I Appear On RT To Discuss Euromaidan

Here it is:

From RT:

‘No going back for Yanukovich now’

If the Ukrainian president goes back on the deal with the EU, he’ll disappoint his supporters and he’s obviously not going to regain the support of those who are protesting, author and blogger Anatoly Karlin told RT.

RT:President Yanukovich is being accused of betraying national interests by turning down the EU deal, but he says it’s bad for the economy. Do you agree with Yanukovich and what are his options at this point?

Anatoly Karlin: We have to look at this objectively. What the EU was offering was $600 million for many years and perhaps some help with negotiating an IMF loan. The IMF loan was much bigger, $16 billion , but it came with some conditions such as  salary freeze, spending cuts, 40 percent rise in gas prices.

With the elections coming up in March 2015, Yanukovich simply cannot afford to accede to those demands, especially since the EU is demanding a lot, but isn’t giving a lot. For instance, there is no visa-free travel; free trade between Europe and Ukraine will destroy a lot of heavy industry, especially in the eastern part of the country, where Yanukovich and the Party of Regions have a lot of their electorate.

On the other hand, young people who are more disposed against Yanukovich are not to going to get the labor movement, they are going to be able to emigrate to Athens and Dublin, they are going to vote against them instead. So it’s not surprising that Yanukovich rejected the EU deal simply because Russia is offering better conditions in terms of money, about $10 billion, when the EU says $600 million.

RT: What can Yanukovich do at this point? He has perhaps these reasoned arguments for not wanting a deal with the EU, but here are hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, he has to deal with them somehow. What do you think is the best move?

AK: I think he’s got to seek [a diplomatic way] out, there is no going back now. If he does go back, then he is also going to disappoint his system’s supporters, who support his current course and he is obviously not going to get back the support of those who are protesting. Another thing we have to bear in mind is that even the Orange Revolution in 2004 was not made by the street, it was made by a court judgment which ruled that the elections were illegitimate and called for new elections.

RT:The EU agreement could still be revisited later. Why did the opposition choose violent protests instead of having more dialogue about the pros and cons of integration with the EU?

AK: I think because, first of all, slogans work better than decent arguments about the economics, which frankly don’t interest too many people. Secondly, it appears to be basically that Eastern Ukrainians support the Party of Regions – they are more politically apathetic in general, whereas Central Ukrainians and Western Ukrainians are willing to go out, protest and make their voices heard. The opposition really has the sense to go out and galvanize people.

RT:Who do you think stands to benefit from this unrest? Is there more to these protests than just a trade deal?

AK: I don’t think anybody stands to benefit. First of all, although these protests went off peacefully, today [Sunday] they went into the other direction, we had those hilarious scenes of the bulldozer trying to plow into the police forces guarding government buildings in Kiev and Molotov cocktails being thrown at police, and although this makes good TV footage, there is also going to be a lot of people who are staying at their homes, who are witnessing this, who will be turned off by this violence.

I don’t think this will benefit the opposition in the long term, once tempers cool down. Another winter is coming, it’s getting colder, people aren’t willing to stand out in the cold to protest during January. It’s obviously not doing any good for Ukrainian economy either because it’s in a poorly enough state as it is, there’s debt repayments coming up and it would really be in its favor of Ukraine to focus more on technocratic economic side as opposed to these political games.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


  1. So that is what your voice sounds like.

    • moscowexile says:

      Nice to hear Anatoly has not lost some of those Lancashire vowels that he must have picked up during some of his formative years in my home county.

  2. Nice to see you on RT again. While the financial pros/cons narrative is plausible, what about the timing of Yanukovych’s switch? As far as I know the conditions were the same before and after, no?

    • I am inclined to believe that Yanukovych was hoping he will get massive crediting from the EU. When that did not come, and it looked like there would be no way to compensate for the loss of Russian market, Yanukovych made a U-turn.

  3. Latest news: The no confidence vote failed.

    • Not surprising, given the composition of the parliament. I have no idea what will happen next. I admit I was surprised by the scope of the protests, and I won’t predict whether or not they will eventually disperse empty-handed or whether there will be more to come.

