Ukraine vs. Russia, 2004 style?
November 23, 2004 8:40 PM   Subscribe

The Orange Revolution -- A coup is taking place right now in the streets of several Ukrainian cities. Following the "election" of Viktor Yanukovych, an election that everyone from the Ukrainian man-on-the-street to EU observers and the US and Canada say was marred by serious and obvious fraud, Ukrainians are turning out by the hundreds of thousands to show their support for the opposition candidate, the pro-West reformer Viktor Yushchenko. Individual cities and municipalities, not to mention heads of Ukrainian religious groups, have even announced that they will refuse to recognize Yanukovych as the Prime Minster.

The problem is, Yanukovych is supported by the Kremlin. Russia's state-run TV stations had been broadcasting propaganda on his behalf, they called the election on his behalf before the polls were closed, and their increasingly despotic President Putin even congratulated him on his "win", before backtracking slightly. And now reports are trickling out--from former American congressmen communicating via Blackberry, no less--about Russian soldiers being flown across the border into Ukraine, dressed in Ukrainian militia garb, and set among the protestors. Phones have been cut across much of the country, including at the embassies. A semi-covert Russian-backed military push against the pro-democracy protestors is feared. Will this be another peaceful Rose Revolution, as happened in Georgia one year ago today, or more like Hungary, 1956? Stay tuned to the Ukrainian bloggers and webcams; this could get messy.
posted by Asparagirl (147 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
FYI, it's being called "The Orange Revolution" because that's reformist Viktor Yushchenko's campaign color, and it's what the crowds are wearing.

And sorry for making a rilly rilly long FPP with paragraphs and too many links and stuff. But this is not just a case of some national election being contested somewhere. It's about the possibility of a resurgent Russia rigging elections and exerting military control over the former USSR's now-independent nations.

Solidarity protests are being held in many major Western cities tomorrow, for those with the time and inclination to join in.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:52 PM on November 23, 2004


There's a lot of concern about Putin-as-dictator in some circles. He's definitely making some kind of power grab, here.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2004


I am confident the Ukrainians will get their man, and it will be a beautiful moment. Very fine post.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:55 PM on November 23, 2004


I was hoping that someone would compile all of this information. Thanks very much for the post. It's telling to compare the front pages of CNN and BBC tonight. Or even worse, MSNBC. That anyone can rank holiday travel blues above this story is sad.
posted by loquax at 8:57 PM on November 23, 2004


Great post, Asparagirl. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 8:58 PM on November 23, 2004


Where do all the protestors go to use the bathroom?
posted by orange clock at 9:05 PM on November 23, 2004


Well, apparently, in this blogger's backyard, if you read the first few lines of this post of hers.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:12 PM on November 23, 2004


Thanks a lot Asparagirl. I've heard stuff around the edges from various bloggers, but no one has summarized the issue as well as you have. Very troublesome indeed.
posted by sbutler at 9:12 PM on November 23, 2004


I was just at a pro-Yushchenko rally in Toronto tonight that had former Prime Minister John Turner there. The stories of election fraud are incredible, that some places have had a suspicious 98% turnout (ballot box stuffing), and that in some places pens were found to have been replaced with ones with dissapearing ink! Not to mention the attempted assassination of Yushchenko by poisoning.

And I really wish more people would wise up to how corrupt Putin is. His involvement in the election can't be good.
posted by bobo123 at 9:15 PM on November 23, 2004


No, clock, the Orange Revolution is not all about you.

Great post, aspara, informative, insightful, gives us all something other than the regular stuff to worry about.
word to the wise... don't update this story every day for the next month...
posted by wendell at 9:16 PM on November 23, 2004


Russia's state-run TV stations had been broadcasting propaganda on his behalf, they called the election on his behalf before the polls were closed, and their increasingly despotic President Putin even congratulated him on his "win"

Looks like Putin & Russia's state-run tv stations have learned something from the Republicans and Fox News on how to steal elections...Now, all they -- Putin/Yanukovych and their supporters -- have to do is harass and threaten the vote counters and let the Ukrainian Supreme Court validate the invalid election to complete the election fraud!
posted by Rastafari at 9:18 PM on November 23, 2004


the u.s. could've used a turnout like that on nov. 3rd... i hope they will succeed in enforcing democracy there.
posted by moonbird at 9:22 PM on November 23, 2004


This is scary.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 PM on November 23, 2004


Wikipedia .. updated news and background.
posted by stbalbach at 9:28 PM on November 23, 2004


And we see the US election comparisons already.

After seeing the results of Yuschenko's poisoning, I'm certain this man will fight to his own death for Ukraine. Hopefully, that will turn out good for everyone involved.

As for Putin, it's almost to be expected. Russia has had a long history of despotism, they're quite used to power grabs like this. For the days of joking about Yeltsin's similarity to Ted Kennedy once again...
posted by Saydur at 9:32 PM on November 23, 2004


Great post, thanks.
posted by Galvatron at 9:42 PM on November 23, 2004


No time to go through all the links yet, but it looks really cool and I appreciate the work you put into it. It's very much appreciated on this end.
posted by The God Complex at 9:52 PM on November 23, 2004


Superb post.

The question of what action Western governments should take seems terribly awkward. (Especially now, when permitting a corrupt outcome in Ukraine would make our claims of 'spreading democracy' throughout the world ring ever more hollow.) While there remains the possibility of a genuinely peaceful popular movement to see the true winner installed, interference would surely be a bad idea; but could a delay enable the Putin-backed government to consolidate its power base? Would a popular coup even be a good thing at all, or would the scope for it to be painted as illegitimate itself only store up trouble for the future?

I'd like to think that Western governments' choice won't come down to a behind-the-scenes playoff between competing self interests - support the pro-Western candidate, or appease our good friend from the Kremlin? - but even in my own mind, that sounds like unhappily wishful thinking.
posted by flashboy at 9:55 PM on November 23, 2004


*go orange go orange*!

This has been a wild ride, and if Yushchenko doesn't get his rightly deserved post.. ararrrrrg!
posted by dabitch at 9:56 PM on November 23, 2004


Good stuff, Asparagirl.
posted by 327.ca at 10:02 PM on November 23, 2004


Oh bury me, then rise ye up
And break your heavy chains
And water with the tyrants' blood
The freedom you have gained.
And in the great new family,
The family of the free,
With softly spoken, kindly word
Remember also me.
from My Testament by Taras Shevchenko (trans John Weir)

(great post asparagirl - thank you)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:12 PM on November 23, 2004


Rastafari: Shut up. If you want to peddle crap like that go here or here.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:20 PM on November 23, 2004


outstanding post aspargirl.

There was also a football (soccer) game tonight, Dynamo Kyiv playing against Rome's Roma. We won, 2:0! (It's breaking my heart to think about the poor Italians having to play in such heavy snow, in such cold, in a country so hyped up, and at the stadium full of extremely hyped up fans. But I don't mean to say I'm not happy we won - I am very happy.)

posted by Veronica Khokhlova

this is a very nice sign of normalcy in the midst of chaos.
posted by three blind mice at 10:20 PM on November 23, 2004


this is probably very bad news for troutfishing.

