Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Vivtorok vechir 

Evening (vechir) time, last roundup of the day. It's been a day of great nervousness. Lileks' Andriy and my student Sasha seem nervous, the latter hopeful that Solana and Kwasniewski will pull some chestnuts out of the fire. A few days ago some were hoping the Europeans would take Kuchma away on the plane. Thus how nervous friends outside of Kyiv are about current events. At least they have the weathermen working for them!

Le Sabot Post-Moderne has two interesting tidbits: a friend who says "His business is at 20% of the pre-election total. He's very worried about economic recession, and mentioned that there have been some preliminary runs on banks;" there is some evidence of that in this order from the National Bank to restrict outflows of foreign currency from the banks. LSPM mentions this story I had seen that Russia offered to go all Czechoslovakia 68 on Ukraine but got spooked by the numbers in Maidan. I had dismissed it when I saw it, but I failed to remember that the story in and of itself rattles the opposition even if a fabrication. LSPM mentioning it makes it newsworthy, and stories abound in the Ukrainian press of Russians landing hither and yon, only to be blocked by opposition protests. One of his commenters notes as well that the crisis is costing the Russians money, too. (What? You saw my crocodile tears?) Separatist talks are now considered a "hastily arranged Plan B", though Rada speaker Lytvyn thinks they are premeditated. CBS News reports that Putin is saying hands off, and yet Europe arrives on a plane to Kyiv.

In the coming day the Parliament will come back to hear another attempt at setting elections aside and getting Yanukovych and his cabinet removed. The Supreme Court is reportedly going to make its decision. To Western readers I suspect this sounds like things are coming to a head. They aren't. One side has to cry "dyadko" first, and neither side looks at all ready.

UPDATE (8:50pm): Anders Aslund, who was advising Ukraine at the same time I worked there and still works with some people there, was on Talk of the Nation yesterday, which I listened to just now. He's much more optimistic than I am -- "the biggest question is whether new elections will be held on the 12th or the 19th," he seemed convinced they would be nationwide -- but then he was speaking yesterday when many people were. In an op-ed on the Action Ukraine list, he also has this cogent observation.
One outstanding danger is that the process takes too long time so that people get tired or the sheer costs of disruption rise. Another worry is that the good-hearted Yushchenko gets cheated in a negotiation. I feel much safer if he sends Tymoshenko, Zinchenko or Poroshenko to a nasty negotiation. Yet, at this stage negotiations should be minimized.
The "good-hearted" comment resonates with my memory of Yushchenko as well. And it turns out he predicted the nastiness and the minimization within a day.