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Leonid Bershidsky

Ukraine Is in Danger of Becoming a Failed State

Corruption and political turmoil have squandered revolution's potential.
No heroes in Ukraine.

No heroes in Ukraine.

Photographer: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

The most effective thing Russian President Vladimir Putin did to destabilize Ukraine was the one thing the West was demanding: He leaned on pro-Russian separatists in the country's east to cease fire. Left without the much-used cover of a war, the internal divisions and dysfunctional core of the Ukrainian political elite didn't take long to reveal itself. Rather than the democratic hope it might have become after last year's "Revolution of Dignity," Ukraine now looks like just another incompetent and corrupt post-Soviet regime. It's no wonder cracks are appearing in Kiev's all-important relationship with the West.

The government is in turmoil: Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is in danger of being fired as soon as that becomes legally possible in December, threatening the fragile ruling coalition, in which Yatsenyuk's party is the second strongest force. If the coalition falls apart -- a likely outcome if Yatsenyuk is forced to resign -- there will be an early parliamentary election. Pro-European Ukrainians might actually be relieved at that. Populists dominate the legislature, which would have made it difficult to push through meaningful reform -- if anyone were trying. On Thursday, the parliament rejected a bill specifically banning workplace discrimination against homosexuals.