Ukraine After Maidan: Achievements and Losses

Ukraine After Maidan: Achievements and Losses
On 21 November, Ukraine marked the official date of the start of the wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). It is also known as the Euromaidan or, as the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt proclaimed in February 2019, the Revolution of Dignity. “We are meeting near the Independence Monument at 10.30 p.m. Dress warmly, bring umbrellas, tea and coffee, invite your friends and be in a good mood," according to the popular version, it was from this post of the grant-awarded journalist Mustafa Nayem, the son of emigrants from Afghanistan who had fled the war, that kicked off the events of the Euromaidan.

Without Maidan

Incidentally, neither Mustafa Nayem himself (he had just been appointed deputy head of the Ukroboronprom corporation), nor former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, nor Maidan commandant Andriy Parubiy -- none of them came to Kiev’s central square on 21 November 2019 to mark the anniversary of the tragic events.

It is largely unknown that the Ukrainian politicians believe the Euromaidan issue is unpopular among ordinary Ukrainians. For example, if you take the political parties present in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, none of them included any references to the events of 2013-2014 in their program documents. Analysis shows that not a single pro-Western party, whether it is President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People, European Solidarity set up by Petro former President Poroshenko, the All-Ukrainian Union Fatherland (Batkivshchyna) led by Yulia Tymoshenko, or Golos with the popular singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk as the front man, has included the words like Maidan or Revolution of Dignity in their election programs.

The most influential opposition party Opposition Platform - For Life does not appeal to Maidan achievements either. This is only logical, though, since this party is the only one in the Verkhovna Rada that openly supports normalcy in relations with Russia and very critically assesses the results of Euromaidan.

From Economic Hell to Limbo

One of the options for measuring these achievements is the GDP growth rate. Still it is necessary make a clarification: while the GDP is a joint product resulting from the work of all Ukrainians, it is distributed unevenly. In the conditions of an oligarchic economy the gap between different social groups is especially huge. Therefore, it is better to make conclusions about the state of the economy in conjunction with an indicator as the GDP per capita.

So, according to the World Bank experts, GDP per capita in Ukraine has changed as follows:

$4,029 in 2013;

$3,104 in 2014;

$2,124 in 2015;

$2,187 in 2016;

$2,640 in 2017;

$3,095 in 2018.

It should be noted that in 2013 the exchange rate was eight hryvnias for US dollar. In 2019 it was already 24 hryvnia, in other words, exactly three times more. However, it was not the highest point yet -- in December 2018 the dollar cost 28 hryvnia.

The World Bank data show that the peak income per capita in 2013 was followed by a steep slide in 2014, and especially in 2015. Actually, this is the answer to the question why the Ukrainians have given up on the career of Maidan Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Up to now, Yatsenyuk remains one of the most unpopular politicians: the majority of Ukrainians believe that as the head of the cabinet of ministers he had pushed Ukraine into an economic abyss.

Therefore, even the current pessimistic situation in Ukraine means a way out from the economic hell, at least to limbo, compared to the times under Yatsenyuk.

Finally, the size of the GDP in 2013 and 2019 is difficult to compare, because the number of the Ukrainian residents has changed significantly. It concerns not only the country’s depopulation, but also the Crimea and Donbas residents, as well as mass labor migration. If the rate of population decline in 2019 was minus 200,000 people, the “great migration of workers” carried away millions of Ukrainians. According to Jacek Kotlowski, the director of a department at the Polish National Bank, 900,000 Ukrainians are working legally in Poland alone. By the way, the head of the Polish Foreign Ministry has recently estimated the number of Ukrainian migrant workers at 2 mln people. Apart from Poland, Ukrainians are also heading for Greece, Hungary, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, etc. Despite the benign travel regulations established by the EU, Russia remains the second most popular destination for them. According to various estimates, there are about 3 mln Ukrainian citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation -- all at the same time.

Not by Grenades Alone

Immediately after the “democratic” forces seized the power in Kiev, mass protests broke out in Crimea, Donbas, Kharkiv, Odessa and other regions. As a consequence of the shift of power during the Maidan protests, modern Ukraine is a country without Crimea and Donbas. Moreover, since April 2014, there has been a war in Donbas. The active phase took place in 2014-2015, and then after the defeat of the Ukrainian forces in city of Debaltseve in Donetsk Oblast, the parties went over to a positional war. The exact assessment of the destruction and the number of deaths and injuries is possible to be made only after years. So far, the most well-known estimate is the UN figures, according to which as a result of the fighting about 13,000 people died and hundreds of thousands became refugees. The most terrible thing is that as a result of armed attack of the Ukrainian armed forces on the territory of the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, about 150-200 small children had been killed.

