Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Dobre Vivtorok! 

There's a woman on campus who signs every email with "Happy [day of week]". I'm going to use that for posts on Ukraine. Keep happy thoughts!

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback I'm receiving. If only I had waited until now to release my book*, maybe I could get one of those pictures on top of Hugh's site. Or Hugh's site.

Captain Ed digs about in the news and still sees hope that new elections will happen. But the real story he has is in the addendum, referring to this link describing Yanukovych's attempt to buy off Yushchenko with the premiership if he'll relent and let Yanukovych be president. Ed notes,
One thing is clear -- Yanukovych knows he can't win in a second, cleaner election and will do almost anything to keep from contesting it.
It's been suggested that the original vote was probably pretty close, but the events of the last week have likely tarnished Yanukovych so much that Yushchenko would practically have a walkover in a re-runoff. But the offer is ominous insofar as it should dampen the optimism everyone has that a re-vote will occur. I've been practically a sole naysayer on this, but I do not believe that Kuchma and Yankovych have resigned themselves to a re-vote; the offer Kuchma made yesterday had more conditions than a condo lease, and Yanukovych's offer for re-voting includes both he and Yushchenko agreeing not to be candidates. Ya. is a titular head, of course, for the Donetsk clan, who can certainly generate another face for the posters. Yushchenko has no good substitutes -- those who think Tymochenko can be that person need to read this article and pause, please, to consider that she's already tried to run herself -- and in a quickened timeframe the Orangists would lose to a well-financed Donetsk of Dniepropetrovsk apparatchik. Yushchenko wisely has declined these offers.

(UPDATE: Captain Ed now notes the collapse of talks.)

There is definitely a sense of things coming to a head at this point, but we've been down this road before. Yushchenko's party has called for a meeting of the parliament (or Rada, in Ukrainian) for 9pm tonight asking for people to vote. Yushchenko spoke to the parliament himself earlier, ending his speech with a historical anecdote:
When Alexander the Great came home after his campaign, he has met Diogenes. �What can I do for you? � � asked Alexander. �Don't stand in my light�, - followed the Diogenes� answer. So, the government, don't stay in the country's light!

But I'm told that the Rada cannot pass a binding no-confidence vote in Yanukovych because there is an article in their constitution which forbids a no-confidence vote for one year after accepting a prime minister's program. The blockade of government buildings now has resumed, increasing tensions in the capital (see for example this picture from the Rada.)

There are also signs that the second day of the Supreme Court is not going as well for Yushchenko as the first. There are procedural issues, including strict time limits on filing claims of vote fraud, and it isn't clear those limits were met.

Hopeful note: Hotline reports that the separation vote in Donetsk won't happen.

Among the Ukrainian blogs, I'm really enjoying Veronica Khokhlova, who has the skeptical eye I wish more American journalists would have. Scroll away, all good. Most interesting thought: The revote might not be just Yu. and Ya. The parliament speaker and Ya.'s ex-campaign chief (the central bank governor who quit yesterday), are speculated to be possibilities. And of course behind them all lies Kuchma. Scott Clark has good posts here (on the meaningfulness of Saturday's parliamentary vote) and here on whether there are parallels in vote fraud in Ukraine and the United States. There isn't.

There are enough offers flying around, however, that it's now unlikely the vote from ten days ago will be allowed to stand. There is going to be some extra-legal solution to this thing. Javier Solana and Aleksander Kwiasniewski are flying to see Kuchma tonight, and the parliament comes back into session tomorrow, so perhaps Kuchma will receive an offer he can't refuse. The screws are tightening.

*(OK, here's the Amazon link. But, if you want a shorter, updated paper, and for free, I have one here from 2002. Someday I'll tell you why I never have seen a penny from the book. Short version: I'm an idiot.**)

**--(Nobody cares about the long version. And we knew the short one already -- Ed.)