Monday, November 22, 2004

Bad juju in Ukraine 

I'll get to the latest talk of electoral fraud in the U.S. soon -- I have a local story that needs telling -- but there's a bigger travesty afoot in Ukraine after the runoff elections yesterday. The worst possible outcome, as one observer called it: a close win for the current government's successor candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. The opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, has called for peaceful protests. Exit polls indicated that Yuschenko was up 11 points, but we all know about exit polls. Still, there is ample evidence of fraud. For example, one province known to be favorable to Yanukovych has reported turnout of 96%, with more than 100% in many areas within it. Senator Richard Lugar, representing the U.S. as an observer, has called out the Kuchma government.
It is now apparent that a concerted and forceful program of election day fraud
and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental

The OSCE is similarly concerned.

I have a Ukrainian student in the department and we talked briefly Friday about the election. We were both concerned that this worse possible outcome would happen. I have not seen him today, but I'm sure he's as concerned as I am that a dark period in Ukraine's brief democratic history will occur. I've been expecting it since I wrote my book on Ukraine -- countries in "kleptocratic traps" seem to find some low-growth equilibrium.

My earlier thoughts on the election are here.