Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Window on the Arab world

Be sure and check out Window on the Arab World, and More! by an expert on the Middle East and a speaker of Arabic who gives a unique perspective on that part of the world and other areas as well.

Scenes from the inauguration

Yushchenko kisses a copy of Ukraine's constitution after being sworn in as president.

Yushchenko releases a pigeon with an orange ribbon at his inauguration in Kyiv on January 23, 2005

Sunday, January 30, 2005

To die is not original...

By Aussiegirl

Viktor Yushchenko was featured on a story on tonight's 60 Minutes.

A few new facts came to light:

Does Yushchenko know who did this to him? "I have no doubts this was by my opponents in the government, that's who would benefit the most from my death," says Yushchenko.
But there is still the question of how it was done. One way to solve it is to trace the poison. And some people in Yushchenko's camp think that it came from a Russian chemical weapons lab. "Dioxin like this is produced in four or five military labs in Russia, America, and a few other countries," says Yushchenko. "Our security services have informed me how this material got into Ukraine, but that evidence is now with our general prosecutor, who eventually must answer this question."

They must also examine another plot on Yushchenko's life. Ukraine's security services say a powerful car bomb, targeting Yushchenko's headquarters, was discovered during the presidential campaign. Two Russian nationals are being interrogated. Spokesmen for the Russian security services would not comment on either case, but President Vladimir Putin's role during the election remains controversial.

And in the final few phrases Kateryna and Viktor sum it all up eloquently:

"A lot of people asked me, 'How did you deal with it,' and my answer was always my husband's alive. My children are alive, I'm alive," says Yushchenko's wife, Katherine. "It was such a small episode in a huge revolution. Generations of Ukrainians, you could say centuries of Ukrainians, have dreamed and have fought, and have died for a chance to be right where we are right now."

"When I heard that millions were praying for me, it went straight to my heart," says Yushchenko. "But I also felt an obligation to live. Dying is not very original, but to live and carry on -- that's special."

Yushchenko before dioxin

A brief biographical sketch

Here's an excellent synopsis of Viktor Yushchenko's background from Radio Liberty:

Viktor Yushchenko is a former prime minister of Ukraine. He is a member of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) and head of the Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus. Yushchenko graduated from the Ternopil Finance and Economics Institute in 1975 and is a candidate for a science degree in economics. He is a laureate of the Ukraine State Science and Technology Prize. Since 1976, Yushchenko has worked in the banking system. In 1985, he was appointed deputy director, and later director, of the Ukrainian Republican Bureau of the USSR State Bank. From 1993-99, he was governor of the National Bank of Ukraine. In 1997, Yushchenko was rated among the world's top six central bankers by "Global Finance" magazine. From 1999-2001, Yushchenko served as prime minister of Ukraine. In 2001-02, he formed and headed the Our Ukraine election coalition.

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming

by Aussiegirl

The latest issue of
Time reports that the Russians are fielding more spies in the U. S. than ever since the end of the Cold War.

According to the article the numbers are approaching Cold War levels as Russia is anxious to learn about advances in technology, military hardware, dual-use technology, and U.S. intentions and policies towards the former Soviet States and China. Russia is expecially said to be concerned about developments in U.S. missile defense technology as this would render their nuclear arsenal useless. Now why would Russia feel they need to worry about the U.S. missile defense technology unless Putin feels he needs the threat of a first strike to keep the U.S. in line? This sounds awfully much like the Cold War all over again. Looks like Putin didn't learn the lesson the first time around.

In addition to raising the alarm about the increase in Russian spying the FBI, which has remade itself into a counterterrorism agency, is spending less resources on domestic counterintelligence. Looks like it's time to get out the old "Spy/Counter-Spy" handbook again.

ALERT!! Yushchenko on 60 Minutes tonight!!

Check your local listings -- Yushchenko will be on 60 Minutes tonight.

(Along with Hillary Swank, for those of you who are more interested in the inner torments of starlets lives than the birth of democracy.)

Iraq goes to the polls

By Aussiegirl

Liberty Century. That's what President Bush called it in one of his speeches before the recent American elections. He hasn't repeated that phrase again, but I think it's apt. We seem to be experiencing the year of the momentous election. We can go back and start with the inauspicious elections in Spain, when a country, rocked by a terrorist train bombing, took out its collective wrath not on the terrorists who were responsible, but against the government which the public blamed for inciting the terrorist's anger. We looked at this and hoped that this would not be the first of a series of victories for terror through the ballot box that would spread throughout the developed world.

But then came the Australian elections, and contrary to all polls, prognostications and pontifications, Aussies overwhelmingly gave Prime Minister Howard a ringing endorsement of his free market, low tax, and vigorous anti-terror campaign. Way to go, maties!!
This was a harbinger of good things to come in our own elections, as George Bush defeated John Kerry, whose party had laid out a strategy of being anti-war-on-terror.

Then, barely had we overcome the tensions of our own elections, than the unexpected happened in Ukraine. As we've been following on the news and in these pages, Ukraine's runoff election was declared an unmitigated fraud and a revote was ordered.
President Yushchenko has since come to power and taken office in the first true democratic election in that country, one that points the way at last to a path from simple independence to true democracy.

And today we have experienced the Iraqi elections. And what a beautiful day it is once again for freedom and democracy. When I saw the joy and excitement expressed by the Iraqis who voted today, and beheld their glowing faces, I was reminded of the scenes I witnessed just a few days ago in Kyiv.

Democracy and freedom affect people in the same way throughout the world. President Bush is correct. Freedom and liberty are the only hope for the world's peace.

Here's a moving account of an
eyewitness to today's election in Iraq from Iraq the Model blog:

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear. We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that. From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!

Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.

I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Happy Birthday Wolfgang

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born January 27, 1756 - died December 5, 1791

Birdblog checks in

By Aussiegirl

Tim Birdnow, a regular contributor to The American Thinker who also maintains the excellent Birdblog site, is also a regular visitor to UT. Usually his comments are so worthy that it is a shame to let them languish on the comments page, since those comments are hidden. Here are his thoughts on the recent articles dealing with Ukraine's emergence onto the international political and economic scene, and my own response.

Tim Birdnow said:

What the Ukrainian people (and others emerging from the domination of the Warsaw Pact) are experiencing is akin to a world class athlete being entered in the tour-de-France while never having ridden a bicycle. They are educated, intelligent, industrious, but have not had the benefit of operating legally in a system which encourages free enterprise. You are right; they need international financing and advisers on how to operate a market-oriented economy. They need the rule of law (hopefully they`re about to get that!) and they need practice. In time, I suspect the Ukrainian economy will challenge Old Europe,and eventually our own. Japan did it, and Ukraine can do it too! They have all the ingredients assembled in the pot-they just need some time to simmer on the stove.

Aussiegirl said:

You are absolutely right, Tim. As the article by the young election observer further down on my blog notes, he discovered that independence and freedom are not the same thing. Ukraine has been independent for a decade at least, but does not really understand how a true free market works because they have not had the conditions to allow it. One of the biggest things that held back foreign investment was the corrupt oligarchical crony system, which froze out any legitimate investment, and a corrupt legal system which did not enforce contract law. Nobody wants to invest their money and then find out it's all been stolen and there is no recourse in the courts. As we know, the prime prerequisite to a true free market is a firm legal system and true private property -- neither of which has existed in Ukraine up until now. The task that stands before Yushchenko is truly daunting. It is a miracle that he is so optimistic after everything that he's had to endure. I think it is because of his religious faith, frankly, that he has been able to carry on. Another thing that is so powerful, is that a sense of religious faith seems to have awakened in the population which had religion driven from the public and private arenas for so long. And also, not to be discounted, is the fact that an entirely new generation has grown up that hardly remembers the days of severe repression and lack of freedom. These young people want and expect liberty.

Did the SBU thwart a violent crackdown?

By Aussiegirl

Here's an analysis of the story that appeared in the New York Times describing how Ukraine's Intelligence chief thwarted a violent crackdown on the protestors in Kyiv during the recent post-election showdown. The
author makes some interesting points that may debunk some of the NYT story posted earlier here.

