January 28, 2014
Former Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov has an op-ed in today’s Moscow Times, where he posits that Ukraine is becoming a failed state. The data he gives strongly buttress his argument: massive un-payable debts, failing civil society, moribund economy, and a steady sharp fall in nearly every measure of well-being.
He views eastern Ukraine–site of all the recent violent protests against the elected Ukrainian government–as nationalistic and uncompromising. He views the government as notoriously corrupt, inefficient, and increasingly repressive. The economy of Ukraine he views as a captive of Russian paternalism.
The Ukraine used to be the breadbasket of the Slavic peoples. The impoverishment of the Ukrainian people since the fall of the Soviet Union has a lot to do with explaining the recent months of riots and public disaffection. As Ryzhkov points out, Poland is booming after the breakup of the Soviet Union while the Ukraine falls farther and farther behind.
So, what’s the key difference between Poland and the Ukraine since 1989? If you go to Poland, they will explain their prosperity compared to Ukraine’s impoverity in a single word: