November 30, 2004
UKRAINE: 'BRUTALLY FALSIFIED' POLL REVEALS A 'DEEPLY DIVIDED' LAND
** Euro dailies back a new poll to replace the "electoral fraud by devious apparatchiks."
** The "specter of secession" and "civil revolt" raise fears Ukraine could "plunge into anarchy."
** The impasse could "pit Russia against the West."
** Polish, Czech outlets urge the EU to help "pull Ukraine out of Russia's orbit."
'Massive vote tampering'-- Seeing the "sham election" as being "blatantly manipulated," dailies agreed that PM Yanukovych's "kleptocratic" regime used "widespread intimidation and fraud" to steal victory. Russia's business-oriented Kommersant acknowledged that opposition candidate Yushchenko's victory "is becoming more apparent." Given the "major election swindle," Ukraine's pro-opposition Ukrayina Moloda urged the opposition not to "surrender Ukraine to gangsters." Euro writers hoped the country's Supreme Court would approve a "repetition of the election"--Ukraine's "only way out" of the crisis. Holland's influential NRC Handelsblad concluded "there must be new elections following democratic standards."
'Avoid separation and bloodshed'-- Fearing "mass violence," observers noted the danger of a "civil war between East and West" in Ukraine. France's right-of-center Le Figaro warned the "potential for secession exists," which would be a "disaster for political stability" in Europe. Britain's independent Financial Times noted that a "break-up of Ukraine would serve no one's interest," but there was consensus that "there are actually two Ukraines," as Slovakia's left-of-center Pravda put it: the "nationalistic and Russo-phobic" West that backs Yushchenko and the "pro-Russian, industrial, Orthodox" East that backs Yanukovych.
'The Kremlin is losing its vassals'-- Russia's "massive support" for Kiev's "oligarchy" backfired, said writers, citing Putin's "interventionist attitude" as a sign of Moscow's "imperialist stance." Hungary's left-of-center Nepszabadsag described an "ever strengthening and more confident Russia that...would like to rebuild" its empire. Other dailies focused on Russia itself, noting that "only a Russia that is not free and democratic can oppose Ukraine going free and democratic." Leftist papers blasted "the West's long-term strategy of isolating Russia," which according to Kazakhstan's progressive Epokha aims to "ensure that America's interests harmoniously and naturally prevail in the entire post-Soviet space."
A 'baptism of fire' for the EU-- East European papers demanded Brussels show "firmness and unity" in supporting the opposition; Poland's right-of-center Zycie called on the EU to "respect the Ukrainian quest for democracy." Several labeled the crisis a "moment of truth" for the EU, wondering if it will "clearly support democratic forces" or maintain its "lenient position towards Putin." Advising Brussels to "avoid everything that could trigger an ice age with Moscow," Germany's left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau warned supporting Ukrainian EU membership would be "dangerous and stupid." Others countered that Ukrainians "need our help" and dismissed the "feeble protests" of the "European zeros."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORS: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 178 reports from 34 countries over 23 - 30 November 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
UKRAINE: "Talks Needed To End Crisis"
Centrist Den held (11/30): "The authorities and the opposition should hold talks to resolve the current political crisis in Ukraine.... The larger part of the blame for the standoff rests upon the authorities, which ignored public opinion.... Supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, on the other hand, declared their candidate as president in violation of existing legal procedures."
"Opposition Ultimatum Has Run Out"
Pro-opposition Ukrayina Moloda maintained (11/30): "The ultimatum made by the opposition to the authorities on holding talks within a few days has run out.... Despite the creation of groups which are meant to hold talks, the groups have held no talks since meeting on Saturday, 27 November. The opposition says the runoff was falsified and wants the authorities to admit this and hold a new runoff.... It concludes that the authorities are dragging things out and President Kuchma is at a loss as he does not know what to do."
"Secessionist Sentiment Gains Momentum"
Centrist Den declared (11/30): "Calls for separatism may soon become something more than a political technique used in the wake of the bitterly contested presidential election in Ukraine.... It looks at sentiment in different parts of Ukraine, where rallies and official meetings have been taking place to condemn or support either of the two presidential candidates."
Serhiy Rakhmanin noted in Kiev-based independent Russian-language weekly Zerkalo Nedeli (11/27): "As for the driving forces of the 'orange revolution' which...is currently under way in Ukraine...Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko enjoys unprecedented popular support and will have to work hard to deliver on his electoral promises.... The ongoing mass protest shows that the Ukrainian nation has been formed. The opposition did not expect that so many people would by ready to arise to defend their political choice."
"Revolution In The Minds Of The People"
Centrist Den commented (11/25): "The very fact that, despite the social tension, not a single drop of blood has been shed in our country and, most importantly, in the capital, is proof that a revolution has occurred in Ukraine. It is a revolution in the minds of the people, who have realized that democracy is in their hands and that it is Ukrainian citizens who are the source and the driving force of a civil society being built in this country."
Addressing Viktor Yushchenko, Family Minister Valentyna Dovzhenko wrote in pro-government daily Fakty I Kommentarii (11/25): "Fulfilling the will and requests by thousands of mothers, I call on you not to involve our children in cruel political games! It is impermissible for our children to be held hostage to political intrigues, which have already led to heightened tension in society. Along with a large group of female leaders of civic organizations, I favor negotiations. So as not to be accused of abusing the machinery of government I am ready to step down as a minister for the sake of peace and stability. Act like a man."
"Freedom Can't Be Stopped"
Pro-opposition newspaper Vecherniye Vesti remarked (11/25): "Students are freedom-loving people who do not tolerate encroachment on their rights and freedoms. It is rather difficult to call them bastards. It is even more difficult to dictate to students or intimidate them. Ukrainian students have proven this by declaring an indefinite student strike called 'Freedom cannot be stopped'."
Pro-opposition Ukrayina Moloda held (11/25): "Parliament failed to adopt any decision on the post-election situation the day before yesterday. Thus, just as opposition representatives stated...the only source of power in this case is the people. The people gathered en masse outside the presidential administration. They recognize Viktor Yushchenko as their president and wish to secure a foothold for his rule in this country."
Centrist Den observed (11/25): "Millions of people feel that they have been cheated. Residents of Kiev and many other Ukrainian cities are indignant and uncompromising. This sentiment was brewing deep inside long before the presidential election campaign started. What we are seeing in Kiev now is the energy of civic humiliation and popular distrust of the authorities accumulated over decades."
"We Must Not Surrender Ukraine To Gangsters"
Pro-opposition Ukrayina Moloda insisted (11/23): "Ukraine is being sucked into an extremely serious political crisis. And the future of Ukraine as a country depends on whether it will be solved.... A substantial part of the country does not trust the Central Electoral Commission, and Ukrainian pollsters are all but discredited.... There is no doubt that the argument over the outcome of the election will be taken to court."
"A Coup Attempt"
Centrist Den declared (11/23): "The opposition's calls for protests can be seen as a coup attempt.... If they are not happy with the outcome of the vote, let them appeal against it through the Ukrainian and European courts."
Pro-government Kiyevskiye Vedomosti held (11/23): "De facto, the country has already got a new president, even though the final results have yet to be announced. We'd like to believe that the country has received a powerful new impetus to move forward.
Pro-government Segodnya noted (11/23): "There has never been such an acute political struggle in Ukraine. The elections are truly fateful. In the view of many political analysts, the citizens of the republic, in choosing between Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, have, amongst other things, also chosen the orientation they prefer--towards Russia or towards the West."
BRITAIN: "Ukraine On A Knife-edge"
An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph read (11/30): "After nine cold days on the streets of Kiev, the demonstrators maintain their psychological advantage but, despite the parliamentary vote and hints of compromise from their opponents, have yet to reverse a single fraudulent result, let alone the entire exercise. As the plaintiffs in this prolonged struggle, they have to maintain the initiative over defendants who, with the official result in their pocket, are waiting for the protesters' will to flag."
"The Old Bear Is Stirring Again In Ukraine, And It's Wearing Putin's Face"
Michael Gove commented in the conservative Times (11/30): "The battle in the Ukraine is therefore crucial for the prestige, power and above all, ideology, of Putin's leadership. If Western liberalism can be beaten back, or contained there, then he will be strengthened not just in his influence over a key neighbour but also in his belief that Russia can maintain a viable, non-Western, alternative path of development."
"Spectre Of A Split"
The independent Financial Times editorialized (11/30): "A break-up of Ukraine would serve no one's interest. Quite apart from seeing a dozen years of state-building go down the drain, Ukraine as an economic entity has just started to work, with double-digit growth this year. President Vladimir Putin might feel briefly flattered if Russian-speaking malcontents in eastern Ukraine opted to secede or join Russia. But, despite his record of exploiting the grievances of Russophones in Georgia and Moldova, he would be mad to want to see yet another statelet sprout up with a possible claim on Russia's resources and help."
"Practice Makes Perfect"
The conservative Times argued (11/26): "The solution...is to re-run the election. This, rather than instant appointment, is what Mr. Yushchenko should be asking of Ukraine's Supreme Court.... A fresh election would have to be subject to unforgiving scrutiny from Eastern, Western and Ukrainian observers, and its winner would have to recognize the dangerous divisions in his country. But with a truly democratic mandate he would have a better chance than anyone of healing them."
"The Dangers Of Dealing With The Russian Mephistopheles"
Philip Stephens commented in the independent Financial Times (11/26): "Somewhere along the way the strategic ambition to support and entrench Russian democracy has been discarded. Maybe events in Ukraine will change things. I hope so. But I am not optimistic. The other day someone reminded me that two years from now it will fall to Russia to chair the Group of Eight nations. This elite club used to go by the name of the world's leading democracies. I suppose there is time enough to find another epithet before Mr. Putin takes his turn."
"Is The Future Orange?"
The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (11/26): "What is certain is that the evidence of electoral fraud by devious apparatchiks--on a scale far beyond the hanging chads cited by critics of American democracy--seems so overwhelming that the result must be reviewed. Ukraine's supreme court is the right place to start that process."
"Ukraine's Stolen Poll"
The conservative Daily Telegraph opined (11/24): "At stake is the future of a country that straddles Europe's political fault line. Mr. Yanukovich, who has promised to make Russian a second state language and allow dual citizenship, would turn back towards Moscow. Mr. Yushchenko, while acknowledging the importance of links with Russia, favours gradual integration with the West. During the campaign and since, Vladimir Putin has played the neo-imperialist, visiting Ukraine twice before Sunday to endorse Mr. Yanukovich and phoning him from Brazil on Monday to offer congratulations on winning what he absurdly described as an 'open and honest' election."
"It's Our Cause Too"
The left-of-center Guardian declared (11/24): "At a time of mounting concern about the authoritarian turn being taken by Vladimir Putin, this is extremely worrying. If Ukraine remains unfree, what hope can there be for far smaller Belarus and Moldova? New eastern members of the EU such as Poland and Lithuania are deeply unhappy, as are Sweden and other near neighbours. Ukrainians must find their own peaceful solution--but western democracies must be fully supportive and not retreat into a cold-war shell."
"However Crooked The Elections Have Been, Big Brother In The East Still Calls The Tune"
Giles Whittell commented in the conservative Times (11/24): "Moscow is entitled to strenuous assurances from NATO that its inexorable drift towards Smolensk is a peaceable one. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine are equally entitled to scrupulous respect from Kiev for their human rights. But if Mr. Putin's meddling in this election has truly been driven by concerns for Russian national security, it betrays a worrying paranoia; and if it is a reflection of his own lack of esteem for free and fair elections, the prospects for Russian democracy are bleak indeed."
"Europe's Faultline: Ukraine's Flawed Election Could Cause Wider Turmoil"
An editorial in the conservative Times read (11/23): "An increasingly assertive Russia, suspicious of NATO and EU enlargement, sees Ukraine as integral to its attempt to create a cordon sanitaire. President Putin used two recent visits to intervene shamelessly in support of Mr. Yanukovich. His opponent, by contrast, wants to pull Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and open it up to the West. Europe's support has been almost as partisan: Bernard Bot, the Dutch Foreign Minister, speaking for the EU, expressed hopes that Mr. Yushchenko would win. President Bush said America would review relations, and aid, if the vote were unfair. With so much at stake, the Opposition should remain, for now, on the moral high ground. and Moscow must understand that the world is watching."
"The Real Viktor: Yushchenko Is Right To Contest Ukraine's Rigged Poll Result"
The independent Financial Times opined (11/23): "The Ukrainian presidential election has fulfilled the worst fears of those who predicted it would be undermined by widespread intimidation and fraud. The authorities have bent every rule to fix the results in favour of their candidate, prime minister Viktor Yanukovich.... Millions showed they want political freedom. Millions more would have done the same, had their minds not been twisted by fear and media manipulation. The authorities must now accept Mr. Yushchenko's demands for a fair legal review of the election result."
FRANCE: "For A Unified Ukraine"
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (11/30): “Europeanization, which is the continental version of globalization, is both a source of attraction and fear. Ukraine is experiencing an indecision which could turn out to be tragic if, torn as it is between its contradictions, it were to be partitioned.”
"The Threat Of Civil War"
Laure Mandeville observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/29): “Will the democratic revolution in Ukraine triumph, or will a civil war between East and West erupt, with the encouragement of the Kremlin? The Supreme Court is under pressure, but the traditional control of the executive over the judicial leaves much doubt about the outcome.... Meanwhile the potential for secession exists considering the country’s history...and the fact that Moscow is fueling the fires.... The West, and France in particular, need to play a role in order to counter this slide towards Moscow and its imperialist stance.”
Michel Schifres held in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/26): “Putin’s humor is very special.... For him the elections in Ukraine are transparent.... The Kremlin has a very special idea of democracy, founded on a simple principle: it must agree with its ideas. It was no surprise then that the meeting in The Hague between the EU and Russia was a deaf-mute dialogue.... For the first time Putin is isolated, under suspicion and denounced...even if there is a distinction in how the Old Europe and the New Europe treat him. The New Europe has few illusions about Russia’s strategy. It appreciates America’s firm approach and is upset about Old Europe’s tepid reaction, which is at times compared to cowardice.... One thing is certain: we cannot underestimate the consequences of the ‘orange revolution.’ What can Europe do: it could at least explain to Putin that democracy is respecting a people’s struggle for its own destiny.”
Jean-Christophe Ploquin noted in Catholic La Croix (11/26): “For former Soviet nations, Russia is a threat. For France, Great Britain and Germany, Russia is a necessary interlocutor.... The EU-Russia summit in The Hague has pitted against one another two political entities which are very different and whose trajectories may be completely at odds.... The EU is a group of nations whose peaceful expansion is based on the economy and on democracy. Russia is a former military empire whose confines continue to be eroded. Under these circumstances, the crisis in Ukraine is one more subject of misunderstanding between the two.”
"Baptism Of Fire"
Gerard Dupuy contended in left-of-center Liberation (11/24): “Beyond the democratic future of the Ukrainians, what is at stake in Kiev is the type of relations that the Europeans will be able to develop with their Russian neighbor. For the newly enlarged Europe, this is a baptism of fire which will need to happen sooner or later. Europe must refuse to let itself be intimidated by Yanukovich’s mentor and quickly announce the sanctions it will impose if he wins. The Ukrainians need our help. And all is not lost: Putin has reacted angrily to Europe’s indignation, but he has also retracted his previous support to those who stole the election.”