Cheney and Yushchenko meet for over an hour

By Aussiegirl

President Yushchenko and Vice-President Cheney talked for over an hour yesterday, and in a joint appearance Cheney praised Yushchenko's devotion to freedom and liberty. The two leaders met at a commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in Poland. Here are some excerpts from an article in the
Boston Globe:

"What President Yushchenko has accomplished is remarkable and inspiring and there are great tasks ahead," Cheney said in an appearance with the leader,


"President Yushchenko is an ally in freedom's cause, and President Bush and the American people stand with him."

Initially, the two leaders were scheduled to have a brief meeting and then eat dinner. But their meeting lasted for more than an hour -- more than twice as long as scheduled -- and they skipped dinner.

Yushchenko meets with Gates

By Aussiegirl

With his background as a banker and economist, and with his Ukrainian-American wife, Yushchenko understands what Ukraine needs to emerge as a thriving economy. He met with Bill Gates recently, at the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland.

It's true that the population of Ukraine is highly educated, with many people possessing advanced technical degrees and skills. What is needed is foreign investment that can have the force of contract law behind it and the assurances of a safe (and oligarch and mafia free) environment in order to spur the economy and get it moving again. Looks like Yushchenko knows who to talk to when it comes to questions like this. Here's the
article from Interfax:

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko discussed the investment climate in Ukraine with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at a meeting in Davos on Friday, Yushchenko's press service reported.
Yushchenko said that investors will soon feel the changes that have occurred in Ukraine.

Gates, for his part, noted the high intellectual potential of Ukrainians and called for investments in Ukraine. He said his company is ready to expand its office in Ukraine and support Ukrainian educational programs.

Former Intelligence Chief a fugitive from justice

by Aussiegirl

Readers of this blog and other venues on Ukraine will remember the story of crusading journalist, Georgy Gongadze, whose headless corpse turned up in a ditch outside Kyiv. There is credible evidence via audiotapes made by one of Kuchma's guards that Kuchma himself ordered his murder. Looks like the chickens are coming home to roost as the Procurator General is wasting no time following the inauguration in pursuing justice.

The following via Interfax:

Former chief of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's external intelligence service Oleksiy Pukach is being searched for now, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun said at a news briefing in Kyiv on Friday.

Pukach has been charged with destroying documents indicating that opposition journalist Georgy Gongadze was under surveillance.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A life-altering experience

By Aussiegirl

Mark Semotiuk, a 22 year old election observer in the recent Ukrainian elections relates how what he saw at the revolution became a life-altering event in his life. His moving account appears in the Oracle, a University of South Florida newspaper.

Over the holidays I traveled to Ukraine as one of 12,000 election observers for the Dec. 26 presidential elections. Before arriving, I didn't know much.


When all of the votes were counted, Yushchenko won the election by a clear margin. I returned to Kiev, and made my way to see Yushchenko's victory speech.
Standing in the middle of a packed square, I could feel the entire crowd moved almost to the point of tears.

"For 14 years we have been independent and now we are free," he said. It was then that I understood the distinction between independence and freedom. Lives have forever been altered. There is a sense of awe in the people that they have undergone a metamorphosis. And I can attest -- I am a new person myself.

Between Ukrainians, there is a bond that can't be described in words. They understand the responsibility that has been passed on to them by their ancestors, and they are not willing to let go of the past. The shackles of totalitarian rule have been lifted, and it is with pride that they look to the future. They are finally free. And so it is that I sat at Starbucks, part of my usual Sunday routine. Looking through the news, I saw hundreds of thousands of people crowded in Independence Square in Kiev for Yushchenko's inauguration. Some critics argue that this was not a revolution, but a mere transition. Whatever the case, if you still don't believe that the world has changed, I urge you to read the reports of the many people who attended the inauguration.

And if you were to stand in Independence Square, on that day, surrounded by all those people, in a sea of "Orange," reflecting on the costs paid for this freedom, I promise, you would be a changed person too.

And then there's this


From Independent News in the UK.

Looks like unrest is breaking out all over Putin's Russia -- here's a clip:

Russian officers 'helped in plot to seize Beslan school' By Andrew Osborn in Beslan
28 January 2005

Beslan's increasingly restless residents were told yesterday that high-ranking Russian military officers who "were still at their posts" were suspected of helping Chechen militants seize the town's school last September.

Two men holding a rank "higher than a major and a colonel" were said to be involved in the plot and had apparently deliberately not fulfilled the functions for which they are paid, presumably in exchange for some kind of bribe.

The revelation, disclosed by the parliamentary commission investigating the atrocity, appeared to shatter the illusion that the tragedy was the isolated work of a small band of Chechen separatists. It is likely to enrage the victims' mothers who are becoming increasingly vociferous in their demands that the president of North Ossetia, the republic where Beslan is located, should resign. Last week they blocked Beslan's main highway for three days to press their demands and are threatening to take further "illegal" action if Alexander Dzasokhov, whom they accuse of failing to protect their children, does not step down.

Alexander Torshin, chairman of the parliamentary commission looking into the bloodbath, said yesterday that "a terrorist act of such a scale would have been impossible to commit without accomplices."

In the mayhem that followed the seizure of the school on 1 September, 330 people died, 186 of whom were children. Many residents have found it impossible to fathom how a group of militants allegedly numbering no more than 32 was able to hold more than 1,100 people hostage for three days.

It is also unclear how they managed to smuggle so many weapons into the school, passing through so many official checkpoints.

It is known that several policemen readily accepted bribes to turn a blind eye. Two accomplices have been detained, a further three are on the run and yesterday Mr Torshin claimed that he had passed information to the law enforcement authorities concerning a further two accomplices.

Russia's second revolution?

By Aussiegirl

Herbert Meyer, who worked in the CIA during the Reagan years and was the only analyst to correctly predict the downfall of the Soviet Union writes this great article in today's American Thinker.

The so-called "babushka" revolution that has been happening recently in Russia is only the tip of the iceberg in a restiveness that is permeating Russia, especially with the recent democratic developments and the success of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose revolution in Georgia. Be sure and read the entire article -- here's a snippet:

The second half of Russia's second revolution has begun. It started in mid-January, when in cities throughout the country tens of thousands of mostly-older citizens took to the streets for days on end to protest President Vladimir Putin's welfare reform plan. Already hope is starting to rise, both inside the country and beyond, that "people power" will bring to Russia the kind of real democracy it is bringing right now to the neighboring countries of Ukraine and Georgia. But Russia is well, Russia which means that this revolution will go on longer, spill more blood, and could end less happily than the revolutions nearby. Which leads to one big question that the Bush Administration will need to answer sooner rather than later: whose side are we on?

(snip) And it's impossible to exaggerate the sheer joy and relief among Russians that they finally had someone in charge who was young, healthy and athletic a good omen for the country's future. Everyone tried hard not to notice that Putin had secured his election by, among other nasty stunts, a string of Moscow apartment-house bombings his law-and-order campaign blamed on Chechen terrorists, but which turned out to be organized by Putin's alma mater, the Russian intelligence service. And everyone kept trying not to notice that, once securely in office, Putin started to strangle Russia's fragile free-market democracy. Newspapers and television networks that opposed him were shut down, or forced to sell out to Putin supporters. A new law that Putin rammed through the Duma allowed him to appoint regional governors who had been subject to election. The assassination of independent journalists and opposition politicians became commonplace. In October 2003 Putin arrested Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a major funder of opposition politicians and the founder of Yukos Oil, Russia's largest energy company, on trumped-up charges of tax evasion and fraud. By the time Putin ran for re-election in 2004, there really was no opposition.

