By Serhiy Leshchenko
It’s unpopular to write about this now, but I think that Viktor Medvedchuk a) is not behind the unrest in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; b) wants peace in eastern Ukraine. However, I continue to believe that he is a demon in Ukrainian politics.
Let me explain why:
I frankly do not like Medvedchuk. But he is not a fanatic and not a zombie. He is a cynical and not unintelligent man.
Yes, Medvedchuk supports a pro-Russian policy in Ukraine, but he is not ready to devote his entire life to this idea. He is not ready to go live in the forests as a partisan. Or to give up his benefits. Or to die for “Novorossiya” (New Russia).
Medvedchuk is a true oligarch who lives an appropriate lifestyle — palaces, private planes, vacations in Sardinia in Europe, and regular attendance at soccer matches. He likes to live as he wishes, and he is not ready to sacrifice his personal preferences for the idea of armed secession of the Donbas and to wear green camouflage and settle somewhere near Donetsk, surrounded by half-crazy men with machine guns.
Moreover, recent history in Crimea has created a great deal of personal discomfort for him. As is generally known, Medvedchuk has a huge palace in Crimea — the same one where Russian propagandists photographed him welcoming Vladimir Putin.
Few people are aware that Medvedchuk now has practically no way to reach his estate on the Black Sea. He does not use commercial airlines but flies in his private business jet. However, from the moment Crimea was annexed, he cannot simply get in his jet and fly to Simferopol or Belbek. Why? Because Medvedchuk’s private jet is registered abroad, and if he violates the international ban on air links with Crimea, his plane will be placed on a black list preventing him from flying it anywhere in the world.
For the same reason, fearing international sanctions, Sberbank of Russia, for example, is leaving Crimea as well.
This is only one instance. Moreover, even if Medvedchuk somehow manages to reach Crimea (through a Russian charter company not afraid of international sanctions), he will be forced to spend time without friends — none of his Kyiv friends will come visit him because of similar problems.
These are the consequences of the annexation of Crimea.
When it comes to politics, Medvedchuk’s only capital is his relationship with Russia. This is the only thing he can “sell” to Ukrainian politicians. But Medvedchuk’s services are needed only if there is a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. If there is war, Medvedchuk is not needed by anyone. There is no market where his services are necessary.
Next. Medvedchuk’s perennial ambition is to return to high politics in Ukraine. But that in no way includes the desire to become leader of a self-proclaimed and universally unrecognized savage formation of the Donetsk People’s Republic or the Luhansk People’s Republic in order to spend the rest of his life under European sanctions. Because, as mentioned earlier, Medvedchuk is not Robin Hood; he is an oligarch. And his goal is not the depressed regions of the Donbas, but all of Ukraine and with it the possibility of wielding veto power in the country.
The separation of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts will permanently destroy the demand for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Politicians who, like Medvedchuk, will never have even the most remote chance of being elected to Parliament. For the simple reason that there will no longer be any territory voting for them.
On the contrary, Ukraine’s reconciliation with the Donbas will provide grounds for returning Medvedchuk to politics. The new president and the European leaders will be obligated to him, and he will have his own history to use during election campaigns.
It would be naïve to call Angela Merkel a Russian agent after her proposal to appoint Medvedchuk a mediator (in the trilateral contact group negotiating peace in the Donbas — Ed.). Angela Merkel is an agent of the German people, who do not want to lose creature comforts and financial resources because of a war somewhere on the edges of the European Union. If Medvedchuk is ready to return this kind of peace to German politicians, she is ready to consider him a negotiator.
Therefore, no matter how paradoxical it may seem, but Medvedchuk’s attempts to establish peace in the east are real. This is his personal fight for a place in the bigger picture.
The only question — what will be Medvedchuk’s price.
By Serhiy Leshchenko, Ukrainska Pravda, June 26, 2014.
Translated by Anna Mostovych