"The People And The Empire"
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (11/24): “The Soviet empire has not said its last word.... Moscow remains the geo-strategic epicenter of an entire region. The tragic and uncertain events unfolding in Ukraine bring to mind other similar and distant events...in Poland, East Germany, Hungary and closer in time, Serbia.... In all instances there are always politicians, media outlets and police factions ready to deny the evidence and shamelessly rob the people of their clearly stated desires. What is most troubling in Ukraine is what has been revealed about the power in Russia and satellite nations. By supporting men who are either corrupt or mere puppets, Putin is proving that he has not lost all the old reflexes of his former Soviet days. If the goal is to establish in Ukraine, at the western extremes of Europe, a buffer nation between Russia and democracy, we need to show our concern both for democracy and for Ukraine, and for Russia. This would mean that Putin is still the heir to an empire in search of a future.”
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (11/23): “It is time for Ukraine to be freed from its corrupt regime.... But after the electoral fraud, it may also be time for repression.... There is no doubt that there was fraud and manipulation.... But Ukraine remains a divided nation, one pro-Russian, the other pro-West.... The regime knows it can count on Putin’s unconditional support. Meanwhile, the West is saying it is 'preoccupied’ with the results. But unfortunately they are less concerned with electoral fraud than with the fear of seeing Ukraine plunge into anarchy. Of even greater concern should be Putin’s interventionist attitude. To sacrifice Ukraine and its democratic aspirations for fear of upsetting Russia is a sure way of pushing Russia towards its natural imperialist leanings.”
Pierre Rousselin held in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/23): “Ukraine is in danger.... In 2003, the Kremlin had to give in in Georgia. It is not certain that this time it will do the same.... For Moscow, these elections are considered a national issue. For Putin, losing would mean a personal affront.... Faced with the rising danger in Ukraine, Moscow should pay attention. Ukraine is much too close to Russia for Putin to be able to impose his imperial hold without paying the consequences. An independent Ukraine is the interest of both Russia and Europe.”
GERMANY: "A New Start"
Frank Nienhuysen observed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/30): "A presidential candidate who must fear his own people has lost his legitimacy. He does not recommend himself as holder of the state's most senior office, regardless of the Supreme Court ruling. The recent days showed that Yanukovich is a divider, but the country needs a unifier. There are too many rifts; it is time for starting a peaceful epoch. This beginning can only work after a repetition of the election--not just a partial repletion as Yanukovich is considering it."
"Ukraine And Europe"
Katja Ridderbusch stated in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/30): "The longer this strange standstill lasts the more looming is the country's divide. Europe has realized too late what a glance at the map tells us: Ukraine is a neighbor of the new and enlarged EU, bordering with three member states. It has taken Brussels two ballots to react to the fraud. However, the message is clear and right: The elections were undemocratic and the EU cannot accept the results. But the EU must accept the accusation that it caused a vacuum by hardly engaging in the new neighboring country before. This is one reason why time is running against the opposition. The longer the conflict lasts the more powerful become the forces which want to bind the country closer to Russia.... The EU must resist replying Moscow's policy with the same weapons, thinking in geo-strategic categories of influence and interest. It must also resist replying to the ever-louder calls for a Ukrainian EU entry. Whatever we think about a Ukrainian EU membership, in this time of crisis it would be a wrong offer. It is in the hands of the EU to prevent that the conflict in Kiev escalates into proxy war. The EU must insist on democratic elections--and must accept the winner, whoever it will be."
"Test Run Ukraine"
Martin Winter noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/30): "The EU is in a Ukrainian fix. There would be no doubt about the right policy if it were about a falsified election in a mediocre country. But behind Ukraine lies Russia, a wounded superpower with nuclear bombs and many resources. It is an unstable country, whose democratic course is wobbly and which might plunge into chaos or dictatorship. Europeans have an existential interest in this neighbor becoming stable, predictable and reliable. Their own internal and external safety as well as their economic future depends on it.... It can be a matter of debate whether Putin is the right partner, but Europeans will not get a better Russian leader. They must not butter him up, but to weaken him would be playing with fire.... But the EU must get involved to keep a balance between its democratic values and power interests. It must avoid everything that could trigger an ice age with Moscow. Suggesting a possible EU entry to Ukraine...is dangerous and stupid. It is dangerous because it fuels the Russian suspicion that the West also wants to integrate this country, which some Russians see as the core land of the Russian nation.... It is stupid because it lacks any realistic foundation. Apart from Poland, no one in the EU is willing the make Ukraine a EU candidate."
"The Eastern Ukrainians' Trauma"
Roland Heine observed in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (11/29): "The West likes to ignore that millions of Ukrainians reject the opposition leader Yushchenko, because they fear that he will steer the country away from Russia. Many eastern Ukrainians of Russian origin still suffer from the trauma of torn apart families, cut off economic relations and the loss of many jobs as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991/92 when a new border was established. Regardless of the question whether the elections were manipulated, millions of people want Yanukovich as president. The West's massive support for Yushchenko confirms their fears. It is disturbing that even German politicians, who were not bothered about Europe's second largest country in the past, are now fueling the current conflict. Ukraine is divided in two almost similarly large camps. That is not new, but recent governments managed to avoid a crash by keeping a political balance. Those who do not take this into account risk a destabilization of the country. There will be no reforms under these conditions."
Daniel Riegger argued in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/29): "If Yushchenko wants to further mobilize his followers he must think about new initiatives. But any increase of actions might result in an escalation. It is clear that there must not be a long-drawn-out affair in Kiev. A repetition of the runoff election is the only way out. To do this the wrong registrations must be checked and corrected. That takes time, time in which the EU must not stop its efforts to defuse the conflict by diplomacy and its presence."
"Gambling For Time"
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine editorialized (11/29): "The incumbent Ukrainian President Kuchma complains that Yushchenko lacks good will to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. This allegation comes out of the mouth of the most senior election fraudster. By talking about finding a compromise, Kuchma touches the opposition's weak spot. Yushchenko's strength are the protesting people, who see him as the man who can put an end to the oligarchy's corruption. He must not halt the people's momentum if he wants to win the power struggle. His leeway for negotiations is therefore limited. Yushchenko must set deadlines for the other side, because the demonstrations will not go on forever. Kuchma and Yanukovich know that. Thus, they gamble for time and are interested in negotiations. The risk is that this damages Yushchenko's integrity."
"Looking For The Right Approach"
Christoph von Marschall argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/30): "In its current situation the opposition needs support from outside. It would be good if one western representative a day traveled to Kiev. And if the German chancellor believes he must take Putin into consideration, he should at least grant freedom of speech to his ministers, to the foreign minister in particular."
"New Elections At Last"
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg concluded (11/30): "The opposition now needs equal and fair foundations for its election campaign. The dirty and brutal methods of the first election campaign can be best read in the face of Yushchenko, who was mysteriously poisoned. The calls for separation from eastern Ukraine should not be overestimated. The Ukraine is not threatened of being divided. Let's hope that the Supreme Court will also follow the call for new elections. The OSCE and the European Council should commit themselves more intensely and send election observers across the country. Ukraine was only erratically on Europe's radar in recent years--that was a mistake. This policy can now be reversed and the country can be supported in its strive for democracy."
"Question Of Credibility"
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg noted (11/29): "Not just Ukrainians, but also Europeans and Russians could enormously benefit if the great country of 50 million people accomplished political freedom and advanced closer to Europe. This would also make the country economically more successful. The opposite is only attractive to some Moscow apparatchiks, who want to keep a part of the former Soviet Union under Russia's sphere of authoritarian influence. Supporting the Ukrainian movement for democracy is first of all a question of credibility. There can be no doubt about the U.S. stance on the conflict. It would be a totally wrong message if Europe now failed the protesters out of consideration for Russia. This would discredit Europeans in the region for a long time. In the long run, it is important to offer Ukraine a European prospect."
"The Freedom Of Europeans"
Berthold Kohler commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/26): "Eastern Europe, the EU's stepchild for a long time, is just making decisions about the future of the whole continent. There, freedom and the right of self-determination are at stake for all Europeans and not just for Ukrainians. The frontier of 'unfreedom' is moving westwards again--which worries new EU members in particular. Governments of the old EU countries, including Germany's leaders, are still reluctant to realize that Russia under Putin is not going where one would like to see it. It is time to make clear to Putin that oil and gas are not the West's highest values. The Russian president has also an interest in thriving political and economic relations. The EU must explain its terms and conditions of trading to Putin."
"Democracy As Model"
Stefan Kornelius observed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/26): "When U.S. President Reagan called for tearing down the Berlin Wall in 1987, many in the West thought this was too emotional. But skeptics had to realize after the fall of the wall that his speech motivated regime critics in East Germany. The West learned about revolutionary reaction chains, but it still underestimates the powerful effects freedom has on oppressed people. This can be seen across the world; in China, Iran, Russia and Ukraine--democracy is desirable and a group of democratic states like the EU as a prosperous region is even more attractive. The EU would play a strong and protective role if it stood by the people who take to the streets of Kiev, calling for freedom. These people have a good sense for honesty. When Secretary Powell says without mincing his words that his country will not accept the elections, because they did not met democratic standards, then these people feel encouraged to take to the streets a few more nights. But when Chancellor Schroeder ambiguously warns against an escalation and describes Putin as a crystal-clear democrat, then true democrats in Kiev lose their faith in democracy. Revolutions mark histories of countries. Schroeder and the EU have the opportunity to mark the revolution in Ukraine. They should use all their means to influence Moscow."
"Leaving The Past Behind"
Michael Ludwig observed in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/24): "Even if it were not established this time, democracy is advancing in Ukraine, because the election fraud revealed the real nature of the Kuchma regime, which wanted to continue its course by the nomination of Yanukovich as Kuchma's successor. Strategists planned the elections as an acclamation, and the leadership and Russian advisers believed the people would simply buy this. They were wrong.... The events in Kiev should make clear to everybody in Western Europe that a large majority of the people is about to leave behind its Soviet past and is fighting for values we usually praise in turgid speeches. Ukrainians do that for themselves and not because they have their eyes on Brussels's breadbaskets.... The Ukrainian opposition pins its hopes on the international community, especially on America and Germany. Americans have openly criticized Russia's interference in the election campaign, they were the first to say frankly that they believe the presidential election was a joke and they called for a recount.... An important side effect of the Ukrainian uproar against the demanded sheepishness is that it could become a signal for the post Soviet region: Democracy is not just possible in the Baltic states. This could open the eyes of lethargic Russians. The allegedly small and incompetent brother is able to advance change started 13 years ago."
Christoph von Marschall stated in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/24): "These are great moments of mankind when people rebel against barefaced manipulation, showing their desire for freedom and self-determination. These are also great and glory words that could be erased by bloodshed. But for the time being, Ukrainians have found the courage to take their fate into their own hands. This revolution comes late, compared to those in neighboring countries. Ukrainians did not know any sovereignty for centuries and struggled to create elites. Its name tells us that it always existed 'at the border' between East and West.... Ukraine cannot completely go for the West--but the East is not good enough either.... In addition, there is a conflict between the Catholic western Ukraine and the orthodox eastern Ukraine, which is tending towards Russia.... The Ukraine faces difficult years even if the people will overcome dictatorship. The great feeling of a revolution will soon result in disappointment."
Frank Nienhuysen asserted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/24): "Without any doubt, Russia is an important partner of the West. Its reservoir of resources is massive and the Russian market has great potential in the future. Moscow's veto right at the UNSC is still a power factor and the country's culture is rich. This justifies good relations, but only as far as it is possible. The example of Ukraine shows where the limits are. Russia is not ready to allow the country to drop out of its sphere of influence and to accept the will of the majority of people. The highest priority of Russia's foreign policy is a ruthless pursuit of national interests and the desire to return as a political superpower.... Putin should learn a lesson from the Ukrainian elections. People in other countries are not striving for his 'guided democracy.' He should redefine his goals: A liberal and open Russia might be able to attract more states in the eastern hemisphere than an authoritarian Russia. And the West would have no reason for mistrusting Russia."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/23): "Europe's capitals--which, contrary to Washington, have not been very vigilant and sensitive in this case in the past--should carefully observe whether the Ukrainian election is not part of broader process to restore Moscow as central power. Europeans should care about the situation in this large country; whether democracy and the free market economy are making progress or whether the country gives in voluntarily to Russia. That is the reason why so many former Soviet states, which are not yet certain about their integrity and which have seen enough of Russia's destabilization policy, have so closely watched the events in Kiev. If Yushchenko had won, Moscow would have had to say farewell to its neo-imperialistic plans (or fantasies)."
Thomas Urban observed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/23): "The democratization of Ukraine cannot succeed without the support of the West--from Washington, Brussels and Berlin as well. Western governments have many means to exert pressure on Kiev's Communist leadership, because it does not want to rely completely on the Kremlin.... We are now all very keen to see how Chancellor Schroeder reacts to the election results, since his friend Putin--who Schroeder seriously believes to be on the path to democracy--massively supported Yanukovich and Russian observers said the election was free and fair. Neither Berlin nor Brussels have comprehensive policies for Ukraine, although the democratization of the former Soviet republic is very much in the West's interest. Otherwise the country would return to Moscow's sphere of power, and the new beginning of a Russian empire would not be democratic."
Gerhard Gnauck noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/23): "The belated Ukrainian nation is awakening. Five years ago, the now developed civic structures and European identity in Ukraine would have been beyond belief. How will Germany and Europe reply? One should tell the truth: While Europe pursued a bold and open policy towards Turkey, Brussels has given Ukraine, which has never talked of a quick entry but wanted a EU association treaty, a cold shoulder for years. Brussels has thus discouraged reformers and contributed its bit to Yanukovich's verbal attacks on the EU during the election campaign. And Russian President Putin, who went to Ukraine twice as an election assistant, welcomed these slogans. That would be a nice issue for the next talks between Putin and Schroeder."
"Nothing Remains As It Is"
Claudia von Salzen argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/23): "There can be no talk of fair and democratic elections. Will the authoritarian Yanukovich replace the authoritarian Kuchma? Will everything remain the same in Ukraine? That will also depend on the opposition's reaction and the West's reply.... There are indications that the opposition will not accept Yanukovich's victory. Tens of thousands took to the streets. The pictures remind us of Georgia in 2003, where falsified elections resulted in mass protests.... Yushchenko is also able to mobilize tens of thousands, but we should keep in mind that there was no guaranty for a peaceful end of the Georgian revolution.... Troops have already been assembled around Kiev. If the opposition becomes serious and the regime does not give in, it could result in chaos or even civil war.... Of course, diplomats cannot put a stop to chaos in the streets, but they can make clear to the Ukrainian leadership under which criteria the EU would cooperate in the future and which standards Ukraine must comply with. The EU must also consider whether it can accept this unfair election."
"In Russia's Shadow"
Markus Ziener wrote in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (11/23): "Two days after the presidential run-off in Ukraine, the country is confronted with its greatest democratic litmus test in its young post-Soviet history. Not just the results, but also the procedures of the elections are decisive for Ukraine's future course. If the election results are dubious, ballots must be recounted or cast again. That would be the democratic approach. Ukraine as well must respect this yardstick of a democracy.... In the past, Ukraine was often ignored in consideration for the great neighbor Russia. If this happens again and the reformers fail, the West should not shed crocodile tears. The West would bear responsibility for this failure, because it often means Russia when it says Ukraine."
