Who is to blame for Russia gas row? The view from Kiev
For Ukrainians on the streets of Kiev, the row with Russia over gas supplies is just the latest example of ineptitude among their own feuding political elite.
People in this ex-Soviet state of 47 million have lost the exuberance and hope sparked four years ago by the “Orange Revolution” which swept President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to power and incensed Moscow.
“In Italy, they call it the mafia, in America, Cosa Nostra, in Ukraine, the Verhovna Rada (the parliament)” said Oleg Karlichyk, a plumber in his mid-30s. “This is just bandits sitting in the Kremlin arguing, deciding, talking to bandits sitting in Grushevska street,” he said referring to the seats of power in the two countries.
Maybe surprisingly, there is little animosity towards Russia – accused by some in the West of bullying its neighbours.
“This is Russia’s fault but also our fault. Russia is a very powerful neighbour so you have to deal with it very carefully. Russia dictates. You have to listen,” said one man, who did not want to give his name.
Few think anything will change after the presidential election in 12 months time, even though Yushchenko is expected to lose — his popularity ratings have sunk below 10 percent.
What does the future hold for Ukraine – its economy shattered, its politicians constantly bickering and at loggerheads with its neighbour in recent months over gas, Russia’s Black Sea fleet and Ukraine’s determination to join NATO?