Transcarpathian region has been sinking deeper in its cheerless period. The former dominance of Kiev authorities with their barbaric utilisation of economic resources of the territory and the absolute disrespect for the rights of the indigenous people – the Carpathian Rusyns – have been gradually replacing by omnipotence of the Baloga’s clan and neo-Nazis becoming more and more active. However, after the coup d’etat on 22 February 2014 and the overthrow of formally legitimate power chaos associated with a bitter struggle between several notorious clans for power, property and associated privileges came from Ukraine to the Transkarpathian region. The influence of Galician activists whose passionarity threatens any objectors to their ideology with new political purges and “talerhofs” becomes more and more obvious. In their turn, the extremist and ultranationalist parties “Svoboda” (“Freedom”) and “Pravy sektor” (“Right sector”) which openly put forward slogans on ethnic “purity” of autochthonous “Ukrainian” areas and do not hide their wish to get rid of Ruthenians, Gypsies, Hungarians and Slovaks living in Transcarpathia.
At the same time, it remains unclear which of these groups participating in the race for power over Transcarpathia carries the greatest threat to the interests of Transcarpathians.What are the plans of today’s leaders and foreign players trying to be the masters of the Transcarpathia’s fate? It is no secret that some of them would expect to succeed in the current situation, actively fishing in troubled waters.
Certainly Baloga – oligarch, the former chief of staff of Viktor Yushchenko, one of the richest Ukrainian oligarchs with contacts in the West, who has long been successfully established in the region, – stands the best chance. He puts his ideological stake on nationalism and Russophobia, which will help him as he hopes to establish in Ukrainian politics. However, such a “gentleman’s set” does not surprise anyone in contemporary Ukraine and Baloga will obviously need to come up with additional arguments. Baloga does not mind Nazis appearing in Transcarpathia, but he obviously needs to make independent and strong political moves, which would allow him to succeed in the confrontation with them. One of such moves, according to people familiar with the matter, would be agreed with Washington separation of the strategically important Transcarpathian region from Ukraine in exchange for his presidency in Kiev. However, the variant of horse-trading with Hungarian authorities that have more and more influence over political processes in Transcarpathia is not excluded for Baloga and provokes ethnic confrontation by their efforts. In this case, Baloga could count on certain political and economic “bonuses” from Budapest in exchange for controlling three districts of the Transcarpathian region with Hungary’s population. False Baloga’s Ukrainian patriotism hiding his cynical nature of political businessman-predator is not an obstacle for his participation in such enterprise.
It is evident that Baloga’s potential competitors – Oleg Tyagnibok and Dmitry Jarosh did not refuse from their plans and ambitions in Transcarpathia. Tyagnibok, transforming step by step from a neo-charismatic speaker into a political businessman, does not conceal his desire to take the control over gas pipeline passing through Transcarpathian region, as well as other transit revenues. Association “Svoboda”, which is famous in Galicia for its informal exaction from local businessmen, would obviously like to extend this practise in Transcarpathia as well.
The leader of Nazi fighters from the “Right sector” Dmitry Jarosh is not devoid of such appetites. Being a sociopath and a fringe politician, he at the same time needs to find money to finance his own organisation and to promote himself in power race (let us recall his recent statement of intention to run for the presidency of Ukraine this May).It is evident that Yarosh and his guerrillas will pretend to get the same sources of income in Transcarpathia as Baloga and Tyagnybok with their support teams do. It signifies there will be a cruel confrontation with an equivocal outcome.
Thus, it is clear that one cannot look for the normalisation of the situation in Transcarpathian region. In Kiev, where they divide powers and squabble over cabinet appointments, problems of Uzhgorod are obviously not so actual. This situation can be used by the third party. Recently, the Hungarian party «Jobbik» and the Polish party «Ruch Narodowy» issued a joint statement where they demand autonomy for Hungarians and Poles living in Ukraine. Such rhetoric may be followed by bringing of troops to “protect” the ethnic Hungarians and Poles in Ukraine. It is clear that the real interest of western neighbours is the territory and the “protection” is only a plausible reason. If it comes to life, further development of the situation in the Transcarpathian region can be extremely interesting and unexpected.
Dr. Sergey Biryukov