INDEPENDENCE CAME TO UKRAINE in 1991 when Speaker Stanyslav Hurenko put the motion to vote with these immortal words: “Today we will vote for Ukrainian independence, because if we don’t we’re in the shit!” Spiffier, don’t you think, than Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny”?
But since then, it’s been endless political turmoil. The country has essentially been split down the middle: the eastern provinces turning to Moscow as their saviour, while the western provinces seek out the European Union for salvation. And the disagreement between the halves has created the rift valley of their politics. Privatisation, as in much of the former Soviet Union, has led to the rise of the oligarchs, which makes our own crony capitalism pale in comparison. As a result, Ukraine’s population has lost millions, largely through illegal immigration, to the glories of the European Union (and Bollywood) as well as through Ukraine’s significant contribution to white slave trafficking. A Schengen visa and a 4x4 handbill stuck to a phone booth in London are the tickets to prosperity.
So, to make up for the less than stunning performance of its economy, the country’s leaders—along with those of neighbouring Poland—successfully bid to co-host next year’s UEFA European Football Championship, sold to the population on the lie that EU membership would be offered on a platter if only the country were to stage an outstanding mega sports event. A third of the country’s budget has reportedly been allocated to build the stadiums and create the infrastructure to run the championship in a style befitting a candidate member of the EU. Meanwhile the breaking news is that the Eurozone is collapsing because Greece is on the brink of a mega crash brought on principally by the extravagance of the 2004 Olympics in Athens.