2 April, 2013 11:00 ▪
Alexander Motyl: the advantages of good PR do not outweigh for Yanukovych the discomfort associated with ruining his ostrich-leather shoes
“Major flooding in Germany in late 2002 enabled Gerhard Schröder to snatch victory from the jaws of electoral defeat by rolling up his sleeves and visibly assisting affected citizens cope with the disaster… Not so the Ukrainian president and Party of Regions` members. Why didn’t Yanukovych and his boys put on their jeans and anoraks, pick up a few shovels, and trudge down to Kyiv’s Broadway, the Khreshchatyk, and start cleaning the street? Why didn’t Prime Minister Azarov do the same? Or, for that matter, the quasi-mayor, Oleksandr Popov?,” Motyl says.
“The Yanukovyches are a hardy lot: Dad works out, Junior drives fast cars, and the Dentist is a whiz at making money. Surely they could’ve decided that the advantages of good PR outweighed the discomfort associated with ruining their ostrich-leather shoes? Obviously, it never occurred to any of these guys that sharing in the people’s hardships—or, even, pretending to share in their hardships—might be a good thing to do. For themselves, if not for the unwashed masses. You have to be exceptionally obtuse or exceptionally arrogant or exceptionally indifferent to behave this way,” expert claims.
Motyl underlines that instead, “both Yanukovych and Azarov displayed their displeasure with quasi-mayor Popov’s cleanup efforts”.
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“Popov, naturally, passed the buck to his deputy, whom he fired a few days after the snows stopped falling. Popov’s incompetence is, of course, partly the result of his being a Party of Regions` politico surrounded by Party of Regions` politicos: doing a good job is not part of their job description. But, to be fair, Popov is only a truncated mayor. Formally, he’s the head of the Kyiv City State Administration, a position he’s occupied since Yanukovych appointed him in November 2010. In effect, Popov doesn’t run Kyiv. His boss does. Which means that the responsibility for the mess falls squarely in—yup, you guessed it—Viktor Yanukovych’s lap.
That’s what you get when you aggrandize too much power: you become responsible for everything and you get blamed for everything. Is that fair? Actually, yes. After all, no one asked Yanukovych to assume the mantle of Ukraine’s sultan. Now the stuff has begun melting and parts of Western Ukraine and Kyiv will soon be under water. The president will blame Popov. Popov will bite his lips. But everyone will know where the buck stops,” he underlines.
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