Belarusians are envious of Ukrainians, who have already had four bad presidents. We’ve had just one and it’s the same one for almost 20 years now.
What’s happening now in Ukraine should not be underestimated.
Some 20 years ago, Ukraine and Belarus automatically became independent countries, without any kind of struggle, as the Soviet Union ceased to exist in legal terms.
But the Ukrainian nation is only just now coming of age, having its say, and dying for it.
It is not an easy process, not at the very start, and certainly not in what comes next.
We will definitely see a fight between the various camps on the winning side, radicals versus moderates, and some form of revenge against the losers. While the oligarchs circle, like crows, before deciding where to land in the new order.
There will be tensions between Western Ukraine (source of national identity, pride, history) and Eastern Ukraine (the industrial engine of the economy, joined at the hip to Russia). Russia will try to abuse it.
The success of the 2014 revolution is just as uncertain as that of the 2004 edition.
Can the former Soviet system – corrupt MPs, corrupt judges, economic dependence on Russia – finally be changed? Will a feasible and effective government emerge?
Ukraine is being carefully watched. In Minsk. In Moscow. Their rulers are watching for ways to avert a Ukrainian scenario at home. Their people are looking at a new horizon of possibility.
The EuroMaidan in Ukraine was never anti-Russian. The windows of Russian banks in Kyiv city centre have not been smashed. The billboards advertising Russian brands have not been defaced.
The main source of suspense is what will the Kremlin do? But until today, 26 February 2014, its reaction has been… strangely moderate.
Analysts talk about Russian intervention to split Ukraine in half, or other fractions, for example by snatching Crimea.
But breakup is not in Moscow’s interests: Logic says it needs good relations with the new leaders in Kiev. It certainly does not need the huge financial burden that would be caused by the division of its most important neighbour, because, financially speaking, Moscow ain’t doing that well.
But who says Putin is a man of logic?
Whatever else he may be, he is first and foremost a man of power and the show of power.
What the Ukrainians have just shown is that the king is stark naked.
They have shown, on the horizon, a house: Putin’s residence. It is just the same as the house of Yanukovych: a Fortress of Power, turned into Museum of Corruption.