World Affairs Journal: In image war, Tymoshenko bests Yanukovych

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Oct. 9, 2012, 2:55 a.m. | Op-ed — by Alexander J. Motyl

In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012, supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko take part in a rally outside Ukraine's High Specialized Court on Civil and Criminal Cases in Kiev. Ukraine's jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko urged her country Saturday to defeat President Viktor Yanukovych's party in next month's parliamentary election. In an emotional video appeal, Tymoshenko accused Yanukovych of turning Ukraine into a "police state." (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov, File)
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Alexander J. Motyl

Alexander J. Motyl is professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark, as well as a writer and painter. He served as associate director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University from 1992 to 1998. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia, and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires, and theory, he is the author of Pidsumky imperii; Puti imperii; Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires; Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities; Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism; Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the USSR; Will the Non‑Russians Rebel? State, Ethnicity, and Stability in the USSR; The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929; and the editor of more than ten volumes, including The Encyclopedia of Nationalism. Motyl’s novels include Whiskey Priest; Who Killed Andrei Warhol; Flippancy; The Jew Who Was Ukrainian; and a work in progress, My Orchidia. His poems have appeared in Counterexample Poetics, Istanbul Literary Review, and New York Quarterly (forthcoming). He has done performances of his fiction at the Cornelia Street Café, the Bowery Poetry Club, and the Ukrainian Museum in New York. Motyl’s artwork has been shown in solo and group shows in New York, Philadelphia, and Toronto; his art is represented by The Tori Collection.

The image war between President Viktor Yanukovych and imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko continues.

Ukraine’s hapless leader suffered another knock-down punch on September 29th, when the online press published two sets of contrasting images: a video [1] of the imprisoned Tymoshenko enjoining Ukrainians not to submit to dictatorship and a series of photos [2] of Yanukovych’s lavish digs. Tymoshenko comes across as impassioned, brave, and principled. Yanukovych comes across as a spoiled brat with megalomaniacal fantasies of ruling over Never-Never Land.

She calls Ukraine “a criminal country built by Yanukovych.” As far as human rights are concerned, “the Yanukovych mafia has no regard for the law. They care only about self-enrichment and corruption.” Who could disagree?

 Read more here.

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