Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I'm worried 

I've been trying to get more news out of Ukraine, where widespread protests are growing over the election result hastily issued that declared Viktor Yanukovych the winner on Sunday. There are protests in the much of western Ukraine as well, including 20,000 in Lviv and a thousand or so outside the Ukrainian embassy in London. And this morning's New York Times carries a picture of the protestors in Kyiv's Independence Square, a place where I sat and ate sandwiches at lunch many times in 1995-96.

Unfortunately Yanukovych is the handpicked successor to Leonid Kuchma, who runs the country in an autocratic manner, and the only way the results can be legally overturned must be initiated by Kuchma. It will take popular protests of significant and sustained strength to pressure the government enough to overturn the result, even if the parliament itself -- where opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko has much greater influence -- votes for an electoral review. At that point, I fear we will begin to see violence.

It may not turn out that way. Ukrainsk'a Pravda is reporting that Yanukovych has begun negotiating with the parliament to avoid conflicts. The large outcry of the Ukrainian diplomatic corps may also bring pressure to find a way out of this standoff. There is nobody outside of the Ukrainian government that believes the results are valid. The question is whether the government will negotiate a settlement that appears valid to all, or decide to fight it out. For now, it is keeping a low police presence and waiting, hoping the "orange revolution" subsides.

For those interested in reading more, the Brama Newstand is a very good source of information.

UPDATE: Instapundit reads the front page of the NYT as well. He suggests Blog de Connard, who has been photoblogging with pictures that make me strangely nostalgic, and Neeka's Backlog (which I had already read and should have already linked, izvinitije.) Here's the link to Yushchenko's campaign page (should bring up the English version), but it is awfully slow loading. The Yanukovych official government page is here and seems to have some news, but I cannot find a campaign page in English. Peter Lavelle has a different view -- he thought the election was Yanukovych's to lose, unlike many other observers, but that perceptions were the key. Well, that's lost now.