;)
posted by mwhybark at 10:25 PM on November 23, 2004


also S@L:

fuck off.
posted by mwhybark at 10:27 PM on November 23, 2004


The question of what action Western governments should take seems terribly awkward.

you can bet your last evro that bush will back putin - loyalty is all that matters to him.

france and germany will back the opposition - for that is increasingly becoming their role.

the uk should support the european union's position.

and china will attempt to profit from it in any way they can.
posted by three blind mice at 10:28 PM on November 23, 2004


I knew that this was Bush's fault... somehow
posted by TetrisKid at 10:29 PM on November 23, 2004


Statement on Ukrainian Elections
The United States is deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of Ukraine to respect the will of the Ukrainian people, and we urge all Ukrainians to resolve the situation through peaceful means. The Government bears a special responsibility not to use or incite violence, and to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in this difficult time.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:31 PM on November 23, 2004


Nicely done. thanks a lot. I appreciate a post that's as well compiled and thought out.
posted by joelf at 10:31 PM on November 23, 2004


I hear Steve_in_Highschool is a cockface of some sort. That's just what I hear, though.
posted by interrobang at 10:40 PM on November 23, 2004


(Because me, I never tell people outright to "shut up". To do so is rude.)
posted by interrobang at 10:41 PM on November 23, 2004


Heaven forbid I'm rude to someone who is being an idiot.




Opps, I did it again.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:44 PM on November 23, 2004


THIS is how Political FPPs should be.

Thanks so much for this. I really needed a good summary of what was going on over there.
posted by TTIKTDA at 10:45 PM on November 23, 2004


I am confident the Ukrainians will get their man, and it will be a beautiful moment.

Based on what?
posted by rushmc at 10:46 PM on November 23, 2004


you can bet your last evro that bush will back putin - loyalty is all that matters to him.

From the perspective of the ethnic/linguistically Russian supporters of Yanukovych in the east of the country, Yushchenko is a puppet of the Americans. That's one of the things that's so unusual about this, and why it has the potential to cause such bad, bad things to happen beyond the borders of Ukraine itself. According to their "start" positions, at least, everybody's slotting right back into their old Cold War roles. All those much heralded "new" and "shifting" alliances of recent years seem to have been politely ushered out of the window.

I'd be interested to know (maybe I missed a link in Asparagirl's post, but I haven't seen this anywhere) - did anybody in the West see this coming? Any journalists, any commentators, any risk analysis specialists, any politicians...?
posted by flashboy at 10:49 PM on November 23, 2004


A press release from an alternate universe:

The Ukraine is deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the United States presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge American authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of the United States of America to respect the will of the American people, and we urge all Americans to resolve the situation through peaceful means. The Government of the United States bears a special responsibility not to use or incite violence, and to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion. The Ukraine stands with the American people in this difficult time.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:51 PM on November 23, 2004


rushmc: many cities and leading public officials have proclaimed Yushchenko president. There'll be a bloody revolution if necessary, but I doubt there will be.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:53 PM on November 23, 2004


you can bet your last evro that bush will back putin - loyalty is all that matters to him.

Bush will back Putin out of spite to Muslims in Chechnya. One monkey knows another. These animals all stick together like glue...
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:55 PM on November 23, 2004


One monkey knows another.

Good to see the n00bs making an effort to fit in around here.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:57 PM on November 23, 2004


Flashboy:

Huntington's 'Clash of Civilizations' basically uses Ukraine as it's main example of a nation that cannot survive, based on its mixture of civilizations ('Western,' Uniate, Ukrainian-speaking west, and 'Orthodox', umm, Orthodox, Russian-speaking east.) It was written in 1996, mentions a past election which was also bitterly divided, and does not offer much hope for Ukraine's future.

Not that I particularly like the book (it's for class,) or want to make this an argument about him.
posted by maledictory at 10:58 PM on November 23, 2004


Wow, 41 posts about Ukraine and only one person has called it "the Ukraine", glad to see the word is catching on :-)
posted by bobo123 at 10:58 PM on November 23, 2004


Rastafari: Shut up. If you want to peddle crap like that go here or here.

Are you trying to present an example to follow?
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:59 PM on November 23, 2004


Viktor Yushchenko's homepage. (Seems to be loading very slowly right now, for obvious reasons.)

(Very nice post, Asparagirl!)
posted by Ljubljana at 11:00 PM on November 23, 2004


Yes. Can we not discuss this important even in the Ukraine with out putting on our tinfoil hats?

Christ, people... Kerry lost, it was not stolen. Get over it. It is not in the lest bit funny/amusing/ironic to compare the 2004 US Presidential election to the problems are going on in the Ukraine.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:03 PM on November 23, 2004


Given widespread voter fraud all over the world (Africa, South America and, yes, sadly, the United States) I'm curious what the stakes are for either leader being installed by whatever process resolves this crisis. Which is to say, what is this motivation for the media to make this instance of fraud an important issue? The act of fraud itself just doesn't seem important enough to garner this kind of coverage.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:06 PM on November 23, 2004


Which is to say I'm not saying that fraud is not important, but that I'm a bit cynical and wary of why the media is covering this instance of fraud and virtually no others.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:09 PM on November 23, 2004


Christ, people... Kerry lost, it was not stolen.

I think they're talking about the 2000 election.
posted by euphorb at 11:11 PM on November 23, 2004


I think they're talking about the 2000 election.

Gore lost too. It was not stolen.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:12 PM on November 23, 2004


2000 was a pretty blatant theft and 2004 had too many statistical aberrations, sudden "felon" assignments and voter machine problems in Democratic districts in swing states. I don't want to get into my opinion on a contentious subject, but clearly it happens regularly and the mainstream media doesn't care to cover it. So why the Ukraine and why now, I wonder?
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:17 PM on November 23, 2004


*shakes head*
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:19 PM on November 23, 2004


Steve, my fine fellow Republican, do keep in mind that calling it Ukraine and not "the" Ukraine is the preferred anti-communist and thus right-wing-leaning tack; the USSR apparently started calling it "the" Ukraine after it annexed it, in a revisionist linguistic attempt to diminish Ukraine's legitimacy and autonomy as a separate country.

This went hand in hand with suppression of the Ukrainian language in favor of Russian, the effects of which are still resonating today: significantly, the reformist Yushchenko is a native Ukrainian speaker and the commie-stooge Yanukovych is a native Russian speaker. This is also why it was such a big deal for Georgia's president to address the people of Ukraine today in Ukrainian rather than Russian, even though he'd presumably know the latter language far better.

Of course, depending on the results of this election, we may be back to "the" Ukraine once again.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:21 PM on November 23, 2004


Wow The Ukraine is going all flutzy and you too are missing the point!,
Europeans are growing up... We should too.
now play nice or leave the communal sand box I say!..
posted by Elim at 11:23 PM on November 23, 2004


the USSR apparently started calling it "the" Ukraine after it annexed it, in a revisionist linguistic attempt to diminish Ukraine's legitimacy and autonomy as a separate country.

That's interesting; I always thought it was just a convention of British English that extended to other English-speaking countries, like "the Hague". Thanks...
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:24 PM on November 23, 2004


--that was for S@L and AR.--
posted by Elim at 11:25 PM on November 23, 2004


Nicely done post, Asparagirl.

Putin and Russia have been scaring me for a while. This is just more scary stuff. And I have no confidence whatsoever that our current leaders are up to the task of dealing with this situation, either short or long term.
posted by TimeFactor at 11:26 PM on November 23, 2004


Why, why, why, why? What did this thread ever do to you? Were you envious of its vast size, its plentiful links? What were you all thinking when you plunged the knife into its soft ba-a-ack?!! *cries*
posted by Krrrlson at 11:26 PM on November 23, 2004


Why what? Does the thread not concern allegations of voter fraud and global politics?
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:29 PM on November 23, 2004


AlexReynolds-

I don't know what (the) Ukraine is called in Ukrainian, but "the Hague" is "Den Haag" in Dutch, so I doubt it has much to do with English language conventions.
posted by borkingchikapa at 11:41 PM on November 23, 2004


The difference a person's face makes is quite shocking.

Before poisoning:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Yuschenko.jpg

After poisoning:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Viktor_yushchenko.jpg
posted by yevge at 11:41 PM on November 23, 2004


but that I'm a bit cynical and wary of why the media is covering this instance of fraud and virtually no others.

