Growing political instability in Latvia, Ukraine and Georgia are mainly triggered by the global economic crisis and deep internal problems, such as corruption. But problems with Moscow could be adding an extra “irritant” to an already bad situation, according to leading analysts questioned by EURACTIV.
Ukraine, Georgia and Latvia are moving into a period of political instability as they sink deeper into economic recession.
On 13 February, the government of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko survived a no-confidence vote in parliament. Her situation has been further complicated by a power struggle with President Viktor Yushchenko, once a close ally.
A mission by the International Monetary Fund reviewing Ukraine’s arrangement with the fund left Kiev last week without making it clear whether or not more funding will be released to keep the economy afloat. Ukrainian Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk quit his post on Thursday over budget and policy disagreements with Tymoshenko, the Associated Press reported.
In addition, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vladimir Ohryzko, was reported as having instructed the country’s embassies abroad to report at the “highest possible level” the “unscrupulous and inadequate actions” of his prime minister.
In Georgia, many opposition figures blame the president, Mikhail Saakashvili, for the country’s troubles and are calling on him to resign (EURACTIV 02/02/09). Many foreign investors have fled, leaving Georgia with the highest unemployment rate in the Caucasus.
In Latvia, recent riots illustrated just how badly the Baltic country has been hit by the global economic crisis (EURACTIV 14/01/09). But now experts say that the Latvian economy is in terrible shape, even by the standards of the global financial crisis. “The Latvian economy is staring into the abyss,” said Neil Shearing of London-based Capital Economics, quoted by Deutsche Welle.
As political instability grows in Ukraine, Georgia and Latvia, EURACTIV asked analysts to comment on the background of these developments and the Kremlin’s possible role in the region’s current instability.
The analysts largely agreed that the main cause of instability is the difficult political and economic contexts in these countries, which include high level corruption and bad governance. Hostile meddling by Russia is only seen as a secondary factor.
Moreover, the worsening economic situation in Russia itself and instability throughout society there were singled out as handicaps for Moscow. Recently, Thierry de Montbrial, president of IFRI, the French Institute of International Relations, warned of a doom-like scenario in which falling oil prices would cripple Russia’s economy (EURACTIV 06/02/09).