Putin's second term has been an unmitigated disaster. His inept handling of the attack on a school in Beslan last September, which left more than 300 children dead and which he attributes once again -- to Chechen terrorists, shattered his reputation for tough competence. In October, his clumsy intervention in Ukraine's presidential election on behalf of the corrupt incumbent backfired, and the pro-west Viktor Yushchenko is now that country's president. (There's no official verdict on who ordered Yushchenko's poisoning during his campaign, but the world's record for botched assassinations has long been held by the Soviet intelligence service which these days reports to you-know-whom.) In January, while the Yukos Oil founder rotted in jail, Putin seized the company itself and shattered hopes that Russia will play by the rule of law. And now his welfare reform flop has brought tens of thousands of ordinary Russians the very core of Putin's political base -- into the streets against him.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

ACLU supports polygamy

By Aussiegirl

An article in the
Yale Daily News has an interesting tidbit from the new President of the ACLU.

Of course we knew it was inevitable. Once homosexuals are allowed to marry -- why not polygamy? Why not bigamy? Why not polyandry? I mean, we can't discriminate against women, can we?

Can consensual sex between adults and children be far behind? After all Hillary Clinton argued that children should be autonomous from their parents and make their own decisions. Parents are allowed no say in whether or not their daughters seek abortions, a potentially life-threatening and fertility threatening procedure.

And once we have gone down this road -- if you think about it -- what's wrong with marrying your pet? I mean -- there are probably plenty of women who would find a meaningful and state-sanctioned relationship with their cat to be preferable to that husband who never picks up his pajamas or remembers her birthday or wants to snuggle up at night. And what man, for that matter, might not sometimes prefer the company of his faithful companion, the dog, to a pesky woman who is always asking that loaded question, "Honey, does this make me look fat?"

Ah, what a Brave New World awaits us -- courtesy of the ACLU and the liberal left wing of the democrat party. Wedding bells, anyone?

An overflowing crowd of more than 60 students and community members crammed into
the Swing Space common room Tuesday to hear Nadine Strossen, the president of
the American Civil Liberties Union, discuss the ACLU's agenda on issues ranging
from gay marriage rights to Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction."

(snip)In response to a student's question about gay marriage, bigamy and
polygamy in certain communities, Strossen said the ACLU is actively fighting to
defend freedom of choice in marriage and partnerships. "We have defended the
right for individuals to engage in polygamy," Strossen said. "We defend the
freedom of choice for mature, consenting individuals."

Henry Kissinger, international man of mystery

BonnieBlueFlag is in a thoughtful mood this morning, and sends the following via email:

Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State

Now there is a man with so many dimensions. Initially, under Nixon, I never knew quite what to make of him.
First of all my ear was not accustomed to his accent, so I had difficulty understanding what he was saying. Of course 8 second sound bites were not conducive to being able to learn to understand him either.

This man, who was a type foreign to me, was not handsome and yet he was dating all of the most beautiful women that Hollywood had to offer. I think this was my first encounter with the notion that "power" was very alluring to many women.

Much later . . . when it came to light that he had been on his knees with Nixon in the Oval office, praying over the mater of Watergate, I was bewildered by this man.
Then after dating all of those actresses and models, he married Nancy Maginnes, someone not beautiful, but more his intellectual equal. It was such a shock to all the celebrity gossip mongers. Obviously, he was unique among men, he wasn't interested in acquiring a trophy wife.

Over the years I have learned to understand him, and perhaps his accent is not as thick as it was 35 years ago. Today, I just love the guy. I always stop everything that I am doing to listen, whenever he is on radio or TV. I especially enjoy him on the Fox and Friends morning show. He is really relaxed with Steve, E.D. and Brian, and that is when he is the most open. It's like sitting next to him at a dinner party, and he is letting you in on little secrets.

This morning he was on F&F, just as I was waking up. I was enjoying listening to him, when he ever so casually gave me serious chills. I'm paraphrasing . . . But, he said that Condi Rice was coming into her job as the Secretary of State at one of the most important times in history. He knows of no other time in history when there was so much change going on, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. In fact he feels that this is the most momentous time ever in all of the "history of man."

We are living in what Henry Kissinger calls the most momentous time in the total history of mankind. An awesome thought at first, and then the realization that it is also an awesome responsibility.

Some of us have felt that we were approaching a cross roads of some kind, that something was on our horizon, but just out of sight. Something life altering, be it simply "good or evil" it is hard to say.

You and I and all of the other Lucianne types, along with the Bloggers, etc., must be ever on guard. If indeed this is the most important moment in the history of man, current events and the reporting of them by a bias media must be carefully scrutinized by the same people who exposed Dan Rather. If it were not for the Internet and the Bloggers, John Kerry could have easily been our president, the man to guide the US through the maze that awaits us.

We are all feeling a little low with the election behind us, etc. We were all in a "Fight or Flight" mode, and now we are coming down from an adrenaline rush. However, the Democrats like Kennedy and Boxer are in the mood for revenge at any cost, and if we let up for a moment Hillary Clinton or even John Kerry could be our next president.

In a thoughtful frame of mind this morning . . .


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Out of the shadows of history

By Aussiegirl

BonnieBlueFlag just posted this comment on UT, which I have posted below, and what can I say -- it was so lovely I just wanted everyone to read it on the main board. And not just because it's personally complimentary to me -- but because when I started this blog, harrassed as I was into even doing it by MsFalconersCabanaBoy over at Pajama Pack, the central gathering site of all Lucianne.com regular posters who blog, http://www.pajamapack.blogspot.com -- I could never have imagined that events in Ukraine would unfold in the exciting way that they have, and that Ukraine would suddenly burst on the international scene and intrude itself on American and international consciousness.

I had been so accustomed for years growing up to people not having the faintest idea what I meant when I said -- "I'm of Ukrainian heritage." So if I have been able to explain the meaning of what is going on to an audience which had little knowledge of this part of the world before, then I am so grateful and pleased.

When this story was first breaking - with the vast demonstrations in the snowy streets of Kyiv garnering headlines on the evening news and in the newspapers, a childhood friend, who is also of Ukrainian heritage, emailed me to say -- "I'm so excited by everything that's going on in Ukraine -- do you remember when we were kids and nobody even knew what Ukrainian was?"

So I had no idea when I started writing this blog that I would end up being able to share my heritage and culture and history with so many people through this medium. Perhaps it's a good time to talk about what it's like to grow up in two cultures, as there are many people in America who also grow up this way. This has always been the way of America. Immigrants come here seeking a better life for themselves and their family. The first generation stories of all these immigrants is similar -- regardless of the native culture.

My parents grew up under Stalinist communism in eastern Ukraine -- in the Kharkiv region -- the easternmost province of Ukraine -- the one which is now most heavily Russified and heavily favored Yanukovych. But when they lived there everyone spoke Ukrainian. My mother and father both lived through collectivization, brutal repression, the Great Famine Genocide of 1933, when Stalin's policy of forced collectivization purposely starved over 7 million Ukrainians to death. They survived the Stalinist terror following those years, but my mother's father fell victim to one of those baseless arrests and was imprisoned in a gulag in Sibera for over 10 years. When the Germans invaded Ukraine they perpetrated their own horrors, heaping torture upon torture. Eventually my parents fled overland the entire breadth of Ukraine, hoping to get to the west when the war was over, because it was clear to them that Germany's days were numbered as the Soviet army was driving them out of the snowy steppes -- as they had swept before them Napoleon's army a hundred and more years earlier -- these armies falling victim to the harsh winter, as much as the might of the Russian Army.

When they got to the border, however, they were taken as forced labor to Germany, and spent the bulk of the war in Berlin, working in factories. They survived the intense bombing of Berlin, and only barely managed to escape Berlin on one of the last trains to leave before the Soviets marched in.

But their adventures were not at an end. Their joy at being liberated by American troops, who showered my nearly starved family with rations and chocolates, was short lived. Before long they were rounded up and placed in detention camps, in former POW camps, behind barbed wire and with armed military sentries poised on the guard towers. Only this time their prison guards weren't Soviets, and they weren't Nazis -- but they were Allied troops -- American, British and French. They had fallen victim to yet another hideous 20th century perversion of politics -- the Yalta Conference -- under which they, as refugees from the Soviet Union, were to be forcibly "repatriated" and sent back to a sure death or imprisonment in a gulag.