      But the entire situation is ultimately a reflection of the fact that the government does not represent the people’s will. Yes, it was elected completely legally in free and fair elections, and yes the opposition itself is to blame for splitting their votes and letting the “Blue” side control the parliament in spite of the “Orange” or European-oriented side having more voters. But nevertheless the bottom line is that the parliament does not represent the people (even if this is totally legal, even if it isn’t the parliamentary election winners’ fault, etc.). And we see the fruits of this type of victory. In such a situation, when such a government makes far-reaching decisions against the wishes of the people on an issue that has become important for them, there is certainly a built-in risk for instability. If there is no legitimate outlet for their expressions, the people will either sullenly surrender, or take to the streets. We see that the latter has happened.

      If the protesters lose, Russia will have an interesting newest member of the Customs Union. People not only in Galicia but in Kiev are talking about boycotting all Russian products (other than gas, presumably). Acts of vandalism or even terrorism (the younger the person, the more likely they are to do such things, and the youth are active here) against Russian interests wouldn’t even be out of the question.

      • “In such a situation, when such a government makes far-reaching decisions against the wishes of the people on an issue that has become important for them, there is certainly a built-in risk for instability.”

        How so?

        Most polls show the Ukrainian population evenly split on the EU trade agreement. How is this in any sense a majority?

        • It was evenly split until the summer, when the pro-EU pulled ahead. Moreover, there are large geographical and age differences: younger people and those in the western and central parts of the country (such as Kiev) are more pro-EU. Pro-EU support is probably overwhelming among Kiev’s youth.

          • Would also add that pro-EU feelings tend to be a lot more strident than pro-Eurasia feelings, which tend to be more passive (I allude to this in the interview). In other words, Kiev/west will protest for the EU/against Eurasia; the easterners, I suspect, would even accept NATO without a hitch (despite their universal opposition to it), because they are politically apathetic.

            • Yes, you are correct. I think age plays a role also. Even in the East, support for Eurasia is overwhelming among the pensioners but is actually slightly lower than support for the EU among those in their late teens/early twenties, the demographic most likely to be hotheaded and to protest.

          • reggietcs says:

            Well I meant overall, not one specific group or age bracket. It’s was about 38% for and 38% against – at least that’s what it was last week. it looks to me like the country is pretty split on this issue.

            We also have to ask why this is. Even notorious Russophobe, Julia Ioffe, has been tweeting how young Ukrainians have this almost imaginary view of a EU which only exists in their fantasies. I mean have they paid attention to the MILLIONS marching against austerity in Greece & Spain? I have to agree with Justin Raimondo when he writes: “This Orange movement is dried up and rotten to the core, a juice-less phenomenon which holds up as a political ideal the faceless bureaucracy of Brussels, which is rightly hated from Greece to Spain to what used to be the free country of England.”

            Good luck with that!

            • I haven’t kept track of Raimondo in years (I was opposed to the Iraq war and enjoyed his website at that time); my impression is that he really hates the neocons – nothing wrong with that! – and therefore he has a knee-jerk reaction of opposing whatever it is that neocons support. This has led him to the very strange place of supporting the Yanukovich government in Ukraine.

              • I think Raimondo has legitimate reasons for his opposition to these western-sponsored color revolutions.

      • I was not surprised by the size of the protests, I expected them to be even bigger in fact. The government represents their own people. Donetsk is likely to see a mass rally in support of the government these days than Evromaydan. Ukraine joining the Customs Union does not depend on the protests which in my opinion will soon dissipate. The only significance the protests so far have is making life in parts of Kiev difficult. So far the Ukrainian government has not declared its willingness to join the Customs Union.

  4. The Moscow Times head-banger-in-chief reckons there are a million protesting in Kiev and compares their numbers with that of her buddies, whose numbers in Moscow, she now admits, were at a maximum of 100,000:

    “It turns out that 1 million Ukrainians have no qualms about taking to the streets in protest if they find their president’s actions insulting — and that’s even after riot police had broken up earlier demonstrations. In Moscow, a city of 14 million, even generous estimates put the maximum number of demonstrators during the peak of the protests in December 2011 at 100,000. After that, a turnout of 30,000 or 40,000 at subsequent protests in 2012 was the most that organizers could muster.”

    See: “Yanukovych’s Russian Gambit”.

