Can Eastern 'Oligarchs' Ensure Ukraine's Unity?

Opinions |Author: Angel Petrov | April 9, 2014, Wednesday // 12:52|  views

Personal fortunes of businessman Rinat Akhmetov are presently estimated at USD 18 B. If true, his wealth is equal to what the IMF has offered to Ukraine as part of a standby agreement. Photo by EPA/BGNES

"I am ready to be with you," said Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov to Donetsk residents on April 8. He had earlier made a proposition to negotiate with Russia on behalf of Eastern Ukraine.

The country's so-called “richest man”, who claims to provide 300 000 jobs, also made clear that for Donetsk joining Russia was out of the question. He sounded like trying to persuade his fellow citizens another (non-secessionist) way was to be sought out of the crisis.

Russia's Foreign Minister  Sergei Lavrov later declared he did not want to see "oligarchs" appointed as governors to be the only representatives of Eastern Ukraine. Sounds plausible. But many say it was financial turmoil that pushed Viktor Yanukovych to snub the EU, led to mass protests and forced him out; and, prior to Ukraine’s fiscal hell, Yanukovych did rely on Russia’s partnership, but was said to be lacking support from “oligarchs”.

In terms of media coverage, the clash of Russian and Western political ambitions often dwarf socioeconomic forces driving people’s real demands. Those whose material needs are met think less of separatism.

As long as Kiev’s leadership gets along with Donbass oligarchs, it can count on the East. For now, it does.

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Tags: Lavrov, Yanukovych, Akhmetov, Ukraine, Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, Akhmetov


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