Actually that's not a bad question. It could be a slow news day, though the more cynical part of me thinks that since Yuschenko leans towards the right and is pro-EU there is some sort of corporate interest in the West of seeing him elected. It would be interesting project to compare the political leanings of "losing" candidates around the world with corresponding coverage of election fraud.
posted by bobo123 at 11:44 PM on November 23, 2004


Hey HEY hey! Who here wants to watch some Ukrainian TV, with live coverage of the protests?

Channel Five (Ukrainian TV):
rtsp://213.186.192.254/encoder/tv5

Ukrainian radio station (audio only, of course):
http://radio.istratov.com:8128/

Unfortunately, the TV stream seems to be overloaded at the moment. And it's all in Ukrainian, so the only word I could pick out was "Pravda".
posted by Asparagirl at 11:49 PM on November 23, 2004


Wow, does anyone have any more info about that poisoning? Because it's much harder than one would expect to believe yevge's pictures are of the same person.
posted by ontic at 12:07 AM on November 24, 2004


I can't get the tv stream to work either. I'm sure it's only gonna get worse.

but clearly it happens regularly and the mainstream media doesn't care to cover it.

Been covered in the nytimes, washpost, latimes, npr, cnn, foxnews, my local paper, exactly how much media coverage do you want at this point? Kerry seems to be letting those below him handle it for now. When he wants to get his hands dirty and put his name behind the accusations you'll get more media coverage than you can handle (IF that ever happens..

Good to see the n00bs making an effort to fit in around here.


Get use to it steve. Thousands of new users were waiting to join in the party, not ruffle feathers. The more things change the more they stay the same.
posted by justgary at 12:12 AM on November 24, 2004


"did anybody in the West see this coming? Any journalists, any commentators, any risk analysis specialists, any politicians...?"

Here's one who did:
"Yushchenko, by contrast, is a civilized, intelligent man running on an anti-corruption, pro-European integration platform. People from the Russified east worry that they might be marginalized if Yushchenko were to win, but that fear is blown way out of proportion. So, the Yanukovich team has adopted several strategies. The most effective is the most simple: they'll probably just stuff the ballot boxes. Lest anyone doubt his democratic credentials, at the end of August Yanukovich was quoted saying, "I do not believe in exit polls. These are new technologies that will be tested in Ukraine for the first time. We do not know how to manipulate them."
Yeah, this train wreck has been coming down the tracks for a while.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:40 AM on November 24, 2004


flashboy: I'd be interested to know (maybe I missed a link in Asparagirl's post, but I haven't seen this anywhere) - did anybody in the West see this coming?

I don't know about regular people but the wacky folks at the exile nailed it back in September (not that it was much of a hard call to make)...:
Yanukovich wouldn't have a prayer in a free and fair head-to-head election against Yushchenko. Not only does he charisma, but he is an ex-convict who has served time twice. In much of the US, as a convicted felon, he wouldn't even be allowed to vote for himself. Sixty-five percent of Ukrainians are against a former prisoner becoming president. Not a single person out of dozens I asked said they would vote for Yanukovich (of course, this was in relatively cosmopolitan Kiev and western Vinnitsa; the east might be different).

Yushchenko, by contrast, is a civilized, intelligent man running on an anti-corruption, pro-European integration platform. People from the Russified east worry that they might be marginalized if Yushchenko were to win, but that fear is blown way out of proportion. So, the Yanukovich team has adopted several strategies. The most effective is the most simple: they'll probably just stuff the ballot boxes. Lest anyone doubt his democratic credentials, at the end of August Yanukovich was quoted saying, "I do not believe in exit polls. These are new technologies that will be tested in Ukraine for the first time. We do not know how to manipulate them."
Yet they failed to predict that anyone would do much about it...
Rzhavsky's hypothesis is that if Yanukovich wins, most Ukrainians will be convinced the election was a fraud and take to the streets. If Yushchenko wins, there will be powerful vested interests with too much to lose to give up quietly. However, this is the same country that couldn't even muster enough will to dethrone Kuchma after tapes implicated him in the beheading of muckraking journalist Gregory Gongadze. No matter how blatant the theft of the elections, few people believe Ukrainians will muster the political will necessary to overturn the results. Short of an extremely well organized strike like we saw in Georgia's Rose Revolution, the results of the election are likely to stand. It's not likely, as Ukraine is much bigger, there's much more money at stake, and the entrenched powers now know what to expect from the opposition.
About Asparagirl's take on this: Sure, the Putin angle is important, but keep in in mind that the Ukrainian East is pretty much Russian-speaking and that the deciding factor behind the muscle that's working for Yanukovich is the fact that the local oligarchs are for him. The idea that Yanukovich is in any meaningful way a "commie-stooge" clashes with the fact that his more powerful supporters are in favour of a very unrestrained form of capitalism... Also the Ukraine was not annexed by the USSR, it was always part of (Czarist) Russia.

20% of the country's population BTW, identifies itself as Russian while a large number of Ukrainians are russian speaking... See this article for a more detailed analysis of the problems of national classification in Ukraine...
posted by talos at 1:11 AM on November 24, 2004


Heh, I should use the preview button more... Exact same article exact same quote!
posted by talos at 1:13 AM on November 24, 2004


in case anyone is wondering why this is important...

Ukraine - signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"Inherited about 5,000 nuclear weapons when it became independent in 1991. It transferred all of these to Russia by 1996. However recent news has surfaced that due to a clerical error, Ukraine may still possess several hundred warheads which were not accounted for in the armaments repatriation move 14 years ago. In any case, even if Ukraine does possess these weapons, they are technically missing and not in a deployed state or any part of Ukraine's defense posture."

i'm a bit skeptical of that last sentence.

on preview talos,

The idea that Yanukovich is in any meaningful way a "commie-stooge" clashes with the fact that his more powerful supporters are in favour of a very unrestrained form of capitalism..

the word is feudalism, not capitalism.
posted by three blind mice at 1:20 AM on November 24, 2004


"the Ukraine was not annexed by the USSR"

The land may have been a part of Czarist Russia once upon a time, but it's also has its own history and language, and there was a good bit of time where it was trying to stand on its own, before being haggled over by the Poles and Russians and starved by Stalin: *cough*:
"Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Ukraine was briefly independent in two states, then united, in 1920. By 1922 Ukraine was split between Poland and the Soviet Union. Soviet Ukraine experienced two famines (1921–22 and 1932–33)—the second of which was artificially created by the Soviet gouvenment, and termed the "Holodomor"—in which many millions died (scholarly estimates range from 4 to 10 million dead).

In 1918 Poland invaded the Soviet Russia (the Soviet Union was not formed until 1922), claiming that all territory West of Kiev belonged to Poland, and attempting to incorporate Ukraine, and Lithuania into an East European Coalition. The Poles were repulsed, but some nationalists still claim Kiev as the Eastern border of their nation.

At the onset of World War II, in 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland and incorporated Western Ukraine into the Ukrainian SSR."
I stand by the word "annexed"; to do otherwise is to pretend that they're somehow naturally a part of Russia (or Poland) or that they had any say in the matter.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:28 AM on November 24, 2004


It's so inspiring to see someone risk their life for a great cause. The short Googling I did revealed many major news outlets are carrying the story that Yushchenko's doctors wrote a letter rejecting the claim of poisoning, yet the actual doctors claim to have never even seen these documents, let alone signed them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:30 AM on November 24, 2004


...and of course, it was once Austrian too, notably the province of Galicia under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My great-grandmother Ethel insisted to the day she died that she and her family were from "Austria". Which they technically were...back when they left the towns of Kolomea and Obertin circa 1903-1910. Both of those towns are most certainly (southwestern) Ukrainian today.

