Gender bias, anti-Semitism contributed to Yanukovych’s victory

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March 18, 2010, 6:35 p.m. | Op-ed — by Taras Kuzio

Taras Kuzio

Special to Kyiv Post

Gender bias and anti-Semitism weretwo important factors that helped tip the balance in Viktor Yanukovych’s favor in the 2010 elections. Yanukovych won by only 3.5 percentage points, or approximately 900,000 votes, and became the first president to not win a majority of Ukraine’s regions or 50 percent of the vote. The foremost expert on gender in Ukraine, Reed College Professor Alexandra Hrycak, believes that “traditionalistic attitudes” towards women“are considered to be more prevalent within the Orange electorate.” Much of this electorate originates in the country's western region and in rural areas of central Ukraine’.

An October 2008 psychological portrait of Viktor Yushchenko published by Ukrayinska Pravda showed him to have patriarchal and traditionalist viewsof the role of women in society. Yushchenko’s inability to work with Tymoshenko is undoubtedly a product of her being a strong-willed and self-confident woman. Yushchenko surrounded himself with sycophants and motherly figures, such as his last chief of staff Vira Ulianchenko, and would never tolerate anybody talking back to him like Hanna Herman does to President Viktor Yanukovych.

Anti-Semitism was used against only two candidates in the 2010 elections: Tymoshenko and Arseniy Yatseniuk, but the campaign was more systematic and at a higher level against her. Marginal candidate Serhiy Ratushniak, mayor of the Trans-Carpathian capitol city of Uzhgorod, was openly anti-Semitic against Yatseniuk. Ratushniak’s views did not win widespread support and Yatseniuk still won more votes than the mayor in Uzhgorod. Ratushniak came in 16th out of 18 candidates with only 0.12 percent of the vote in the Jan. 17 first round.

Anti-Semitism was not a threat to Yatseniuk’s campaign. He came in fourth with 7 percent of the vote. Yatseniuk, who is from Chernivtsi,has denied having Jewish origins.

The anti-Semitic campaign against Tymoshenko presented more of a threat. I witnessed anti-Semitic leaflets distributed throughout Galicia during the last week of the second round that called upon Galicians to not vote for Tymoshenko as she is allegedly Jewish. Such spurious allegations had been around for the last 2-3 years and surfaced in the 2010 elections with the support of Yushchenko. His allies in Lviv had openly described Tymoshenko as the “Jew in the braid.”

The west Ukrainian branch of the Ukrainian Language Society “Prosvita” had published booklets by the rabid anti-Tymoshenko former parliamentarian Dmytro Chobit, who also claimed she had Jewish origins. Tymoshenko’s father had separated from her mother when she was three and his surname was Grigorian, suggesting an Armenian ethnic origin.

Regardless of Yatseniuk’s or Tymoshenko’s ethnic heritage, they were both born in Ukraine and are, therefore, Ukrainian as defined by Ukrainian legislation.

Yushchenko stirred the issue of Tymoshenko’s ethnicity over the last two years by casting doubt on her Ukrainian patriotism. In August 2008, the presidential secretariat issued a 300-page dossier revealing her alleged “treason.” Although the dossier had been prepared by secretariat deputy head Andriy Kyslynsky, who was then promoted to the position of deputy chairman of the State Security Service (SBU), the allegations of “treason” and “un-Ukrainian” stuck to Tymoshenko. Kyslynsky was discredited and removed from the SBU after it was found that he had forged his university degrees.

Yushchenko’s anti-Tymoshenko crusade served to dampen the Orange vote in western Ukraine. Tymoshenko received three million fewer votes than Yushchenko in December 2004. Yushchenko claimed that both candidates were allegedly “Moscow projects.”

In the Feb. 7 second round of the elections, nationalist groups in Lviv and the diaspora rallied to Yushchenko’s call to vote against both candidates. Yuriy Shukhevych, son of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army commander whom Yushchenko had honored in 2007, was a leading supporter of the “no” campaign.

So too were nationalist parties, such as Oleh Tyanybok’s Svoboda (Freedom), the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN), as well as the Andriy Melnyk (OUN-m) and Stepan Bandera (OUN-b) wings of the émigré Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. All four political forces supported Yushchenko’s double “no” vote campaign.

The anti-Semitic views of Tymoshenko had also moved during the last two years to the Ukrainian diaspora where a sharp debate over Bandera has spread to the European Parliament and Western media.

The Ukrainian diaspora stayed very silent during most of the 2010 election campaign, unlike five years earlier, because it had partially bought into the Yushchenko view about both candidates lack of “patriotism.”

The supreme irony of the 2010 elections is that anti-Semitism in western Ukraine directed against Tymoshenko and fanned by Yushchenko could have been one of the factors that led to the election of pro-Russian autocrat Yanukovych. In a 50/50 election, where every percentage point counts, the “no” vote could have proven to be decisive in Tymoshenko’s defeat.

