Updates and things
Just lots of loose ends to tie up and little tidbits to fill out the news from Ukraine today.
On a bright note, Ukrainian heavyweight boxer,Vitaly Klitschko, who just a week or so ago was demonstrating for democracy with the crowds in the snow in Kiev and vowed before the crowds to win the championship for Ukrainian democracy, defeated American Danny Williams in Las Vegas on December 11th, taking the World Heavyweight WBF Championship. Congrats to Vitaly. A real champion in more ways than one.
The Yushchenko poisoning story has really hit the airwaves, with prominent stories on all the major networks and interviews by Yushchenko's American-born wife, Ekaterina, on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. Oleg Rybachuk, Yushchenko's Chief of Staff has also been giving interviews to Fox and ABC news in which he stated that he had been receiving intelligence from former Security Services and KGB operatives that a decision had been taken at the highest levels to dispose of Yushchenko by means of poison which would render him too ill to continue as a viable candidate. They nearly killed him, as it turns out, and only the intervention of high-tech medical help at an Austrian clinic enabled him to continue his campaign, at times even with a morphine catheter inserted into his spine to quell the intense back spasms which all but crippled him. The catheter has now been removed and the doctors say that he should make an eventual complete recovery.
The matter of the poisoning has been taken up by the Parliament and a new prosecutor appointed under the reform rules recently adopted. Yushchenko has urged that the investigation into the matter be postponed until after the election in order not to influence the vote beforehand. Another example of his being an honest and upright candidate.
Meanwhile Yanukovich and his gang of thieves are falling out with one another, with Kuchma blaming Yanukovich and vice-versa. A predictable outcome. Yanukovich is still showing some feeble signs of life as he reflexively accuses the United States of interference in his country's elections.
For anyone (like the MSM) fastidiously concerned about United States financial backing for the democracy movement in Ukraine, let me just point out, that Russia poured fully three times as much money into the campaign, all of it sent directly to supporting Yanukovich's campaign and for efforts to rig the vote tallies, while U.S. dollars went primarily to efforts to ensure a free and open election. Big difference. But then, why are we even surprised.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian example is having repercussions in Belarus, which recently also underwent a suspect election in which a Kremlin stooge was installed in power. Belorussian activists have been streaming into Kyiv to participate in the demonstrations there (currently winding down as the country prepares for the upcoming election), and also learning methods to be used in their own country.
In another development a group of Russians demonstrated in Moscow in support of the Ukrainian Orange movement and also demanded democratic reforms in Russia. Putin must be feeling the unmistakeable tap-tap of Slavic stirrings of freedom nipping at his heels.
As I have talked about in a posting below, the Iranians are also demanding reforms in their country and are also similarly inspired by the Ukrainian "Orange Velvet Revolution".
In an encouraging move, the Bush administration also appears to be taking a harder line with Putin after the recent shenanigans with the Ukrainian election. It's high time that Washington stop always taking Moscow's side against Ukrainian interests. It has long been in the interests of the United States to support an open and democratic Ukraine as a buffer to the increasinly autocratic rule of Putin in the Kremlin.
President Bush has come very far indeed from his father's infamous "Chicken Kiev" speech when the elder President Bush urged Ukrainians not to give in to "suicidal nationalism" and to keep the Soviet Union intact rather than vote for independence.
All in all, I must say that the forces of liberty, democracy and goodness seem to be winning over the forces of darkness in Ukraine. All eyes will be on the outcome of the December 26th election.