The New Elite in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Christopher Vanderpool et al. | Go to book overview

10
The Ukrainian Political Elitel Its Features and Evolution

Nikolai Churilov

The formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the subsequent disintegration of the country along national-administrative lines were two of the consequences of the USSR losing the Cold War. Ukraine's independence was achieved after the breakup of the Soviet Union but was also the result of an extended struggle by the Ukrainian political elite for independence. The national elite of other new states lacked specific strategies and tactics for moving toward independence and, consequently, resorted to ad hoc policies, which had a superficial declarative character. Many condemned the communist doctrine of the past by lowering the Soviet flag and imitating the ideology and basic features of Western governments. Under these conditions, the strategic trend among the elite of all newly formed states, including Russia and Ukraine, was to imitate the West, ostensibly to further their integration in the world community. A situation developed where the national intelligentsia and political elite pushed hard to achieve quickly the standards and norms characteristic of modern, highly developed states while ignoring the history and logic of their achievements. History teaches us that pursuing such goals requires ruling with an iron fist in order to build the institutions for which the social and political preconditions in the country do not exist.

The consequences of such policies include an increased level of social conflict, which may seriously hinder efforts to build new political structures. Some examples of social conflict are the Islamic revolution in Iran; the wave of Islamic fundamentalism in Middle Asia, formerly part of the USSR; and the increasingly strong and popular nationalistic trends in Russia today. Currently, such are the conditions in Ukraine,

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