A second conclusion is that the Ukrainian diaspora cannot hope to counter charges of anti-Semitism against Bandera or itself unless it condemns such views within its ranks.

Suspicions about Yushchenko’s “patriotic” motives should have emerged over the intentional timing of the decree to honor Bandera on the eve of the second round. This was undertaken to undermine Tymoshenko’s campaign by mobilizing eastern Ukrainian voters against the “nationalists.”

And yet diaspora Ukrainians and Galicians still have sympathy for the “patriotic” Yushchenko. A majority of Ukrainians, on the other hand, see him as the worst of the three presidents to have ruled the country and as someone who did more than anyone to bring about Yanukovych’s election.

Yanukovych’s thank you was not to make Yushchenko prime minister, as the ex-president had hoped, but to make the non-Ukrainian speaking Nikolai Azarov his prime minister and the Ukrainophobe Dmytro Tabachnyk the minister of education in the new government. Thank you, Yushchenko.

Taras Kuzio is a senior fellow in the chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto and editor of the bi-monthly Ukraine Analyst. He can be reached
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous March 18, 2010, 6:52 p.m.    

People shouldn't be asking what language does Azarov speak, but rather what can he do for Ukraine as the country's prime minister. Azarov is man who does what he promises to do, a characteristic that Yulia Tymoshenko never possessed as PM.

Yuschenko said 40 times that he wouldn't agree to be PM under Yanuk, so i don't know where this "as the ex-president had hoped" bit comes from.

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 8:13 p.m.    

&quot;i don't know where this &quot;as the ex-president had hoped&quot; bit comes from.&quot;

From the Ukrainian news media which often reported about back room dealings between the POR and OU.

As for Russian speaking PM, what would you say about a PM in England who could only speak French or Pakistani? Or an American Secretary of State that could only speak Spanish, would that make a lot of sense for you?

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 8:19 p.m.    

50% of Ukraine speaks Russian. Whether you like it or not, the President of Ukraine has the right to speak Russian. And you forgot that Ukraine was once a part of the territory of Russia.

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 2:58 a.m.    

And Russia was for centuries part of the state of the Golden Horde... so what? And Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire... etc. So what?

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 3:03 a.m.    

It would be funny to hear Obama speak Swahili to the nation. How do you think that would go over.

According to the 2007 American Community Survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 34 million people aged 5 or older.[1] There are also 45 million Hispanics who speak Spanish as a first and second language [6] and there are 6 million Spanish students [7], making it the world's second-largest Spanish-speaking community, only after Mexico.

It the United States had a president that his first language is Spanish, should he then speak Spanish to the nation?

It's alright to think stupid, but don't look stupid.

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 4:21 a.m.    

You are missing the point as usual little man...Not everyone understands Spanish in U.S Everyone does however understand Russian in Ukraine and 50% speak it as their first language.

Big difference to what you are trying to compare to.

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 7:10 p.m.    

This article proves more than ever that the diaspora is out of touch with Ukraine. With so many of their decendants having never set foot in Ukraine, the diaspora often takes pleasure in advising Ukraine on which policies it should follow.

The problem is that the diaspora who have immigrated from the Western part of Ukraine(specifically Lviv), adopt an ultra nationalist slant, and its regional pecurliarities have often alienated the rest of Ukraine. It is no wonder that the diaspora is often dismissed by governments not only in Ukraine but also in Western Europe as being marginal and outdated.

An example of this marginalism can be found in the diaspora's overwhelming support of Ms. Tymoshenko and its sympathy for the corrupt policies of Mr. Yushchenko in the latest elections of Ukraine. Another example is the diaspora's unbending backing of the late Mr. Stepan Bandera and the accused Nazi camp guard of Mr. Demeniuk. The election of Mr Yanukovych and the desire of Ukraine to follow a different path closely alligned with Russia is a testament as to the major differences Ukraine has with its diaspora who long ago left Ukraine and really have no idea as what would be best for Ukraine.

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 8:08 p.m.    

Mr. Lang, I suggest the you study Ukrainian history more and listen to Russian propaganda less, then you might not look so foolish in your attempt to sound intelligent.

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 10:14 p.m.    

The European Union telling Ukraine to take back the so called Hero award is not Russian propaganda. Seems you dont read the news too often

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 4:23 a.m.    

I suspect that &quot;Mr. Lang&quot; is a native English speaking, Kremlin-paid blogger and living in Moscow. Enjoying the good life, are ye Mr. Lang?

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 7:41 p.m.    

