Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ukrainian elections - what awaits us tomorrow

When I am writing this it's Saturday evening in Canada and in the course of a few hours polling stations begin to open in Ukraine. I've written a couple of posts on the campaign so the purpose of this one aims to provide a general summary.

Although the Ukrainian race has been overshadowed by the American one Western media has paid some attention to it (see the latest issue of Economist or the editorial in Saturday's Globe&Mail).
The American race has been viewed as a divisive one in which two sides represent vastly different ideologies and political approaches. There are people on the both sides that predict 'hell and high water' if the other side wins. I do have my own preference in regard the the U.S. elections but I'm pretty confident that whoever wins nothing major will change, at least in the short run.

Not so in Ukraine. Never before on the post-Soviet space the choice was so stark. It used to be the case that old Soviet nomenklatura that had adopted to the new reality, was fighting, successfully, against a weak democrat or a communist.
That's who Kuchma won in 1994.

And his presidency has not been always disastrous. During his first term he managed to accomplish quite a lot. Perhaps, it was his greatest setback, that literally held him 'back' was his inability to break away from the old Soviet model and embrace Western values.

So having been caught in a crisis, I am referring here to the Gongadze gate in 2001, he quickly scaled back almost everything good that had been built before. The power vertical he used to stay in power has borne a monster. From what I can infer Kuchma is taken aback by what he's seen so far.

I see the great irony and the internal logic in the fact that the party of power chose Mr. Yanukovych to run against the leader of opposition; that it was not some hapless bureaucrat or 'director' like Kuchma.

The twice convicted Yanukovych represents the worst of what has been brought to the fore after the collapse of the ancient regime. He was the governor of the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian Chicago can it be called, if it weren't worse, much worse.
the Soviet Union collapsed peacefully but what the Great Criminal Revolution transpired. And anyone from Ukraine knows all too well that the gangsters ruled supreme not in Kyiv or Dniepropetrovsk but in Donetsk.

In any civilized country Mr. Yanukovych would have had a chance to get nominated let alone win. And in Ukraine his perspectives would've been grim if not the massive power resource, plus the support of Russia behind his candidacy. His opponent has had no or little access to TV which is the main source of information in a country where there are only 850,000 internet users out of 48 million strong population. Yanukovych used state funds to raise pensions even though inflation will soon offset these gains but not soon enough for the elections sake. He refused to debate with his main opponent. Mainly because he is not fluent neither in Ukrainian nor Russian save for the criminal slang.

But all of this still doesn't guarantee him victory tomorrow. So there are percistent rumors of possible mass scale falsifications and fraud tomorrow.
Globe&Mail editorial suggests that "world's democracies should let out an almighty shout" if this happens. I hope it will help but I doubt it very much.

In sum, all odds are against Yuschenko but I'll pray for his victory and hope... for hope dies last...

P.S. there is a great irony that Ukrainian elections are scheduled on October 31.
Unfortunately, the forces of evil are pretty damn real in Ukraine...


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