Yushchenko’s Task is to Restore
Stability of Ukrainian Economy

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti, by Dmitry Kosyrev) The presidential runoff in Ukraine on Sunday did not bring any unexpected developments. The defeat of Viktor Yanukovich was predictable. The agreement between the candidates under the aegis of incumbent Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma meant that between the second and the current round of elections, all the bureaucratic machinery of the Ukrainian state, with its financial and organizational assets and friendly entrepreneurs had been smoothly transferred to the control of Viktor Yushchenko and worked efficiently to guarantee his victory.

There were serious grounds for such a development. The events of the fall and early winter clearly showed that the major threat to stability in Ukraine was not Mr. Yushchenko’s team per se (he was not the worst Ukrainian prime minister after all), but the group of his close supporters, led by leader of the radical opposition Yulia Timoshenko.

The bureaucratic state machinery still contains both the supporters of Mr. Yushchenko and Mr. Yanukovich, and also representatives of other groups. However, they are facing a common threat, which is real, not symbolic: the participation of Ms. Timoshenko and other radicals in the governance of the country. Radicals are needed when it is necessary to destroy something. They cannot create or manage. In Kiev, they have already spoken enough about the "corruption and dictatorship" to scare off bureaucrats of any level or conviction. A state, no matter what form it takes, cannot be governed properly by authorities surrounded by a ring of protesters. The economy, regardless of its model and orientation, cannot function without strong authorities and the strict observance of the law. Besides, Ms. Timoshenko has a criminal corruption record and her former patron, another ex-premier, Pavel Lazarenko, is serving a prison sentence in America. In a situation like this, radicals have nothing to lose, which makes them extremely dangerous.

Therefore, in the near future, the situation in Ukraine will develop along the lines of a bureaucratic transfer of power rather than toward revolution. One team of bureaucrats will simply transfer the levers of power to another team of bureaucrats led by Mr. Yushchenko. The street fighters will be quietly pushed away from the corridors of power. The latter, naturally, will try to organize some sort of resistance. For instance, they might attempt to renege on all the agreements concluded by Messrs. Yanukovich, Yushchenko and Kuchma, or even demand the adoption of a new Ukrainian Constitution with provisions for a different state system.

One of the decisive factors in this struggle will be the attitude shown by investors and partners of the Ukrainian economy. And they are not interested exclusively in politics. The banking system must be in order and to ensure its stability the country needs the part of Ukraine that produces the bulk of current GDP. That includes metallurgy and the petrochemical industry, which export to Eastern Europe and China, and the transportation and service industries. They are all concentrated in Eastern Ukraine, which voted for Mr. Yanukovich, plus (in the case with the service sector) Kiev. These are the areas where the future of Yushchenko’s rule will be decided in the coming months. His task is to restore the stability of the real, current Ukrainian economy rather than the ideal, "futuristic" economy he promised to the electorate.

As to the politics, the protracted election campaign in Ukraine leaves a number of questions for other countries. The campaign did not show anything new in terms of the functioning of democratic mechanisms in a state that is still making a transition toward developed democracy. Similar models of behavior on the part of the electorate, entrepreneurs, parties and the media in such a society can be found in Russia, the Philippines, or Taiwan.

However, the importance of therole played by foreign observers has never been as significant as during the Ukrainian presidential elections. That thousands of them flooded the country during the "third round" of elections makes them partially responsible for the violations of electoral legislation claimed by Mr. Yanukovich’s supporters. In any case, we should seriously ponder over the "foreign observer" phenomenon after the "Ukrainian episode."

Naturally, it is quite ridiculous to talk about any impartiality of foreign observers after the events in Ukraine. Nevertheless, Kiev is not the last capital in the world to witness the transfer of presidential or parliamentary authority in the near future. Therefore, it certainly makes sense to start thinking about the development of a common set of rules that will determine what observers can and must attend certain elections and what status and authority they might have. In other words, how to make sure that the observers do not turn into a legalized "support group" for a certain candidate, adding chaos to an already imperfect election process.