So Mr Lang the Russian apologist speaks again damning the Ukrainian diaspora. I am a diasporan Ukrainian and am not out of touch. I don't impose my views but support Ukrainians however I can. Whilst Ukraine was under Sovite Russian occupation the diaspora had a vital role to play, now with a free Ukraine that role is much diminished but,if requested, to help guide and advise the people who have no tradition of democratic government or society is worthwhile. It is a better counterbalance to the imposition of Russian values that have so decimated the country.

As for your comments on Bandera and Demyanuk, get the facts first then you can comment. And regarding Yanukovych the fact he has put in place Kuchma era thieves, liars and cheats using unconstitutional means speaks for itself.

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 8:17 p.m.    

your views do not fit with the Ukraine unless they are intended for the Lwow province which represents 5% of Ukraine.I read Mr. Lang's post just now and dont understand what you are talking about.Bandera is a facist as the whole world knows and even the Europran Union has told the Ukraine to take away the reward.Seems that you are in the extreme minority and do not grasp anything more than a swastica in your you say there were no thieves in Yushenkos administration?seriously you do not make any sense in waht you say and u are being very biased

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 8:38 p.m.    

Do yourself a favor and use a spell checker (Lwow, dont, facist, swastica), and perhaps a grammar checker too (the Ukraine). Computer programs have had such &quot;high-tech&quot; trappings since the 1980s! :)

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 9:35 p.m.    

Lwow is the Polish pronunciation for Lviv.It is not a mis-spelling. I take it you have never been to Europe as that spelling is common in many airports there.sounds like you need to go to school also

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 10:39 p.m.    

Warsaw Fryderyk Chopin Airport uses the spelling Lviv. Name one airport in Europe that uses the spelling &quot;Lwow&quot; (hint-hint, none exist :)

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 11:18 p.m.    

Maybe you should go back to your crayons. They have colouring books that teach contempory geography you know.

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 1:01 a.m.    

Mr Lang, I agree with you. Keep up the good work. I too think the diaspora are hypocrites. Maybe not all of them but most.They think they still live in Ukraine.And they all want to be Presidents to perk up their ego wherever it comes up

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 8:21 p.m.    

It is thanks to the likes of Kuzio that Ukraine has Yanukovych now as PM.

Ukraine was tired of the lady with two billion dollars in Nauru explaining how she didn't have a penny to her name. Why did Lazerenko end up in jail, but not her??!! They voted her out. End of story. Three million votes less than Yushchenko?! That's pretty clear! Polls showed that a less-stained candidate - almost anybody else - would have won against Yanukovych. But the money behind Kuzio's propaganda = Tymoshenko was decisive in ensuring Yanukovych's victory. Well done Taras. I am sure Victor Fedorovich would want to shake your hand!

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 8:48 p.m.    

Yes Kuzio's still at it. It's getting ludicrous - She of course never did a single thing wrong in his twisted account book. But not everyone in this country can't see through her. She lost because there were not enough people who could bring themselves to vote for her even against Yanuk whom they despised. And as for anti-semitism how can the KP carry on printing this kind of garbage? Editor don't you read what you publish first?

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Anonymous March 18, 2010, 9:06 p.m.    

&quot;Thank you, Yushchenko.&quot;

Oh what a stupid man. He really thought Mr. Yanuk would make him PM. How could he have thought such a stupid thing? Or maybe he didn't? Maybe he's not the idiot but the writer of this article who supposes such a thing.

Anyhow wasn't anti-semitism and male machoism responsible for Yulia's defeat acorrding to the first part of the article? But Kuzio is still obsessed with Yush so he can't help being not sticking to his point.

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 12:35 a.m.    

Gender bias? Anti-semitism? Not sure about that. It seems to me the Ukrainians simply suffer &quot;a Louis Vuitton hate&quot;. They could hardly believe Ukraine's former Prime Minister, wearing one of the most expensive clothings brands, whilst claiming not even to have a bank account (sic!). I presume she was paying for the Parisian fashion in cash, from a thick brown envelope.

What do I hear you saying?Yanukovych has got a pair of ostrich leather shoes? That's right. But he has never claimed to be a pauper, with no possessions, no car, no flat... Shameless Tymoshenko did!

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 12:58 a.m.    

blame the disapora for making her a queen

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 4:10 a.m.    

Of course! Why didn't I think of that?

700,000 (and shrinking) octogenarians cowering together in church hall basements in Minneapolis hold in their arthritic grasp the destiny of 46 million people (and shrinking) who can't make up their minds as to who's to blame for the miserable, stinking mess: Moscow or Washington?

Perhaps the answer is: Kyiv/Kiev/Kiow.

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 1:34 a.m.    