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg stated (11/23): "It is right that the U.S. and EU criticism was harsher this time. Brussels demanded that the ballots must be recounted and the influential U.S. Sen. Lugar even described the procedures of the regime as 'concerted fraud'. It would be a mistake to get back to the normal agenda after this assessment. The Ukrainian voters were apparently cheated out of their will and must not be let alone. There are enough means to exert pressure: Ukraine needs the European market and wants to become a WTO member. A democratic development must be the condition for it."
ITALY: "Democracy And Unity, But No Blackmail"
An editorial in elite center-left Il Riformista read (11/30): "What’s at stake in Kiev?.... European intellectuals respond, ‘At stake is whether we want a democratic state...or a corrupt, authoritarian state bordering on Europe.’ And they urged the EU...to support (pro-West candidate Victor) Yuschenko. We of Il Riformista have stated from the beginning that elections had to be repeated, and expressed our preference for the pro-West candidate.... Whoever wins (and we hope Yuschenko) should immediately make a pact with his constituency to avoid a violent solution or development that could put the security of the entire continent at risk. And this would not mean to give in to Russia, but instead, to prevent any limitation to sovereignty. Europe should be well committed in this respect, by offering Ukraine a safe harbor, thus putting on ice any Russian revanchism.”
"Ukraine, The Real Loser Is Putin"
Fernando Mezzetti opined in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (11/29): “Regardless of who is elected in Ukraine, he will not be able to adopt an anti-Russian policy, due to the international balance and Ukraine’s energy dependence on Russia; but Putin is the loser because even if his man was elected, he would not be subservient to Moscow given the fact that the entire world would be watching and the defiance of half the country capable of making itself heard. With his unscrupulous games, Putin has provoked division in Ukraine, stirring internal tensions. Europe is the only one that can help quell this tension.”
"The New Frontier That Divides Russia And America"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli commented in pro-government leading center-right Il Giornale (11/27): “The latest declarations coming from Moscow seem to revive the echo of the Cold War decades. They were strong, although certainly not wise words, but perhaps words that Putin could not do without. Between the United States and certain EU countries a sort of contest taking place between ... to see who is more obstinate. This could be beneficial if it promptly produces significant pressure towards an optimal solution of the showdown in Kiev; on the contrary, it could be damaging for everyone.”
"The Two Ukraines"
Enzo Bettiza wrote in centrist, influential La Stampa (11/27): “The impression is that the mass of pro-westerners who voted for the self-proclaimed President Yushenko is the country’s net majority...while it waits for the West to do its part and for the peaceful revolt to end on the threshold of a violent insurrection. But will the West, both American and European, be able to go beyond a verbal reprimand in the era of Islamic terrorism and run the risk of returning to the Cold War with Russia as its ally in the fight against terrorism? The Bush II Administration is particularly ambivalent towards Moscow. Ukraine...is a European hot potato that Washington will ultimately leave on the already crowded table of the 25 EU countries. In the global calculations of the Americans, who are completely involved in an Iraqi exit strategy, their realistic relationship with Moscow counts much more than their differences over Kiev.”
"Mission Impossible For Condi To Export Democracy To Kiev"
Lucia Annunziata wrote in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (11/25): “Now that U.S. elections are over, and the ones in Ukraine have taken place, for European observers, and not only Americans...the question is restated. What are strong measures? Sanctions? Trade embargos? Severing of diplomatic relations? And then? It’s certainly inconceivable that the transit of Russian gas and oil through Ukraine could be interrupted. Therefore, America will just have to take it. An agreement will be necessary: the opening of a new Cold War frontier...or a mini-Yalta as experts suggest. It would be ironic if her first crisis were to demonstrate to Condoleezza Rice that after all democracy cannot be exported.”
"But Bush Doesn’t Change Course"
Boris Biancheri noted in centrist, influential La Stampa (11/25): “Powell’s statement on the crisis in Ukraine, that Washington doesn’t recognize President Yanukovych and that, despite the verdict of the electoral commission, the elections cannot be considered valid, is a strong declaration, but in a certain sense it was obligatory. Following criticism from a large part of the world, and above all from Europe, it would have been difficult for the White House to remain silent on Kiev. But it’s also unlikely that this will cause Bush to reconsider his attitude toward Russia, due to an interest in cooperating with Moscow on terrorism, as well as because...it is it not easy to carry out concrete interventions.”
"Putin’s Game With The West"
Sandro Viola asserted in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/24): “It happened earlier than expected. Russia and Europe, but also...Russia and America have diverging positions. The rapprochement between Moscow and the West, which began during Gorbachev’s years...is beginning to show its first cracks. The serious unrest in Kiev and the divisions over the results of the...presidential elections bring to light that Moscow and western capitals still maintain different views and interests on many key issues.... At this point, we must not look so much to Kiev, but to Moscow and to western governments. If in Washington above all, but also in Paris and Berlin, the idea prevails of not pushing...Putin’s Moscow, then Moscow’s candidate will emerge the victor and in Ukraine democracy will continue on hold. But if Poland and the Baltics should urge the EU and America to assume a more rigid position, the international scene in the coming weeks will be extremely tense.”
"Bush II’s First Test"
Ugo Tramballi stated in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (11/24): “Kiev’s fraudulent elections will affect the future of 40 million Ukrainians. But they will affect Russia as well: if the fraud succeeds, the old power will be re-established as before, on the basis of deceiving and forcibly co-opting its subjects. If it fails, then Russia will understand that its future lies in its potential as a great country...and not in the old system of Soviet power that steals elections like Stalin used to do. This is the first emergency in the new mandate of George Bush, more critical than elections in Baghdad. It will be even more difficult to speak to Iraqis about democracy if a new satrap is established in the center of Europe.”
"Electoral ‘Fraud’, And Kiev Takes To The Streets"
Leonardo Maisano said in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (11/23): “An undecided Ukraine...that for years has strained its neck looking in one direction and then another, finally decided to make up its mind on Sunday. It wanted to be part of the West with NATO and perhaps even with the EU. This is what Viktor Yuschenko promised and continues to promise. Viktor Yanukovich--if he is proclaimed the official winner--will take it toward Moscow. For those who still haven’t caught on, they’re playing a game of the old regime; they’re all busy imitating the Cold War. Russia vs. Europe-America, not only in terms of ideology, but also in terms of freedom.”
"Ukraine, Clash Over The Elections"
Giampaolo Visetti noted in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/22): “It’s clear that an era has ended, that Leonid Kuchma’s time is over, that the Ukrainians have decided to embrace freedom and democracy.... The fact that Kiev is celebrating Yushenko’s victory before the results are in is a tough blow for Putin. Moscow comes out defeated as well: something important is happening in former Soviet areas--Georgia, the Caucasus, Ukraine: the flight of a collapsed empire towards the EU market and the distant security offered by the U.S. Yushenko is looking westward. Starting today the challenge will be to understand what the Kremlin, which is forced to look eastward, will do.”
RUSSIA: "Ukraine Destined To Get On With Russia"
Aleksey Pankin opined in reformist Izvestiya (11/30): "It is hard to find another country destined to get on with Russia...as much as Ukraine is. Good relations with Russia are a must for any Ukrainian Administration, no matter what its political leanings, if it is to be a success. In that sense, Russia should not have cared who wins the elections. All we needed to do was show good will and respect for Ukraine as a sovereign state, even if we had to play hardball to secure our interests. Russia's chief mistake was not that it made the wrong bet, but that it made a bet at all and, even worse, tried to help it win. Even admitting that we were not alone to trigger the avalanche, the Ukrainians and the rest of the world will take us as a 'combatant.' In other words, we have disqualified ourselves as a neutral mediator, a highly rewarding job under the circumstances. Now it has gone to others."
"The Moment Of The Truth"
Viktor Konstantinov argued in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (11/30): "Clearly, the U.S. and EU, for all their economic contradictions and political differences, pursue a concerted policy to gradually oust Russia from former Soviet republics. Beginning in the late 1980s, many of our politicians were eager to see the U.S. as an equal partner working together with Russia to meet new challenges to the international community. But our traditional political rival wanted no other nuclear superpower, communist, monarchist or democratic. So it 'helped' the Soviet Union to die quietly. Hardly any of the key players in the West or East would like Russia to regain its geopolitical position and great power status. The current events in Ukraine mark the moment of the truth, as the historical respite Russia got at the beginning of the new millennium has come to an end. The political elites in the Western world are no devil incarnate, of course. It is just that, in their policies, they proceed from their countries' interests.... It is vital that Russia safeguards a friendly surrounding in what used to be the USSR. The battle of Ukraine, in which it is up to its own people what future they choose for themselves, may be decisive for Russia, too."
"Going Down The Road Of Ruination"
Yekaterina Pol'guyeva insisted in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (11/30): "Even if Kuchma does not fire the Prime Minister and the leaders of eastern provinces, as demanded by the opposition, you can be sure that Yanukovich is no longer under Kuchma's patronage. Thus, the Prime Minister has only two options open to him: one, he can become an independent political figure expressing the aspirations of his electorate and, two, he can continue looking to the top political leadership and the oligarchic clans behind it for instructions.... There are two things that meet the eye as you watch the situation in Ukraine. The first thing is that the opposition completely ignores the opinions and interests of the working people. The second is Russia's role in the ongoing events. Practically everyone agrees that the West, primarily the U.S., has been heavily involved in the internal affairs of sovereign Ukraine. Russia, too, intervened initially, doing this clumsily, sometimes in a way that was insulting to the Ukrainians. But when bad came to worse, and there was a need for Russia to protect Ukraine's interests, as well as its own, the Kremlin kept mum. It is unclear whether President Putin still recognizes Yanukovich as an elected President and what he thinks of Ukraine's eastern and southern provinces seeking Russian patronage. Most likely, we will hear more of 'respect for territorial integrity and the choice of the Ukrainian people.'"
"Russia, EU, The U.S. Didn't Cause Crisis"
Leonid Radzikhovskiy said in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (11/30): "In fighting for power, the contenders have all but ruined Ukraine. Russia, the EU and the United States, with all their PR agents, are not to blame for the crisis--there were serious internal reasons for it inside the country. But Russia, the EU and the United States need to solve it."
"Much Of It Is Kuchma's Doing"
Vitaliy Panov pointed out in official parliament-run Parlamentskaya Gazeta (11/30): "Of course, one can understand Kuchma, who has only recently called peace and stability the main accomplishment of his 10-year rule. As things are going, his dream of himself leaving his post, as a wise 'father of the nation,' may not come true. Apparently, what is going on is largely his doing."
Business-oriented Vedomosti declared (11/29): "Russia's political strategists...claim a devious conspiracy and the game of geopolitics (as a reason for what is going on), while their own policy in Ukraine has really been inept and myopic. They are in a dead-end, their country's image, dented as it is, impaired even more. Committed to one side, Russia can't act as an arbiter, and there is no way for it to get out of the game gracefully. At least, it can try and get back on the constructive track and help arrange fair elections."
"Parliamentary Republic Is Answer To Problem"
Andrey Ryabov noted in reformist Gazeta (11/29): "The events in Ukraine show that, with a presidential type of government, presidential elections in a politically divided society is a great risk in terms of stability. It is not fortuitous that, even before the vote, many Ukrainian politicians and experts, speaking of the possibility of a split, called for constitutional reform, insisting on a more flexible presidential-parliamentary type of government or a parliamentary republic. The post-vote political crisis has proven them right."
Stanislav Belkovskiy stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/29): "What has happened in Ukraine is a revolution. One has to admit that, regardless of one's attitude toward revolutions, in general, and the Ukrainian revolution, in particular. The Russian political elite, used to live with the stereotypes of its own making, has yet to realize it. Statements like what has happened in Kiev is a paid take-over staged by PR agents have nothing to do with reality. Hundreds of thousands of people did not take to the streets for money. Nor did they do it because they liked Viktor Yushchenko so much. It is just that they knew that they would be defrauded. A revolution was inevitable because the old system of government had exhausted itself.... Viktor Yanukovich is a guinea pig picked to demonstrate the omnipotence of the Russian PR machine. The plan did not work, though. In fact, it, in large measure, contributed to Viktor Yushchenko's success."
"A Union Of Pariah States"
Semen Novoprudskiy wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey (11/29): "Whatever the outcome of the Ukrainian stand-off, Moscow should ponder the effects of its policy in former Soviet republics. As it nurtures a community of pariah states, Russia may end up isolated again. Besides, it risks losing its territorial integrity. Actively meddling in the Abkhazia and, more recently, in the Ukraine elections may have grave consequences for Russia. In Abkhazia and Ukraine, Russia has virtually been inciting separatism, something it has been fighting at home for almost 15 years now. The very fact that Russian politicians and officials from President Putin to Moscow Mayor Luzhkov have been involved in the Abkhazia election campaign... is interference in Georgia's internal affairs. To add insult to injury, Moscow has caused divisions in Abkhazian society. It is even worse with Ukraine. Autonomizing western Ukraine would pose a problem to Europe and the United States, while autonomizing eastern Ukraine would give a headache to Russia.... Our current allies--Lukashenko's dictatorship in Belarus, the semi-criminal regimes in beggarly Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the unrecognized Dniester Republic in Moldavia, and eastern Ukraine with its anti-democratic tradition--look like an 'inviolable union' of pariah states."
"Russia Doesn't Learn Its Lessons"
Nataliya Ratiani said in reformist Izvestiya (11/29): "It doesn't take much to see similarities between last year's events in Georgia and today's in Ukraine. One can also find analogies to the current situation in Abkhazia and the recent history of Serbia. Clearly, Georgia, Ukraine and Abkhazia are merely an instrument for the West, the idea being to weaken Russian influence in post-Soviet republics. Having lost control in Georgia, Russia thought it had better prepare for elections in Ukraine and Abkhazia in advance. That has proven worse than non-interference."
"Ukraine Is Sovereign"
Yuriy Sergeyev stated in youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (11/26): "Ukraine and Russia are more than strategic partners. They are fraternal countries, regardless of who are at the helm in Moscow and Kiev. They are also sovereign. So, Yanukovych can't make Ukraine into a Russian vassal, just as Yushchenko can't make it into our sworn enemy."
"Mob Revolutions Are Peculiar"
Yekaterina Grigoryeva opined in reformist Izvestiya (11/26): "Viktor Yushchenko does not want to be president, so he is doing everything not to become one. His swearing himself in as the President of Ukraine is against the law, so much so that it is going to cost him some of his support base, especially in Europe. The vote was really far from perfect, but flouting the Constitution so ostentatiously is even farther from that.... Yushchenko is provoking a split in Ukraine. By drawing crowds, he accentuates divisions. By inciting a street revolution in the West, he impels the East to respond in kind. His associates are openly inciting unrest. The whole thing looks weird, as Ukraine is not really electing anything. This became even more apparent after the second round of the vote. There was not much to choose from even before it, as none of the candidates is 'new power.' Both are 'old power,' representing its different clans with different sources of financing. For now Yushchenko is indeed a people's president, given the crowds behind him. But mob revolutions are peculiar in that you can never tell whom the mob will sweep away in the end."