My point being, I know Russian culture and language is more prevalent and influential in Ukraine today than Austrian culture or Polish culture, but if Moscow gets to muck around in Kiev's internal affairs on the basis of former geographical contiguity, then I vote that Vienna gets a shot at screwing with the election results too. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 1:37 AM on November 24, 2004


Here's a good article from the Moscow Times on Putin's gambit.
posted by taz at 2:29 AM on November 24, 2004


Here is a site that servers as a sort of up-to-the-minute information clearinghouse for opposition supporters. It features eyewitness reports of demonstrations and other events throughout Ukraine.

It is translated into English (on the fly) by a few volunteers, so please forgive any errors.
posted by Optamystic at 3:15 AM on November 24, 2004


"servers" = "serves". Forgive any errors, indeed.
posted by Optamystic at 3:17 AM on November 24, 2004


The United States is deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election.

This beam in our eye really hurts, but here, let us help you get the mote out of yours.

Oh yes, and as it has been clearly expressed over in MeTa, this kind of political post is forbidden and will be deleted.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:21 AM on November 24, 2004


The role of Ukrainian immigrant communities is worth watching: not just in the US, but in countries like Canada and Australia where they're proportionately much larger and more influential, and, for obvious reasons, pro-Yushchenko. (The BBC's 'Have Your Say' page is, um, contentious.)

And though I'm sure S@L will sniff about it, I just wish that the US was in a position to press on this without one hand tied behind its back: not just on the question of elections, but on Putin and his authoritarian allies. Diplomatic clout is hard-won, easily lost, and once lost, hard to regain.

Given that the election was, in many respects, a referendum on Ukraine's place as a European nation, it may be a job for the EU's diplomatic corps. But I don't see an easy way out.
posted by riviera at 3:28 AM on November 24, 2004


Forgot to mention that it's a great FPP.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:43 AM on November 24, 2004


Great post.

A backgrounder published by the Indernational Federation of Journalists on the Ukrainian government's "crude censorship" of the media can be found here.
posted by scaryduck at 3:51 AM on November 24, 2004


What are we to make of Linnwood's lack of any real argument otehr than "Kerry lost! get over it!"? I wonder how many little Ukranian Linwoods who liked the way the election there happened to turn out are at their keyboards now pounding away telling would-be protestors to shut up and get over it and calling them idiots?
posted by Space Coyote at 4:11 AM on November 24, 2004


what's interesting is how ironic all this is, in a way -- a country whose actual name means "at the border", a country always divided between a more Western, mitteleuropean (Slavic/German/with a strong Jewish component) heritage -- Lemberg's (Lviv's) architecture is 100% more similar to Vienna's than, say, to Moscow's -- and a most Russian identity. keep in mind that Kiev has been, since at least the tenth century CE, the actual embryo of the Russian nation and national spirit. since the 1600's, the two sides have been linked. often with terrible results (check out WWII, with so many citizens welcoming the invading Nazi forces as liberators from the hated Russian (and Soviet, of course) power -- and many actually enlisted in the SS to help out with the annihilation of the Ukrainian Jews).

it is not that surprising, then, that the western regions of the Ukraine have a hard-on for (pro-European) Yushchenko, while so many in Eastern Ukraine chose Yanukovych, politely known among them as "Putin's bitch". keep in mind that Yushchenko's fans called the Russian language "a thug's language", and Yanukovich promised to make it the second official language of the country
Western Ukraine strives for more econonic/cultural integration with the west, Eastern Ukraine is more afraid of leaving Mother Russia's embrace.

all of this real, actual division makes the Red State / Blue State thing seem like the silly tv-graphic it actually is, in the end

______________________________________________

What are we to make of Linnwood's lack of any real argument otehr than "Kerry lost! get over it!"?

nothing . it's only there to show the difference between extremely well-read (goto example: jfuller), smart (goto example: Asparagirl) right-wingers and "suck on this, assholes", zero-content Sean-Hannity thugs like Steve@Dimwood. you also can't expect Stevie to know stuff about, say, this Yuk-rain place. isn't it, like, abroad?
posted by matteo at 4:53 AM on November 24, 2004


A quick note to all those who desperately wish to make a connection between the voter fraud in Ukraine and the last two US Elections:

The world does not revolve around you and your need to make sense of your minority opinion by claiming conspiracy.

We now return you to the legitimate outrage of election fraud in Ukraine.
posted by Mick at 4:55 AM on November 24, 2004


I'm glad that someone else has noticed this. I have been writing about it on my journal for the past few days, collecting pictures, video, and information from some of the over 11,000 LiveJournal Ukranian LiveJournal users.

On Rumsfeld's trip to the Ukraine in August, he held a public press conference... not with Ukranian President Kuchma, but with a lesser official. This was the only public photo op on the trip, even though Rumsfeld did sneak off for a private meeting with Kuchma. He was photographed by Kuchma's people -- apparently, unlike our government, Kuchma's people wanted to emphasize Kuchma's close ties to our government.

The Western media wasn't invited along to take photos, and no photos of the meeting were released that day, though one picture by a military photographer was later made public. If you search Google's images, it's like the two never met.

Why the secrecy? Because -- Kuchma is a pariah and an embarassing coalition partner... and a major recipient of US foriegn aid. It's embarrassing that our administration supports this thug and his cronies. After all, Kuchma used government agents to spy on, firebomb, and threaten the life of of the leading opposition candidate. Does the Bush administration really want allies who assassinate political opponents, kill reporters, and sell weapons to Saddam? It's no wonder Rumsfeld was ashamed to be seen with Kuchma... but he still kissed his ass anyway.



... all this to secure 1600 troops for the Coalition. Democracy for Iraq's 25 million people -- but what about Ukraine's 48 million?

If something happens and Kuchma's party steals the presidential election like they tried to do in a previous election, then the blame should fall squarely on the Bush administration if democracy fails and violence breaks out. They will have sold out the Ukranian people and our country's principals for a "trusted ally".

Aren't these kind of deals how we got into this mess in the first place?


posted by insomnia_lj at 5:15 AM on November 24, 2004


Asparagirl: "annexed" is misleading. Ukraine might or might not be naturally part of Russia or Poland, but it's beyond doubt that it was historically part of Russia and Poland...Ukraine had a brief spell of independence / autonomy inside the Soviet state, as long as Lenin was at the helm. When Stalin took over he re-incorporated the Czarist empire to the Soviet Union... Interestingly in one of his final letters Lenin wrote against Stalin's already visible plans to retake the Czarist provinces. Trotsky was writing in favour of Ukrainian independence in 1939...
So The USSR giveth and the USSR taketh away. To suggest that Ukraine was only incorporated in Russia during the Soviet years is wrong.
Anyway the question of Ukrainian identity is complex (as matteo notes above).

Frankly, Asparagirl, I'm surprised at your defense of Ukrainian Nationalism, since, in an extreme form to be sure, it memorably was vehemently anti-semitic and collaborated with the Nazis. This legacy is so strong that it has led most Ukrainian Jews to vote for Yanukovich!

Stories within stories, eh? Nonetheless removal of the current bastards would be nice - as far as sanity and civilization is concerned... Kuchma was (pretty much undoubtedly) behind the beheading of a journalist for chrissake... Though some of Yushchenko's supporters are quite scary as well...
posted by talos at 5:22 AM on November 24, 2004


the USSR apparently started calling it "the" Ukraine after it annexed it

Not trying to be argumentative, but I don't understand how this can be, as the Russian language does not have articles. Or, do you mean that this is how that started referring to it (in English) in diplomatic circles?
posted by Flem Snopes at 5:41 AM on November 24, 2004


Or, perhaps the translation of the Ukraine and Ukraine have different noun cases in Russian? I think I just answered my own question. Sorry!
posted by Flem Snopes at 5:44 AM on November 24, 2004


I'd also like to jump on the great post call out bandwagon.

