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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Choice for Ukraine PM Is the Least of All Evils

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Yulia Tymoshenko's return as prime minister in Ukraine was at once expected and hard to believe. Everything seemed to go against this latest twist in the career of the Gas Princess -- a career that has alternated between government service, the threat of prison and Independence Square during the Orange Revolution. Working against her was her stint as head of a government recognized as a failure by just about every major politician in the country with the exception of Tymoshenko herself. Also against her was the relative electoral success of Viktor Yanukovych's Party of the Regions. The entire logic of the negotiations to form a coalition was against her. Nonetheless, Ukraine's Iron Lady came out on top.

Those familiar with the talks describe Tymoshenko as an extremely able negotiator -- clever, subtle, not afraid to play on opponents' weaknesses and a master at blackmail. She also wields exclusive influence with the president, openly stating that the most important thing was to meet personally with Viktor Yushchenko. But are these really the qualities you look for in a head of government? Tymoshenko's first turn at the helm came as a result of a deliberate choice on the part of Yushchenko, but this time around it seems to be the result of a lack of options. This is the blind alley the country's political elites have reached.

In essence, Yushchenko opted for Tymoshenko as the least of all evils. Yanukovych turned out to be intransigent, delivering demands and ultimatums, while the president's own Our Ukraine party feared a coalition with the Party of the Regions would be political suicide. It didn't help that deputies in the Ukrainian parliament are constantly jumping from faction to faction. What it costs to have a Ukrainian deputy change positions is common knowledge and is discussed as widely as the price of gas.

The second coming of Tymoshenko is a symptom of democracy, Ukrainian style.

This democracy can best be described as unmanaged and, compared with the managed variety, seems to come up short. On one hand, it increases the role of the electorate while taking into account the opinion of the parliamentary minority. On the other, it generates corruption, a continuing power vaccuum and economic instability. This kind of democracy is not only unpopular with Moscow, but possibly also with Washington. Last week, U.S. President George W. Bush announced he would not visit Kiev before the July G8 summit in St. Petersburg, and Sunday brought the announcement that NATO was not planning to make Ukraine a member.

Maxim Glinkin is editor of the politics section of Vedomosti, where this comment was published.