Friday, April 20, 2007

Yulia Tymoshenko's piece in Foreign Affairs: I've read it but don't really know what to make of it.

It's ghost-written, right?

Because, somehow, it reads like that huge text about Russia in LRB, and like a thousand other pieces of that kind.

And it is about Russia, not Ukraine. Which I, of course, find a bit annoying. Yulia Tymoshenko advising the West on what to do about Russia - instead of speaking out as an "expert" on Ukraine - an expert that she, hopefully, is.


An absolute trifle: "[...] the collapse of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991 [...]" - could it really be Tymoshenko who wrote this?

They celebrate Christmas about two weeks later here - Orthodox Christmas - and, moreover, very few people celebrated it back in 1991.

Sounds too foreign to me.


But overall, it's a very smoothly-written piece, and as tactful towards Russia as the context allows.

"Russia is not a police state," according to Tymoshenko. And it "is usually judged on the basis of speculation about its intentions rather than on the basis of its actions." And its "leaders deserve understanding for their anguished struggle to overcome generations of Soviet misrule."


Oh, and this reminded me of the conspiracy theory thingy that I quoted from a week or so ago:

Indeed, Russia may actually be putting itself out of the gas business, because high engineering costs for new projects in Russia are signaling to the market that Russia and Gazprom lack the capacity to develop these fields. Western companies could come in and do the job, but given the Kremlin's recent usurpation of Shell's investments on Sakhalin Island, these companies would be remiss in their fiduciary duties if they undertook such investments.

How strange that I read this on the day Shell had finalized its deal with Gazprom - and was forced to sound happy about it:

Shell’s Executive Director, Exploration and Production, Malcolm Brinded said: “Gazprom’s entry into the Sakhalin Project is warmly welcomed. Combined with the government acceptance of the Environmental Action Plan, this is another important step for Sakhalin II. The AMI should create additional growth opportunities for the partners in the future.”


Tymoshenko also mentions Microsoft at one point: they should bring Gazprom "into line" - the way they did with Microsoft.

And in the adapted version of this piece, published in the International Herald Tribune, she's so hip, she even writes about iPod:

One must ask how it is that Apple's iPod and iTunes are challenged by EU regulators yet Gazprom is not?


One last thing - a terrible sentence, whoever wrote it:

And dangerous new forms of tuberculosis - as well as of Islamist extremism among the 17 percent of the Russian population that is Muslim - are being incubated through neglect.


  1. The Tymo piece was absolutely ghost-written at least I believe it was and it will (unfortunately IMHO) play very well to certain audiences.

    Regarding the Tartar pop. in Crimea and Muslims in general what no one seems to mention is how they have NO real voice in government esp. not at national level and yet they have been very supportive of Yushchenko. Are they the neglected ones who believe in someone who may not believe in them? Bodes extremely badly for the future.

  2. Ok. Sorry I am being out of every topic but somoone had to say it on this blog. It's been 2 days since we know: ... UKRAINE and POLAND will host EURO 2012!!! the 3rd largest sport event in the world. (..) I'm very, very happy.

  3. Congrats on Euro 2012!

    I also think this article is ghost-written; for one thing, there's no translator cited (as there would usually be,) and - as far as I know - Tymoshenko "по-английски не бум-бум."

    It looks like an attempt to grab attention (and having a go at Russia very much serves that purpose,) and to present herself as a statesmanlike leader, or at least a thoughtful one. She leaves me unconvinced on both counts.

  4. My Blog: The Macedonian Tendency

    You may use as you see fit for free, also, see my posts

    I Like Russia

    Putin, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

    Dear President Putin

    I understand that soon you will be looking for a new job. I have one suggestion that I hope you will seriously consider, but first, before you leave office, consider the following actions as part of your legacy for the Russian people.

    At the UN, veto independence for Kosovo. Stand firm, stand tall. Ask Solzhenitsyn to visit Kosovo Pole next week as a gesture of solidarity with the Serbs, and then Ohrid as a gesture of solidarity with the Macedonians. Consider recognizing the Turkish Cyprus as punishment for Greece's mistreatment of its ethnic Macedonian minority.

