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You're reading: Having the cake and eating it too

There are also some unofficial explanations of the canceled event, ranging from Putin’s whim to a miraculous call from Brussels and promise to soften the EU’s stance on the association agreement. The most feasible argument was discussed in detail in Ekonomichna pravda: some Ukrainian oligarchs have raised a new rescue idea, very similar to the old one realized by the unforgettable RosUkrEnergo

Since his accession to power, Viktor Yanukovych has seemed to be to musing over the classical question: how to have one’s cake and eat it too? In other words, how can one exploit the economy for the benefit of cronies and kinsmen, yet keep it alive? How to imitate a democracy and retain authoritarian power? How to befriend the West but avoid the burden of incorporating Western values and the rule of law in particular? How to gain concessions from Moscow without conceding one’s own and one’s clan’s sovereignty?

So far, the process of eating has gone much more smoothly than that of keeping the country afloat. Those perusing Ukrainska Pravda or other independent news sites regularly, would find, every day, a whole series of new facts about some government schemes: misuse of funds, tax evasion, dubious purchases at exorbitant prices from murky off-shore intermediaries, raider attacks, scandalous court rulings, and various examples of lawlessness that make up a fabric of Ukrainian social reality. Remarkably, all these facts that would cause scandals in a normal country and lead to dismissal of corrupt officials and a court investigation, evoke typically no official reaction in Ukraine. If something does not exist on TV (fully controlled by the government), it does not exist at all. Actually, only 20 per cent of the population obtains information from the Internet, whereas 80 per cent receives it primarily or exclusively from TV.

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