They spent FIVE long years after the war, being herded from prison camp to prison camp, men, women and children -- sometimes forcibly and with blood, as most people were willing to die rather than be forced to return. Many committed suicide because of their despair. This is an unknown and also untold chapter of history that I hope to address bit by bit in the coming months, as my father played a pivotal role in this episode, and finally managed to save not only his own family, but all the people who were in his group from deportation. I was born in one of these detention camps following the war.

Following these harrowing years in Allied hands, they finally won their freedom and managed to get a visa to emigrate to Australia. We lived there for 7 years, but my father never lost his dream of coming to America. And so -- we finally did. And who could have imagined, that a young girl and boy growing up in a small village in Ukraine, who carried water in a bucket, and chopped wood for a fire, and lived a harsh and difficult life under Stalin, would eventually land on the golden shores of America, land of the free and home of the brave -- and live in comfort and retirement near the great capital of the free world -- Washington, D. C.

So it is because of them, and the history they lived, and the culture of the Ukraine they so loved that they instilled in me -- that I am grateful that I can now share these thoughts with a wider audience. If any of you find this interesting, it is deeply gratifying to me.

Growing up with your foot in two cultures is at once an enlarging -- and confining -- experience. Enlarging in the richness that it offers, but somewhat confining in that you find that a large part of what makes you -- you -- is completely unknown to everyone you meet. Especially when nobody has ever even heard of your nationality. What's Ukrainian? -- they ask -- is that like Russian?

And unlike the Italians and other immigrant groups that came here, whose home cultures thrived back in the mother country, Ukraine's culture was in danger of being completely obliterated. The Ukrainian language had been suppressed since Tsarist times -- and at various times it was forbidden to write or publish in it. Still many did, at their own peril and risk, and kept this beautiful language alive. Then under Stalin, a policy of deliberate Russification was continued, under even harsher penalties, and under the communists even the Orthodox religion, along with all others was banished -- so what had been a rich cultural heritage, was in danger of being lost to the world forever.

It was because of this that those Ukrainians who found themselves in the diaspora felt it incumbent upon themselves to be that vessel of cultural heritage, of language, and custom, that would shelter and carry this precious jewel until such time as Ukraine was once again free -- and could reclaim its rightful heritage. Let me also say, that Ukrainians are also completely integrated into American society, we love this country as much as we love our own Ukrainan heritage, and consider ourselves Americans first, because the beauty of America is that anyone can be an American, and celebrate on the Fourth of July the birth of freedom an independence for ALL men, while cherishing in their hearts the beauty of another culture. That's what makes the melting pot of America so great, and the stew taste so wonderful here.

I always thought of our little outposts throughout the world, these little emigre communities formed around various churches and civic organizations, like those people in Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's dark tale of a future when books are banned. At the end of the novel, when a band of dissidents escapes to the mountains, they find a group already gathered there, who have taken upon themselves the task of each memorizing and becoming a "book" - so that one day -- when books can again be printed, the beautiful legacy of literature and knowledge will be resurrected and put in its rightful place.

So when I heard and watched these events unfold in Ukraine, and I realized that Ukrainians had finally gotten up off their knees and reclaimed their rightful heritage as a free and democratic and cultural people, I wept with joy -- because it felt like a liberation to me as well, that my own Ukrainian song which had been planted in me by my parents, and which I had cherished all my life in secret -- could now also burst into life and take wing along with those doves and those balloons. A great part of my Ukrainian soul was also liberated and acknowledged by that solemn oath and those noble words spoken by President Yushchenko. I can now proudly say to anyone -- "I am a Ukrainian American" -- and know that they will know what I mean -- and understand a bit of who I am -- for Ukraine will now be known for more than just being a dim outpost of forgotten people, with a forgotten heritage, or the site of a terrible genocide, or of a nuclear disaster, or of a thuggish and criminal regime. Ukraine can take its place in the family of nations -- and the dream of a resurrected Ukraine that my parents cherished and nurtured their entire lives in exile, will finally have been achieved by brave people, fighting bravely for goodness and decency once more.

I couldn't be happier. To be an American -- and to be a Ukrainian -- these are riches beyond compare.

Here's BonnieBlueFlag's lovely post which led to this outpouring:

As a young school girl in the years after W.W.II, I had a mental image of countries with exotic names like Ukraine, Armenia, and Lithuania as simply being territories of the great mysterious U.S.S.R. An extremely large and very cold place ruled by people with names like Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev.

Khrushchev burst into our current events class (in 1960) with his infamous display of temper, while pounding on the table with his shoe at a meeting of the UN. His previous remark in 1956, "We will bury you" was already a well known threat to every American.

There was really no way that any one of my age in my time and place, could know that the Ukrainians lived in even more fear of the Russians than we did. I was left to assume that all of the people of Ukraine, Armenia, Lithuania, et al., were well represented by the words of Nikita Khrushchev.

Many of those initial images and thoughts about the satellite states of Russia fell away with time, as I accumulated more historical knowledge, especially through the Reagan years.

Today with the advent of the Internet, the Blogs posted from Ukraine and most importantly, Aussiegirl, I have watched and learned so much about the struggle of a people to be free of Russian domination.
I sincerely hope that as we celebrate the "Orange Revolution," we will also celebrate new freedoms for many other countries beginning with Iraq.

Aussiegirl, thank you for being such a wonderful guide for the rest of us who knew so little about Ukraine and its citizens just a few months ago.

C-Span coverage of the Ukrainian Inauguration

By Aussiegirl

I just finished watching a tape I had made last night of a C-Span broadcast Yushchenko's Inaugural speech. (Thanks to Ldotter FL_Absentee_Voter for cluing me in that there was such a broadcast.) I was so moved I just had to post my immediate and emotional reactions upon viewing it. There was a simultaneous English translation, but I could hear some of the Ukrainian behind the translation. It was magnificent, so dignified and moving. They started by singing the national anthem -- everyone singing together -- in glorious harmony -- with a band accompaniment -- they had sung this anthem time and time again as they stood in the snow demanding justice -- and now they sang it again in triumph and gratitude on a beautiful, snowless and sunny day. The crowds were enormous -- a real people's inauguration -- crowds and crowds -- in that beautiful square -- with the columns wrapped in orange -- and Yushchenko -- speaking so earnestly -- so simply -- and so movingly -- with the people simply rapt and joyous. Old faces and young faces -- full of hope, and full of so much knowledge of hardships that had come before. I was a blubber of tears by the time he finished. And then young Ukrainian singers came out to the center of the square and began singing a modern song -- a sort of anthem to Ukraine -- it must have been the theme song because everyone sang along -- it was a soaring melody -- Ukraine, Ukraine -- with an open heart, etc. etc. -- down a golden path, etc. etc. -- I couldn't make out all the words but you got the general drift. And then -- Yushchenko released a pigeon - and then many pigeons flew up into the heavens -- and finally -- masses of orange balloons sailed high into the cloudless blue sky and drifted slowly away as the song rang out through the square. And there was Yushchenko -- with his entire family -- wife, children, grandchildren -- looking proud, humble, sincere, very simple -- and very happy -- but with a serious happiness -- a melancholy happiness -- a determined and weighty happiness -- at all that has gone before -- and all that lies ahead. I was awash in tears. It is a great day indeed. Ukraine has left all the crudeness and despotism of Russia and its long and bitter history behind. It looks to the future. It won't be easy -- but the first step has been taken -- it is an irrevocable step. I am one happy Ukrainian American on this day.

