Time and Revolution wait for no man
Well, freedom lovers everywhere, time and revolution wait for no man (or woman) and there is much to catch up on. What with the Thanksgiving holiday (hope everyone enjoyed plenty of turkey and trimmings and good times connecting with family and friends), and chasing electrons to and fro across the barricades, and attending to private business, I can finally settle down to burn up the keyboard for a good extended rant on the Ukrainian situation.
First off. Some unexpectedly unpleasant news crossed my inbox this morning having to do with all sorts of supposed nefarious plots, sub-plots and conspiracies variously relating to George Soros and also some "Russian expert" -- who turns out to be a Putin stooge, concocting some ridiculous theory that Poland and the Brezhinski family are conspiring into some sort of Byzantine plan to -- well -- read Chrenkoff's blog to get the skinny on the ridiculousness of this theory which doesn't even make sense, much less stand up to scrutiny. http://chrenkoff.blogspot.com
Then there are the nasty insinuations about Soros. Allegedly he has backed the pro-democracy forces and somehow we are now supposed to assume that Yushchenko and the millions of demonstrators in the streets of Kiev and other cities are simply Soros' puppets, put there so he can become supreme ruler of the world, or something. Even if Soros has meddled in the Ukrainian elections (as he tried to do in the American elections as well), let him spend his money however he likes. He is a currency trader and manipulates state currencies to his own advantage. He is always trying to buy leverage for his business and financial dealings. Perhaps he feels that by backing a change in administration he will get some financial benefit on the currency markets, or can curry favor with the new government in taking advantage of Ukraine's vast energy and natural resources potential. But to suggest that somehow there is a Soros "connection" to the pro-democracy forces gathered in the streets to rightly protest an outright stolen election is pure conspiracy nuttiness. And perhaps a disinformation attempt by the Putin government to discredit the pro-democracy side As is the ridiculous assertion about some Polish conspiracy. Let us lay these red herrings aside as they are only distractions.
There has even been some discussion on some threads at lucianne.com that somehow Soros' alleged involvement in supporting the pro-democracy side is an indication that he is orchestrating these demonstrations as a means of overturning a legitimate election. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the legitimacy of these results has been openly questioned by all outside observers who have declared the election a blatant fraud.
Some have even suggested that Soros is doing in Ukraine, what he hoped to do in America, i.e. win the election for Kerry by taking the results through the courts. To suggest that the American election and the Ukrainian election are in any way comparable would only be valid if -- George Bush twice tried to assassinate John Kerry, if George Bush controlled all media outlets and wouldn't allow Kerry any access to media, even denying him the right to purchase air time for his ads, and that the only way that Kerry was able to get votes was by leafleting door to door on a one-to-one basis all over America, which is what Yushchenko had to do. His supporters literally contacted every household in Ukraine and distributed leaflets and information hand to hand because of the media blackout. Then and only then could there even be a comparison.
There is a lot happening on the ground. The BBC has been doing excellent coverage and I recommend checking that site regularly, as has the Kyiv Post at http://kyivpost.com. The latest news includes that Kiev's mayor, Oleksander Omelchenko, has opened various government buildings to the demonstrators so that they can use the restroom facilites and the cafes and areas to get warm and dry off.
Also the Education Minister, Vasyl Kremen, has declared that the schools should be opened to receive and give shelter to the thousands of students who are staying away from universities across Ukraine in protest and who are traveling to Kiev to join the protestors.
Talks have been ongoing today between the two candidates, Kuchma, Xavier Solana, Jan Kubis, current head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who sent election observers who criticized the elections as being hopelessly marred by fraud, Valdas Adamkus, President of Lithuana, and the President of Poland Alexander Kwasniewski, who discussed a 3 point plan which calls for both sides to renounce violence, calls for a recount of the vote, and to open the possibility of talks between the parties. Three hours of talks so far have yielded no results.
Other reports I am hearing are that the crowds are not diminishing and in fact are growing. An American in Ukraine who has witness the crowds and compares them to the crowds he has seen for the Rose Bowl Parade estimates the numbers in the streets to be in the millions. The Kuchma and Putin forces had hoped that the demonstrators would tire of the cold and faced with a certification of the final count would give up and go home. But they miscalculated, as this only seemed to enrage and fire up the demonstrators even more.
