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26 December, 2013 20:00   ▪  

Alexander J. Motyl for the World Affairs: Ukrainians made a declaration of independence from the Yanukovych regime on the Maidan

“The Euro Revolution and the Yanukovych regime’s shameful deal with Putin’s Russia are as momentous conceptually as they are politically, requiring a new way of thinking about what has transpired in Ukraine and how Ukraine may be best understood,” Alexander Motyl, American historian and professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, notes in his blog on The World Affairs Journal.

Taking part in mass anti-regime demonstrations for more than five weeks, Ukrainians declared that the Yanukovych regime was ruling without their consent and was therefore illegitimate, says Mr. Motyl.  “In effect, Ukrainians made a declaration of independence from the regime, using the same logic (and oftentimes the same language) employed by American revolutionaries in 1776. Because Yanukovych systematically abused the Ukrainian people, neglected their interests, and violated the social contract between democratically elected rulers and the people who elected them, he ceased to be their “sovereign.” Once the sovereign turns against the people and acts tyrannically, he transforms himself into a usurper and the people are no longer obligated to obey him,” he claims.

He thinks that Ukrainians have freed themselves from the fear, impotence, and self-denigration that many decades of Communist and post-Communist despotism promoted. So, there is no way back.

“In violating the people’s trust, Yanukovych lost all the democratic legitimacy he had acquired in the 2010 presidential election. Some analysts continually invoke Yanukovych’s democratic election as if it were an unconditional mandate. It is anything but. A democratic election is not a mandate to abuse the people who elected you,” Mr. Motyl urges.

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By mortgaging Ukraine to Vladimir Putin in exchange for his temporary financial support, Yanukovych began the process of Ukraine’s transformation into a colony of Russia. “Having torn up his social contract with the Ukrainian people, Yanukovych signed a new one with Putin. Yanukovych accepted the status of a lowly satrap in exchange for the ability to continue exploiting Ukraine economically and brutalizing Ukrainians politically,” Mr. Motyl says.

“Yanukovych is certain to be as unreliable a satrap as he has been rapacious as a sultan. Worse, Putin apparently doesn’t understand that Russia lacks the economic resources and state strength to dominate a country as large and unstable as Ukraine. The costs of imperialism will prove too great for Putin’s economically stagnant and crumbling petro-state to bear… Ukraine’s neo-colonial status will be short-lived and the collapse of Putin’s neo-imperial project may mean the collapse of Putin. And without Putin, Yanukovych will have nowhere to turn and nothing to do but run for the hills. This time, Interpol is likely to be on his heels,” Mr. Motyl predicts.

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