    Nato is a stake aimed at the heart of Russia, put a stake in Nato's heart … it's a vampire. Like hockey, you only win by playing offense, not defense! Tell President Bush, his poodle Blair, and especially Senator McCain, that you will put a moratorium on further co-operation between Russia and the US/EU with regard to Iran, North Korea and further gas oil exports to the US and EU. Don't wait until next month, do it now, you won't get a better chance. The moratorium would be lifted when Nato is retired, as a cold war relic, and replaced by a reformed and revitalized OSCE where Russia can wield its deserved influence. The US can then withdraw its troops fro Europe and send them to Iraq! Have specific detailed plans for this reform and publicize it widely to the US/EU public. For example, all members of the OSCE would be considered associate members of the EU if they so wish. All peoples of the OSCE can work in the EU with an easily obtained work visa.

    In the Russian parliament, form a special committee called the "Un-Russian Activities Committee" which would monitor the activities of foreign NGOs in Russia. Put them under oath and jail the perjurers! All committee members should be fluent in English and be evenly split between Russian patriots and those who are pro-American. When interviewing NGOs, question them in English. The purpose of this committee is to expose anti-Russian activities of the NGOs to their pro-American followers (useful idiots), to the Russian people and to the American people. Average Americans really do not want their country to destabilize Russia for the sole purpose of having hegemony over the world. A litmus test for these NGOs is to ask them about their activities regarding human rights for the Macedonians of Greece and Kurds of Turkey (both Nato members … hint … there are none).

    Register these NGOs along with foreign newspaper owners under the " Agents of a Foreign Power Act. Have them print it prominently on their publications.

    And finally, form an organization called the "Russian Council" using the "British Council " as a model. When you retire as president of Russia, be its first president. The Russian Council would promote Russian interests around the world. Start with the Orthodox Balkans and help them to resolve the schisms of their respective churches (Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro). Try to heal the split between the Orthodox and Catholic Slavs. Promote more unity between all the Slavic languages.

    Don't be like Gorbachev, playing with himself in retirement and selling his influence to the highest bidder . You still have the ability to do something good for Russia and all Slavic-speaking peoples. Do it now!

    My Blog: The Macedonian Tendency

  5. The link to Tymoshenko's piece in the main post is broken. Here's a working link.

  6. thank you - i've fixed it!

  7. It was definitely written by a ghost-writer - an academic, not a politician. Someone who was either educated in the West, or been active in Western academic discourse. It's pretty much just a fluff piece meant to make Western (American) readers of Foreign Policy to think "Wow, Russia is still an Evil Empire." While I agree with many of the criticisims in the article, she leaves out some very important facts. For example, in many of these regions of Russian encroachment there are sizable populations of ethnic Russians, and often actual Russian citizens. Moreover, why shouldn't Kosovo serve as a precedent? What distinguishes it from, say, Transnistria. In fact, whereas Kosovo is a historical part of the Serbian nation, Transnistria has never belonged to an independent Moldovan or Romanian state. There are answers to these questions, but Tymoshenko's article is shoddy scholarship.

  8. Owen wrote...

    "For example, in many of these regions of Russian encroachment there are sizable populations of ethnic Russians, and often actual Russian citizens."

    I'm not exactly sure what point you're trying to make here, Owen. There are tons of Ukrainians living in Russia - Ukrainian citizens as well as ethnic Ukrainians with RF citizenship - but does it give Ukraine any right to "encroach" on its neighbor?

  9. I'm not a big fan of trying to understand international relations through "right" and "wrong." Ukraine simply isn't in a position to influence Russia as much as the other way around. Moreover, that discourse may appeal to Westerners and their governments, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't really mean anything for most ex-Soviet countries. In that same vein, I am extremely suspicious when any politician says they support or oppose a decision based on "the Constitution." More likely, they do it based on their own interests and use the constitution as a cover. These same politicians would tample the constitution if it was in their interests in any particular case.

    The West's own emphasis on self-determination and identity politics makes it easier for Russia to argue that, for example, it is "right" in supporting the Transnistrian population which is largely "slavic" and has Russian citizenship.

  10. I'm at a point where I don't understand anything at all, I'm afraid. Right or wrong or whatever.

    If you listen to Sergei Ivanov, Ukraine's major contribution has been inspiring some to try and fuck up Moscow's already crazy traffic situation - as well as leading others, the majority, to wish for a tsar to avoid the Ukrainian "bardak" here in Russia.

  11. I'm sure Ivanov understands the original meaning of the word "bardak," and it applies equally well to Russian politics. Unfortunately, he's also right that most Russians don't want what's going on in Ukraine to happen here, and they really do wish for a tsar.