#Euromaidan and #DANSwithMe - discussion on protests in Eastern Europe

AvalancheMaster

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PLEASE NOTE:

Before you even post, make sure to read Camikaze's warning. We don't need another thread derailment.

Moderator Action:
Thread reopened, and please try sticking to the topic.



First, let me clarify the topic of this thread:

For those of you who do not know, currently two countries in Eastern Europe are undergoing a deep political crisis with protests that include clashes with the police that bear a strong resemblance. After the coalition government of Plamen Oresharski chose a shady media mogul Peevski for head of the National Security Agency (DANS), Bulgaria entered the second mass protests this year (the previous being against energy providers, ending with the resignation of the previous government). Peevski's nomination was withdrawn but protests continued claiming the government serves both the mafia and Russian power circles, and demanding its resignation. Situation worsened when supporters of the far-right party Attack (part of the coalition government) started attacking Syrian asylum seekers and foreigners in general on the streets of Bulgaria's capital Sofia. Currently protests in Bulgaria have calmed down after on 12th November (after 150 days of protesting) police used force to disperse protesters but a new wave of mass protests is expected later this month.

Many people believe that current protests in Ukraine are extremely similar to those in Bulgaria. After years of negotiating, Ukrainian government suspended preparations for signing an EU association agreement. This started a wave of mass-protests that were at least 100,000 people strong. Yesterday police forces stormed Independence Square, where almost all protesters were located.

Obvious similarities include that both protests are pro-European (and pro-European Union) in nature, and both demand the resignation of the current government. Other similarities include that both Bulgarians and Ukrainians suspect Russian external interests to be involved in the recent government decisions, and label Putin as a warmongering imperialist.

The title of this thread refers to the hashtags that protesters have used in social networks - #DANSwithme for Bulgaria, and #Euromaydan for Ukraine.

Since I have taken part in DANSwithme while I was back home in Bulgaria this summer, it would be best to take note that my viewpoint on the issues might not be neutral. With that said, a healthy discussion on this forum would surely be enjoyable, and beneficial to those who have heard almost nothing about those protests.

My main question that I wish to discuss is - do you think that those protests can start a wave of strong anti-Russian protests, similar to the Arab Spring? While Bulgaria and Ukraine are the only two Eastern European countries to have widespread protests, other countries have had their own recent events - in Poland, nationalists attacked the Russian Embassy on Poland's national holiday, while in the Czech Republic artist David Cerny erected a huge pink middle finger statue days before government elections which addressed the fact that Czech Communist Party is most likely to receive power after winning 15% at the elections.
 

gay_Aleks

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On the Bulgaria scenario, as yet another local, you also forgot to mention the students closing off the Sofia University for a brief time. And of course, as usual, nationalists just heat up the situation the very best way only they can - by killing immigrants!

In both protests, there's no real good or bad side. In Bulgaria, those students could really be clamoring for change. But they could be paid. What they're doing, however is just heating up the situation until yet another government changes, which will result in new elections, which will end in a new government, which will eventually result in new protests, which will...

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, I am not well-met on the situation. It seems that the government there doesn't want to say "We blew up. She's dead. Sorry about that.". Of course, there's no way easier to get your government shot down and result into an errupting chaos and whatnot, but is it better than delaying their eventual acceptance into a rather shaky union that is EU? Maybe?
 

LamaGT

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In Ukraine people unfortunately believe that joining the EU would change anything, but the country is in the hands of the mafia that got in power after the fall of the USSR. Perhaps their death might change something later on.
 

Tahuti

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In Ukraine people unfortunately believe that joining the EU would change anything, but the country is in the hands of the mafia that got in power after the fall of the USSR. Perhaps their death might change something later on.

Closer ties to the EU will erode the power of the powers that be in Ukraine, who have interest in ties with Russia instead. This is totally unlike Norway for instance, where there is no internal elite that relies on another neighbour for their power.
 

red_elk

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Dem Ruskies are plotting again. Didn't know they messed up Bulgaria too.
 

Tahuti

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An obvious "solution" might be for Russia to join the EU as well?

I don't suppose there's any chance of that in the near future, though.

Not really. It would be beneficial for Russia and a major boon for the EU itself, but it's politically impossible right now, mainly because Russia itself is the heart of everything.

Point is that the Russian government controls large stakes in key industries like oil and gas, which is no coincidence: It allows Putin's government to create jobs and private rewards for his cronies, who keep him in power in exchange. Furthermore, the government also supports anticompetitive practices (like high import tariffs, lack of competition laws, difficult business laws) to ensure the support of select cronies as well. Of course, this is defended to the public as ensuring the country's resources are in the hands of "the people" and not in "Western investors", even though it is plain corruption.

How this fit with the Ukrainian story? Because Ukrainian oligarchs may benefit from such benefits as well, provided they can bring Ukraine into Putin's sphere of influence.

State-owned businesses do not necessarily lead to repressive governments, with Norway (again) being a prime example. But Norway has a democratic government that uses state oil revenues for the benefit of Norwegians, whereas Russia (and Ukraine) use state control of the economy to redistribute it among cronies who can keep repressive governments intact.
 

Borachio

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Not really. It would be beneficial for Russia and a major boon for the EU itself, but it's politically impossible right now, mainly because Russia itself is the heart of everything.

