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    Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk (R) attends a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine, February 16, 2016

    Broken Promises: What 'Failing' to Oust Yatsenyuk Showed Ukrainians

    © REUTERS / Gleb Garanich
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    As right-wing protesters again gather in Ukraine's capital, we look at what instigated the crisis, and whether the new wave of protests has a future, facing a total blackout in Western media and zero support from US diplomats.

    As Ukraine looks at the prospect of spiraling into another wave of protest, one key event, the weird failure of the country's parliament to make a no-confidence vote stood out.

    Supporters of Ukraine in the European Union expected reforms which would wipe out the country's oligarchs and open its economy to European exporters and outsourcers. What transpired, however, was a doubling down of oligarch rule in Ukraine, which alienated both the EU and the pro-coup constituency.

    "For too many of the current elite, a new prime minister could mean a shake-up of the whole government, and possibly a restart of much-delayed reforms that would threaten their financial interests," pro-Maidan television network Hromadske.tv co-founder Maxim Eristavi wrote in Foreign Policy.

    "Or it could also mean more competition for resources — a further takeover of some of the top positions in government by business interests connected to President Poroshenko’s ruling party," he added.

    Broken Promises

    The failure to deliver on promises to their own constituents by itself resembles former President Viktor Yanukovych's 2013 reversal on heavily promoted promises to sign an association deal with the EU. That refusal led to the protests, sponsored by Ukraine's top oligarchs, including now-President Petro Poroshenko, and an eventual coup.

    The decision to sponsor protests may have been an issue of ambitions for Poroshenko (he stayed off camera, but remained a key backroom negotiator), and poor decisions by Yanukovych, who admittedly had a compromised police force.

    Like Yanukovych, Poroshenko never used the platform he advanced, instead seeking cosmetic reform and policies that benefit his personal wealth.

    Blaming a civil war that erupted on "Russian aggression" did buy Poroshenko time, but the short attention span explanations his media empire engendered never did explain economic and budgetary collapse.

    What is Next?

    The right-wing protesters should not hope for easy success. Their efforts have so far faced a near-total blackout in Western media, and countering the police, despite its latest public relations troubles, would not be as easy as the "shooting fish in a barrel" that it was during anti-Yanukovych protests.

    Then, officers received questionable orders from superiors and had their phone numbers and addresses leaked to protesters, who made death threats to their families. One protester recently described how he shot police officers in the back of the head in a recent interview.

    Poroshenko has also, despite his failure, continued to enjoy the tentative support of US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, widely seen as essentially his handler.

    The government has also managed to isolate the protesters to a building which they occupied, and are negotiating, which, if they fail to attract significant numbers in the evening, or stage a significant provocation, as in 2013, could mean having to wait another year.

    Related:

    Poroshenko Says Ukraine's Pro-EU Course 'Irreversible'
    The Price of War: Drone Footage of Ukraine's Deadliest Battlefield
    US Sees PM Yatsenyuk as 'Best Chance' to Prevent Ukraine From Chaos
    Tags:
    protest, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Petro Poroshenko, Viktor Yanukovych, Kiev, Ukraine
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