"Moving Down Razor Blade"
Vasiliy Mikhaylovskiy argued in neo-communist weekly Slovo (11/26): "There is hardly any doubt in anyone's mind about the Ukraine elections as an important part of the West's long-term strategy of isolating Russia. The West's tactics vary and include NATO's moving up to the Russian border, expedited 'democratic elections' in Yugoslavia and Georgia, the building of military bases in Central Asia...all serving to isolate Russia and break it away from allies. The drama unfolding in the neighboring Slav country is another reminder of the geopolitical tragedy that happened in the world in 1991. The collapse of the USSR is Crime of the Century. Even worse, it is Crime of the Millennium. What is going on in Ukraine today is a clear and unambiguous signal the West is sending to Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian events can easily be reproduced in Russia.... It seems, however, that our political elite has finally shed its illusions about the West. Surely, this is one of the assets of Putin's view of the world."
"The Ukrainian Truth"
Aleksandr Tsipko opined in literary weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta (11/24): "The Ukraine elections have shown that the USSR breakup is complete, and there is really no chance of integrating Ukrainian-language Ukraine with Russia. We engage in self-delusion when we speak of Ukraine being split along the east-west lines, with the east voting for Yanukovich, and the west for Yushchenko. The vote attests to a center-west consolidation. Over the past 14 years a new 'political' nation has emerged, united by the Ukrainian language, patriarchal peasant culture, and a clear alienation from Russia and its political elite. The Ukrainian President will have to reckon with that, as well as with the aspirations of new Ukraine. One can't fail to see that young Ukrainians, almost all to a man, support Yushchenko, as the leader of the opposition. They grew up in post-Soviet times, removed from Russian history, and their national mentality is devoid of Russian memories.... The Americans, who worked out the Yushchenko project, seem to know the new Ukraine far better than our experts do."
"Authorities Unsure Of Themselves"
Gennadiy Sysoyev commented in business-oriented Kommersant (11/24): "The victory of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, is becoming more apparent. The question now is, what does it take for the authorities to recognize it? It is not the vote figures given by the Yushchenko Headquarters or the results of exit polls that gave a clear victory to the leader of the opposition. It is not even the West, which has condemned the sham election. It is the Ukrainian authorities themselves, which have not been acting as winners normally do.... The authorities are hard put to make the public believe that the 98% turnout and the nearly 100% vote in favor of their candidate in eastern Ukraine is nothing out of the ordinary. Attempting to use force would add to the cost of the authorities' defeat, without helping them avoid eventually having to recognize the opposition's victory."
"International Observers Discredited"
Sergey Markov said in reformist Izvestiya (11/24): "It is like walking a tight rope. The one who uses force first will lose. But if nothing happens, the crowd will break up in a few weeks, which will mean a victory for Yanukovich. Therefore, the authorities are biding their time.... Yushchenko's worst mistake is that he was too sure of his victory and let radicals stop him from meeting the pro-Russian east and south halfway.... Western categorization of the vote as being invalid will be taken in Moscow as a shameless attempt to rob a pro-Russian candidate of his victory and impose an anti-Russian President on Ukraine. International observers completely discredited themselves, as OSCE and NATO observers focused on violations committed by the Yanukovich side, and their NIS colleagues on those committed by the Yushchenko side. In fact, observers became parts of those two teams. Exit polls were discredited, too, as they were financed by foundations run by people close to one or the other candidate."
Vladimir Vorsobin wrote in youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (11/24): "Ukraine is like a sick man with an undetermined diagnosis. It may be cancer or just a cold. The scenes of Abashidze [former President of Adjaria] being banished from Batumi are fresh in my memory, so Kiev today is déjà vu, with the Ukrainian opposition being so diligent in copying the relatively lawful means of taking over power that it gives you jitters. After all, Ukraine is no Georgia, to say the least. It is far worse here."
"Serious Test For Bush-Putin Friendship"
Andrey Kabannikov maintained in youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (11/24): "The Ukraine crisis may become the most serious test for the Putin-Bush friendship."
"Nobody Cares About People's True Choice"
Yekaterina Pol'guyeva stated in nationalist pro-opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (11/23): "Neither side will give up, bent on a victory. It is hard to tell how fair the elections were since both candidates obviously used no-holds-barred methods and 'administrative resources,' with Moscow actively involved on Yanukovich's side, and the West, including the U.S. and EU, on Yushchenko's. The candidates bet on different factors. Viktor Yushchenko relies on mass protests staged by the opposition, hoping for a remake of the Yugoslav and Georgian scenarios. By contrast, Yanukovich, rather than depending on his own electorate, is looking to the government, the Central Election Commission and, if need be, to courts for help. Also, he has the shaky 'Russian factor' on his side. It is shaky because Russia has never really helped any of its first-choice favorites in the past, be it Milosevic, Shevardnadze, Abashidze [the leader of Abkhazia] or Khadzhimba [a presidential candidate in Abkhazia].... As emotions prevail, neither of the players seems to care about the people's true choice or about ways to help society overcome the split."
"Thinking Of Georgian Experience"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (11/23): "The recent experience of Georgia as an 'uncontrolled democracy,' may be unique to Ukraine. This is not to say that the Ukrainians may want to emulate it. But they may use that experience to try to picture their own future in their minds and see that it is not as bad as President Kuchma described it in his address to the nation. Now the Ukrainians need to decide whether they want to live in Ukraine without Kuchma...or have the kind of Ukraine that is being imposed on them, and depending on their choice, to stick with their charismatic leader to the end or quietly go home, finding comfort in the idea that there is nothing people can't get used to."
"Ukraine Is No Georgia"
Olga Romanova argued in business-oriented Vedomosti (11/23): "Yushchenko must realize that a revolution in Ukraine is possible but senseless. He can call upon people to build barricades and strike a little. But the Georgian scenario is no-go in Ukraine. Exactly a year ago the Georgians overthrew Shevardnadze's throne. It was rotten and had no prop under it. Unlike Shevardnadze, Kuchma and Yanukovich are sitting on sturdy chairs, real political and economic support under them. Shevardnadze was weak and hated by his people. Yet there were no strong politicians in Georgia to replace him. There are plenty of them in Ukraine."
"Elections Over. Real Choice Ahead"
Youth-oriented Moskovskiy Komsomolets declared (11/23): "Ukraine is at a crossroads. The narrow margin between the contenders' votes gives hope to both. Clearly, Yushchenko's supporters will stick to their unfair-vote side of the story. Similarly, the Central Election Commission will respond by citing violations involving the Yushchenko team. Whatever, real power is now with the winning side. The Rada may not recognize the vote outcome, but Yanukovich may promise it wider rights under constitutional reform.... As for the parts of the country that overwhelmingly voted for Yushchenko, their governors may quickly change their minds once Kiev 'forgets' sending them another tranche."
"It's Not Only Politics"
Business-oriented Vedomosti editorialized (11/23): "The new President should see that common sense prevails. He needs no political excesses now that he must deal with the economy. It is an open secret that the Ukraine vote is not only politics. It is also a clash of business interest, a corporate war of sorts.... Now what will happen to the population if the winner, whoever he is, fails to keep up high growth rates in the economy and repay the debts?
Yuriy Sergiyenko stated in youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (11/23): "The elites in Western and Eastern Ukraine are bound to come to terms. As for the scare tactics they use against each other, speaking of protest actions, unrest, divisions and other cataclysms, they provide a good backdrop for negotiations."
"Ukraine At Crossroads"
Nataliya Gevorkyan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (11/22): "The presidential election in Ukraine is a historical crossroads. Following one fork will take you back to the USSR, while following the other will take you to the future, unknown but exciting and, most probably, promising. Choosing the future, rather than hurting Russia's geopolitical interests, as claimed by Russian officials, will hurt those very officials' great power ambitions. Only a Russia that is not free and not democratic can oppose Ukraine going free and democratic.... Ironically, depending on what they pick, the Ukrainians may take us Russians along, either to the unknown but free and promising future or back to the USSR."
AUSTRIA: "Time Is The Enemy"
Livia Klingl commented in mass-circulation Kurier (11/30): "For the Ukraine, playing for time is not a solution, no more than the search for a compromise. With two winners, there can be no compromise. To continue the current power struggle, however, will sooner or later lead to the disintegration of the vast country along its historic dividing lines as well as those lines that divide the population according to their political leanings.... Moreover, the Ukraine serves as an example of Western media reporting. The thousands of Jushchenko fans that support the 'orange revolution' are shown daily on Western TV screens. Interested viewers know a lot about their arguments by now. The key statement is: We are not so much for one candidate and against the other--we are for democracy. The Eastern part of the Ukraine is represented in the media only in a rudimentary sense. The people there for the most part are under the impression that it is their job to bring in the money for the country, which means that they profit from proximity to Russia. They are less interested in the issue of election fraud, and independent media reporting is likewise not their primary concern. It is also because a free press does not exist that people are afraid of change, not keen on it. To relieve the ideology-laden situation, the West, which--like Moscow--is interfering, ought to make it clear that the issue is not individual candidates but election fraud. And that, while it will not accept fraud, it will respect the true choice of the Ukrainians."
"Autonomy Russian Style"
Josef Kirchengast said in independent Der Standard (11/30): "Whenever the word 'autonomy' pops up in connection with a conflict on the territory of the former Soviet Union, caution is the order of the day. On the weekend, representatives of Ukraine's Eastern regions, in a meeting with Prime Minister Victor Janukovich, threatened to hold a referendum on the autonomy of these regions, should opposition leader Yushchenko become President. Moscow's Mayor Yuri Lushkov, who had been flown in especially for this meeting, supported their claim and promised help from Russia's President Vladimir Putin.... It seems a certainty that Moscow has worked out a secession scenario for the Ukraine. And obviously, there are clever strategists who would like to implement it step by step. Hopefully, there will also be reasonable people who are strong enough to make the know-it-alls realize the consequences of such an action. The Ukraine is practically in every respect a key country for the stability of the entire continent. If even the campaign manager of Russia's protégé Janukovich, who resigned on Monday, called the threats 'madness,' any further commentary is superfluous."
"The Threat Of Violence And Disintegration"
Livia Kling stated in mass-circulation Kurier (11/28): “Despite the suspension of the election results in Ukraine, the threat of escalation is still looming.... However, this can’t be in the interest of any of the major players.... For this very reason, the EU has now turned its gaze towards Ukraine. EU foreign policy chief Xavier Solana’s goal for Kiev is a transfer of power similar to Georgia.... The insecurity and the threat of the huge country’s possible partition demonstrate the significance of stability in the vicinity of the EU. It also goes to show how quickly insecurity can emerge, if peace and quiet depends on individuals and not institutions.... The best protection from instability is the export of stability.... The proof that democracy cannot be won with guns can be seen every day in Iraq.”
Markus Bernath held in liberal Der Standard (11/28): “For the second time this fall the Kremlin has pinned its hopes on the wrong candidate, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin got pretty much the opposite of what he wanted with his massive support...for Moscow-friendly regimes in Abkhazia and Ukraine.... The power struggle in Ukraine, however, is far more significant and momentous, both for Moscow and the EU, than the one in little Abkhazia. The mechanisms at work here are the same, though. Putin massively supported Ukrainian Premier Yanukovych and thus only added to the polarization of the country’s electorate.... The Kremlin is losing its vassals, and today’s events in Ukraine could soon help government critics secure their election victory in places such as Belarus, Armenia and in Central Asian states.”
"Uprising Against The Lie"
Burkhard Bischof held in centrist Die Presse (11/24): "In reality, Ukraine with its strong Russian-speaking minority and the Eastern and Southern parts of the country that are oriented towards Russia does not, from a political, economic and cultural perspective, belong exclusively to the Western sphere of influence. However, no more can Ukraine with its anti-totalitarian, pro-European traditions in the Western and central parts of the country once again become a satellite of Moscow.... Many hold the opinion that the EU could play an important role in helping Ukraine develop a democratic national identity while at the same time counteracting Moscow's attempts to once again gain control of the country politically and economically. Up to now, the EU, apart from pious speeches and hollow formulas...has failed to offer Ukraine a realistic vision of its role in Europe. Brussels should interpret the November uprising against abuse of power as a cry for help."
"Putin's Western Wall"
Ernst Trost remarked in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (11/24): "President Putin was the first to congratulate the official winner of the presidential elections. After all, Victor Janukovich guarantees that things will remain as they are in the Ukraine and that the country, which, after Russia, is the largest in Europe, will not in the future be tempted to seek its fortune with NATO and the EU.... The power and oligarchy network around outgoing President Kuchma did everything to defend its privileges and the large fortune it has gathered through questionable means against Yushchenko, who preached correctness and reforms. The methods that were used in the process could fill a volume on election fraud. The Ukrainian people do not want to accept this. But how long is the determination to resist going to last? Is the Ukraine another candidate for a gentle revolution like the Georgian Republic? And how would Putin react to that?"
"Showdown In Kiev"
Josef Kirchengast maintained in independent Der Standard (11/23): "The true extent of election manipulation will be shown in the persistence with which the opposition pursues its statewide protest campaign. The reaction of the power apparatus will also depend on that. Victor Jushenko knows that he has a realistic chance to turn the tide. If a sufficiently large number of those who up to now have profited from the system come to the conclusion that it is better to get used to the idea of a change of power than to risk a confrontation with uncertain outcome, the opposition leader has won. However, this would only be a partial victory, since it will be much more difficult to do away with the corrupt system than to win an election, even if one has to fight ever so hard."
"Why Janukovich Had To Win"
Burkhard Bischof asserted in centrist Die Presse (11/23): "It is hard to figure out how the Ukrainian bossdom works. However, this much is clear: the ruling clan wants to hold on to power.... If, from the beginning, they were not willing to accept a democratic change of power, why then did the Kuchma clique initiate these elections--elections that were so blatantly manipulated before the eyes of the world that a President Janukovich will have to carry the huge burden of a legitimacy problem around with him during his entire term in office? He will never be accepted as a President who was elected freely and fairly--neither among his own population nor abroad."
"Courting Brussels, Clinging To Moscow"
Editor Jana Patsch contended in mass-circulation Kurier (11/23): "The West which opposition candidate Jushenko favored is an illusion anyhow. The same West that still took some trouble with other new democracies has a white blank on its map where the Ukraine is located. Neither the EU nor NATO have as much as hinted that they are planning to take the Ukraine into their respective families in the near future. In this, the West differs from Vladimir Putin's Russia. It makes an effort on behalf of its impoverished neighbor. In contrast to others, Russian companies invest in the Ukraine. Russia provides energy at a favorable price that keeps the electricity and heating running in the Ukraine.... The saying that has been valid up to now--'Courting Brussels in the spring, clinging to Moscow in the fall'--is likely to hold true for the future as well, no matter who turns out to be President of the Ukraine."
"A Suitable Democracy"
Foreign affairs writer Josef Kirchengast noted in independent Der Standard (11/22): "Russia's Putin is obviously convinced that Russia is not fit for democracy, Western style--on account of its history, its culture, its sheer size. The peoples between St. Petersburg and Vladivostok need a firm hand that leads them--this is the well-known consideration behind this assumption.... That Putin's hypothesis is wrong is being demonstrated in the Ukraine just now. In this historic heartland of the Russian nation, a civil society has emerged in the few years since its independence. It is largely because of this that the citizens had a real alternative to the ruling system in the presidential elections on Sunday--despite all attempts at manipulation. This shows that, in the Russian culture too, people know full well what kind of democracy they want--provided one allows them."
