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You're reading: Ukraine’s oligarchic democracy

In the post-Soviet area,
oligarchs are defined as representatives of big business who are able
to influence the politics of a country for their own benefit owing to
their assets. The term was coined and popularized in the mid-1990s in
Russia.

Since then, the
relations between the Kremlin and big businessmen have changed
completely. At present, big business does not have such a strong and
decisive influence on politics in any other Eastern European country
as it does in Ukraine. The Ukrainian oligarchic system, which
developed and took its final form during Leonid Kuchma’s second
presidential term, turned out to be a stable phenomenon. The nature
of the close ties between the government and business elite have not
changed, neither after the 2004 Orange Revolution nor following
Victor Yanukovych’s victory in the 2010 presidential election.

Big business not only
controls entire sectors of the Ukrainian economy and the mass media
but it also has a vast influence within political parties. It is
often the case that the overriding goal of a given grouping’s
existence is to represent the oligarchs who sponsor it. A network of
mutual connections exists between politicians and oligarchs. In some
cases these connections are so durable that it is fair to say that
oligarchic groups have been formed (consisting of businessmen,
politicians and state officials who support each other).

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