence. Now, they keep their silence when Putin visits Kiev or other Ukrainian regions, while Boris Yeltsin in his time was “greeted” with anti-Russian slogans.
What should be taken into account as well is that Leonid Kuchma needs friendship with Moscow today. He cannot be received in Washington because of the well-known cassette scandal. And if he is ignored in the US, he cannot be received in other countries. Only one year later after the events of the year 2000, on December 6, the West sends a scout to Ukraine, German chancellor Schroeder.
Therefore, Moscow is the only stage for Leonid Kuchma where he can appear before the world, and he is let in practically without difficulty.
The parliamentary election that will be carried out soon in Ukraine cannot seriously influence people’s position on Ukrainian independence. Though it is important for them what the parliament will be formed and if Russian will become the second state language. On the last day of autumn, in the Supreme Rada, a real battle took place about what draft bill should be considered: one project considers Russian as a second state language in Ukraine (where about 12 million Russians live) equal to Ukrainian; while another project proposes to make Russian a language of international intercourse, like English. What of the two draft bills have won is not hard to guess: today, in the election race, some candidates prefer to earn cheap points in some radical circles by abusing Moscow.
Alexandr Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Kiev
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/12/01/34428.html