&quot;Anti-Semitism was not a threat to Yatseniuk’s campaign. He came in fourth with 7 percent of the vote. Yatseniuk, who is from Chernivtsi,has denied having Jewish origins.&quot;

Of course, a simpler way of writing this might have been: &quot;Yatseniuk, who is from Chernivtsi, isn't Jewish.&quot;

Presumably, the salo-eating, cross wearing Arseniy Petrovych would know.

Instead, Kuzio trots the tepid path, careful not to contradict what he wrote earlier, on his blog for this paper's website, in &quot;Yatsenyuk, a Yuschenko clone will bring stagnation,&quot; where he assigned Arseniy Yatseniuk &quot;bona fide&quot; Jewish origins.

Kuzio: &quot;Yatsenyuk’s case has two additional factors that could work against him: age and religion.&quot;

Curiously, when written about someone who is Greek Catholic, the &quot;religion&quot; Kuzio goes on to cite is Judaism.

That piece, which might be understood as a sort of cynic's manifesto, openly deplores anti-Semitism in Ukrainian political life on one hand, while unequivocally affirming that a rising player in that political life was Jewish — conjuring the very same undercurrent of hatred and mistrust against a political rival.

But in that piece, Kuzio is bolder about Tymoshenko's ethnicity than he is here.

There he writes: &quot;Tymoshenko does not have Jewish origins. Hers are Armenian and Ukrainian.&quot;

Here, her father's surname (Grigorian) &quot;suggests an Armenian ethnic origin.&quot;

The same suggestion, presumably attaches to Aigor, Victor, Maih, Rodolf, Rodolpo, Lilih, Ntlih, Artor, Yinh, Liodmilh, Glilh, Glinh, Adh, Bih, Ninh, Gior, Mrinh, Arik and Ksnih Grigorian — all of whom I found in five minutes through the Israeli White Pages here:

The question is: how is any of this important in a context apart from a strictly ideological understanding of what the nation is?

I care very little about the rehabilitation of Stepan Bandera. I rather doubt that the diaspora has anywhere near the influence that Kuzio imagines either inside or outside Ukraine. And I think that the goal of merely &quot;countering charges&quot; of anti-Semitism is a pathetically inadequate response — if that sort of gnawing enmity actually exists.

In his earlier piece, Kuzio characterized accusations that Tymoshenko was &quot;not ethnic Ukrainian” as &quot;a slander,&quot; and &quot;a slur on the once-Orange president’s legacy.&quot;

Here, he writes that, &quot;regardless of Yatseniuk’s or Tymoshenko’s ethnic heritage, they were both born in Ukraine and are, therefore, Ukrainian,&quot; but cannot resist adding the rather equivocal tag: &quot;as defined by Ukrainian legislation.&quot;

Since a nation IS LAW — it is time to bury altogether the stupidity that accompanies innuendo and dark whispering that walk hand-in-hand with phrases that suggest someone is hiding something, secretly ashamed, guilty of being born blood-guilty.

Rather than writing: &quot;Yatseniuk, who is from Chernivtsi, has denied having Jewish origins,&quot; Kuzio ought to write:

&quot;Yatseniuk, who is from Chernivtsi, IS UKRAINIAN.&quot;

If he writes it large enough, and reflects upon it long enough, the professor might finally come to believe it — and to understand that it is true.

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 10:18 a.m.    

&quot;Since a nation IS LAW — it is time to bury altogether the stupidity that accompanies innuendo and dark whispering that walk hand-in-hand with phrases that suggest someone is hiding something, secretly ashamed, guilty of being born blood-guilty.&quot;

ABSOLUTELY - Kuzio has no shame and no integrity and neither does KP for continuing to publish such stuff.

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 12:04 p.m.    

Excellent comment!

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Anonymous March 19, 2010, 9:41 a.m.    

this guy pumps out the worst articles canadian taxpayer's money could buy,,

no wonder he left Ukraine, no one wanted to listen to his bed time analises,,

out of rouch with today's Ukraine, surviving on his refugee status and special attention..

as the us is warming ties with russia, clowns llike this one will be sidelined,,,

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Anonymous March 20, 2010, 2:16 a.m.    

I don't understand the point of these &quot;gender/racial bias let to Yanukovych victory&quot; articles. If these authors actually believe that the voters were sexist or racist, why would they want a candidate that those bigots chose? Seriously, who wants a president that that a bunch of discriminating hicks voted into office? (No Bush comments, please)

Neither candidate got a majority of the votes, so stop lamenting the fact that your candidate didn't pick up this imaginary racist vote and win.

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Anonymous March 20, 2010, 1:09 p.m.    

Kuzio could himself have probably prevented Yanuk becoming president, if Kuzio had backed Yatseniuk's initially well-received candidacy last spring and summer, instead of doing everything in his power to smear Yatseniuk and tear him down... in the end, Taras is not against Yanukovich per se, he is simply FOR Tymoshenko... he is a true believer in the cult.

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