BELGIUM: "A Test Of Wills"
Ludwig De Vocht contended in independent financial De Tijd (11/27): "Suddenly, Ukraine has become the ante in a test of strength between Europe and Russia. In Moscow’s view, Ukraine unquestionably belongs to its sphere of influence. Europe--which is wondering today whether Turkey is part of Europe--is suddenly confronted with the possibility that it may lose Ukraine to the Russian bear. However, the Europeans can sleep on both ears. Early this week Russian Vice Foreign Minister Vladimir Tchikov declared that the new Russian missile systems--whose existence was revealed by Putin last week--are not aimed at Europe. For the time being, that is.”
"Not A Buffer"
Marc Van de Weyer asserted in conservative Christian-Democrat Het Belang van Limburg (11/27): "Russia’s rulers view Ukraine as a buffer against Western influence--from the EU and NATO. Moscow perceives an move forward by Brussels and Washington in Kiev. To stop that march the presidential ambition of pro-European opposition leader Yuchenko had to be sabotaged. In recent days hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have made in clear that they do not accept that. Their protest is not without danger. Yuchenko’s rival, Yanukovych, can count on dependable support in Eastern Ukraine and from the large Russian minority. There is also the question of how far Russia will go to safeguard its sphere of influence in Ukraine--Little Russia, as many call it in Moscow. But, the Ukrainian responsible citizens...are conquering their place in the European house--no matter what the Kremlin thinks about it.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Ukraine Between Lambs And Wolves"
Martin Vrba observed in mainstream MF Dnes (11/30): "It was not the presidential elections that divided Ukraine. The elections only made the divergence between the eastern and western parts of the country more visible. Unified Ukraine exists only on maps. In reality, people there speak two different languages and belong to two different faiths. [One Czech writer] once said that the Rusian-Polish conflict is not an aggression of a wolf against an innocent lamb, but a scuffle between two wolves, where Ukraine is the wretched lamb. Even today, it was Moscow and Warsaw that hastened to mediate the conflict in Ukraine. Can, however, the best of mediators avert a civil war and maintain the unity of a country? Shouldn't the recent experience of the successful split of Czechoslovakia be of more help to the Ukrainians?.... There is, however, one critical difference between the situation in the former Czechoslovakia and today’s Ukraine. The boundary between the Czech Republic and Slovakia was clearly defined and historically indisputable. Forming the boundary inside Ukraine would, however, require a great deal of good will on both sides."
"Ukraine And Our European Zeros"
Lubos Palata wrote in center-right Lidove noviny (11/24): "European diplomats are carefully choosing words even in a situation when it is evident that elections were manipulated. The real super-powers act; Putin is congratulating his Yanukovych, and Bush is threatening Kuchma with tough sanctions. European voices are not audible once again. Only the Poles are trying to save the face of the old continent, because they know they are trying to save themselves. Have another dictatorship right next door would be too bad for them. The desperate Ukrainians are beseeching Lech Walesa to come to prevent civil war. They did not even think about approaching Javier Solana or Jose Barossa. Which is just as well--the European zeros won’t save them."
Lubos Palata fumed in center-right Lidove noviny (11/23): "Ukraine is not a distant country and although some may claim that it will never become a part of the EU, in reality the Ukrainians have been part of this structure for some time already. Under the rule of Kuchma, Ukraine has become one of the most corrupt and one of the poorest countries of Europe.... While Europe would prefer to forget that Ukraine even exists, Russia would gladly get hold of it. How many times have elections in this country been manipulated? The Ukrainians will have to fight this battle themselves. However, we should stop pretending that we don’t care whether these elections were fair or not, as we will be faced with their consequences in the form of Ukrainians fleeing their country not only because of poverty but also to protect themselves from the “new” regime."
HUNGARY: "To Be Or Not To Be"
Tamas Ronay opined in left-of-center Nepszava (11/30): “For a long time to come, Ukraine will be left to its own devices. It cannot count on significant Western assistance.... The EU ought to pay more attention to Ukraine with which, since May, it shares a border. Let us admit that so far the EU has reacted in a rather reserved way to the events in Kiev: perhaps because it does not want to enter into a confrontation with Vladimir Putin. Nevertheless, it would not hurt if the Russian President faced the fact that, whether he liked it or not, Ukraine was an independent country and was at liberty to decide about its own fate.”
"At The Border Of Two Worlds"
Tamas Ronay pointed out in left-of-center Nepszava (11/27): “It is peculiar that the poor of Eastern Ukraine sympathize with Kuchma, as well as with Yanukovich. They recall the Soviet times with nostalgia: then they had work and made enough money for basic necessities. They think they could rise again.... They hope for the return of the era when--at least in principle--workers were on top of the social food chain. Those living in the central and Western parts of the country, on the other hand, hold that there is no future in Kuchma’s economic program that, even if only in traces, is reminiscent of the former Soviet planned economy. The reformers have had enough of the state having a say in everything, influencing economy in an exaggerated degree while it has hardly kept its potential to maintain the living standard.... Moscow, obviously, is rather doubtful about the efforts of the Ukrainian reformers. In addition to economic reasons, however, [Russia] would have a hard time accepting that the Slavic states, Ukraine and the Belarus, get rid of [Russian] control.... Neither is Russia enthusiastic about the Ukrainian efforts at reform because it is concerned that if a pro-West leadership gets into power in the two republics, it would have unpredictable consequences on Russian domestic politics.”
"Questions On The Ukraine"
Gabor Miklos explained in top-circulation, left-of-center Nepszabadsag (11/27): “Yanukovich has sold the promise of stability and permanent development. He offered protection to those who were concerned about being distanced from Russia, were afraid of Ukrainian nationalism, and he implied that his team was nothing to be concerned about, as they had already acquired what they needed. In view of that, it is bizarre that Western observers and the media classify Yuschenko as a pro-West democrat and liberal, while they characterize Yanukovich as a conservative favoring Moscow.... For a long time, Western politicians have been saying that the Ukraine might 'slip back into the Soviet Union'.... There is an ever strengthening and more and more confident Russia that, obviously, would like to rebuild the empire that fell apart. And that will not happen without the Ukraine.... For the industrial barons of Eastern Ukraine and the Russian-speaking residents of the region this not a bad perspective. Especially if Brussels is not inclined even to speculate about accession. It is a frequent question in Kiev: Why are the Ukrainians less European than the Turks or the Romanians? Brussels’ rejection, understandably, has turned the groups with 'Russian civilization' towards Moscow.... Regardless of the true background, Putin would hardly welcome a true change in power, a break with the post-Soviet model. He cannot want NATO’s and EU’s continuing approach so that they have this big a bite out of the remaining empire. Therefore, for him, Yanukovich is the appropriate man, even if he puts soldiers alongside the Americans in Iraq. And just because the Ukraine and the continuity of the political setup in that country is also important for the Russians, it is hardly conceivable that President Bush would seriously punish Kiev for the election pranks.”
Peter Barabas opined in left-of-center Nepszava (11/24): “What is happening in Ukraine these days is an event of outstanding significance. Not only the Ukrainians, but all of Europe will feel its consequences.... There are more who are dissatisfied [than satisfied]: one can say, the entire West. It has done a lot to make sure Yushchenko would be the winner, hoping that he would take Washington’s and Brussels’s interests more into consideration than his predecessor.... What one knows at the moment is that, whatever the final results of the showdown will be, Ukraine has split into two.”
"Man Of The Day"
Tamas Ronay held in left-of-center Nepszava (11/23): “The division of the country is not recent at all, and it is basically not a confrontation between the pro-Kuchma and their opponents: the majority of the population in the Eastern part of the country would commit to Russia, while the central and Western parts, since the second half of the 19th century, have been urging to choose the 'Ukrainian road.' By today, this latter view has changed so that the West-Ukrainians can envision complete independence from Russia by--following the example of the Baltic countries--their country joining NATO and the EU.”
"Change Of President, Change Of Regime"
Albert Gazda pointed out in business-oriented Vilaggazdasag (11/23): “We have always known that the Ukraine was not one country, but the elections results show that the borders are not exactly where we thought them to be. Regardless of the statistics, Ukrainian is spoken almost only in the Western counties. Still, the proponents of the independent, democratic, 'Westerner' Ukrainian state won the majority even in the central territories, primarily in Kiev where the opposition, to everyone’s great surprise, won a landslide victory.... The candidates’ political views are mentioned the least. It is natural. In the Ukraine, the usual categories are not valid; it makes no sense to talk about left or right, conservatives or liberals.... At the moment, it is impossible to predict who the Ukraine’s President will be.... The 99% [turnout] reminds one of the old [Communist] times, and confirms our conclusion that 1989 is happening in the Ukraine now.... What is for certain: in addition to the orange flags and the national colors, one could also see Georgian flags in the Kiev crowd.”
"Situation Emerging In Ukraine"
Gabor Miklos remarked in top-circulation center-left Nepszabadsag (11/23): “The current Ukrainian power will not risk losing [the election]. Not because the opposition’s leader and his team were that much different from them in their program. Probably, there is no decisive difference between them regarding the foreign policy line to follow, either. No government in the Ukraine can pursue a policy confronting Russia, and nor can it survive if it closes itself to the West. At present, it has three EU member countries for neighbors, and soon Romania will be one, too. Western economic relations are at least as important for the Ukrainians as the Eastern ones. Yuschenko is styled as pro-West, but, in fact, it was his predecessor and opponent who sent a large military contingent to the Iraq mission.... With Yuschenko, some of [those demonstrating on the streets] want to get rid of corruption, others of the unpatriotic leadership, and still others of poverty. Some dream of freedom and the rule of law. Observers also see cultural differences behind the crisis: the Western half of the Ukraine has different religious and historical traditions from those in the East and South.... Consequently, at least half of the Ukrainian society want change, while the current power does not even reluctantly observe the formally accepted democratic rules. And this is, if not a revolution, but still a deep political crisis we must pay attention to. If in our neighborhood...many people are compelled to flee, or to choose emigration, it will concern us [Hungary] by all means. Are we prepared for the refugees? And what if the country does split in half? If, because of that, there will be disturbances in the energy supplies and the transport of hydrocarbons--do Budapest offices have an emergency plan in place?”
"The Third Round"
Foreign Affairs Editor Gabor Stier concluded in right-of-center Magyar Nemzet (11/23): “The stakes are very high. After decades of drifting, will the Ukraine, between the East and the West, be able to take its fate into its own hands, will the kleptocratic, oligarchic regime survive, or will the fall fog be penetrated by the new thinking promising openness and transparency?.... The situation is further complicated by the fact that, at the same time, the Ukraine is also the most recent battleground of the fight for influence in the post-Soviet region, in which regard the Ukraine is of key importance.... In spite of all of the above, what has really decided the outcome of the elections was that Yanukovich and the forces promoting, for lack of any better, him, have unscrupulously abused the power in their hands, and the elections took place in the atmosphere of fear. The clans dominating the country used whatever means available, they even bought American ex-senators, the fraudulent system was in place; thus turnout in the Donyets Basin, considered an entail of the Prime Minister, was sometimes higher than 100 %.... In this explosive mood what is at stake is whether those whom the elections committees declared losers will, taken to the streets, be able to prove that they did win in the voting booths. It might be of assistance for them (and that is what the third round will also be about) whether the international community will recognize the election as democratic, and what is even more important, how far it will be willing to go in exerting pressure. Today, the Ukraine is staggering on the verge of civil war. One can only hope that democracy can win without bloodshed in this part of Europe.”
IRELAND: "Ukraine Waits For A Solution"
The center-left Irish Times contended (11/29): "The political crisis in Ukraine has deepened alarmingly over the weekend.... Ukraine is being terrorized by excessively simplistic slogans and demands raised on the back of the deeply flawed two-round presidential election. It saw blatant fraud organized by state authorities in favor of Mr Yanokovych, which probably gave him an unfair victory. But Mr Yushchenko's campaign has also questions to answer about fraudulent practices. And enormous geopolitical pressures from Moscow and Washington have dangerously raised the political temperature. All eyes will be on Ukraine's supreme court today to see if it rules the elections illegal and orders a rerun. Both sides have said they would accept its ruling, although in this fevered situation such commitments cannot be trusted. There are hints that Russian leaders would also accept a rerun. This would be a welcome decision; but as much effort should go into thinking about formulae to allow power to be shared after an election as into the efforts to win it by both sides. Ukraine is so deeply divided, and the crisis has so exacerbated its cleavages, that this will probably be the only way to avoid the country splitting apart. That would be a tragedy for Ukrainians--and potentially a disaster for political stability and development in Europe. Power-sharing mechanisms need urgent attention.... A winner takes all approach would only reinforce division, no matter how fair another election.... Equally urgent is the search for political means to assure Russia that democratic change in Ukraine will not undermine its long-term security interests, for example by ruling out NATO membership. Such an initiative comes best from the EU, whose leadership has been straining to mediate on the basis of democratic rights and political security. Finding a way through this crisis is a fundamental challenge to its continental role.”
"Putin Holds The Key"
The center-right populist Irish Independent declared (11/29): "The opinion of the western world, as expressed by the leaders of the EU and the U.S., is unanimous. The Ukrainian people cannot be denied their democratic rights. But the scene has darkened. The supporters of Yanukovich have mounted their own campaign. They do not simply favor the existing corrupt regime. They are chiefly Orthodox in religion and pro-Russian by tradition and represent the eastern half of the country and almost 50% of the population. They not only threaten civil war, they have put forward a demand for a referendum on a proposal to split the country in two that would mean overturning a vital principle, respect for borders, and could not be taken lightly by the international community. A peaceful internal solution is not yet impossible. The parliament in Kiev has rejected the rigged election result. Today the supreme court will begin to examine the question. It could cancel the result and order a new poll. But that could lead to a turbulent election campaign, with no guarantee of general acceptance of the outcome and with daunting difficulties for any new regime that wished to turn westwards, to the EU and NATO, as other former communist countries have done. Outside pressure may not suffice to overcome the crisis, but it must be attempted and intensified. The key is to bring President Vladimir Putin on board. He has softened his line in recent days, but he views with anxiety any further loss of influence. He must be persuaded that democracy and avoidance of civil conflict are more important than loss of Moscow's prestige in countries it formally ruled.”
"Tarnished Ukraine Poll A Test For EU"
The center-left Irish Times opined (11/23): "There are substantial grounds for believing that the recent elections in Ukraine were far from fair. Supporters of the pro-Russian prime minister, Mr Viktor Yanukovich, have claimed victory over his pro-Western liberal opposition leader, Mr Viktor Yushchenko. While almost every other observer has cried foul, Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal envoy congratulated Mr Yanukovich on his ‘victory’ and presumably hopes everyone--not least the people of Ukraine--will fall silent and into line.... Election observers from the OSCE examined the conduct of Sunday's second round presidential election and yesterday pronounced themselves less than satisfied…..The US administration will develop its own view based on a report by Senator Richard Lugar.... His report to Mr Bush is unlikely to differ in substance to that of the OSCE.... The OSCE observers noted more serious violations, including isolated incidents of violence, and a pattern of intimidation, some of it directed towards observers, polling commission members and individual voters. This is a test for the European Union. The EU shares a border with Ukraine and has a legitimate interest in supporting economic prosperity there and democracy too (irrespective of who wins free and fair elections). The EU should cool economic and political relations with Ukraine and carefully target entry visa refusals. A ruling elite that corrupts democracy should be sent the strongest possible message of disapproval.”
