Ukraine’s interim government’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Viktor Yanukovych, the recently deposed President, might be inspired by Iceland. According to some of the most recent news coverage on the turmoil in the former Soviet republic of the Ukraine, the newly instated interim authorities are seeking to trial Yanukovych for the killing of anti-government protesters in the stormy events of last week.
The actions appear to have wreaked havoc in the Kremlin with Russian authorities issuing strong condemnations and according to some reported statements of their government officials, they seem to be fuming.
Among the phrases put forth by the Russian authorities, according to sources, are that the rose to power by means of an armed mutiny, further adding that their legitimacy is causing big doubts. One description also read: “Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks.” To all of this, some voices of opinion might comment that the Russians were making good use of the majestic poetry in their language.
At least, there appears to be no end to the tension as of yet, as both sides of the conflict appear to be inspired in their cause, and further the whereabouts of Yanukovych appear uncertain. As of Tuesday morning, Ukrainian time, the interim government was still searching Yanukovych, who’s arrest warrant was issued on Monday.
But what has all of this got to do with Iceland?
Looking at the parallels from the events of the 2008 economic collapse in Iceland, the protests that followed and eventually the charges and trials of the Prime Minister at the time of those events, Geir H. Haarde, there are at least a few details that match: Economic turmoil, protests, resignation of government, in Iceland’s case a sped-up election, charges and trial against Authorities, and further also bankers and financiers in Iceland’s case.
In Iceland’s case, the journey from protests to trial took about four years, and unlike the Ukraine there were no casualties reported as a result of the many physical conflicts that occurred between authorities and protesters, and many believe someone deserves a credit for damage control throughout that. According to recurring media coverage, several people from several sides in politics have looked to Iceland as an example, both for what they believe was well done, and what they believe didn’t work too well, but in the case of Viktor Yanukovych, it may very well be that the Ukraine is inspired by Iceland.
According to what many Icelanders would say, the country went from what one side to the other, then back again, in terms of its political and economic direction, some might even say it had no direction at all. Most of the influence has, till recently when a new party rose to rival in size, been centered around four major parties. One of those has a strong left-wing stance and one has a rooted right-wing position, but within them, several individuals would identify as closer to the center. The other two parties appear to have a wider range across the political line and according to a lot of political enthusiasts, swing to whatever side their working with, whether in power or opposition.
If mirrored with the Ukraine, Yanukovych’s Party of regions with its pro-Russian stance might count as one side, and long time arch-rival Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, that favors more toward extended ties with Europe. Yulia Tymoshenko’s party, Fatherland, appears to have been one of those parties that has swung across the line. Tymoshenko has sided with Yushchenko and rivaled him, yet also an arch-rival of Yanukovych.
Fatherland is also the party of acting interim President Oleksandr Turchynov. The party has in recent years had a tight relationship with Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR, a coalition that appears to have replaced Our Ukraine as the dominant pro-west party and played a cardinal role in the recent protests as has been documented. What some might argue to appear to be an ongoing through-line in this fluctuating political atmosphere is the pull between a pro-russian and pro-western stance.
As the two countries, Iceland and the Ukraine continue to struggle with their highly dynamic domestic affairs, some might argue that there could be interesting lessons taken from the experience. An exploration of parallels may or may not apply, but in the case of events with the arrest warrant for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukraine might possibly be inspired by Iceland.
The author is a native of Iceland and a long time enthusiast of business, politics, philosophy, psychology, physics, human and world affairs. Sections of this article may be sourced from personal experience, observation and extensive independent research presented to the best of the author’s ability.
Editorial by Halldor Fannar Sigurgeirsson