Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ukrainian evening update 

(My previous posts on the Ukrainian elections are here and here.)

Thanks, Ed. I'll put up refreshed information throughout the rest of the evening. Things seem to be hopping.

The White House has made a statement:
The United States is deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of Ukraine to respect the will of the Ukrainian people, and we urge all Ukrainians to resolve the situation through peaceful means. The Government bears a special responsibility not to use or incite violence, and to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in this difficult time.
This follows a general pattern in the West.

Instapundit leads us to Clay Calhoun's postings from former Congressman Bob Schaffer who is an election observer. He is saying among other things that the troops in this picture are Russians flown in to protect the government.

The opposition is playing hardball on negotiating with current president Kuchma and the handpicked successor Yakunovych. It's worth remembering that all we have are preliminary results. The final results shouldn't be out for days yet. However, I have heard reports that two members of the Central Election Committee say the committee will issue its final report tomorrow, and that these two would not sign it. It took ten days to report out the returns of the first election which led to this run-off, at which time a slim lead for Yanukovych became a slim victory for Yushchenko. The opposition is not going to get caught up in negotiating yet since there is the possibility that the final report will change the outcome.

(Whoops, perhaps I'm wrong and they will negotiate.)

UPDATE (10:30pm): Good stories at The Guardian (yeah, who knew?) and the BBC. In another BBC report
For many in the crowd, like Andrei, this is a turning point for Ukraine, a chance of change he says his country cannot afford to miss.

"At this moment, it's the future of our country, for my son... some personal feelings," he told me.

"So we have to find real solutions that will help develop Ukraine like independence and a European country."

Tonight, though, Kiev is in chaos.
It should be morning there now. I am waiting to see if I get some morning news. Meanwhile I'm reading Radio Free Europe.

UPDATE 2 (11pm): Uh-oh, Neeka's Backlog says the Yanukovych people (largely coalminers shipped in from the Donbas region) and Yushchenko's people are both camping out tonight. The distances we're talking about are relatively small -- one of the great things about Kyiv is the ease of walking. The distance between these camps, based on Veronica's explanation, is no more than 1km. The Yanukovych coalminers are more likely to scrap with Yushchenko supporters than the troops, at least this early in the proceedings.

Several reports are that the Georgian President has spoken to the protestors in Ukrainian (no easy task, tak!) and referred to Yushchenko as "President Yushchenko." That and a Dynamo Kyiv victory, Veronica says, are cheering the crowds.

This post from Fistful of Euros has a good roundup and some local flavor.

The Yushchenko campaign site seems to be running better now. This post has evening details. It's noteworthy that Yulia Tymoshenko has taken such a big role in the opposition. She once had aspirations for the top job. She can be damned persuasive, too, so Yushchenko has a valuable ally there. Keep an eye on her.

LAST UPDATE: I'll switch to a new post in the morning. The only additional point I have is the location of the two groups -- following posts on Maidan, it looks like they are more than 1km away. The Yanukovych people are at the stadium, apparently tenting after watching Dynamo's win. That's down at the bottom of a hill. Up the hill is the parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers is halfway between on the other side. The Yushchenko people are instead on another street about a quarter-mile away and at the top of the hill, on Bank Street at the presidential palace. Unless one side moves towards the other, they shouldn't get mixed up. Still, I'm suspicious.

Belmont Club weighs in on the Russian angle.
Although the Kremlin has deployed some Special Forces units to the Ukraine, it seems highly unlikely that Russia would risk an all out military campaign to bring the Ukraine within the fold. Although there are no explicit NATO security guarantees to the Ukraine, there have been many half-promises and partial arguments.
Again, color me suspicious when those troops are on Bank Street between the opposition and the presidential palace.