NETHERLANDS: "Undemocratic Ukraine"
Left-of-center Trouw editorialized (11/24): "The fact that the Ukraine is not a showcase for democracy, that we already knew.... However, the West tolerated quite a lot, hoping the country was going through the final spasms of the transition process.... But the recent elections are a big step in the wrong direction.... The U.S. and the EU should demand the election outcome be revised or demand new elections. And if Yanukovitch were to still take office, the U.S. and the EU should impose sanctions even though they would be taking the risk that the Ukraine moves closer to Russia.... The EU should also reconsider its lenient position toward Putin who has been getting quite some room to maneuver because of the international war on terrorism. The Russian president should not get the opportunity to, via the back gate, restore the Soviet Union."
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad maintained (11/23): "The Presidential elections in the Ukraine, a buffer zone between Europe and Russia, turned out to be a farce.... The Ukraine is facing a difficult task of trying to keep the country together after the fraudulent elections.... The international community could help by increasing pressure on the Kremlin.... The EU could do some useful work. The most important issue on the EU-Russian agenda at the upcoming summit is now: what to do with the Ukraine. The answer to this is simple: the elections must be revised or there must be new elections following democratic standards. This issue will be an interesting test case for the EU and its current president. Having a Ukraine with a pro-Kremlin president who came to power in an undemocratic way can forget about EU membership for now. Many in Europe will be happy about this. But having a Ukraine with a pro-western president who will soon apply for EU membership will impose new problems. Nevertheless, these can be dealt with at a later point. For now the most important thing is a clean democratic process. That has been violated and should be restored as soon as possible."
NORWAY: "Ukraine’s Unrest Worries Europe"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten concluded (11/27): "The election results cannot be recognized because there has obviously been massive vote tampering in very many places.... Putin’s statement was a breath from much colder political times in European history, and revealed that the understanding of democracy still isn’t especially well developed in a country that is a member of the European Council and supposedly has recognized fundamental democratic principles. It is these principles that have been broken in Ukraine. But it is altogether too late to send a fine for the damages.”
Independent VG maintained (11/26): "The election drama in the Ukraine shows that some of the methods from the days of the cold war are still alive, although somewhat reduced. Foreign election observers agree: This is election fraud, this is a major election swindle. Yes, the accusations are harsh and the evidence is so clear that even President Putin has withdrawn his strong support and warm congratulations to the handpicked winner of the Presidential Election. Putin was maybe not completely comfortable with the situation when he discovered that he was only accompanied by one other congratulator; the Belarus President Aleksander Lukasjenko, also known as Europe’s last dictator. But the last-mentioned did at least hold his congratulations until the alleged election result was ready. Unlike his Russian Presidential colleague.”
"The Power Of Russia And The Election Of The Ukraine"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (11/24): “A dramatic fight, which in the end is about Russia’s power position in eastern Europe, is raging around this weekend’s controversial election in the Ukraine… Moscow does not want, and will do almost anything in its power, to stop the Ukraine from getting a leadership focused on the west and which will manage the country into a close cooperation with the EU and –maybe— NATO. There are classical Russian great-power interests at play here… For the neighboring countries to the west the biggest fear is a Russia that step by step reunites with Belarus and eventually with the Ukraine. Then Moscow will again secure its status as a superpower… This is why the EU… supports an independent Ukraine. Preferably without estranging Russia. Nobody knows if it is doable. For now it is the demonstrators in the streets that fill the gap after a questionable election.”
POLAND: "Polish Conspiracy Plot"
Leopold Unger wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (11/30): “[Some in Russia claim that the events in Ukraine] are the result of a Polish conspiracy...and that Yushchenko’s election campaign was ‘prepared by the Polish diaspora'.... They ignore the fact that without the Ukrainians, no intervention from the outside--be it Poland, America, or the moon--would turn Kiev’s chilly and snowy streets into a sea of enthusiastic crowds, roiling with enthusiasm day and night. However, external interventions--with violence and blood or by blackmail--do happen sometimes in such situations. But historically, they have never paid off. The history of Russia has plenty examples of such interventions. Perhaps enough is enough?”
"Architects Of A Second Yalta"
Piotr Jendroszczyk commented in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/30): “Vladimir Putin was and continues to be seen in Western Europe almost as a man of providence, who is supposed to guarantee peace in Russia and in the entire [region] in Russia’s zone of influence. The EU--busy with expansion, the Balkans, and then with international terrorism--does not want any new conflicts, as it plans to finish uniting Europe. This is one of the pillars of an unwritten agreement between Europe and Russia, which is, in fact, a second Yalta.”
"One Must Understand Russia, But Cannot Give In"
Wojciech Jagielski wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (11/29): “Ukraine is inseparably tied to Russia, claims one of the Russian president’s advisers.... Russia’s problem, and the problem with Russia, is that the President is a Chekist [‘Cheka’ is a predecessor of the KGB], so Russia understands its power in a Chekist manner and struggles for it from that perspective. For a Chekist, a free society is hideous and dangerous…. One must understand Russia but does not have to give in to it only because it becomes capricious or stamps its feet in anger.”
"Ukraine Versus Ruskraine"
Juliusz Urbanowicz commented in right-of-center weekly Wprost (11/29): “Putin’s annoyance is easy to understand: the future of Russia and its president is being determined in the streets of Kiev. [Putin’s] two visits to Kiev were to no avail.... Vladimir Putin has to retreat from Ukraine under the pressure of peaceful demonstrations. We are observing a solemn funeral of Russia’s overall politics of the last decade in the Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square].”
"Ukraine Needs Our Help"
Editor-in-chief Grzegorz Jankowski opined in tabloid Fakt (11/25): “The world shows restraint toward what has happened [in Ukraine]. Only the United States, so ridiculed and condemned in Europe, reacted strongly to the developments in Ukraine and threatened the Kiev usurpers with sanctions. It turned out one more time that as Poland struggles in support of the democratic forces in Ukraine, it can count on America above all.”
"Ukraine Needs Us"
Waclaw Radziwinowicz and Marcin Wojciechowski commented in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (11/25): “Yesterday those in power showed they respect no one as they announced the results ‘painted’ by themselves--as people in Kiev say. It is an assault on democracy, an offense against their own nation. We must show solidarity with the victims. Today people in Kiev keep asking: ‘Who does Poland stand for?’ They should hear plainly that we stand for them.”
"Ukraine: Conditions For A Dialogue"
Jan Skorzynski wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/24): “The campaign of civil disobedience conducted by Victor Yushchenko’s supporters seems to be the best response to the election fraud committed by the group in power.... How to solve the Ukrainian impasse?.... A sensible solution would be for representatives from international institutions to get involved--for example, the Council of Europe and the EU--to seek a solution for Ukraine and pave the way for dialogue. The dialogue can assume various forms, but it must lead to an honest recount of votes or to another round of elections. Those should be the preliminary conditions for a Ukrainian compromise.”
"I Saw Happy Ukrainians"
Adam Szostkiewicz commented in center-left weekly Polityka (11/24): “Ukraine is emerging from the election confrontation torn and weak. A lingering internal conflict would only make it weaker, which is neither in the interest of Ukrainians, nor Poland, nor Europe. The president-elect and his first decisions must be watched closely. For now, it is the sincere democrats who deserve more attention and support--the modern Ukrainian civic society. If this force perseveres and develops by the next elections, good fortune will smile on Ukraine.”
"The Dice Are Cast"
Editor-in-chief Grzegorz Jankowski observed in tabloid Fakt (11/24): “Perhaps it is not a great exaggeration to say that the road for Ukraine and the entire East is being determined right now. Ukrainians firmly said ‘no’ to blatant abuses of law in their country.... If they lose the battle, Ukraine will go down the road toward an authoritarian regime steered by the Kremlin. But if they win, the dreams of rebuilding the authoritarian Russian empire will crumble--at least for some time.”
"We, The People"
Centrist Rzeczpospolita railed (11/23): “The Ukrainians are raising their heads and learning how to be citizens in their own country, how to say strongly: We, the people. They cannot be left alone in this effort. We must show solidarity with our Eastern neighbor. The West, including Poland, should clearly support democratic forces and warn the Ukrainian authorities that it will not respect the falsified election outcome. The United States and the EU countries should also stop Putin’s Russia from attempting to offer ‘brotherly help’ to Kuchma and Yanukovych.”
"Let’s Wake Up The West"
Liberal Gazeta Wyborcza editorialized (11/23): “This is one of the moments when the fate of nations hangs in the balance. The elections in Ukraine were brutally falsified by those gathered around Prime Minister Yanukovych.... They are supported by the state apparatus, by President Kuchma, the Army, police, media--and Russia. Without Russia, no one in Ukraine would dare such a show of contempt for democracy. Opposing [these forces] are millions of Yushchenko’s voters...who will not allow themselves to be cheated. Will their determination suffice?.... It is a moment of truth for Europe and the entire West.”
"A New Ukraine Is Being Born”
Maciej Letowski remarked in right-of-center Zycie (11/23): “It required as many as ten days to announce the results of presidential elections after the first round. After the second round, they were announced just after ten hours. This obviously shows that a political decision had been made in the Kremlin a long time ago, and Kiev simply had to make it happen.... Warsaw, but Brussels above all, should press the Kuchma team--and the Kremlin even more - to respect the Ukrainian quest for democracy.”
"Ukraine Takes A Step Back"
Editor-in-chief Grzegorz Jankowski commented in tabloid Fakt (11/23): “Victorious Yanukovych and incumbent President Leonid Kuchma must be convinced that the opposition is weak if they decided to make such a blatant move. Indeed, the Ukrainian opposition will lose if it does not get support from Europe.”
"Ukraine Is Different"
Maciej Letowski wrote in right-of-center Zycie (11/20): “Regardless of the outcome of the elections, we already know that Ukraine is different from Russia and Belarus. Despite its neighborhood and strong cultural ties, Ukraine’s political system is European rather than Russian. No matter who is going to win...Ukraine is having real elections. These are not Russian-type elections where a winner is known in advance. There is no political alternative to Putin not only because the opposition is weak and the Kremlin is strong, but because Russians themselves do not expect any competition.... In this regard, Ukraine is different.”
PORTUGAL: "Coup In Kiev"
Editor-in-Chief Jose Manuel Fernandes noted in influential moderate-left Público (11/24): "Europe (which should be accompanied by the U.S.) can't permit such gross tramplings of democratic rules to occur at its door, in a state with which it share borders. Unofrtunately, it is unlikely that Europe goes much further than feeble protests, if the popular revolt fades away. The ‘realists’ will prefer to maintain good relations with Moscow, continuing to close their eyes to a Kremlin which is becoming increasingly authoritarian and auto-imperial. In Europe, for lack of power. In the U.S., because they need [Russia in the fight] against terrorism.... And as Ukraine is neither a Georgia nor a Serbia, only a miracle would allow for the symbolic but empty act of Luschenko, who yesterday proclaimed himself President, to come to be recognized one day.”
ROMANIA: "Secession Fears"
Mihai Ionescu opined in pro-opposition Romania Libera (11/29): "The specter of secession flows over the Ukraine, the present crisis showing that the differences in mentality and attitude between the capital and the western regions on one hand, and the south and east provinces on the other, are irreconcilable. There is talk about two 'Ukraines'--a western one, which is nationalistic and Russo-phobic, Greek-Catholic in its majority and supporting the opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, and the other one--a pro-Russian, industrial, Orthodox and anti-Western, supporter of the pro-Moscow PM Viktor Yanukovych. It might be possible to solve the current political crisis by organizing new presidential elections; it will be harder to resolve the domestic gap.”
Alexandru Lazescu wrote in intellectual weekly 22 (11/27): "The situation in the Ukraine deserves to be watched with great attention. And not because Bucharest and Kiev are in full conflict over the Bastroe channel in the Danube Delta and because of Snakes Island, but because a game in which Europe's line would be drawn is being played now in Ukraine, a line between the West's area of influence and the other dominated by Kremlin."
Bogdan Chireac opined in respected Adevarul (11/24): "For Romania, the situation in Ukraine is a cause of concern. In Ukraine, political and economic instability, as well as one of the most powerful organized crime systems in Europe, are growing. In a natural way, the only one that can give a stable course to situation in Ukraine is Russia. Unfortunately, Romanian-Ukrainian relations cannot become better. After the shock of the elections, the fact that they belong to two totally different blocks is more obvious.”
SLOVAKIA: "Picture Of Country After Election"
Editor Marian Lesko noted in influential center-right SME (11/23): "There are many indications that the elections were manipulated in the second round even more than in the first one, and it affected the result.... Exit polls of 30,000 voters in 460 voting regions conducted by independent sociologists found that 54 percent of votes were given to Yushchenko and 43 percent to Yanukovych, but when the government candidate led the opposition candidate by one percent according to official statements, the election committee stopped counting the votes, and after a break Yanukovych was winning…In Serbia and Georgia people forced a change when the opposition won the elections, but the leading power won the vote count. If today’s Ukrainian government wins, it would mean that there are politicians who want to lead the country under Russian influence just to keep their power.”
"Ukraine Votes For A Loser"
Editor Ivan Drabek said in influential center-left Pravda (11/23): "Ukraine couldn’t choose from the two Viktors a clear winner. She has not found it, as there are actually two Ukraines, as the elections showed. West and Central Ukraine oriented more towards Europe voted for opposition candidate Yushchenko. The south and east regions, for years connected with Russia, gave their votes to Premier Yanukovich.... The indication for this drama was that both candidates relied only on their own voting camp. They were not trying to span the abyss dividing the country; on the contrary they tried to trade on it. One of them insured it with the street and the other with government power. A close election result is not a tragedy in functioning democracies. In countries where fair elections do not have a long tradition, an uncertain election can turn into an after-election fight. Yushchenko and Yanukovich were prepared for a street fight. One of them bet on the Serbian and Georgian scenario and the other on Belarus. However, they are not the only ones who bear the responsibility for leading the country to the edge of civil war. Neither Russia nor the West warned their favorites sufficiently of the risk of a non-standard vote.”
"Ukraine Is Playing For High Stakes"
Editor Miro Baric held in influential center-right Narodna Obroda (11/22): “We cannot simplify the Ukrainian elections as a confrontation between two different orientations--pro-Russian and pro-Western.... It would be all right if the orientation was chosen by voters. It’s worse if the leading power wants to take over their responsibility--many indications show that. It’s not only about the election results but also about basic character of the state of our eastern neighbors. The West, as represented by NATO and the EU, should think how to react. An insensitive approach could harm mostly Ukrainian citizens. Putin should also think about it, as before the elections he openly supported Kuchma’s regime. Moscow should not uncritically accept friends who are turning to them for only reason--they will not be accepted anywhere else. It’s not just in Ukraine, but also in Belarus.... If Putin would support democratization in both countries, it would bring him good points, and not just in the eyes of his citizens. And Russia could build their influence on a completely new grounds.”