In terms of standards of living, the post-Maidan Ukraine’s economic environment has become insecure: the war in Donbas and the hopeless economic situation have given it a boost. Therefore, when "men with enlightened faces" call for "bringing down the criminal regime," remember that after Maidan the Ukrainian news feeds are nothing more nor less than reports of the military operations.

Here, for instance, is the regular overview of events of an ordinary Ukrainian week. In the evening of 16 November, as a result of a combat grenade explosion two men were killed in a dormitory in the Troieshchyna district of Kiev. On 19 November, as a result of a grenade explosion a man was killed in the courtyard of a block in Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk). On 21 November, a district court in the city of Sumy sentenced a 29-year-old man to ten years in prison for throwing a hand-grenade into a dancing crowd at a nightclub in June 2018 because of some personal grudges. No prizes for guessing that ammunition and small arms have poured into Ukraine from the territory of the military conflict in Donbas. And this is just a brief summary of the Ukrainian news. In fact, such stories have become a fact of life today. However, not by grenades alone, as it were.

On Monday, November 18, the southeastern city of Zaporizhia got into criminal reports – a brawl in the city center grew over into an exchange of gunfire. On the same day, there was a shoot-out at a bus station in the small town of Kiliya in the Odessa region. On Thursday, November 21, a woman shot and wounded a bank employee with a handgun in Mykolaiv, a city in the country’s southwest.

Well, and as for the Ukrainian politicians like Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Andrey Parubiy, Oleksandr Turchynov, who had promised from the Maidan's stage that an affluent European lifestyle was about to come (“European standards of life!” Yatsenyuk shouted into a microphone), now they are speaking more about the fact that Maidan marked the start of tф struggle, which is still continuing. What they don't say is when the war and mass poverty may be over...

In other words, the difficult times have gone... To be followed by other – no less difficult -- times...

Andrey Parubiy (the commandant of the Maidan tent camp and speaker of the Verkhovna Rada from 2014 through 2019):

-Today is a great day for all Ukrainians living in Ukraine and all over the world. The sixth anniversary of the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity, our Maidan, Dignity and Freedom Day. Six years ago, at this very moment, I published a post on the website of Ukrayinska Pravda under the slogan “I'm going to Maidan!,” brought a well-tested megaphone with me and went to Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square.

On this day, paying our deepest respect to the Maidan heroes, we should not only remember, but first of all, think about the future. The Maidan of Dignity was an important stage in the struggle for the Ukrainian empire. The struggle, which is still continuing. And that is why it is especially important for us to remember on this anniversary what risks and threats the Ukrainian nation is facing today.

Alexander Melamud, businessman (Kiev):

- RBC Ukraine is broadcasting live the Maidan mob madness. Stupid, deceived and miserable people. I pity them.

I have read the comments of those who once stood on the Maidan. There are shifts in the right direction. A few more years -- and no one will celebrate THIS already.

Oleksandr Skubchenko, public figure (Kiev):

- I had an office in the Trade Union Building until it was set on fire. The windows on the third floor overlooked on the Maidan. Almost every day I witnessed with my own two eyes what was happening on the square and on the third floor -- in the Maidan hospital.

I saw guerrillas training in the Maidan camp under my windows to assault security forces with bats and chains. I saw all those “businessman from western Ukraine who had left their successful businesses to defend their freedom", cadging cigarettes and digging through the second-hand piles.

I heard the priests cursing the Berkut people (the Ukrainian system of riot police) from the maidan stage, their families, children and their future generations. I heard all those anti-Russian messages from the stage, the ones the "European" Maidan rested on.

I saw a coup d'état unfolding in my country with support from the minority of the population and gunmen committing anti-constitutional violence in the heart of the capital of my country in the interests of the United States.

I understood why those gunmen were in balaclavas: so that the immature minds of Ukrainians did not see the faces of those who were actually attacked the Berkut people. I saw them without balaclavas in the hospital on the third floor -- those swarthy guys who did not even know the Ukrainian language.

I saw it... not the lies that were poured out by TV every day but everything with my own eyes. And it seems ridiculous to me when someone tries to tell me the “truth” what happened on Maidan Nezalezhnosti.