Really excellent. Nice to see that your preemptive apology was unnecessary, no doubt.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:53 AM on November 24, 2004


Just a quick chime, this is NOTHING like the US, stop being so bloody egocentric. This is genuine bona-fide mass fraud. Like it or not Kerry just plain old lost and the incessant whining isn't exactly winning the hearts and minds, to coin a phrase, of the folks who voted for Bush. I'm as pro Kerry as they come but enoughs enough, the guy lost, moveon.
posted by zeoslap at 6:20 AM on November 24, 2004


Great post. One point though, I'm not so sure about your claim of embassy phones being cut off. I just checked the status for my country's diplomatic network and there are currently no network outages being reported (both phone and data) for Ukraine.
posted by smcniven at 6:25 AM on November 24, 2004


It certainly sounds a lot worse than the US election 'irregularities', but that just makes me wonder more why both countries' exit polls were off by about the same amount. Does that mean more fraud in the US than was reported, or less fraud in Ukraine than is suspected?
posted by bashos_frog at 6:44 AM on November 24, 2004


Or exit polls aren't worth a shit?
posted by Mick at 7:03 AM on November 24, 2004


Just a quick chime, this is NOTHING like the US, stop being so bloody egocentric. This is genuine bona-fide mass fraud. Like it or not Kerry just plain old lost and the incessant whining isn't exactly winning the hearts and minds, to coin a phrase, of the folks who voted for Bush. I'm as pro Kerry as they come but enoughs enough, the guy lost, moveon.

You know, this whole "pretending to be stupid" thing from conservatives has really become tiresome. I refuse to believe every single one of them actually thinks that every time a liberal points out both the U.S. and another nation, in this case Ukraine, has serious issues with the state of society, it immediately implies that we're equating the two as identical in severity.

You're worse than the juvenile morons who think that we're "going Godwin" every time we truthfully point out how something the Bush administration did reeks of Fascism. It's a great way to avoid discussing the issue, but it really highlights your own ignorance. We'll "moveon" when you stop being so afraid to deal with your personal victories not being perfect in your own fragile little egos.

What's happening in the Ukraine is terrible. The United States, on that subject, also has serious voter irregularity issues which could very well have been exploited in certain circumstances. The circle-jerkers rushing to mockingly declare "oh you silly liberals, get over it, willya?" are the only ones here looking like fools. It would be nice to care about the problems with your country more than making sure you look better than left-wingers on an internet message board.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:04 AM on November 24, 2004


the USSR apparently started calling it "the" Ukraine after it annexed it, in a revisionist linguistic attempt to diminish Ukraine's legitimacy and autonomy as a separate country.

That would be possible if Russian had a word for the, which it lacks.
posted by oaf at 7:09 AM on November 24, 2004


Good to see the n00bs making an effort to fit in around here.

Is your job to try to chase them off? I see you pissing all over the thread for this (amazingly good) post, and can't help but wonder.
posted by absalom at 7:11 AM on November 24, 2004


What XQUZYPHYR said.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:12 AM on November 24, 2004


Oh, and yes, [this is good]
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:12 AM on November 24, 2004


The question of what action Western governments should take seems terribly awkward.

Obviously they need thousands of troops and lots of hardware to help them overthrow the dictator and enable the peaceful citizens of Hung^H^H Cub^H^h Vie^H^H Czec^H^H Afgh^H^H Hai^H^H Nica^H^H Pan^H^H Iraq^H^H Ukraine to flourish democratically without foreign interference.

(Especially now, when permitting a corrupt outcome in Ukraine would make our claims of 'spreading democracy' throughout the world ring ever more hollow.)

(Especially us, given our recent record of overwhelming success at not permitting any corrupt outcomes here at home, of course.)

[Someday I gotta learn how to type this nifty strikeouts.]
posted by davy at 7:14 AM on November 24, 2004


Yikes. Didn't realize I got beaten so badly on that. But slovo for instance means "word," "a word," and "the word." Without context, it is impossible to tell for sure which is meant.
posted by oaf at 7:14 AM on November 24, 2004


[Someday I gotta learn how to type this nifty strikeouts.]

Er, those nifty strikeouts.
posted by davy at 7:16 AM on November 24, 2004


<del></del> or <strike></strike> should do it
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:20 AM on November 24, 2004


That wasn't a comment on vote counts, BTW
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:22 AM on November 24, 2004


Also, while I'm here and not earning money for The Man, the BBC have put up another fantastic before/after shot of Yushchenko.

Fantastic as in unbelievable, rather than "mom, can I have one?"
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:28 AM on November 24, 2004


the USSR apparently started calling it "the" Ukraine after it annexed it, in a revisionist linguistic attempt to diminish Ukraine's legitimacy and autonomy as a separate country

No, no, no. "The Ukraine" is traditional in English because it referred to a region rather than a country; we say "the Congo" for the same reason. The word "Ukraine" itself originally meant simply 'borderland.' The Soviets have enough evil on their consciences; no need to burden them with our article choices as well. Personally, I think this whole "we must say Ukraine" thing is silly politcorrectnoss, but what the hell, if it makes the Ukrainians happy, why not? But neither Ukrainian nor Russian has articles (as oaf points out), so the whole argument seems a bit silly.

davy: You do strikeouts with s and /s (between angle brackets, obviously). Please do so, you and everybody else who uses those ^H^H things -- they make text virtually impossible to read.

Oh, and great post. (And can we please not turn it into another Bush-bashing wankfest?)
posted by languagehat at 7:29 AM on November 24, 2004


Great post. Another reason why blogs make the best news sources.
posted by malaprohibita at 7:33 AM on November 24, 2004


That would be possible if Russian had a word for the, which it lacks.

I have a horrible memory, but I can say for certain that the Russian language definitely does have the ability to convey both "the Something" and "Something" as separate linguistic ideas.

If anyone can help me out with the specifics, I'd appreciate it. But, I just can't stand to keep reading these comments, as if the language just can't express the idea.
posted by odinsdream at 7:38 AM on November 24, 2004


this whole "pretending to be stupid" thing from conservatives has really become tiresome

some are not pretending, XQUZ.
posted by matteo at 7:41 AM on November 24, 2004


It certainly sounds a lot worse than the US election 'irregularities', but that just makes me wonder more why both countries' exit polls were off by about the same amount.

The Grauniad sez - "Official results released by the Central Election Commission, with more than 99.48 percent of precincts counted, put Mr Yanukovich ahead, with 49.39% of the votes to his challenger's 46.71%.

However, several exit polls indicated that Mr Yushchenko was the winner, and one poll, funded by western embassies, said he had won by as much as 11%"

So a bit more of a discrepancy than in the US.

(And, what languagehat said. It's not a question of if it's pro-Bush or anit-Bush, whatever - it just reads like a bit of a 'fuck you' to the rest of the world when everything gets worked back into an analogy for the US.)
posted by flashboy at 7:51 AM on November 24, 2004


I can say for certain that the Russian language definitely does have the ability to convey both "the Something" and "Something" as separate linguistic ideas.

Yes, they are called grammatical cases. Every language has them, but they are more critical in languages that don't have articles (like Latin or Russian).