    I don’t recall her playing down the Moscow white-ribbonist figures at the time of their protests, however.

    • Is she referring to 1 million protestors all across the Ukraine or just in Kiev? Because 1 million across the country could be possible, but even the BBC the other day mentioned 20,000 people protesting in Kiev, down from a weekend peak of about 50,000-100,000 (depending on who your source is).

    • Wrong link above!

      It should have been this: “Yanukovych Is No Alpha Male”, in which she wrote: “1 million Ukrainians have no qualms about taking to the streets in protest”, which could have meant in the Ukraine as a whole, but then she goes on to write about Moscow “opposition” protests of last year and in December 2012, comparing the numbers that took part in them with the “1 million Ukrainians” who lately have had “no qualms about taking to the streets in protest”.

      Latynina seems to be found of the number “1 million” and its approximation “millions”, for she then goes on to write about the “oil windfall” in Russia that “even trickles down to millions of migrant workers”.

      However, as regards her “1 million Ukrainians” who “have no qualms about taking to the streets in protest” that she wrote about at the beginning of her article, she then makes it abundantly clear that those 1 million protesting Ukrainians are situated in Kiev, for she writes later, when comparing the number of Kiev protesters of recent days with the numbers of 2011-2012 white-ribbon protesters in Moscow: “The 100,000 Russian protesters went home frustrated, but the 1 million in Kiev have stripped Yanukovych of whatever legitimacy he once held”.

      She’s stating that 1 million have protested in Kiev.

      Also, I might point out that In her haste to pump up the figures, it seems that Latynina’s attentiveness to PC has slipped somewhat, for she has written “Kiev”.

      Shouldn’t that be “Kyiv”?

      After all,one should say “Beijing” and not “Peking”, shouldn’t one, and “Mumbai” and not the Eurocentic imperialistic “Bombay”.

      Which is all well and good, but following the same PC “reasoning”, the “Moscow Times” should then be the “Moskva” Times”, shouldn’t it, and “Cologne” and “Munich” and “Warsaw” and “Prague”, for example, should be “Koeln”, “Muenchen”, “Varshava” and “Praga” respectively, shouldn’t they?

  5. Returning to an old theme, here is a Russian/Ukrainian language map of Ukraine as per the language settings of Vkontakte. I’m sure no-one who reads Russia blogs has need of being told which color represents which. I found the link via Sputnik i Pogrom, I don’t know where they found it but it looks legit.

    A possible rejoinder/caution (made by CJ Willy) is that Vkontakte is culturally Russosphere, so West Ukrainians aren’t going to be using it. This is a good point but I don’t think it’s true. Vkontakte is predominant in Ukraine as a country, just as it is in most of the ex-USSR. So even people in Lvov have a big incentive to use it if only because that is also what most of the people in their environment (aka outside west Ukraine) is going to be using. Even if they primarily use Facebook, the vast majority of them would still have a VK account – which is, after all, the only requirement to appear on this map.

    • moscowexile says:

      I have spent some very happy times on holiday with my family in the Ukraine: in the Crimea at Yalta, Evpatoria, and near Kerch, and on the Ukrainian littoral, in what was formerly an Ottoman province seized occassionally by the Russian Empire and most recently, in 1939, by Stalin, in Bessarabia really, at Serhiivka”, and in none of these places have I heard Ukrainian spoken by the natives, though I have heard it spoken on Ukrainian TV channels there and have seen that language written on street signs in those places. When last in Odessa I commented about this to a taxi driver, asking him if anybody spoke Ukrainian in that city. “Nah”, he answered, “only Russian – and Odessian!”

  6. First of all, that was an excellent interview Anatoly.

    Just to summarise my views:

    1. The protests are the result of Yanukovitch’s complete mishandling of the association agreement. For months he was telling people that it is essential to the Ukraine’s future. He then did an abrupt U turn 7 days before he was due to sign it putting it on hold. Not surprisingly people are confused and angry. Yanukovitch then made matters worse for himself by his mishandling of the protests. They could (perhaps should) have been allowed to fizzle out by themselves. Instead the riot police cleared Independence Square last Friday. Though some people were injured I do not feel the action was measured by international standards remotely disproportionate or excessive Yanukovitch himself and Azarov lent credence to that claim by criticising the police directly afterwards instead of supporting them (as leaders of any other country would have done) so that the police became demoralised and unsure how to handle the protests on the following day. The result is that though the crowds were certainly smaller than in 2004 and though the number of protesters set on storming buildings was smaller still the police lost control of the situation in a number of places in the centre.

