Wednesday, November 24, 2004

...go we. The events in Ukraine provide a stark warning for all those on every end of the American political spectrum - what can happen when the process is tampered with and people lose faith in it. Imagine if there weren't really any problems with the vote (as apparently there were), but one side just were just using people's suspicions for their own gain. It's not like it can't happen here. Once faith in the process starts bending, all bets are off.

WaPo: Rally Against Ukraine Vote Swells

... In the face of the protests and strong condemnation from the United States and the European Union, the government appeared to hesitate. President Leonid Kuchma, who supported Yanukovych, called for negotiations, and there was no sign of a general mobilization of security forces.

"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," the White House said in a statement.

Russia, which backed Yanukovych, dismissed foreign charges of electoral fraud as premature and arrogant. "We cannot recognize or protest results that are not yet official," President Vladimir Putin told reporters during a state visit to Lisbon. "Ukraine is a state of law. It doesn't need to be lectured."

With 99.48 percent of precincts counted, Yanukovych had 49.39 percent of the vote compared with 46.71 percent for Yushchenko. The results were official but not final. Exit polls had put Yushchenko well ahead...

Uh oh, exit polls. And isn't it ironic that it may be the Communists who play the role of Kingmaker?

...The role of the Communist Party in parliamentary maneuvering remains critical and uncertain. Its leader did not endorse any candidate in the second round of voting despite pressure from Russia to back Yanukovych. But if it sides with Yushchenko, there would be enough votes to demand a review of the election and the 11,000 violations that the Yushchenko campaign claims to have documented.

Update: Anne Applebaum on "The New Iron Curtain," also in the Post:

...Russia is not the Soviet Union, and 2004 is not 1946. Ukraine is neither as turbulent, nor as violent, nor as physically cut off from the world as were the Central European states after the Second World War. The Ukrainian opposition put 200,000 protesters on the streets of Kiev yesterday, many of whom are too young to recall Nazi or Soviet totalitarianism, and who haven't experienced the intimidation and fear felt by their parents and grandparents. Most have access to communication and outside information -- through the Internet, satellite television, cell phones -- that would have been unthinkable during the Cold War.

The West, and especially Western Europe, can and should encourage them. To do so is not difficult, but it does require that we understand what is happening, call things by their real names, and drop any of our remaining illusions about President Putin's intentions in former Soviet territories. Beyond that, all that is needed is a promise -- even an implied promise -- that when the specter of this new iron curtain is removed, Ukraine too will be welcomed by the nations on the other side.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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