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External control of Ukraine: “a brave new world” or a fallback to feudalism

Petro Poroshenko and Eka Zguladze. Photo of the Ukrainian president’s press office

While visiting Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the peculiarities of the current government system in Ukraine. "I am sure that despite all the current difficulties, the situation in Ukraine will improve and Ukraine will develop,” Putin said.

RIA Novosti quotes the Russian president as expressing hope that Ukraine will leave behind its current shameful practice when a huge European nation is placed under external control and when most of the key public offices are held by foreign citizens.

Indeed, you will hardly remember any other independent state where there are so many foreigners in public offices. Even in occupied countries, government posts are usually held by collaborators. So, why are there so many foreign governors in Ukraine?

One of them was Ihor Kolomoisky, former governor of Dnipropetrovsk region. He was a citizen of Israel and Cyprus, but that was not the reason why he was dismissed.

The others are Finance Minister (and possibly future prime minister) Natalie Yaresko, Economic Development and Trade Minister Aivaras Abromavicius, Governor of Odessa region Mikheil Saakashvili and his deputy Maria Gaidar. Though having come from different states, those people have very similar biographies: Yaresko – US Department of State and investment business, Abromavicius – Concordia University Wisconsin and banking and investment business, Saakashvili – US Department of State scholarship, the George Washington University Law School in Washington, presidency in Georgia as a result of a coup, Gaidar – Deputy Governor of Kirov region, Harvard University.

There also are Deputy Interior Minister Eka Zguladze – former Chief of Police in Georgia, Oklahoma State University, Health Minister Alexander Kvitashvili – former Health Minister of Georgia, New York University, and Abromavicius’s former assistant Jaanika Merilo – Cornell University.

And this is not the end of the list. By the way, Yevgeny Chichvarkin, who hoped but failed to get any post in Ukraine, has lots of merits but lacks the only thing that is common for all the aforementioned officials: the founder of the Euroset company is a graduate of the State University of Management in Moscow and has no education background in the United States.

A proponent of the “European choice” would say: “I see nothing strange here. The United States gives the best business education in the world. So, we can say that the Ukrainian Cabinet consists of real professionals.” Perhaps, he would be right. But why isn’t there at least one man with no US diploma there? Why didn’t they hire Chichvarkin?

It seems that the result of this “duck test” (if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck) for the new Ukrainian VIP gastarbeiters is the same. If, irrespective of the other biography facts, they have all studied in the United States, the conclusion is simple – they have been hired by people for whom this is a matter of principle.

When the Soviet Union was a super power, the core of the political elites of the Socialist countries was people who studied in Soviet universities.

Today, we have one super power and so, we have just one reason: the HR executive who hired those people or who recommended the Ukrainian president and the prime minister to hire them was a US citizen. So, Putin’s words about external control are neither a fiction nor an exaggeration but are a fact.

But still why are the Americans so eager to show their ability to control the personnel policy in Ukraine? We don’t think that they wish to vex the Russians. Nor do we think that small Georgia and Estonia have more good specialists than huge Ukraine does. Of course, in recent years, the quality of education in Ukraine has fallen, but the country still has lots of professionals and also people with US diplomas. So, US diploma is not the key factor here.

You will be able to solve this task if you remember the Overton window principle. Just a year ago, the presence of so many foreigners in a national government would sound as a story from the 18th century, when the holder of sovereignty was a monarch rather than a country and when nationality was defined by religion.

Today in Ukraine this looks quite normal. The “window” has been shifted and shows quite a different picture. Give people just a little time and they will get used to it – especially, if you tell them that similar practices may soon be applied in Russia (we mean the recent allegations that Silvio Berlusconi might be offered a government post in Russia).

The United States has no more hopes for a revolution in Russia. Some experts hope that one day the Russians will get tired of the sanctions and will revolt (this is the most stupid scenario as we have seen no such revolutions in Cuba or Iran), the others are looking forward to a coup d’etat by pro-European and pro-American elites. This is also hardly possible. Besides, such a coup may result in an even more isolated regime.

In this light, the idea that it is normal for a state to have foreign public servants may come in handy. The Americans no longer wish to see the “democratic Russia” governed by Russians, so, they are testing governors in Georgia and Ukraine in hope to see them one day governing Russia.

This is the maximum program. But they also have a minimum program. There are still some post-Soviet republics that “dare” to be friends with Russia. We mean Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. For them, the Americans have two scenarios: either a neo-feudal regime, where managers go from a baron to another baron and adjust policies to the needs of the empire, or some “brave new world,” where there is no more sovereignty or national dignity and where citizenship is just a formality, like the style of a suit or the model of a phone. You change it and you forget it.

The second scenario might be practicable if a similar practice existed in the United States or, at least, somewhere in the EU. But in the United States even if somebody with foreign origin is named to be high public servant (like governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger or Secretary of State Madeleine Albright), he or she is an ingrained American rather than a fresh immigrant. They in the EU may give an EU-level post to a citizen from a new member state, like was the case with Donald Tusk, but will never give him or her an office in any French region.

So, today, it is for each independent country to decide for itself if it wants to be governed by foreigners or not. The Ukrainians have lumped the loss of sovereignty; the reason for it is a subject of another discussion. Who will be the next?

Anton Krylov, specially for EADaily

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