Le Sabot Post-Moderne

This is definitely one of the must read sites on the internet dealing with the Ukrainian revolution, politics and updates, from and expat living in Kyiv with his Ukrainian wife and children (I hope I got that right). Discoshaman has been blogging directly from the revolution and the Maidan since those first snowy and frightening but exhilarating days. I've posted his link before, but until I learn how to blogroll here, I'll post it again. There are some wonderful photos of the inauguration. He also covers American and world politics from a great conservative angle and with a practiced eye from both a Ukrainian and an American point of view. Check our Le Sabot Post-Moderne out at http://www.postmodernclog.com

Monday, January 24, 2005

A note on my translation

By Aussiegirl

I have posted below my own translation of Victor Yushchenko's Inaugural speech, delivered on Sunday, January 23, 2005 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

I used the English translation which I found on the official website of President Yushchenko and also the original Ukrainian transcript which I also found there: http://www.razom.org.ua/

My version, I think, reflects a more common English usage and flows more naturally to the American ear, and in many ways is closer to the original Ukrainian meaning, as I spent the day poring over the beautiful Ukrainian language and hearing its poetry and its music reverberating in my heart. I believe this is the closest translation in meaning, feeling, intention to the original Ukrainian. It is at times like these that I fall down on my knees and thank my mother who insisted I learn Ukrainian even when I whined and complained. Dyakuyu Mama!! Now I have the astonishing privilege of knowing two languages fluently -- as my mother tongue. And what the heart longs to express in one, I feel that I can well express in the other, even when the two languages are so different. Because my heart speaks both Ukrainian and English.

As I pored over these beautiful and meaningful words, and as the beauty of the thoughts expressed and the emotions became clear, I was deeply moved. This is truly a speech for all ages and all nations. And if President Bush wants an example of how the vision of HIS inaugural speech can become reality, he has only to look to the events which unfolded over the past months in Ukraine, and the glorious day celebrated yesterday in Independence Square in Kyiv, to be rewarded for his vision and foresight.

Yushchenko's Inaugural Address

Inaugural address of the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko to the Ukrainian
people on Independence Square

My Dear Ukrainian people!
Honorable guests!

I am standing before you, after having taken the solemn oath of office provided by the Constitution in the Verkhovna Rada. My oath is unchanged. But Ukraine is changed, and so are we.

We have lifted the burden of the past from our shoulders. Nobody can tell us anymore how to live and whom to elect.

I have become the President of Ukraine by the free will of the Ukrainian people. Today I want to speak to you face to face. Today I have the honor of speaking to free people who hold in their hands the destiny of their nation.

In your presence I would like to extend my oath of allegiance. I swear we will change our life.

My victory is the victory of all Ukrainians, and each citizen individually.

For this I thank God who gave us Faith, Hope and Love. We won a victory with these gifts. I am praying that we will always treasure them in our hearts.

I thank the Ukrainian people for the great trust they have placed in me.

I thank everybody who responded to my words: "I believe in Ukraine. I know my duty. We will win together." You have paved the way to the future for your country.

I thank all citizens of Ukraine regardless of whom they voted for. My victory is the victory of all of us. Everybody has the right to seek the proper path for his country. Everybody has the right to choose the political colors appealing to him or her. Still our common choice, the colors of the National Flag of Ukraine, unites us all.

I thank my team who worked for victory. You, my dearest brothers, were unyielding in the journey that we undertook together. I believe you will be tireless in the work that awaits us.

I thank my family, wife, children and grandchildren. You have been with me through my most difficult days. And you are celebrating with me today. I believe you will always be my hope and support.

I bow humbly in gratitude before my father for the lessons he taught me -- Andriy Andriyovych Yushchenko, teacher from a small village in Sumy oblast and prisoner of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dacchau. My father's truth has guided me throughout my life and has brought me to the high honor of becoming the head of my country. I thank my mother, Varvara Tymofiyivna, for her love and prayers that safeguard me. I beg her forgiveness for the pain her mother's heart has had to endure, and especially these last four months.

Dear friends! I am proud to stand beside you here!

Two months ago millions of people came to this Maidan, to the squares and streets all over Ukraine. Our brothers and sisters, parents and children, friends and neighbors, were standing day and night in the snow and freezing cold. Ukraine was devouring every word sounded here. The heart of Ukraine was beating here. Free peoples of the world, and our compatriots dispersed in distant lands, were standing shoulder to shoulder with us. On Independence Square Ukrainians have risen as a modern Ukrainian nation.

Stubborn resistance has stirred up our souls. All of us feel we are citizens of Ukraine. Our decency, generosity and kindness have been awakened. Armed with faith and will the people won a glorious victory. This is a victory of freedom over tyranny, law over lawlessness, and the future over the past.

Each Ukrainian citizen has become a winner. We succeeded in holding a fair election on 26 December. We have freely chosen the path by which we are prepared to go forward.

Our choice is determined by our entire history.

We have chosen prosperity, since poverty must not plague our land which was the first soil ploughed up in the history of mankind.

We have chosen justice, since lawlessness must not become the norm in the state where a thousand years ago the "Ruska Pravda" code of laws was established.

We have chosen freedom, since tyranny must not rule over the successors of the Cossack Republic, where as long as three hundred years ago the First Constitution in Europe was written.

We have chosen independence, since we are the descendants of those generations who dreamed of a Ukrainian state for centuries, and courageously fought for their freedom.

A Ukrainian state has been established. Our choice has proved it once again. Our victory is a great day of celebration for our nation. On this day let us commemorate the heroes who died for victory, the martyrs of Nazi and Soviet camps, the victims of the Holodomor (genocide famine of 1932-33), deportation and Holocaust.

They look down on us today from heaven, and they are proud of us!

We have made our choice as we remember who we are, whose children and grandchildren we are. We should not look for the future's answers in the past. However, we will always honor our origins. Only in this way can we remain true to ourselves. Only in this way will we always be victorious!

Our choice has raised great hopes. They are justified. They are absolutely realistic.

We have everything we need for success. We have an abundant land. The talents of our compatriots amaze the whole world. We will achieve everything with our will and labour!

I am the President of all Ukraine. I am responsible for making the Donbas mines and Trans-Dnepr factories work, the ports of the Black Sea and Galicia trade routes function. I will do my best to ensure that farmers of all regions will have abundant harvests. Ukraine's wealth is the wealth of its regions. I swear to preserve and increase it!

We, the Ukrainian citizens, have become a single Ukrainian nation. No one can divide us, not by the languages we speak, the religions which we choose to practice, or our political views. We have a single Ukrainian fate. We have a single national pride. We are proud of being Ukrainians!

We have already taken an irrevocable step towards democracy. Only democracy guards the most valuable things for every person -- family and children, peace and order, work and well-being. Only in a democratic state are the highest values those of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity. Only in a democratic Ukraine can the bright palette of languages, cultures and views become the country's wealth.

I pledge that every child will be able to learn the language of his parents. Everyone will be able to pray in his own church.
Everyone will be guaranteed the right of freedom of expression. We will listen to one another because there will be freedom of speech and an independent press. Everyone will be equal before the law. Independent courts will defend the rights of each person. I regard Ukraine as a state ruled by law.

We will establish a democratic government -- honest, professional and patriotic.

The wall which separates the authorities from the people will be destroyed. A renewed government will know its duty and will work for the sake of its people and country. It will be equally honorable to be in power and in the opposition, if you serve your country. We will have a moral government able to unite society.

Only through unity and democracy will we perform our national tasks. You have told me of your desires in thousands of meetings. I will fulfill your will.

You want to have a job and decent wages, you feel bitter about leaving your homes in search of jobs abroad.

We will create jobs. Everyone willing to work will get a job and a decent salary. Nothing can limit your initiative and your desire to make your families prosperous. We will support everyone who provides others with work. Honest work will be respected.

We will become a prosperous nation.

You strive for justice.

I will do everything possible so that nobody is deprived. Everyone will enjoy the fruits of economic growth. We will move forward, yet we won't leave behind the sick and the old. The government will be accountable to the people for each kopeck from the budget. Pensions and benefits will steadily increase. Health and care for mother and child will be our top priorities. We will be a consolidated nation.

You want the election to be over. You want to live and work honestly and earn your money legally.

We will eliminate corruption and bring the economy out of the shadows. Taxes will be reduced, but everybody will pay them. Business is to be separated from power. Only those people who declare their incomes will assume state offices.

