Ukrainians! What on earth are you doing? What Maidan? What tents? What blockading of Parliament? What could you possibly mean by ‘free self-expression of the people’?
Hold on. Give me a few minutes and I’ll tell you how it’s done.
What you must do first of all is take a bottle of whisky and head over to the town hall. At night. A glass or so down, agree amongst yourselves that it would be much better to have the Maidan transferred to the other side of the Dnieper river, away from all this disturbance and bother.
A little while later start to harass and scare the people around you. Promise them a sea of blood and a world of pain at the hands of the terrible OMON (Special police force). Call them weak little mice who are scarcely fit to stand in the presence of the statues of latter day Soviet power.
Most likely a voice will speak out from the crowd, calling the surrounding mass of people to ignore you and not to fear; he (or indeed she) will call for them to realise their own voice and will start to rally those around to go and nail their demands to the doors of the Central Election Committee and camp out there replete with tents and campfires. Make sure you ridicule him as best you can, defame and marginalise him. Shower him with jokes, make him out to be some nutjob who thinks the best course of action is to storm the parliament with a snowplough. All in all do your very best to lead independent minded citizens into the capable hands of the police who circle around in an ever tightening vice.
Once you’ve done that collect 2 million roubles (roughly £40,000). Make sure it’s no less than that at every collection.
With this money put up a stage with an awesome sound system and call some second-rate performer to sing and dance for the gathered crowds. Then lead out onto the stage whoever the hell you can: stars of the little and big screen, insufferable bores, ‘celebrities’ who love the sound of their own voice. Essentially anyone who can shout loudly and at length.
Keep this process going for two years.
Ah! Toilets! Don’t forget the fucking toilets! What kind of revolution would it be without those? This most essential undertaking will involve working out how many port-a-loos you need. Once you have done this reach an agreement with the supplier, collect the money, pay for them and put them up in all of their revolutionary glory. Bam. You will have achieved one of the most important goals of the revolutionary movement.
What other trivia can you focus on? You could run a survey labelled “march on Maidan or into a swamp?” Even if 80% support a march onto the Maidan lead everyone into the swamp anyway. Do not under any circumstances say the word revolution. Nor so much as hint at a ‘change of the system’. For God’s sake don’t call people out onto the street. And please don’t call things by their real names. It’s just best to keep things objective you know? Let’s be restrained about this.
Move on to coming up with a load of fun and creative ways to grab people’s attention: White ribbons, white balloons, a white drive by, a white cycle ride, white line dancing, or maybe a competition for the best placard, best egg costume and even best tank costume. You get the idea.
Wherever you can, form human chains, human ropes, human pieces of glittery string. Go on marches, put on events, walk and talk with famous writers. This must go on for two years. It would be stupid to be quicker than that.
In the breaks between going for walks and coming up with creative publicity stunts you find that you will have lost some of those protesting in the swamp (of freedom). They have been locked up and, in the friendliest way possible, you will have forgotten about them. This too is an important moment. Don’t bother to call for the courts to be blockaded or for your comrades to be released. Don’t try and get people out onto the streets (geez). Remember to only sign petitions that are useful to no one, to make loud appeals, and to give the list of political prisoners to Yanukovych and then to discuss it with him at length while at literary gatherings and other such important occasions. The more meetings the better. If you think one is enough you are wrong. Whenever the big man calls go immediately and talk. Talk. Talk…
Also don’t forget to elect a constituent assembly. Perhaps you could call it ‘The coordinated council of the opposition’. Its most important task would be to meet through the course of the year in a hall which costs 150,000 roubles (£3,000) to rent, and once inside, to fiercely debate the date of the next meeting. Most important. Make sure everyone is invited, whoever isn’t too lazy that is, I would of course include acrobats and singers in the invitation.
Then later, after about two years, when only 5,000 from the original 100,000 remain standing, and the remaining 95,000 care little for anything you have to say, elect a leader of the united opposition. A great leader. A strong leader.
This nearly brings us to the culmination of your efforts, a shuddering culmination of unadulterated ecstasy.
The great leader of the United Opposition must without question start to accept unconstitutional hand-outs from Yanukovych’s sweaty palm (all the while repeating “Who really holds the power here?” – an essential incantation worth remembering as nothing good will come of your work without it). Even ignoring this behaviour you will go on to lose the upcoming elections. But this is obviously completely irrelevant as the elections will not bear any resemblance to TRUE elections in the SLIGHTEST, obviously they will be rigged from the start and only represent an exercise in THEFT AND THE PRESERVATION OF THE CRIMINAL STATUS QUO! and so on and so forth…
After this start to prepare for new elections, for the, err, local Kievan council. Which is still very important.
And Oh! Would you look at that. Following the euro-integration protest you are already yapping away at one another, squabbling over the local Kievan elections which mean little if anything at all. People have stopped going out onto the streets, the protests have become a distant memory, the wider public sit at home while Yanukovych and Azarov (The Ukrainian PM) sign an agreement which cancels the Eu integration process. You succeeded in crawling up your own backside and the protests exist now more in name than reality.
Cool huh!? There’s no other way round it really.
That’s how it’s done. The Russian way.
If we can be serious now- as soon as someone starts to climb onto the podium and say “we don’t want a revolution”, as soon as someone starts to open their mouth about guarantees that Yanukovych has laid out, chase them out of the crowd without a second thought. If you slow for just a second, this opportunity will pass you by and you won’t even grasp at how it happened. Look at the Russians again. You must focus on the Maidan and on the direct expression of what you want and need. Yield just one step, one sideward glance to this regime and that will be it. Game over. To regain momentum and a steady gaze would be impossible.
Bear this in mind now. This is truly important, important right here and right now, in these, your first steps, your first days.
Written in November 2013, as the Ukrainian crisis was starting to unfold.
N.B. Unfortunately access to that article is no longer available. Unless of course you wish to pay for access.