Forget all those foreign correspondents, says Dalrymple. If you really want to learn about the political situation in Ukraine, listen to one Ukrainian plumber:
He told us why he had left his native country a few years before: Everyone there was corrupt, nothing was possible without bribery, the opposition was as bad as the government, and all political demonstrations, which were frequent even then, were entirely bogus. Indeed, political demonstrations had become a form of social security, the political system’s corrupt and vastly rich oligarchs paying a small daily subvention to the otherwise unemployed who agreed to demonstrate in their favor. There was nothing to choose between the government and opposition except the size of the daily payments that they offered, which varied from day to day like the stock market. Principle didn’t come into it; demonstrators changed from pro-government to pro-opposition and vice versa, according to the amount on offer.