As far as the Ukraine goes, I think languagehat nailed it, as he often does.
posted by Flem Snopes at 8:01 AM on November 24, 2004


rather, more critical to learn and understand, I should have said.
posted by Flem Snopes at 8:02 AM on November 24, 2004


AFP say that the Ukrainian Electoral Commission have just endorsed the establishment candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. [BBC News24]
posted by dash_slot- at 8:32 AM on November 24, 2004


XQUZYPHYR: You and your like the ones being "juvenile morons" by constantly inisting that the Bush administration "reeks of Fascism." You have not idea what Fascism is. You ought to move to a police state and see what it really is like. Until then, shut the hell up.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:31 AM on November 24, 2004


troll bites troll; news at ten
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:39 AM on November 24, 2004


KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's political crisis appeared to ease on Wednesday when both presidential candidates in a disputed election offered ways out of their bitter feud that has taken the country to the brink of violent conflict.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:40 AM on November 24, 2004


You ought to move to a police state and see what it really is like. Until then, shut the hell up. (my emphasis)

And S@L doesn't see the irony!
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:41 AM on November 24, 2004


The opposition was protesting loudly from their corner but the commission members went on with their business, ignoring the protests.

At the very end, the opposition AND some journalists were shouting very loudly: Hanba! (Shame!) and Yushchenko!

And that was it.

One of the journalists had tears in her eyes, another shook her head in disbelief.


and

i think a riot is imminent. (This from a westerner writing in Kyiv. He has pictures.)

BBC - "Earlier, Mr Yushchenko told tens of thousands of supporters in Kiev's Independence Square that he was prepared to have a re-run of the vote if it was run by "honest" officials."
posted by flashboy at 9:42 AM on November 24, 2004


I would like most everyone to take note of which users are making this about the USA, and shun the mofos from now on.

It is absolutely inappropriate to take every g.d. link and turn it into a tirade about the USA. It is not always about you.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 AM on November 24, 2004


It is absolutely inappropriate to take every g.d. link and turn it into a tirade about the USA.

I completely agree. Especially when this has the potential of being a far more significant event for the world, let alone the Ukrainian people, than the choice between Kerry and Bush.
posted by loquax at 10:24 AM on November 24, 2004


Especially when this has the potential of being a far more significant event for the world, let alone the Ukrainian people, than the choice between Kerry and Bush.

Yes, but why?
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:40 AM on November 24, 2004


It polarizes Russia against Europe and Ukrainians against each other in a very real scenario that includes multiple nations with nuclear weapons and a very volatile recent history. What happens if Western Ukraine decides to have nothing to do with the East, and Russia sends troops? Does Europe stand by? Does the US? Remember Yugoslavia? That would be nothing compared to a civil war in Ukraine. This is a real global flashpoint, held over from the cold war, in a country with 50 million people. I hope none of this happens, and this *crisis* is resolved fairly and peacefully, but there is a real chance that it won't be.

This in contrast with an American election that, contrary to popular opinion, mostly affected those within US borders, and really only upset the less than 26% of eligible voters that did not support the eventual winner. American elections are always noteworthy - sometimes extremely so. The potential meltdown of a major European country and a nuclear power is, I'm sorry to say just a little more significant.

Regardless, just because it doesn't happen in the US, doesn't mean its not of global significance in its own right.
posted by loquax at 11:20 AM on November 24, 2004


This in contrast with an American election that, contrary to popular opinion, mostly affected those within US borders, and really only upset the less than 26% of eligible voters that did not support the eventual winner.

Well, contrary to your opinion, it would be nice in situations like this for the world's only superpower to be able to comment on the conduct of a foreign election without being accused of chromatic similitude to an item of kitchenware. You know? It would be useful.

I'm reminded of the popular protests that drove out Milosevic after he tried to steal an election, and the tough stance of the US in the lead-up. That was in October 2000. Need I say more?
posted by riviera at 11:37 AM on November 24, 2004


It may well be nice, riviera, but it's irrelevant in a discution of the current situation in the Ukraine. I'm certain that the last thing on the minds of the people in tents in Kiev is the relative legitmacy of electronic voting results in Ohio.
posted by loquax at 11:46 AM on November 24, 2004


I would like most everyone to take note of which users are making this about the USA, and shun the mofos from now on.

Do note that I was not talking about anybody's electoral fraud but was making a more general point, and that my comment included references to the USSR as well as the USA, which used rather similar rationalizations concerning their respective invasions. That is, both empires cast themselves as Good Guys out to do Good Things for the receiving countries' hapless denizens (who should lie back and enjoy it). Of course to a lot of folks that's probably even worse -- "He called the USA an empire and equated it with the Soviet Union!" -- and in any case I look forward to being publicly shunned for any reason at all.

Anyway. All these "liberation" invasions since Napoleon makes me respect the Mongols and the Germans for one thing: they were out for conquest and booty and frankly admitted it.
posted by davy at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2004


This is absolutely amazing, and potentially horrifying. My thoughts go to the orange here. Great post.

And yeah. Comparing this to the US is like comparing medium-sized apples to really huge, more important oranges. Not that I'm not concerned about this goddamn US election, but it's a different beast. Can't we just pay attention to the Ukrainians, even just for this post?
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:01 PM on November 24, 2004


This blogger is on the ground there and is reporting rumors of Russian troops pouring into Ukraine. Does anyone have more information about this.
posted by LarryC at 12:33 PM on November 24, 2004


Fantastic as in unbelievable, rather than "mom, can I have one?"

As someone who's interested in all forms of maleficence, I am extremely curious as to what kind of poison could cause such deformity?

Until then, shut the hell up.

That's some nice irony you got there.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:33 PM on November 24, 2004


I'm certain that the last thing on the minds of the people in tents in Kiev is the relative legitmacy of electronic voting results in Ohio.

Are you being deliberately obtuse?

The relevance, as I have tried to make clear, lies in the fact that Colin Powell, on behalf of the USA, can't talk about election fraud (or weapons of mass destruction) on the world stage without people sniggering into their sleeves. Madeleine Albright, for all her many flaws as Secretary of State, could. (It's like the 'But fuck one goat...' joke.)

This is not the same as those who draw inept direct comparisons. It's about the very real consequential problems that arise when the biggest player in global politics has a credibility problem. Why was Abu Ghraib so damaging? Because it means right now that the US government, no matter who leads it, can't effectively talk about systematic state torture. And as much as many on the left mutter about American power, it's vital that the US retains the credibility to talk tough. The Ukrainians in tents would probably appreciate it more if their biggest, most powerful global ally were in a better position to back them up.
posted by riviera at 12:47 PM on November 24, 2004


LarryC: I'm not quite sure what to make of those reports. Technically, I think there have always been Russian troops in Ukraine. I'm pretty sure Russia still maintains bases there, and I am sure that they purchase weapons together. So their militaries are pretty tight. I don't think Russian troops would have to come across the border, they'd already be there. Of course, their use as riot police which was "confirmed" by a Ukrainian MP in one of asparagirl's original posts is somewhat unusual.

The paradigm here is not, I believe, Russian (or European) interference, but a plain and simple civic divide that has existed for generations and has been getting worse since 1990. The pro-Russian side of the country is probably thrilled that Russian troops are there to protect them from the crazy pro-Europeans. How do you reconcile those differences? Either you peacefully separate like Czechoslovakia did, or you implode like Yugoslavia. Russian interference did not precipitate this problem, it is a symptom of it. It's telling that there's a sizable minority of people who actually want to rejoin Russia.

Check out what Zbigniew Brzezinski had to say about Ukraine back in 1993:

"Russia would like to subvert Ukraine so that the Ukrainians themselves say, "To hell with independence, it's not good, it's not comfortable, we don't like it, we want to rejoin Russia."

This
is another interesting but more academic paper looking at relations between former Soviet republics and Russia.

On preview - riviera, just because the US has a credibility problem in your mind, doesn't mean that everyone else sees it that way within the US or abroad. And if you imagine that rational, responsible people are "sniggering" when the US declares its interests in a region, for better or for worse, I'd suspect that you're the one being deliberately obtuse. Either that or you haven't been paying attention to geopolitics over the last few years.
posted by loquax at 12:55 PM on November 24, 2004


loquax: while you may think that sounding like a prick makes your arguments stronger, let me assure you it doesn't. So don't go taking those foreign service exams just yet.

