Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Storm clouds in my fevered mind 

I have had two dark thoughts most of the day, during which I spent all time not in meetings reading Ukrainian news, when I really should be doing other things.

Thought one: The winner of the Ukrainian election is ... Kuchma!

He's been term-limitted out of the job, though he tried hard to get the constitution changed to allow him a third term. How long do we suppose it will take for him to declare a state of emergency and extend his term? Even though the mayor of Kyiv has declared support for Yuschenko, he has said Kuchma should stay until the crisis ends. Perhaps Kuchma keeps his job for a good long time.

Thought two: I think if Yuschenko does not become president he will look back on the offer to redo the elections as the point he lost control of events. I didn't like it when it happened. All the momentum up to then was his. He had taken a symbolic oath. There were no Yanukovych supporters to be found. (Turns out they came for the soccer match, only stayed the day in return for about $40 each, and they are not staying the night after.) He made a good decision to say all to be negotiated is when and how power was to be transferred. The offer to annul the Sunday elections, when he had said it was clear he'd won them, was a sign of weakness. The certification of the vote shortly followed, and now he has to bet on the strike taking hold. Perhaps he and his people thought Kuchma was definitely going for the attrition strategy and was trying to short-circuit them. I don't know. But it looks like things went in reverse for him just then.

We need more context. Here are two places to start.