Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A few more at midnight (pivnich) 

OK, I lied, I couldn't wait to grab the Weds. morning Euro headlines. Top of the list is Nick Paton-Walsh talks about the attempt of the Yushchenko campaign to keep Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk at least on the sidelines, if not crossing over to Yushchenko.
Oleg Ribachuk, head of the Ukrainian opposition campaign, said he took Viktor Pinchuk, Mr Kuchma's billionaire son-in law and a key backer of the prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, for a walk through streets crammed with anti-government protesters early yesterday morning.

"I walked with him through the streets of Kiev last night to show him that the protesters are not children or drunks," he told the Guardian.

"Kuchma is becoming more aware about what is really happening out there."

He said there was growing pressure on Mr Kuchma, and described last night's presidential statement, in which he acknowledged that there might have to be a new election, as a remarkable climb-down.

He said: "I have been talking to close members of his family. They asked me how we would react if the supreme court said Mr Yanukovich was the clear winner. I said that the president, who created this system, would have the finger pointed at him."

Mr Pinchuk is thought to be open to negotiations on a Yushchenko presidency.

I'm not sure I am buying this, as other reports suggest Pinchuk himself could be a candidate if there are new elections. Pinchuk is another television network owner and part of the clan in Kyiv -- if he could neutralize Yushchenko's advantage in Kyiv and hold the advantages in eastern Ukraine, he's a viable candidate. And he doesn't exactly have clean hands, and he has ties to Akhmetov. The discussion of Serhiy Tyhypko running instead strike me as more plausible.

Weds. morning's NYT has a piece from C. K. Chivers with some commentary from one of Kuchma's advisors.

[Kuchma]'s task is to orchestrate an exit in which his retirement is safe and his legacy tarnished no further.

"This is what Kuchma has to do today," said Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies and one of the president's advisers.

The task is not straightforward. Over the years, Mr. Kuchma has been accused of public corruption, of ordering the killing of an investigative journalist and, lately, of taking part in electoral fraud. Some in the opposition have called for his arrest.

One reason he has been eager to pass power to a loyal subordinate, political analysts and a senior Western diplomat said, has been to ensure he would face no such legal action.

Dr. Pogrebinsky and the diplomat said the opposition had offered to guarantee Mr. Kuchma a secure retirement, a maneuver the opposition has not publicly confirmed. But Dr. Pogrebinsky also said that Mr. Kuchma has little reason to trust his enemies and that for an offer to be considered seriously, it would need a powerful foreign guarantor.

I wonder whether this is the role Kwasniewski is expected to play; the opposition will not hear of using Russia.

Worrisome news I explored later tonight is that the Communists, who had been on the sidelines before this point, now appear to have thrown in with Yanukovych. It was in this way that 232 deputies out of 440 in the Rada voted to rescind the no-confidence vote in the Central Election Committee report on the election. We can only wonder what might have happened had unrest outside gotten the parliamentary session recessed. (who caused it? we're not sure -- see comments around 7am Tuesday here)

If it gets to a re-vote with the current two candidates, the pollster who had Yushchenko winning by 11 points on Election Day now shows him up 16 points.

On the light side, here and here are lessons on how to chant like an Orange. What, can't transliterate? Let me help you.