"Ukrainian Third Round"
Editor Boris Latta concluded in influential center-left Pravda (11/22): "Whether the president is going to be Viktor Juscenko or Viktor Janukovic will be probably decided in 'the third round.' It seems to be even harder and dirtier than the two previous rounds. It was obvious that the result of election divides Ukraine. The majority did not vote right or left candidate but gave their vote to 'mine' or 'the opposition'.... If politicians do not find a democratic solution, it will negatively affect progress in our Eastern neighbor and even on the old continent.”
SLOVENIA: "Cold War And Hot Revolution"
Boris Cibej noted in left-of-center Delo (11/24): "One year has passed since the Georgian Rose revolution.... [Georgian] opposition had decided that the time had come for its taking over the leadership.... The Ukrainian opposition...did not prepare itself for eventual assumption of power.... The big powers' [attitude] is the second--and probably more important--difference. In Georgia, Russia had lost much influence already during Shevarnadze's presidency.... But it was not willing to let Ukraine go which is considered to be a traditional Russian 'borderland'.... Putin visited Ukraine twice before elections.... He was reproached for telling the Ukrainians for whom to vote. So far, Russia has won the cold war which was raging in the biggest European country. The West has invested less in Ukraine than in Georgia and the West's future political steps may push Ukraine deeper in Russia's embrace. Announced sanctions will force Yanukovych to resort to Moscow's patronage.... The presidential election revealed again how deeply Ukraine is divided in to an industrial West...and an agricultural East.... The difference between the eastern and western part of the country is also in the fact that the East would reconcile itself with a victory of a western candidate, while Yanukovych will never have legitimacy in western Ukraine."
SPAIN: "To The End"
Left-of-center El País declared (11/28): "At immediate risk is the fine line that divides protest and civil disobedience from blood and anarchy. With this backdrop, a Supreme Court with some reputation of independence...has before it the crucial decision of whether to confirm the fraud, obvious even for post-Soviet inhabitants, or, to the contrary, to order the partial or total recount of the votes, or the rerun of the elections.... Because of its condition as a country halfway between two different worlds, Europe and Russia, Ukraine can be the driving force that directly defines the EU's ambiguous policy to Moscow.... The EU must respond with firmness and unity shown until now in the face of the anxieties of freedom that the Ukrainians are showing in their streets."
"Signs Of Agreement?"
Left-of-center El País editorialized (11/25): "It seems that a window of agreement, forced from the firm pressure of the EU and the U.S. who have declared unacceptable the electoral manipulation and asked for the urgent revision of the election, has been opened.... The incidental destabilization of Ukraine...is a matter of extreme seriousness. The country is a key for the Russian geostrategic map and is going to be a key in the continually deteriorating relations between both worlds (Russia and the EU).... The non-violent solution of this crisis requires, in any case, the cooperation among the EU, Russia, and the U.S. And it holds the assumption that a president elected in an electoral fraud can't be imposed upon the citizens of a country."
"Chaos In Ukraine"
Centrist La Vanguardia said (11/24): "Vladimir Putin, who immediately congratulated his candidate, is in a very delicate position. If he doesn't support the revision of the electoral process and accept the democratic results, he will cloud his relations with the EU and the US. He also takes the risk that in Ukraine a civil revolt, that could only be stopped with the resource of pressure, and that with the time would also be against him, could stir up."
"Ukraine On The Brink Of Civil Conflict"
Business-oriented Expansión concluded (11/24): "The involvement of the international community as an element of neutral arbitration to preserve the democratic rights of the Ukrainians and to guarantee the designation of a legitimate President can be very helpful, but it's a political battle that, first of all, the Ukrainians themselves will have to fight.... Now they must demonstrate to what point are they willing to fight to obtain democracy."
SWEDEN: "Ukraine Must Be Able To Choose Its Future"
Independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter editorialized (11/25): “The interpretation on how the Ukraine elections were implemented was different in Moscow and the Western capitals.... Russia has by its move clearly demonstrated that it does not belong in the West. It is obvious that Moscow fears the opposition politician Viktor Yushchenko. Three former Soviet republics...already are NATO members, something Russia was unable to prevent, and the prospect that Ukraine also will follow is not regarded with approval in Moscow.... A Ukraine that slowly but steadily moves westward will not make Putin’s sleep better.... But this is nothing that the rest of the world should take into consideration. The Ukrainians are the ones to decide their future. Their will should be respected--both in Kiev and Moscow--regardless whether there will be a new election or not.”
TURKEY: "The Chaos In Ukraine"
Zafer Atay wrote in economic-political Dunya (11/29): “The case of Ukraine is a typical communist regime classic. The ruler does everything to win a popular election, including cheating. Yugoslavia tried this when Milosevic declared a victory by changing the vote totals, but in the end it failed. Georgia under Shevardnadze also tried and failed, and Ukraine is the latest on the list.... Things are going toward chaos in Ukraine, and the President of the country has warned against the possibility of civil war. It remains to be seen whether the opposition will succeed in toppling the ruling figure, who is depending on the stance of the Ukrainian security forces.... The issue is all about the culture of democracy. Those among the former Soviet Republics who have a genuine experience with democracy managed to pass the transition period smoothly. They have even managed to join NATO and the EU. Those who have no historical experience with such a culture are still suffering.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "Ukraine: Election And After"
The pro-government English-language Arab News averred (11/24): "Tens of thousands of opposition supporters have taken to the streets of Ukraine’s capital Kiev in protest against the presidential election results. They are convinced that they were rigged by the government to rob the pro-Western Viktor Yuschenko of victory.... The accusation against the ruling authorities that they fixed the vote so that the Moscow-leaning Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich would win rings ominously true.... But if the elections were not free and fair, that is no guarantee that Kiev 2004 is going to be another velvet revolution.... The country is not united against the government. There is a split, and it is not new. Eastern Ukraine looks east, Western Ukraine looks west.... The most important factor, however, in suspecting that Ukraine will be different from those other revolutions is Russia.... President Putin wants to rebuild historic Russia--of the present Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine--not for nationalistic reasons but because together they are a key to making Russia a superpower again.... The EU and the West will want to back the opposition, but will they do so if it means a direct confrontation with Moscow? Unlikely. Putin wants Ukraine. It is in his front yard. For the West, for the EU, it is at their remotest edges. The West will hope that people power wins in Kiev, but they will do nothing to help it."
LEBANON: "To Avoid The Ukrainian Test"
Rafiq Khoury speculated in centrist Al-Anwar (11/28): “The Ukrainian Controversy is likely to be repeated in Lebanon if Lebanon...does not make an effort to leave this dangerous game. The title of the game in Ukraine is transforming the presidential elections into...a choice between two lines: With Russia or with the West.... As for Lebanon, the title of the game is to transform the parliamentary elections, which should focus on political and economic issues, into a referendum over one issue: With Syria or With the U.S.... We still have time to stop this dangerous game before it becomes extremely dangerous.”
AUSTRALIA: "Democracy On The Line In Ukrainian Poll"
The national conservative Australian stated (11/29): "Inch by precious inch, Ukraine is edging towards democracy.... As is quite proper and orderly, the Supreme Court will today hear the case of the ostensibly defeated candidate, the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko, for a new poll. All of this is a tremendous tribute to the discipline and persistence of Mr. Yuschenko's supporters, who have taken their cause to the streets of Kiev without either practicing violence or provoking it--so far.... Ukraine is a tinder-box because it is where Russia appears to have drawn a symbolic 'line in the sand' marking the point at which the relentless Westernization of the former Soviet republics must cease. Hungary and Poland, together with the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, joined the EU on May 1. But the loss of Ukraine from its orbit--and the sight of NATO ships refueling in Black Sea ports--would be an even bigger blow to Moscow.... [Ukrainians] seem to know what they want, and they certainly know they want to get there peacefully. But there could be cold months ahead of the Kiev spring.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Foreign Intervention In The Election; Ukrainian Crisis Exacerbated"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (11/26): "Both Russia and the U.S. have exercised vital influences on the Ukrainian presidential election.... Putin highly praised the leadership of Yanukovych and said that he wanted to further improve Russia-Ukraine relations and provide more benefits to Ukrainian people. When the election result came out, Putin took the lead to celebrate Yanukovych's victory without delay.... The U.S. provided the Ukrainian opposition party assistance in electioneering. The U.S. even publicly said that if Yushchenko was not elected, it might impose sanctions on the Ukraine. When the election result was announced, the U.S. and Europe refused to accept it.... The U.S. makes no secret of its intervention.... There is no doubt that the Ukrainian presidential election has become a political wrestling match between the West and Russia. How will the situation develop? Will Ukraine 'change sky'? All these have aroused people's attention."
"Fight To Uphold Democratic Rights"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (11/29): "Democracy is a simple enough concept--in a nutshell, government run by the people. As straightforward as that may seem, it is a principle being too widely ignored by some nations claiming to be democratic. Disputes over who should govern is why a political crisis is looming in Iraq, the Baltic nation of Ukraine is teetering on the brink of civil war and concerns are growing about the creation of a Palestinian state.... Vote-rigging is claimed by foreign observers and opposition leaders to have been widespread during polls in Ukraine eight days ago to choose a successor to outgoing president Leonid Kuchma. The election commission's declaration of Russian-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as the winner was greeted by mass protests by supporters of his challenger, Viktor Yushchenko. A Supreme Court ruling is due today on the commission's declaration. Voting fraud is a hallmark of corrupt regimes and governments professing themselves to be part of the world community have an obligation to stamp it out. Electoral fairness must similarly be high in the minds of Iraqi and Palestinian election officials and foreign governments keenly awaiting an outcome. If democracy is to flourish, it must be available to all people of voting age in circumstances that allow their views to be properly expressed and enacted upon. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of what the majority of the world's people have fought so hard to attain."
"Election Review Could Give Ukraine A Way Out"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post remarked (11/25): "The fiercely contested presidential election in Ukraine has reignited some of the old cold-war rivalries between east and west.... The outcome is likely to determine whether this former Soviet republic opts for greater integration with the European Union or moves closer to Moscow.... A review of the election and the results--as called for by the EU and U.S.--would be the best way of ending the crisis. But even if such a step is taken, it will be difficult to convince a skeptical public that the outcome is genuine. Western nations hope to see a reformist, democratic Ukraine acting as a buffer to Russia, where Vladimir Putin continues to strengthen his grip on power. But for many Ukrainians, the key issues are closer to home--jobs, welfare and stability. Mr. Yanukovych may well succeed in riding out the crisis and securing the presidency. If so, we can only hope he will honor his pledge to listen to opposition voices."
JAPAN: "Premature Endorsement Represents Failure Of Russian Diplomacy"
An editorial in liberal Mainichi read (11/29): "In the face of Ukraine's parliament decision Saturday to declare the country's disputed presidential election invalid, Russia appears to have made a diplomatic blunder by prematurely endorsing the alleged victory of Prime Minister Yanukovych. While Moscow's influence in Ukraine politics has declined in recent years, President Putin has failed to correct Russia's tendency to interfere in the affairs of the southern neighbor. The Russian leader has remained silent since the parliamentary declaration, reflecting the Kremlin's inability to help resolve the political dispute."
"Russia, U.S., EU Should Not Intervene"
Liberal Mainichi maintained (11/28): "The Ukraine presidential election has triggered domestic confrontation and rekindled Cold War-like conflict between the West and Russia.... With Ukraine achieving independence only 12 years ago, the national foundation of the country is still vulnerable. Prime Minister Yanukovych and opposition leader Yushchenko must take national stability into account and emphasize unity in order to avoid separation and bloodshed. The third parties, including Russia, the U.S. and Europe, should refrain from intervening in Ukraine politics. We believe a revote is most desirable, but such a decision must be made by the people of Ukraine."
"Chaos Over Ukraine's Future"
Top-circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri editorialized (11/26): "The reaction of security forces to supporters of Prime Minister Yanukovych and opposition leader Yushchenko is of utmost concern. Many pro-Yushchenko supporters have begun assembling in Kiev. There have so far been no reports of direct confrontation between the two conflicting parties or the use of force by security troops. We urge both politicians, as well as President Kuchma, to show restraint in order to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. Considering the discovery by outside monitors of some election irregularities, holding another election, as Yushchenko has proposed, is a possibility. Disagreement over the future of the nation lies at the core of the two candidates' battle.... Ukraine's geopolitical location would not lend itself well to prolonged chaos. Ukraine's leaders, as well as the U.S., the EU and Russia, must make efforts to quickly settle the issue in a peaceful manner."
"Another Vote Count Imperative"
Conservative Sankei insisted (11/26): "With the outcome of the recent Ukraine presidential election under question, the nation is now at a crossroads. Can the country carry out a second 'democratic revolution' following its peaceful break away from the now defunct Soviet Union in 1991? A violent showdown between the two differing parties could arise if the situation remains unaddressed. Prime Minister Yanukovych will not likely gain international confidence if he simply declares himself to be the winner. In a worst-case scenario, the country could split into two, with eastern Ukraine maintaining close links with Russia while the western area leans toward the West. Ukraine must move carefully by first reviewing the election results. It should then launch a democratic government based on a transparent election outcome.... Russian President Putin should understand that his one-sided support for Yanukovych is bound to trigger international backlash."
INDONESIA: "Ukraine Elects President, West and Russia Obstinate"
Leading independent daily Kompas commented (11/26): “It is interesting that both the U.S. and EU are insisting [on rejecting the election results]. It is not only because on the one hand, Russia and President Putin fully support Viktor Yanukovych, who promised closer relations with Russia should he be elected, and on the other, EU and the U.S. support the liberal candidate, Viktor Yushchenko. They are both insistent because behind them are facts that the political differences between Russia and the West are still sharp. Apparently, through Ukrainian presidential elections, the two sides have been competing by proxy just as they often did during the Cold War.”
THAILAND: "Georgia On Their Minds In Ukraine"
The top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post noted (11/24): "The apparently widespread fraud prompted more than 100,000 opposition supporters to take to the streets.... It also gave rise to comparisons with last year’s 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia, where incumbent president Eduard Shevardnadze stepped aside in the face of public protests and similar allegations of voter fraud.... With so much at stake, it is no surprise there are fears the showdown that was building yesterday could lead to mass violence and bloodshed. It is thus imperative all the players in this drama do their best to cool tensions and avoid conflict. Yushchenko has called on parliament to annul the results of the election and name him president. But given everything that is at stake for Ukraine, a better course of action would be to hold a new presidential run-off. Outsiders such as Russia, which under President Vladimir Putin has increasingly sought to reassert Moscow’s authority in neighboring countries, should back off and refrain from interfering. Washington, which tried to influence the poll by dispatching high-level envoys and disbursing US$13 million (Bt519 million) in “pro- democracy” funds should also keep its distance. The election suggests Ukrainian voters have a vision for their country that is not shared by either Washington or Moscow. So let them try again to decide their country’s future in a fair and free environment.”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
KAZAKHSTAN: "On The Verge Of A Split"
Evgeny Kononovich commented in official government-run Kazakhstanskaya Pravda (11/28): "Yushchenko's self-proclamation of himself as President, the meetings of many thousands of people in the streets of Ukrainian cities, initiated by him, and calls for civil disobedience and a nationwide strike--all of this put Ukraine on the verge of civil war. However, it is necessary to remember: seizing power, especially in a situation where the Central Electoral Commission hasn’t issued a final ruling and the Supreme Court hasn’t reviewed a single claim, can not be legitimate under any circumstances. It is well known that true democracy has nothing to do with anarchy, chaos and government by the masses. First of all, it is responsibility and strict compliance with the law. Remember the American elections, when J. Kerry, who lost, was the first to call his opponent and congratulate him. A similar situation happened four years ago, during rivalry of A. Gore and G. Bush, when everything was settled in a quite decent way.”