We will be an honest nation.

You want to be the masters in your own regions. You do not want central authorities deciding your fate. We will restore rights to local communities. The communities will maintain order in the streets, villages or cities on their own. You will elect your own leaders. You will raise money yourselves and spend it as you wish. We will be a nation of self-governed citizens.

You demand the protection of your children against corruption, and want to restore morality. We will defend our cultural wealth. Together with you I will nurture the garden of our Ukrainian culture, and care for its trees, both ancient and young. Our roots will keep us from being blown away like tumbleweeds on the winds of history. Our culture will make the world recognize our uniqueness. We will be a nation of high culture!

We will be a modern nation in a dynamic world, we will stand as equal among equals. Ukraine's future will be -- the best in education, science and high technologies. I will do everything possible to make our nation use its full intellectual potential. We will be the first and the best!

Ukrainians will take a decent place in the international community. Ukraine will be neither a buffer nor a contest area. We are ready to respect the interests of other states. Nevertheless, for me as well as for you, national interests come above all others!

We welcome our eastern and western neighbors. I will do my best to promote stable cooperation with all countries.

Ukraine will be a reliable partner in the fight against old and new threats: tyranny, war, poverty, natural disasters and terrorism. The common search for ways to security and prosperity is Ukraine's responsibility. We are ready for it.

Our path to the future is the path followed by a United Europe. We are people of the same civilization sharing the same values. History, economic prospects and the interests of people give a clear answer to where we should look for our fate. Our place is in the European Union. My goal is Ukraine in a United Europe.

Ukraine has a historical chance to discover its potential in Europe. Our national strategy is to move towards our goal boldly, directly and persistently. European standards are to become the norm of our social life, economy and politics. Every step toward Europe means new opportunities for millions of Ukrainians.

Not long ago many people thought joining the European Union a long-term prospect. Yet free European nations took accelerated steps to freedom on many occasions. The symbols of speedy changes are the ruins of the Berlin wall, the Warsaw round table and our Maidan in Kyiv. Ukraine opens a European history of the third millennium. We are not Europe's suburbs anymore. We are the center of Europe.

Dear friends! We set before us ambitious tasks. I am fully convinced, in the very fiber of my being, that soon they will be turned into glorious deeds. I will spare no effort to make all Ukrainians, without exception, believe in themselves and their country. We have already proved we can both dream and work. We are ready to sacrifice in order to achieve success!

We begin a new page in Ukrainian history. It will be wonderful chapter. It will tell about our unity, courage and our determination to support each other.
Here we will multiply our strength and share our joy. This Square is the symbol of a free nation that believes in its power and creates its future on its own. And the national blue and yellow flag will always fly over us. The National Anthem will sound with millions of voices. Everything that we have envisioned will become reality.

Believe in Ukraine, love Ukraine, serve Ukraine!

Glory to God! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to you!

Live in peace!

Ukraine swears in new president

By Aussiegirl

It finally happened today -- at last we can say -- President Yushchenko. Inauguration day was marked by a huge rally in Indepependence Square, site of the massive demonstrations following the first election which was declared fraudulent. The stage, the massive columns of a large building facing the square, and the crowd were all decked out in orange. What a fortuitous color in the middle of a dreary and cold winter. I remember those orange scarves and hats and banners in those first days of the revolution when the snow was falling hard and the crowds refused to falter and disperse. And now we know how close we came to an armed and bloody confrontation.
So today's peaceful and legal transfer of power is a huge step in Ukraine's path to true independence and true democracy. May God grant his wisdom, guidance and protection to Victor Yushchenko in the coming years as much difficult and rewarding work lies ahead.

In no small measure, the victory of the democracy forces in Ukraine is due to the pressures applied by the European powers and especially by the support of the United States. Secretary Powell was one of the first to express his support for a true democratic outcome to this election, and to press for a full accounting and investigation of the widely reported fraud perpetrated by Kuchma and Yanukovych (helped in no small part by Putin).

President Bush also lent his support to the people of Ukraine in their quest for a fair and free election. In normal times, this election would have been falsified, the people might have protested somewhere, but the powers that be would have silently assented to Kuchma because they did not want to offend or upset Russia. But times have changed. And Russia has embarked on a dangerous, freelance policy of attempting to reform itself as a mini-Soviet Union -- an empire, and embracing Ukraine once more into the embrace of the Russian bear was crucial to its aims.

It is exactly the result we have in Ukraine today that President Bush was talking about in his inaugural address. By expressing support for a free and fair accounting, by refusing to recognize the results of an obviously fraudulent election, and by standing side-by-side with freedom loving Ukrainians, the United States sent an unmistakeable signal that it stands with those who desire freedom.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Supreme Court finalizes Yushchenko as president

By Aussiegirl

At last! The Ukrainian election has been formally finalized and all of Yanukovych's appeals have been summarily dismissed. Unless Yanukovych decides to appeal to the Intergalactic Federation of Sore Losers, along with John Kerry and Edward Kennedy, the way has been cleared for Yushchenko's inauguration within a few days.

Here's some of the Reuters article:

Ukraine Court Ruling Propels Yushchenko to Power

By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko's victory in a presidential poll re-run, clearing the way for his inauguration and ending weeks of turmoil in the former Soviet republic.

Court Chairman Anatoly Yarema, issuing the ruling just before 3 a.m. (8 p.m. EST Wednesday) after days of deliberation, said the judges had rejected an appeal by Viktor Yanukovich, Yushchenko's rival in the Dec. 26 election, that the ballot was unfair.

"This decision is final and not subject to appeal," Yarema said after Yanukovich failed to win his case that the poll was distorted by weeks of street protests by Yushchenko supporters against mass cheating in the first ballot in November.
Yushchenko, who wants to move Ukraine closer to Europe while maintaining traditional links with neighboring Russia, had to fight an earlier court battle to get the November vote -- which Yanukovich won -- annulled.

He beat Yanukovich, a former prime minister initially backed by Moscow, by eight percentage points in the Dec. 26 election but only after the political standoff in the country of nearly 50 million had briefly stoked old East-West tensions.

Yushchenko, another former prime minister and also a one-time central banker, intends to turn his inauguration ceremony into a national celebration to be attended by leaders of the G8 leading industrialized countries, including Russia.

Parliament is required by law to set the inauguration date but it is expected to be in the next few days.

Yushchenko has already decided to pay a visit during his first days in office to the Council of Europe -- a major European human rights body.

He also plans to attend ceremonies in Poland on the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Army's liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The European Union has said it will work with Yushchenko to reform Ukraine's economy and improve human rights with a view to upgrading ties and ultimately preparing the country for membership. Ukraine borders the 25-nation bloc.

The country has a four-year track record of booming, export-driven economic growth and a large trade surplus. This month it announced record gross domestic product growth last year of 12 percent, Europe's best.

But in the past private investors have been worried about bureaucracy, corruption and lack of transparency.

John le Carre has nothing on this true story

By Aussiegirl

An amazing New York Times article lays out in fascinating detail how high ranking members of Ukraine's intelligence services thwarted and prevented a violent crackdown on unarmed protestors in Kiev's Independence Square by thousands of armed and helmeted troops. The inside story of how this power struggle came about, and the players involved, makes a John le Carre novel seem like child's play.

As we all followed those events there were many rumors of tanks and trucks and troops moving toward the capital and stories swirled about possible armed assaults against the protestors. Little did we know then how true these reports were, and how close Ukraine came to a bloody crackdown like in Tiananmen Square in China or the scenes in Hungary in 1956. Thank God that finally a sense of decency and independence had awakened even in some of the country's security forces.

Read the first paragraphs below -- and don't miss the entire article in the Times -- which is more exciting than a spy novel -- because it's true -- and we just watched it unfolding before our eyes.

We are living through momentous times indeed.

Here's the article:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/17/international/europe/17ukraine.html?8bl

The New York Times
January 19, 2005

Back Channels: A Crackdown Averted. How Top spies in Ukraine changed the nation's path.

