Ukrainian Role Reversal

We’ve had a few blog posts around here in recent weeks that the Ukrainian presidential front runner is often inaccurately portrayed, and that his victory isn’t exactly a win for Moscow.  But here the Economist goes for the full role reversal between Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko.  Wait, wait – I’m confused … which one is most like Putin, and which one is at the service of the gas trade?

On Yanukovych:

Yet his “pro-Russian candidate” label is misleading. He represents the Russian-speaking east, but has done little to advance Russia’s interests, instead jealously guarding those of such tycoons as Mr Akhmetov. What Mr Akhmetov wants is a politically and economically stable Ukraine. Yet some of Mr Yanukovich’s team do not inspire confidence. They include a former finance minister, Mykola Azarov, architect of the repressive tax inspectorate, as well as the creators of the opaque gas-trading scheme with Russia. Mr Yanukovich wants to renegotiate today’s gas agreement, which excludes shady intermediaries.

On Tymoshenko:

She campaigned on the slogan of bashing the oligarchs and will haveto make an example of some. But she has also been trying to reassureand pull to her side people like Mr Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk,another magnate. They may not want to jeopardise their wealth andsafety by opposing her. The danger is that she will seek to maximiseher power rather than push through reforms and strengthen theinstitutions that would then keep her ambitions in check.

She has certainly found a common language with Mr Putin, nowRussia’s prime minister, who has said he could work with her. Her finalthree-hour long televised press conference before the election had aPutinesque tone. It is not hard to imagine her doing dodgy deals withMr Putin in exchange for Russian help to keep her in power. Nor doesshe have many scruples about her allies. One is said to be ViktorMedvedchuk, Mr Kuchma’s notorious chief of staff, who is accused ofharassing the media and bullying businessmen. Mr Medvedchuk, who askedMr Putin to be a godfather to his child, is a welcome guest in theKremlin.