Point is that the Russian government controls large stakes in key industries like oil and gas, which is no coincidence: It allows Putin's government to create jobs and private rewards for his cronies, who keep him in power in exchange. Furthermore, the government also supports anticompetitive practices (like high import tariffs, lack of competition laws, difficult business laws) to ensure the support of select cronies as well. Of course, this is defended to the public as ensuring the country's resources are in the hands of "the people" and not in "Western investors", even though it is plain corruption.

How this fit with the Ukrainian story? Because Ukrainian oligarchs may benefit from such benefits as well, provided they can bring Ukraine into Putin's sphere of influence.

State-owned businesses do not necessarily lead to repressive governments, with Norway (again) being a prime example. But Norway has a democratic government that uses state oil revenues for the benefit of Norwegians, whereas Russia (and Ukraine) use state control of the economy to redistribute it among cronies who can keep repressive governments intact.

The question then becomes how long can Putin and his cronies keep on fooling the Russian people?

Maybe a bit longer than the Ukrainian Putinista can. But surely not indefinitely.
 

Cutlass

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The question then becomes how long can Putin and his cronies keep on fooling the Russian people?

Maybe a bit longer than the Ukrainian Putinista can. But surely not indefinitely.

It isn't really a question of fooling them. They control the elections through fraud.
 

Borachio

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But at the same time somehow persuading the electorate that the elections are legitimate?
 

Cutlass

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Do the electorate truly believe the elections are legitimate? How can you tell? Maybe they just are resigned to the outcomes?
 

dutchfire

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I believe, at least in the case of Ukraine, that the current President also has significant support. It just tends to be more rural, old and less active on Youtube.
 

Traitorfish

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Peaceful protests in Ukraine


Link to video.
Governments are not entitled to a peaceful citizenry by sheer dint of existing. It's something that they can only hope to earn, and it doesn't seem to me that the Ukrainian government has expended any great effort towards that end.
 

AvalancheMaster

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red_elk, from your replies I conclude that you view everything in complete black and white from a pan-Slavic point of view. Those who blame Russia's imperialistic ideology, hate Russia. Those who are against Putin's imperialism are bad. Correct me if I'm wrong.

In the case of Bulgaria, the protests indeed focus on the nepotism of the political elite but they also do focus on the Russian influence in Bulgarian internal affairs. One of the main points of the protesters is that almost all main political figures of today were members of the Communist National Security Agency (think something similar to KGB). This also includes most of the rectors and lecturers in main Bulgarian universities and even Metropolitan bishops in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Ex-communist secret agents are everywhere, and we are not talking about conspiracies here - the documentation is public, it is just that the political elite and media couldn't care less. Also worth mentioning is that out of the 4 national TV networks, 2 are owned by Delyan Peevski, whose appointment as a head of the National Security Agency caused the protests, and one is a state-owned TV. No real discussion on this issue in the medias as well.

And that's where the Russian interests come in - with the recent ban on shale gas exploration (not extraction), gas in Bulgaria remains mostly imported from Russia, more specifically from Gazprom, a huge supporter of Putin's government. There is de facto a Russian-controlled monopoly on gas in Bulgaria that is pressuring the Bulgarian government - including to ban the shale gas exploration. One of the main goals of this government was to sign the South Stream contract - something that they already did.
 

red_elk

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The question then becomes how long can Putin and his cronies keep on fooling the Russian people?
The sad part is that too many Russian people still don't understand they are suffering under iron heels of Putin and his cronies, and continue to vote for him. It should be explained to them, that they are electing wrong, undemocratic president and therefore elections are illegitimate.
 

Tahuti

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The question then becomes how long can Putin and his cronies keep on fooling the Russian people?

Maybe a bit longer than the Ukrainian Putinista can. But surely not indefinitely.

As long as the Russian law enforcement and military support Putin as well, Putin doesn't need the support of the people at all. The law enforcement in Russia is extremely underpaid compared to elsewhere, which makes them very susceptible to bribery (by oligarchs). The said oligarchs also control the media, so many Russians are simply brainwashed into believing Putin is an enlightened ruler. Just look at red_elk's statements.

In all but the most liberal democracies, the support of the people isn't really necessary at all to stay in power. Even the Arab Spring ultimately caused a political earthslide not because the people were overwhelmingly opposed to their country's regimes, but because the military, law enforcement and essential supporters of the regime figured it wasn't worth fighting for. With the exception of foreign occupation, this is how every dictatorship and pseudo-democracy ends. Putin may one day join the Shah, Gorbachov, de Klerk and Hosny Mubarak this way also. However, it is just as well possible that he will be able to keep his regime intact for the remainder of his political lifetime.
 

AvalancheMaster

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The sad part is that too many Russian people still don't understand they are suffering under iron heels of Putin and his cronies, and continue to vote for him. It should be explained to them, that they are electing wrong, undemocratic president and therefore elections are illegitimate.

I guess I stand corrected. :p
 

red_elk

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red_elk, from your replies I conclude that you view everything in complete black and white from a pan-Slavic point of view. Those who blame Russia's imperialistic ideology, hate Russia. Those who are against Putin's imperialism are bad. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Why, you are right, I see everything in black and white. All good people must support Russia's imperialistic ideology and believe that Putin is enlightened ruler.
 

Traitorfish

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The thing to understand about Red Elk is that, like all good Russians, he deplores all authorities equally. Also non-authorities. And those that don't fit into either category. He just deplores things, generally, I suppose. Except alcohol, that seems to get a pass.

He'd get on very well in Scotland.
 
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