By C. J. Chivers

As protests here against a rigged presidential election overwhelmed the capital last fall, an alarm sounded at Interior Ministry bases outside the city. It was just after 10 p.m. on Nov. 28.
More than 10,000 troops scrambled toward trucks. Most had helmets, shields and clubs. Three thousand carried guns. Many wore black masks. Within 45 minutes, according to their commander, Lt. Gen. Sergei Popkov, they had distributed ammunition and tear gas and were rushing out the gates.

Kiev was tilting toward a terrible clash, a Soviet-style crackdown that could have brought civil war. And then, inside Ukraine's clandestine security apparatus, strange events began to unfold.

While wet snow fell on the rally in Independence Square, an undercover colonel from the Security Service of Ukraine, or S.B.U., moved among the protesters' tents. He represented the successor agency to the K.G.B., but his mission, he said, was not against the protesters. It was to thwart the mobilizing troops. He warned opposition leaders that a crackdown was afoot.

Simultaneously, senior intelligence officials were madly working their secure telephones, in one instance cooperating with an army general to persuade the Interior Ministry to turn back.

The officials issued warnings, saying that using force against peaceful rallies was illegal and could lead to prosecution and that if ministry troops came to Kiev, the army and security services would defend civilians, said an opposition leader who witnessed some of the exchanges and Oleksander Galaka, head of the military's intelligence service, the G.U.R., who made some of the calls.

Far behind the scenes, Col. Gen. Ihor P. Smeshko, the S.B.U. chief, was coordinating several of the contacts, according to Maj. Gen. Vitaly Romanchenko, leader of the military counterintelligence department, who said that on the spy chief's orders he warned General Popkov to stop. The Interior Ministry called off its alarm.

Details of these exchanges, never before reported, provide insight into a hidden factor in the so-called Orange Revolution, the peaceful protests that overturned an election and changed the political course of a post-Soviet state.

Throughout the crisis an inside battle was waged by a clique of Ukraine's top intelligence officers, who chose not to follow the plan by President Leonid D. Kuchma's administration to pass power to Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich, the president's chosen successor. Instead, these senior officers, known as the siloviki, worked against it.
Such a position is a rare occurrence in former Soviet states, where the security agencies have often been the most conservative and ruthless instruments of state power.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Yushchenko plans for quick and major reforms

By Aussiegirl

The Washington Times has an interesting article on Yushchenko's economic plans for bringing Ukraine quickly towards eventual membership in the European Union and NATO.
The outlined plan, recommended by a blue-ribbon panel including the Carnegie Institute and other experts on the Ukrainian and western economies, rightly addresses all the weaknesses in the present system and shows that Yushchenko is serious about swiftly moving Ukraine into the western sphere and permanently away from Moscow.

I think he rightly surmises that even after his administration is over, once the shift has taken place towards the west it will be an irreversible move and one that will not let the Ukrainian ship of state be turned once more towards Moscow.

A brave man indeed. Let's hope he can get most or at least some of this accomplished quickly.

Read the full article at:

(snip) The commission urged Yushchenko to rapidly institute root-and-branch social reforms and integrate his massive country into the World Trade Organization and move closer to the European Union as soon as possible.

Throughout his campaign, the pro-Western Yushchenko made no secret of his intention to run his nation of 50 million people covering an area the size of France away from its ancient dependence on Russia to bring it into the 25-nation European Union and the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization as fast as possible. But the commission's report for the first time spelled out in great detail a step-by-step program to internally restructure Ukraine with that goal in mind.

Among the commission's key recommendations:

-- The relationship between state and citizens must change. The state machinery must become more efficient through real control by society and law.

-- Social spending in healthcare and education must be restructured to benefit the truly needy rather than mainly the well off, as is the case now.

-- The tax system and the legal foundation of the financial system need to be overhauled to make them effectively stimulate economic growth.

-- Property rights have to be given far more effective guarantees than they currently enjoy and a far clearer line has to be established between state and private property than has been the case so far in the 13 years since Ukraine became independent following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

-- Ukraine must be integrated into the global economy as quickly as possible, especially by rapid accession into the World Trade Organization and forging far closer ties with the European Union.
The report further urges Yushchenko to "reform the judicial system to make judges independent and impartial, and to make the court administration more efficient." Other goals are also important for success, according to the report. It recommends:

-- Enacting "a territorial administrative reform, improving the delivery of public services by devolving power and resources to regional and local bodies;"

-- Setting up "a liberal tax code that reduces the number of taxes, lowers tax rates, eliminates exemptions, and eliminates competing revenue services;"

-- Reducing "public expenditures substantially by eliminating non-essential and harmful spending (such as enterprise subsidies) and target social benefits to the truly needy;"

-- Improving "corporate legislation (and pass a modern law on joint-stock companies) by enacting rules to introduce ownership transparency and protect minority shareholders;"

-- Creating "a level playing field for economic activity by abolishing regulatory discrimination and subsidies and halting state intervention in pricing and trade;" and --

-- Making "Ukraine's 'European Choice' a reality by adopting European legal standards and forging an initial action plan with the EU that paves the way to a free trade agreement and makes future membership of the EU a real opportunity."

Ukrainian sources close to Yushchenko told UPI the president-elect has carefully studied the failures of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin's crash privatization program more than a decade ago as well his own predecessor, outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's failure to implement any meaningful free market economic reforms.

Since independence at the start of 1992, Ukraine has remained a basket case economy tied to Russia's energy apron strings. Its economic growth has been extremely disappointing despite its enormous agricultural potential that could rival the American Midwest and its huge heavy industrial complexes, now badly obsolescent and desperately needing huge infusions of capital, in the Don Basin or Donbass.

Yushchenko is determined to change all that. But he also wants to avoid Yeltsin's catastrophic blunders that discredited both free market economics and democracy among tens of millions of Russians.

Yeltsin failed to establish transparency and genuinely open markets. As a result, control of vast swathes of the Russian economy was rapidly seized by little more than a dozen billionaire oligarchs. The Russian people suffered a catastrophic fall in living standards during which national death rates soared and a disastrous population implosion accelerated. Under Yeltsin's chaotic rule, no effective property laws were passed, especially for the free sale of agricultural land.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ukraine update

By Aussiegirl

Well, friends, here we are about to inaugurate our own American president -- and what's happening in Ukraine, which also recently elected a new president?

Funny you should ask. Following in the game-plan of Kerry, Dean, et al. -- Yanukovych has launched endless and baseless appeals, all of which have been summarily rejected by both the Supreme Court and the Election Commission.

However, he just keeps plugging away. And in a loophole of Ukrainian election law, as long as there are appeals and complaints to consider, the inauguration of the president cannot take place. So we still don't know when this will take place.

His appeals have mostly taken the form of claiming that MILLIONS of disabled people were "disenfranchised" -- hmmm -- where have we heard that word before? The problem is that most of the complaints have turned out to be forged, and repeated complaints from different districts have turned out to be not only forged, but duplicate copies of the ones that purportedly came from earlier appeals.

Even Ukraine's version of AARP has rejected his claims and states that fewer than 1% of the disabled had been unable to vote.

Of course we know the reason behind these delays. All the guilty parties in the old administration need time to strip their ill-gotten billions from the country and to secure their escape, and all the bodies must be buried, and all the evidence of the crimes of the previous administration must be destroyed.

All this takes time -- so Yanukovych is staging these ludicrous protests to give them time to flush the evidence down the toilet before the police are allowed in the door.

"You can come in now!"

Putin has orange trouble

By Aussiegirl

Looks like Putin is facing unrest from the old-age pensioners who have been the mainstay of his support. He has cut their pensions and free transportation access. Country wide protests have been staged protesting this decision and has made him much more unpopular. According to an article from the AP, Putin's recent decision to centralize his control and to appoint local governors as well as handle many local decisions from Moscow is the culprit. As we well know, the further you get away from the problem, the worse the solutions. That's why we conservatives are always struggling for more state's rights and for less federal control over local matters.