    2. The opposition has for its part however shown a lamentable lack of a strategy. It has variously called for the association agreement to be signed, for Yanukovitch and for Azarov to go and for early elections though it clearly lacks both the numbers in the parliament and on the streets to force any of these outcomes and though its repeated calls for a general strike have gone unheeded. Unless it achieves a breakthrough quickly, which at the moment seems unlikely unless Yanukovitch loses his nerve, this protest wave is bound eventually to subside (and is already showing signs of doing so) leaving Yanukovitch stronger than he was before or deserves to be.

    3. As for the association agreement itself, having now read it I can say that it is in my opinion an absurdly overambitious document that threatens real and entirely unnecessary economic damage to the country. That by the way is a further testament to Yanukovitch’s incompetence and to that of his negotiators. The best way forward is for it to be modified giving the Ukraine the link to the EU that many of its people especially in the west and possibly in Kiev want whilst also accommodating the needs of industry and of the people in the eastern Ukraine. That in my opinion is entirely achievable and it worries me that people in the EU refuse to do it.

  7. I agree that Yanukovych is very likely to emerge as the winner here and perhaps only gain in popularity rather than lose it.
    The opposition IMHO is damaging its credibility with its current actions.
    1. It is looking rather irrational from the start for demanding that that the government does what it already says it’s trying to do, except without additional negotiations which could save Ukrainian industry and give it much better terms. The government looks pragmatic and reasonable while the opposition seems like a bunch of whiny babies. It is enough to read Juila’s letter from prison where she mentions how signing of the agreement would automatically resolve all of Ukraine’s problems because Europe will help Ukraine for absolutely free (mentioning “free aid” about 15 times throughout the text). Most of the Ukrainians are smart and cynical enough to know that this is simply not true.
    2. Sensing how the above is unsustainable and doesn’t really make any sense, the opposition now turned the protest into a general anti-government rally and presented demands that it cannot enforce unless it initiates a bloody confrontation (which it would very likely lose too). Chances are high that they (the opposition) will totally fail and thus make people even more disillusioned with them than they’ve been already.
    3. The text of the association agreement was made public only recently and was not really a subject of debate until now. As more people familiarize themselves with the text of the agreement, many of whose clauses sound rather draconian and simply bizarre, and as the EU continues to reject the possibility of compromise or additional aid as it is doing now, the issue will sort itself out and make the opposition look worse.
    4. And lastly, while both sides had committed transgressions during the confrontation (the government side violently dispersed one of the protests under dubious circumstances, the opposition side occupied and blockaded administrative buildings) – one of the sides had already apologized for its actions and pledged non-repetition, the other is continuing its strategy and not willing to budge even though its actions are highly illegal. That also isn’t very good for their image.

    So my expectation is that both the rating of the opposition and the EU association is likely to actually drop in the coming months while at the same time push the government in the opposite direction from the one intended by the opposition.

    • Indeed, you are correct about the protests seeming irrational most likely being of benefit to Yanukovych, presenting him as the more rational side. However, that might not serve Yanukovych long term. Ukraine is in dire economic situation which might eventually mean doom for the current government. The outcome all depends on what steps the government takes.

      • Thanks. BTW here’s an Azer anti-Russian site that seems to basically agree with my conclusion:

        “Если такое положение не изменится в самое ближайшее время, Майдан уйдет в историю как неудавшаяся попытка превращения Украины в нормальное государство. О движении в Европу можно будет забыть на долгое время.”

  8. I was expecting someone to play this music during the protest. 🙂

    What about Ukrainian foreign nationals in other countries are they protesting outside of Embassies like they did in support of the Orange Revolution?

    Money Masters Bill Still supports Ukraine signing the deal as preferable to Russian influence.

    Did Putin threaten Yanukovych with crippling trade sanctions if he agreed to the EU deal?