Consider Iran, North Korea, even Russia itself after Putin's recent power grab. Once a major power can no longer credibly talk tough, and can only act tough -- that is, you can't stop fights, but you can win them -- things get very scary. We're not there yet, but it's a real danger. And if you seriously think that the US has more diplomatic clout now as an interested party in such crises than five or six years ago, then you obviously haven't been paying attention to geopolitics over the last few years.
posted by riviera at 1:05 PM on November 24, 2004


riveria, no offense, but you're the one who accused me of being deliberately obtuse. How am I being a prick?

Until the United States involves itself directly in the current crisis in Ukraine, its credibility is irrelevant. Until events in the Ukraine hinge on the actions of Colin Powell or George Bush, it doesn't matter if people like them or not. And until there is a universal consensus on the credibility of the United States vis a vis condemnation of torture and election results (which there isn't, and there won't be), any speculation on its relevance to the Ukraine is just that, speculation. Partisan speculation at that. I'll tell you right now that I think the US has plenty of credibility in these areas. More than the vast majority of the globe. How can you so easily dismiss my opinion in the form of what you believe is a given attitude towards the American government?

So let's see what's happening in the Ukraine in the context of the Ukraine and not in the context of Republicans vs. Democrats, or the US vs. Iraq, or the UN, or whatever. Frankly, I've very curious as to what China thinks about the whole issue, but it's not relevant in this thread. Nor is their behaviour in Tiananmen square or their treatment of Falun Gong.
posted by loquax at 1:15 PM on November 24, 2004


loquax, I have to agree with Riviera on the general point on this one. US credibility is at an all-time low. Anyone who does business or works abroad can tell you this. It's just a fact, even among people who are generally predisposed to US policies and positions.

When you say stuff like the US has a credibility problem in your mind it's you who looses credibility. It's not in Rivera's head.

That being said, on the specific point of elections, I don't think there is a general perception outside of Academic circles that Bush "stole" the election or even manipulated it. The respect for American democracy is still high, from what I have seen and heard.
posted by chaz at 1:15 PM on November 24, 2004


One other point, Powell has directly inserted himself and America into the equation (and rightly so) by refusing to accept the results of the election, and promising to re-evaluate the relationship between America and Ukrania. As the world's only superpower, and the only power capable of exerting influence big enough to counter the regional power of Russia, it's very very important the US is credible.
posted by chaz at 1:26 PM on November 24, 2004


God, I wish Matt would go ape-shit on those people that inevitably turn every thread into a discussion about the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:34 PM on November 24, 2004


It's just a fact

Respectfully, it's not just a fact. It's an opinion, a perception shared by many here, certainly, and some elsewhere, but not everyone. Not even a majority of your fellow citizens agree with that statement. Seriously. And a credibility "problem" does not equal a total lack of credibility, nor does it mean that rational people can ignore or laugh at American policy. And American credibility continues to have nothing to do with the Ukrainian electoral crisis of 2004, in my opinion. If I'm wrong, I'm still pretty sure it has nothing to do with this thread.

As the world's only superpower, and the only power capable of exerting influence big enough to counter the regional power of Russia, it's very very important the US is credible.

On preview, I disagree. Europe is far more involved at this point than the United States, and as many have said, this isn't as simple as foreign interference. Roughly half of the population *wants* the Russians there. Many are Russian. Many want to be a part of Russia. What do you propose the US, or Canada, or the EU do? I ask that honestly, because as far as I can tell, there is nothing that they can do. Sure, reexamine trading relationships, and whatnot, but how does any of that bring pressure to bear? Who do you pressure? Russia? Yanukovych? To what end? If the announced results of the election are reversed, and the opposition wins, you'll have the exact opposite problem, with the other 50% of the people protesting in the streets. And since when did Russia care about American credibility when it comes to international disputes? And for once, the US seems to be on the same side as the EU and the majority of the rest of the world. How is this credibility problem impacting the situation there? This is not a problem that can be resolved by the US, or Russia, or the EU making any pronouncements, or anything else - at least, not as far as I can see. Maybe that's why I'm being stubborn about this - the only solution I can conceive of that makes any sense is splitting up the country.
posted by loquax at 1:38 PM on November 24, 2004


Ontic, I wouldn't want to speculate on the alleged poisoning, but it's well documented that Soviet assassins (for example) used to spray poisons like hydrocyanic acid into their victims faces...
posted by runkelfinker at 2:06 PM on November 24, 2004


fff, by ape shit, I hope you mean - "Tear off their heads and piss down their throats."

Cause thats what I was hoping was gonna happen.

Disappointed again.

(God damn people, can't you stop fucking screaming past each other long enough to talk about a fucking peoples fucking revolution in a country with enough nuclear fucking weapons to blow the world to fuck and back.)

This place doesn't need to new blood, it needs a cleansing.

On preview, not enough fucks in my post. Sorry.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 2:06 PM on November 24, 2004


Not even a majority of your fellow citizens agree with that statement.

The vast majority of Americans do not have a passport and have never travelled outside the United States. It doesn't matter what people's opinions inside the country are about the loss of international credibility, because they're in no position to know that. People outside the country are, and they continuously say that their respect for America has declined. There have been too many news stories and polls taken around the world to post them all here, but here's one found on the first google try: link

While it's true that I am using my own opinion and my own experience in dealing with clients and customers overseas, it also seems to be a fact, based on numerous international polls, that US credibility under GW Bush has suffered. This is damaging to US influence, which is why those who believe in the US model should despair over this loss.

As for your second paragraph, it appears you have no experience whatsoever with global affairs, business, diplomacy, or trade. So why write essays about something you clearly know nothing about? Just to argue something that you believe may be true? The very essence of diplomacy and 'soft power' is predicated on the idea that a nation can use its influence in multiple ways (business, trade, international recognition, contracts, relationships, etc.) to effect change in foreign lands. Obviously there are no guarantees, but you seem to be saying that since the US cannot force the outcome it wants, it should do nothing. That's not the point. The point is that protection of US interests and goals has to be pursued regardless of the outcome... that's just how it works. And in this case, it's in the US and EU's interest to have a stable, non-corrupt democracy in Ukrania. To do nothing would only further damage credibility. Like it or not, people all over the world look to the US as the paragon of fair democracy, and to do nothing at this point would be to relinquish that role in that part of the world.

Furthermore, the point of this election issue is not that Ukrania is divided, the point is that the election was stolen. That's what the EU, the USA, and Canada all believe. The most important thing is to have a fair and free election. If this means that 1/2 of the population is upset, so be it. But people are not out in the street simply because their candidate lost. They are in the street because he won, and victory was stolen from him.

What the US, Canada, and the EU should do is to exert maximum pressure on Ukraine and Russia to address the allegations of fraud head-on, rather then trying to cover it up as they have been doing. By emphasizing the fact that the US will not accept elections which are known to be fraudulent, they will have to be prepared to enforce sanctions or withhold trade agreements/entry to international clubs, etc. As I said, there are no assurances any of that will work, but it has to be done. A free and fair election result is always going to dissapoint a large sector of the population, but a fraudulant one is going to damage the entire country, and the region.
posted by chaz at 2:12 PM on November 24, 2004


Chaz: we'll have to agree to disagree on what the issues are, as well as the reprecussions and implications of this situation.
posted by loquax at 2:24 PM on November 24, 2004


One of my friends at school is Ukranian (western, she speaks Russian much better than Ukranian), and she said that things have been like this for a long time, the only difference being that now people are actually protesting, notably lower-income people and students. She remembers being in university at home and being told by school officials not only who to vote for, but to show the ballot to a school official, and if she refused, she could expect trouble at school or trouble for her family. She also said that her sister lives in one of the villages on the Russian-Ukranian border and that troops are coming through all the time, and that her sister wants to go protest, despite my friend's pleas for her to stay safe at home.

