Thursday, December 02, 2004

"Ukraine as it was before the elections now does not exist" 

I was a weak child, scrawny and short. I grew up in a neighborhood in New Hampshire where we were the only people who weren't of French-Canadian ancestry. (Actually I am on my mother's side, but you wouldn't be able to tell from looking at me.) So it was only natural as the smallest, darkest, funniest looking kid, I would be subject to taunting and occasional fights. I would go home and tell my dad, who occasionally would call the taunter's parents, and once he even grabbed a ne'er-do-well by the scruff of the neck, back when these things weren't page one news.

Earlier today Kuchma went to visit Putin. Maidan has an exchange of letters between the two which it has translated from Ukrainska Pravda; tell me which one looks like the kid going back to tell his father people are picking on him?

I would like to assure you that Russia will always be together with Ukraine, it will support and aid Ukraine in all efforts to stabilize the situation. We consider Ukraine a united and independent state. As you rightly noted, we have lived in one country for so many years, so in our hearts we do not divide Ukraine into North, South or West.

It would be surprising if Russia remained aside from the events that are going on now in Ukraine.

Without Russia�s efforts to find a way out of the political crisis, its solution will be impossible, otherwise Ukraine risks to disgrace itself.

Perhaps it's a translation problem -- I can't figure out a nuance here from the original -- but Kuchma seems to be a supplicant in this exchange. But he breaks bad news to Papa Putin.

I don't want to be misunderstood, but Ukraine as it was before the elections now does not exist.

It has been divided. One side does not consider the point of view of the other, this policy being accomplished by a coercive, revolutionary methods without taking into account the economic consequences.

If I had cojones big enough to say that last paragraph with a straight face, I wouldn't have needed my dad's help with the neighborhood bullies. Did you ever stop to think, Koochie-Koo, that the oligarchic system you helped to create which has enriched you beyond your wildest dreams might be a coercive method with economic consequences? No? Producers will gladly keep working regardless of how much the Tax Inspectorate takes to fund your latest schemes? Intelligent young people won't leave your country as they see no hope of becoming successful entrepreneurs because you block innovation in existing industries where your friends have monopolies?

Whadda zaluba.

The most important thing is that the Supreme Court, as the highest organ, must say if the violation occurred or not.
That decision is coming soon, it appears. But Kuchma has already prejudged this: If the second round is declared invalid, an agreement that they will not use force, that the country will be held together, but oho! if they even have a re-runoff because of electoral fraud Koochie-koo won't be able to stop the spread of revolution. Yanukovych would not (be allowed to) take part in the re-run. And he has the line on what both the Rada and Supreme Court will find.

Wonder where he got these ideas from? Putin, for his part, is also opposed to the re-runoff and wants new elections. In his letter to Kuchma,
Whatever internal whirls may roar in the country, we hope that all parties will adhere to the legislative norms and to the Constitution in force.
(Thanks Neeka for that link.) Coincidence? I think not. And while Putin tells others to butt out, President Bush issued a pretty strong "you too".

Q Sir, should there be a new election in Ukraine, and should it be free of
Russian influence?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think any election, if there is one, ought to be free from any foreign influence. These elections ought to be open and fair. I appreciate the progress that is being made. I particularly want to again thank my friend, the President of Poland, the President of Lithuania, and the EU for its involvement in helping to resolve the Ukrainian election crisis.

The position of our government is that the will of the people must be known and heard. And, therefore, I will -- we will continue to monitor and be involved in a process that encourages there to be a peaceful resolution of this issue. And, you know, there are different options on the table and we're watching very carefully what is taking place. But any election in any country must be -- must reflect the will of the people and not that of any foreign government.

My Ukrainian student earlier today expressed to me some displeasure over Bush's quietude on the issue, assuming he did not wish to anger Russia. But there seems to be a clear signal from Bush to Putin to back off, including this from today's press conference:
Q On Ukraine, the President has stated clearly he wants to see an election free of any interference by foreign governments, and yet there has been continued interference from President Putin. How does that complicate the relationship between the U.S. and Russia?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have -- I think President Putin, earlier this week, talked about the very same thing, that there should be a democratic way forward and that there should not be internal or external pressures, I think is what -- his words that he referred to.

Look, we have a good relationship with Russia. There are going to be differences from time to time. Our position on the Ukraine and the way forward is very clear: We want there to be a peaceful, democratic solution that reflects the will of the people. There are discussions that continue with President Kwasniewski, the President of Lithuania and the European Union and the parties in Ukraine about how to proceed forward. We're waiting to see what the Supreme Court in Ukraine says about elections.
I don't see what more could be done short of sending Powell to Kyiv, and that I cannot see. We have already seen that Yanukovych is irrelevant. Increasingly, so too is Kuchma.

UPDATE: It could be worse, says the Argus. You could be Abkhazia.