Ominous reports of a day or two ago, when tanks were reported to have been seen heading to Kiev and when Speznats (Russian Special Forces) troops were reportedly seen dressed in Ukrainian uniforms, which gave rise to fears of a provocation of violence leading to a military crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators, seem to have quieted down for now. With envoys from all over the world in town having talks, with Europe and the United States stating openly that the election was blatantly fraudulent, it is a little hard for Putin and Kuchma to stage a heavy handed military and violent put down of peaceful demonstrators.
The demonstrators have been instructed to remain peaceful at all costs, and have vowed that violence would never come from their side. There are reports that the pro-democracy forces have received assurances from many police and security forces that they will not take up arms against the population. The momentum seems definitely to be shifting to the pro-democracy side.
Another extremely welcome sign is the latest news that major television media have broken with the government and have stated that they are joining the protests and are refusing to put out the government lies any more. It is a little known fact that there has been a completely clampdown on the media inside Ukraine for quite some time, and that Kuchma and his gang have been involved in numerous murders, beatings and intimidations of uncooperative journalists and opposition candidates. Yushchenko himself, has been the victim of two attempted assassinations, one involving a car-accident (a time-honored KGB method), and another, more recent one, which involved poisoning, for which he was treated in a foreign hospital. Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement, who has also stood for office, was also nearly killed in a near-fatal staged car accident last year. She bravely carries on today.
Gyorgy Gongadze, a brave crusading investigative journalist, was killed several years ago. His crime? Asking Kuchma an embarrassing question about financial scandals on camera. Kuchma angrily demanded to know his name A year later Gongadze's headless body was discovered in a ditch in a suburb of Kiev. The order for his assassination was tied directly to Kuchma's presidential office. Kuchma's body guard, who had access to the inner workings of the President's inner circle, tape recorded Kuchma in his own voice, ordering Gongadze's execution. A year later Ihor Aleksandrov, who exposed corrupt links between politicians, police and business, was beaten to death with baseball bats. There were many others as well.
All in all I am more hopeful than I was just a few days ago when I thought for sure that the tanks would roll and we would have Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968 all over again. But this is now, and the Soviet Union does not exist. The world and Europe stand at a crossroads of history. If Ukraine, a nation of 47 million people which is located on the border between Western and Eastern Europe, falls into the sphere of Putin and his increasingly authoritarian rule, then Putin will be able to consolidate a new Eastern Bloc of nations, which will include Byeloruss (where he earlier this year installed his communist stooge in another fraudulent election), and eventually the other teetering democracies of the former Soviet Union, which may also fall like dominoes back under his sway.
Putin aspires to recreate the glory days of the old Soviet Union. If Ukraine falls to the Russian bear hug than a new divide will cross Europe between East and West, one on which the European democracies are on one side, and another blog of countries which are authoritarian and anti-democratic on the other. The West cannot risk another protracted cold war with a mini-reconstituted Soviet Union. Ukraine must be able to join the other free nations of the world and stand as a legitimate and separate member of the democratic countries. If Ukraine falls under Russian domination once again, then any hopes for Russian democratization will also fade. Because, without Ukraine, Russia will stand alone against all of Europe and the Western World. Eventually it too will be forced to democratize and liberalize its policies. There are pro-democracy forces in Russia too, who are very unhappy with Putin's increasingly authoritarian governing style. Some of the are demonstrating in the streets alongside the Ukrainians.
Ultimately, this is not a question of eastern Ukrainians vs. western Ukrainians, it is not a question of Ukrainian speaking Ukrainians or Russian-speaking Ukrainians. It is not a question of Catholic Ukrainians vs. Orthodox Ukrainians. It is a question rather of Ukrainians standing for a free and independent and democratic Ukraine, with the possibility of a free market economy, of democracy, personal liberty, free speech, free market reforms, and a chance to join the family of free nations.
A Ukraine which stands independent and looks to the West -- rather than a Ukraine which is once again swallowed up by the totalitarian Russian bear.