The foreign students in my classes constantly humble me and make me realise that I really have no idea how great Canada is.
posted by heatherann at 2:26 PM on November 24, 2004


(err, eastern. not western.)
posted by heatherann at 2:27 PM on November 24, 2004


"This blogger . . . is reporting rumors of Russian troops pouring into Ukraine. Does anyone have more information about this?"

Yes. It's unconfirmed, though a Ukranian MP and supporter of Yuschenko claim it to be the case. There is no compelling evidence I am aware of to indicate that it is true, however.

I saw some mention of this in Google News, but it turns out that it wasn't really a news article, but a press release that was put out by Our Ukraine, Yuschenko's coalition.

Both sides are trying to spin world opinion right now, as you might guess, and it's understandable that Yuschenko would use press releases to do this, especially since he is locked out of most of the Ukranian media. Still, it's not clear there are Russian soldiers in the Ukraine... only rumors.

More details about Yuschenko's use of PR is available here on my site.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:31 PM on November 24, 2004


For those wanting to show their solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine, there's something you can add to your sites, btw...


posted by insomnia_lj at 2:36 PM on November 24, 2004


I just wanted to pip in to say that things seem to be moving quite briskly at the international stage as well. Tomorrow there is a long scheduled Russia-EU summit in The Hague, where the Ukrainian elections are certainly going to be discussed.
As it happens, I live in The Hague, and I did notice yesterday, parked in front of a top-end business hotel, a couple of identical, conspicuously inconspicuous large Peugeots with deeply tinted windows. Driven by uniformed Dutch soldiers (whoever was trying so hard to be inconspicuous obviously missed that detail). I wouldn't be surprised if there was some connection...
posted by Skeptic at 2:57 PM on November 24, 2004


I saw a map, I believe on BBC TV of the oblast by oblast results - basically a geographical representaion of this with a different colour for each candidate. Has anyone come across such a map?
posted by loquax at 3:04 PM on November 24, 2004


While I am not entirely opposed to comparisons between this situation and the one in the US, circa 2000, I'd say that it's probably best to talk about the topic at hand. I'm really bored of American politics right now, anyway.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 6:16 PM on November 24, 2004


Thanks for all the info - I was on a short student exchange in Ukraine in 1990. Sad to see this happen after all of their hope since then. Off to email my host and see if they're ok. Anyone seen any mention of Donetsk in the news?
posted by tb0n3 at 7:04 PM on November 24, 2004


Ok, thinking of deeply divided countries, we do have one good example to follow. Does anyone think it'd be possible for Ukraine to split like Czechoslovakia did? Or are we looking at another Yugoslavia?

The more I hear about the protest, the more I think they can pull off a peaceful revolution here. It seems that the people of the former soviet states are getting better and better at doing that. (Serbia, Georgia, and all the transitions from communist power (excepting Romania))

Still, I'm glad my Ukrainian friend is working in New York and is slowly working towards becoming a citizen. I'd hate to think of her in Kiev right now.

I wonder what it is exactly about Putin that has kept the Russian people from doing this sort of thing? It's it Chechnya? Or something more intrinsic to the current Russian spirit that I'm missing?
posted by Hactar at 1:30 AM on November 25, 2004


Hactar, I think that Putin is just very good at convincing people. He does have charisma in bags.
I also wondered at how he was apparently so popular despite, among other things, looking like a James Bond villain, until I heard him speak in a language I could understand (German). He has a very soft, calm, nice voice. He sounds both rational and compassionate.
Of course, his actions are a different matter...
posted by Skeptic at 4:08 AM on November 25, 2004


It helps to know that Putin did away with a number of very unpopular "oligarchs, the mobster-turned-capitalist class that plundered the ex-Soviet wealth for their own (fabulous) enrichment. Also compared with the Yeltsin clique and the "reformers", this guy is not corrupt and has followed fiscal policies that are vastly more rational than the Gaidar-era reforms. That era saw the evaporation of 80% of Russia's wealth (mostly into Swiss, Cypriot and other offshore accounts) and the decline of a large part of the Russian population into destitution .

So this guy is, yes, an authoritarian thug, but compared to the Yeltsin mob, I can understand why one would prefer authoritarianism to wholescale plunder and Mafia rule...
posted by talos at 4:47 AM on November 25, 2004


US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev

With their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime, the democracy guerrillas of the Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory - whatever the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev. Ukraine, traditionally passive in its politics, has been mobilised by the young democracy activists and will never be the same again.

But while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze. Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.

That one failed. "There will be no Kostunica in Belarus," the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade. But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev. The operation - engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections...

If the events in Kiev vindicate the US in its strategies for helping other people win elections and take power from anti-democratic regimes, it is certain to try to repeat the exercise elsewhere in the post-Soviet world. The places to watch are Moldova and the authoritarian countries of central Asia.



DachaDude Weblog>Politics>The Facts On The Ukrainian Melodrama

The media myth: An East European "pro-Western, reformist democrat" is cheated of a clear election victory by an old-timer commie apparatchik. A wave of popular protest may yet ensure another Triumph of Democracy a la Belgrade and Tbilisi, however. The fact: neither the winner of the presidential election in the Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, nor his Western-supported ultranationalist rival Viktor Yushchenko, are "democrats" or "reformers" in any accepted sense. They differ, however, on the issue of the Ukrainian identity and destiny in what is a deeply divided country. Ukraine is like a large Montenegro, split between its Russian-leaning half (the south, the east) and a strongly nationalist west and north-west that defines its identity in an unyielding animosity to Moscow. The prediction: "The West"—the United States, the European Union, and an array of Sorosite "NGOs"—will fail to rig this crisis in favor of Yushchenko: the critical mass that worked in Serbia in October 2000, and in Georgia in 2003—the complicity of the security services and mafia money—is simply not present.

The myth is virulently Russophobic. It implicitly recognizes the reality of Ukraine's divisions but asserts that those Ukrainians who want to maintain strong links with Russia are either stupid or manipulated. This view has nothing to do with the well-being or democratic will of 50 million Ukrainians. It is strictly geopolitical, in that it sees Moscow as a foe and its enemies (Chechen Jihadists included) as friends. Radek Sikorski of the American Enterprise Institute even hinted that Washington may have to take up arms to face the threat from a reconstituted empire. Three days before the election Georgie Ann Geyer asserted that the Ukrainian vote "will decide whether Vladimir Putin's Russia can again be a formalized, or informalized, empire," and demanded action to prevent such outcome. Complaining that America is too "obsessively sidetracked" by Iraq to pay attention to this momentous election, Ms. Geyer stated the alleged options. The Ukrainians "have a clear choice.

They can vote for Viktor Yuschenko, the reformist candidate who stands for joining the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and NATO as soon as possible, for strengthening Ukrainian nationalism, and for the interests of Western Ukrainian Christians and the Ukrainian diaspora in the West. His people [are] mirroring the idea of the ‘Velvet Revolution' that freed the Czech Republic from its Soviet era. Or they can vote for Viktor Yanukovych, the candidate of the Eastern Ukraine, where many Ukrainians speak a language called Surzhik, a bastardized combination of Ukrainian and Russian. Here, the huge Soviet-era enterprises like Donetz steel still dominate the economic state, and Moscow still dominates the mind-set? Putin's dreams of a renewed Russian empire cannot be fulfilled without the Ukraine. It's the pivotal piece in that puzzle of nations, the linchpin between East and West—and it could be the revolt of the borderlands against the metropole, should Yuschenko win."

posted by y2karl at 8:42 PM on November 26, 2004


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