Centrist weekly Delovaya Nedelya declared (11/28): "Signs of a similar scenario in Kazakhstan would mean the failure of government policy in all aspects. All countries, where such a tough confrontation occurred or is expected to occur, such as Georgia, Ukraine, Abkhazia (if we consider it as an independent country) and Kyrgyzstan, are relatively below the 'poverty line,' and conflicts there are consequences of that. The fact that external forces are so actively engaged in Ukrainian politics can hardly be a conspiracy--either Russian, or Western. Most probably, we are talking about the fact that after Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia...returned to its harsh legacy of a great power, envisaging mandatory 'confrontation' with 'potential rivals' over territories.”
"The Battle For Kiev"
Nikita Garadzha contributed this comment for pro-government Megapolis (11/28): "It’s obvious that Western bureaucracy is not concerned about the real democratic character of power in Ukraine. In order to reach its goals, the West will be first to sacrifice Ukraine's statehood, which it already questioned by refusing to recognize Yanukovich's victory. And it is not far from the right of force, that has already been implemented in Yugoslavia and Iraq.”
"Ukraine At The Brink"
Yelena Ovchinnikova said in progressive Epokha (11/28): "A lot is at stake. It's not only Yushchenko and Yanukovich who want to win the presidential chair, but there are other contenders who are much more serious. Why does the U.S. need a triumph of Ukrainian democracy? In order to prevent the CIS from ever becoming a second Soviet Union, to ensure that America’s interests harmoniously and naturally prevail in the entire post-Soviet space, to weaken the policy of Russia, and to finally consolidate its grip as the only superpower in the world. If it weren’t the case, the head of another country, the no less powerful and all-sufficient Russia, would not be [involved in the process]. Vladimir Putin, through his zealous support of Yanukovich, is pursuing goals that are of a much more substantial scale than just simple friendly participation in the policy of a neighbor. By the way, for us Kazakhstanis, such intervention of the Kremlin into affairs of a neighboring country is quite significant, because presidential elections will soon take place in our country”.
"Get Out While You Can"
Progressive Epokha noted (11/28): "Today few question the fact that inexorably within the next decade history will throw all leaders of post-Soviet republics, who were inherited by unlucky people as a legacy of Communist era, into its garbage dump.... At first these people took to the streets of Tbilisi and swept away the 'white fox' Eduard Shevardnadze, who was disgracefully clinging to power till the last second. Now it is Ukraine's turn, after getting fed up with Leonid Kuchma and his protégés. Belorusans and Azerbaijanis have already settled their authoritarian accounts, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are next. Uzbeks, deprived of the opportunity not only to make their democratic choice, but also to talk about it, have to take up arms and blow up the offices of authorities.... In the meantime, sociological priests hired by authorities continue to sing for politically blind and deaf presidents about their total popularity and about the growing indifference of people to politics and the decline in the opposition's ratings. In reality each post-Soviet nation made its historical choice long ago in favor of democracy and market economy.”
"Bush And Putin Fight Over Ukraine"
Centrist Kazakh-language weekly Altyn Orda commented (11/23): “One of the countries interested in the Ukrainian elections is the United States, because of the port of Odessa. The U.S. also gets nervous when Russia aligns itself with other countries, either because it fears a stronger Russia or because of the possibility of recreating a Soviet Union.... If Yuschenko loses, it means the U.S. failed. Then the U.S. will declare the elections unfair, undemocratic and try to position Yuschenko for the presidency. After becoming president, Yuschenko would have to repay his debt to the U.S., the money it provided to the opposition. And of course out of the government budget. One can think about infrastructure and the port of Odessa.”
CANADA: "Yushchenko Is Right To Turn To The Courts"
The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (11/26): "If Mr. Yanukovich had bulled his way into office despite the continuing controversy about the results and regardless of the mass protests in the streets of Kiev and other cities, he would have found himself sitting on a shaky throne.... But it would be equally dangerous if Mr. Yushchenko's supporters were to seize the presidency for their man.... Fortunately, he has not done that. His brave supporters, hundreds of thousands strong, have shown admirable restraint.... Yushchenko has said he would be open to taking part in a new election provided steps were taken to prevent another fraud. In the meantime, he has complained to the courts that the election was rigged. That is the right course. Mr. Yushchenko has every right to keep up the pressure by staging protests and calling for a national strike. Western countries such as Canada, which have rightly condemned the election as unfair, should exert pressure of their own. But it will be much better for Ukraine if the election dispute is resolved peacefully and constitutionally. Tempting as it may be for Mr. Yushchenko and his backers to ride their mass protest into office, they should give the courts a chance to do their job first. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has backed Mr. Yanukovich and declared him the winner, said judges should be the ones to decide who is in the right here. The courts, not the streets, are the proper place to resolve the stalemate in Ukraine."
"Bush, Putin Square Off"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press opined (11/25): "Election officials in Ukraine yesterday declared Viktor Yanukovich the official winner of Sunday's presidential election. His rival, Viktor Yushchenko...has declared himself to be the real president. The conflict arises because international observers found that the election was flawed by many serious abuses and irregularities. Its legitimacy is questioned not just by many Ukrainians but by most western governments.... The U.S. made no secret during the campaign that it supported Mr. Yushchenko, a pro-Western politician whose goal is to tie Ukraine closer to Europe through NATO and the EU, a shift that about half of Ukrainians seem to support. Even before the results were declared official, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin had publicly celebrated the victory of Mr. Yanukovich, whose goal is to move Ukraine away from the West and back to closer links with Russia, a move that about half the country seems to want. A deeply divided Ukraine now threatens to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Russia.... Putin's agenda is not always easy to read, but in this situation it seems clear. He has always deplored Russia's loss of empire that occurred after the Soviet Union collapsed and has worked diligently to restore it. Ukraine is central to this dream.... Russia's willingness to quarrel with Europe and North America over this is an indication of how serious Mr. Putin is about his goal. That the U.S. would categorically dismiss the possibility of recognizing the official results is an indication of its resolve.... The interest of the two powers in the result of the elections is more serious than just another wrinkle in relations between the two governments. It is further evidence of a chill that has been growing for some time. Of more immediate and dangerous consequence, it could seriously complicate the situation within Ukraine and make an already difficult negotiated solution even harder to achieve."
"Ukraine Needs Our Help"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen opined (11/24): "An estimated 200,000 people demonstrated in Kyiv yesterday, and thousands more in other cities backing the opposition presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko. The official count has the challenger losing to Ukraine's prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, despite exit polls showing Mr. Yushchenko winning decisively.... The voters of Ukraine have a democratic right to choose which vision they prefer, just as Canadian and American voters got to choose in their national elections. But Mr. Yanukovych and his supporters appear to have decided to take that right away from Ukrainians.... Whether state troops and police would obey orders to use violence to suppress protesters in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities isn't clear. Far better if those orders are never given.... If Ukrainian democrats don't get our help immediately--that means today--it will be much harder to help them by this time tomorrow."
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press commented (11/23): “The result of Sunday's run-off presidential election in Ukraine is in, but there is little hope that it will heal the political divisions in the deeply divided country. Instead, controversy surrounding the vote not only threatens civil order there but also threatens to internationalize that controversy by involving Ukraine's neighbours and allies--from Russia to Europe, the United States and Canada.... Compounding the doubt this has created both in Ukraine and internationally are the almost unanimous conclusions of international observers that the election was flawed by many serious abuses and irregularities, particularly, although not exclusively, on the part of the government.... This is an election that may determine for years to come the course that Ukraine takes as an independent nation. The controversy surrounding it may pit Russia against the West, although it should not matter that Russia backs one candidate and the West backs another. What should matter is that Ukrainians choose their course by picking the government they want to lead them in a free and fair election. There is serious doubt that Sunday's vote was such an election."
"Unsettled In Ukraine"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (11/23): "It was vital for the future of a democratic Ukraine that Sunday's presidential runoff election between a Russian-backed candidate and one favoured by the West be as free, fair and transparent as possible. Sadly, that is not what transpired. Neutral monitors say the vote did not meet international standards. Others have been blunter, labelling the victory of the pro-Moscow candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, an outright fraud.... The clear differences between the two veteran politicians should have made for a lively election. Indeed, opinion polls consistently indicated the election would be a close call as Ukrainians weighed what path their country should take. That this choice appears to have been taken away by those who still fear and loathe genuine democracy should not go unanswered by the international community."
ARGENTINA: "The Future Of Ukraine"
Daily-of-record La Nacion editorialized (11/30): "Crowds of Ukrainians have demonstrated on the streets of Kiev and other cities of their country in the hope of not being mocked once again.... The candidate they support is the opposition leader, Viktor A. Yuschenko.... As in the 'Cold War' time, the U.S. and the main European countries have denounced fraud and claim that popular will should be honored. Instead, the new Russia, of Vladimir Putin, openly supports the official candidate, Viktor Yanukovich.... Both aspire to get together again the two countries that once were the Soviet Union's spine. For the people of Ukraine, the choice is tough. With the opposition candidate, the country aspires to improve the promotion of individual liberties, consolidate democracy and start a fast road toward the EU. With the alleged winner, instead, everything would remain the same--an authoritarian oligarchic political class would remain in power, and essential freedoms would continue missing...human rights would be violated and democracy would remain kidnapped by authoritarian leaders."
"Kiev's Big Door"
Claudio Uriarte asserted in left-of-center Pagina 12 (11/28): "The most important thing of the situation in Ukraine is...nothing less than the triumphant end of the U.S. conquest of former USSR republics.... Since September 11 attacks, Ukraine has been a decisive supporter of the US invasion of Iraq.... Since the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon...reached deals with other four former USSR republics: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgistan and Turkmenistan. And even before this, NATO had opened its doors to eight countries of the old Warsaw Pact.... The map of the old Soviet bloc is increasingly influenced by the U.S...only resisted by Putin and his ally Lukashenko in Belarus. In brief, Russia is right to be worried.... Through the Kiev's big door, the West is accessing the former USSR's treasury. And the only question is whether this Westernization will lead to the secession of the Russian areas of the country and the subsequent danger that a new fragile red line of friction and terrorism be established."
"Reasons For A Lukewarm War"
Hinde Pomeraniec said in leading Clarin (11/26): "For those who aren't aware, the keen interest of Europe and the U.S. in Ukraine may appear disproportionate. However, the political and institutional crisis in this country of 48 million people and a growing economy represent much more than a 'faux-pas' in the global democratic system. For its geographical position, Ukraine is the intersection between Russia and Europe.... It's clear that Russia still maintains a foot in Kiev.... The progressive inclination of Ukraine towards Europe (and indirectly to the U.S.) is a bad symptom for Moscow--which is losing influence and power in that region of Eastern Europe--and this might lead to a domino effect in other former Soviet republics, many of them more eager to join Europe than to remain faithful to their former boss. For the White House, too much political turmoil in Ukraine isn't good--considering that between 1995 and 1999 this European State ranked third in the reception of U.S. aid in exchange for the disarming and 'sophistication' of Ukraine's society. With its head, forces and dollars in Iraq, a controversy with Russia is, at least, untimely. Washington needs the energy supplied by Russia, which in turn needs Ukraine's gas pipes to transport its gas, also supplied to Europe!.... Today, Ukraine isn't, as some say, the scenario of a Cold War 'revival'. In any case, it's more like a lukewarm war, that's been taking shape these past months in different conflicts such as Chechnya, or the takeover of a school in Beslan, when Putin became furious and offered his opposition to George Bush's excessive expansion in the region. And it's a tepid confrontation because we no longer have two empires or two ways of perceiving the world. Without traces of ideological contradiction, the system ruling them is only one. The fight is only based on economic interests and the natural vanity of power."
BRAZIL: "The Kremlin Once Again Falls Into The Temptation Of Influencing Its Neighbors’ Destinies"
Center-right O Globo declared (11/24): "The fuss provoked by elections in Ukraine has a foundation: depending on who would be the next president, the country either continues under Russia’s influence or steps back from its historical partner to fall into Western arms. That explains and justifies Moscow’s great interest in the so-called Ukraine polls. But denouncements of generalized fraud--added to international observers’ opinion that such elections are anti-democratic--suggest that the Kremlin once again has fallen into the temptation of influencing its neighbors’ destinies with the heavy hand of interventionism.”
"Population And Mobilization Capability Will Be Decisive"
Marcio Senne De Moraes observed in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (11/23): "Despite the Western pressure against electoral fraud and the Russian obstinacy in defending pro-Moscow candidate Viktor Yanukovich, the outcome of the Ukrainian political crisis will depend above all on the popular will and on the opposition's capability of mobilization. As the cases in Georgia and Belarus recently showed, the opposition's capability to mobilize masses to protest on streets has a crucial role in the development of political crises in former Soviet nations.... International surveillance is, therefore, essential. One should not interfere in Ukrainian matters. But neither should one let Moscow do so, which clearly occurred during the electoral campaign. In this regard, the deterrent role represented by NATO is necessary. It is not a matter of proclaiming a confrontation between Western and Russian forces, but of ensuring that the Ukrainians' will is respected by the central power as well as by neighboring Russia."
Gabriela de la Paz asserted in independent El Norte (11/24): “As in every democracy in transition, Ukraine’s democracy is not perfect. It even doesn’t pass the test of conducting fair, transparent and free elections. Following the second round in the presidential race, polls indicate Yushchenko as the next president. Nevertheless, official results reveal it is the official candidate: Yanukovych.... Anyways, if the EU or the U.S. don't intervene, certainly democracy will have to wait.”
"Ukraine And Its Long Way Toward Democracy"
Left-of-center La Jornada editorialized (11/29): "Last Sunday, the Ukrainian Parliament decided to invalidate the presidential elections because they were considered fraudulent; Parliament favored the claims of both the opposition--which supported the pro-western Viktor Yushchenko...and the international community led by the EU and the U.S.... The protests reaffirmed the need for transparency in the political process of that region of the world. It is important to remember that many of the former Soviet republics, of which Ukraine is among the more democratic, fell into chaos after independence. That is why the post-electoral conflict is a sign of both the weakness and the aging of democratic institutions established in those nations. It is also a sign that there's a need to consolidate their political systems. In view of this situation, we should not forget that the crisis is a long way from being solved."
JAMAICA: "Showdown In Ukraine"
John Rapley wrote in the center-left Daily Gleaner (11/25): "While Western governments are left with the paradoxical wish that the communists might help a pro-capitalist government take power, there is likely to be little more than rhetoric that they can use to pressure Ukraine on the election. Even though Mr. Putin retreated from his original endorsement of the outcome in the face of widespread criticism, it is clear that Moscow still wants Mr. Yanukovych in office. It is too important to Western countries to prevent their relations with Russia growing frosty. There is a long awareness in Western Europe that if Russia feels threatened, she can become dangerous. Moreover, Western countries in general and the U.S. in particular are growing more dependent on Russian oil.... The U.S. wants Russian support in its war on terrorism. So as unhappy as they are with the process of the election, Western governments seem unlikely to do much more than cry foul. Consequently, the Ukrainian opposition has to look internally for the makings of any peaceful revolution."
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