It doesn't help that people have had the recent example of the orange revolution in Ukraine, even though news of the happenings in Ukraine were severely censored and also distorted. People in that part of the world are used to reading between the lines (just as Americans have had to do in filtering the distortions of our own mass media).

Putin will continue to try to consolidate his power, but increasingly he is going to run into the same kinds of problems. This is not your father's Soviet Union.

Here's the article:

Failure to Implement New Social Law in Russia Shows Inefficiency of Kremlin's Rule, Analysts Say

By Maria Danilova
Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW (AP) - President Vladimir Putin's moves to tighten control over legislators and regional leaders has jeopardized the Kremlin's grip on the nation, analysts said, pointing to widespread protests over legislation replacing benefits for millions of Russians with cash stipends.

In a domestic defeat that follows several foreign policy embarrassments, Putin was forced to respond Monday to growing anger over the unpopular social reform, promising a pension increase and calling for

state-subsidized public transport passes.
Increasingly cut off from ordinary Russians and its powerless political opponents, the nation's leadership brought the anger on itself by disregarding public criticism of the reform and rushing it into law last year, political analysts said.

"In the absence of political opposition and open public debate, authorities start behaving irresponsibly at all levels - they weren't the ones who made the decision, so it is not their responsibility," said Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Some pensioners, long considered part of
Putin's core constituency, have called for the president and his government to step down. On Tuesday the Russian Communist Party began collecting signatures to back up its demand that the lower house of parliament consider a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. At least a fifth of the 450 members of the State Duma must sign the petition to put the issue on the chamber's agenda, deputy faction leader Sergei Reshulsky said.

During his five years in office, Putin has silenced critical television channels, fostered the creation of an obedient parliament that does little but rubber-stamp Kremlin initiatives, and recently pushed through legislation that allows him to appoint regional leaders.

The law substituting cash for benefits such as free transportation and free or subsidized medications for groups of people including pensioners, war veterans and the disabled came into force Jan. 1, prompted the largest public outcry of Putin's presidency. Demonstrators have blocked streets in cities across the country, marring Putin's second term in its opening year.

The reform left regional authorities floundering, said Yevgeny Gavrilenkov, chief economist at the Troika Dialog brokerage in Moscow. Many provinces lacked funds to carry out the payments, and no clear mechanisms for implementing the reform were spelled out, he said.
Putin said Monday that regional authorities had not adequately implemented the reforms. But Lipman said the increased centralization of power in the Kremlin's hands has made it difficult for regional officials to carry out their orders, while officials in Moscow cannot handle specific problems in the far-flung provinces.

"Many of the regional peculiarities cannot and should not be seen from the Kremlin; that should be the job and the responsibility of regional authorities," Lipman said.

With protests persisting, authorities have been forced into retreat: Some regional officials have promised to keep benefits in place, at least temporarily; others pledged to raise pensions. Putin followed suit Monday, promising to at least double a planned pension increase and giving ground on public transport.

"It looks like the reform is being postponed, if not canceled," Gavrilenkov said.

The reform has made the government even less popular than before, and polls have shown it has also dented Putin's popularity. In addition to regional leaders, Putin blamed his own Cabinet members and the government of his predecessor Boris Yeltsin for the crisis but acknowledged no personal error.
The protests have helped unite opposition to Putin and his Cabinet, said Alexei Makarkin, deputy head of the Center for Political Technologies think tank.

This story can be found at:

Long Winter Days

You know, if you're really lucky, you have friends and correspondents who send you emails like the one I just got from BonnieBlueFlag. What's the weather like in your neck of the woods? It's cold and clear here in Washington, after weeks of mild and springlike weather. The weather for the inauguration promises to be clear but chilly, with a high of around 40 degrees. Any day is a good day to inaugurate a Republican president.

Here's BonnieB.'s email about the goings on in her neck of the woods -- enjoy:

Well, it is really cold here. The temperature outside is just below 20 degrees, which is up slightly from the temperatures of last night and yesterday.
The ground is frozen and still snow covered. There are only a few open spaces where the deer and turkey have come to munch on the corn we put out for them.

Early in the morning, just before first light, my husband will take out the corn for the day. Often there is not a deer in sight when he pours out the corn, but before he can make it back into the house and look out the window, there will be 8 to 12 deer having breakfast.

Because of the cold temperatures they are staying right on the edge of the woods, where they are almost invisible among the barren trees, until they see him walk out of the house.

With all of the snow I haven't been able to get to the bird feeders. So, I have placed a large green upturned plastic trash can lid on top of the snow on my back deck, and then filled it with bird seed, sunflower seeds, nuts, berries and cherries.

The first birds to arrive are usually the Blue Jays. Even before taking the very first seed or nut, the Jays will cry out loudly to others, as if to say, "Breakfast is Served."

Having heard the cry of the Blue Jay, large and small birds of all colors quickly race to my back porch. A few of the smaller birds like the sparrows and the chickadees will manage to slip into the tray of seed in between the aggressive Blue Jays. But, most of the other birds like the brilliant red Cardinals, and the Mockingbirds will wait impatiently on any nearby perch.

Then the Bluebirds will attempt to get a share of the berries and cherries, as the other birds fly off with their bounty. The Goldfinches will take turns at their special feeder filled with tiny thistle seeds.

When the crowd has thinned, the Mourning Doves will attempt to land close to the seed, and then walk the rest of the way to the tray. The Doves are not very graceful, and they have a tendency to sit in the middle of the seed until they have had their fill. It's not that they are very pushy birds, I just think they don't want to have to make any more landings than necessary.

The last to show up will be the gray squirrels, who will eat and eat and then leave with their little cheeks full for a later snack.

After the morning rush there will be only an occasional visitor throughout the day until just about an hour before the sun sets. The birds and the deer will all
appear for a snack before bed time.

Occasionally the corn in the yard will be all gone by then, while the birds are still eating up on the deck. The younger deer will notice that the birds are still eating, and will try to get as close to the bird seed as they can, but they still hesitate to climb the steps.

I'm quite sure that one day there will be a knock at the door, and when I look to see who it is, there will be large black nose pressed against the window.

I have a small carpeted shelf attached to the back door so that my Siamese can watch all of the activity on the deck. There seems to be a reflection on the glass from the outside in, so that the birds and squirrels cannot see the "cat" in the window watching them so intently.

Tonight a raccoon or two will come out to finish off whatever corn the deer have overlooked, and then make their way up to the remaining bird food for a late night treat. You can always tell when the raccoons have been by, because they tend to move things all about.

In the morning it will all begin again, as we and all of the critters try to get through these long cloudy days of snow and ice. Hopefully, it will only be a few more weeks until we begin to see the first signs of Spring.

High Noon

By BonnieBlueFlag

At 12:00 o'clock P.M. on Thursday, January 20, 2005, one half of the liberal Democrats' dream will come true, the 2001-05 term of President George W. Bush will expire.

However, the other half of their dream and their hopes will be dashed, when the man they so revile is inaugurated for the second time just minutes before noon that same day.

Our beloved American cowboy, having won the duel with metrosexual John Kerry on November 2, will once again take the United States Presidential oath of office.
President Bush will say these words, and take to heart the true meaning of those words, just as Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, Truman, Reagan and others did before him.

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

President Bush will then begin again to do his utmost to abide by that oath, in spite of the continued difficulties and obstructions presented to him by the Democrats.

Many of the Democratic left wing groups have already made it their business to be on hand that day, in order to turn their backs on their/our President, as he makes his way through the streets of Washington. When did we become a nation filled with so many rude and resentful people?

Senator Ted Kennedy and others will take their seats as close to the President as possible, to show the world how near they are to the power of the presidency. Never mind that just days beforehand, they took to the airwaves to slander, criticize and demean the President that they now wish to be seen with on National TV. These are the very men who will make every effort to keep President Bush from fulfilling his oath to preserve the U.S. Constitution.

When President Bush nominates good men for judgeships, men who would rule according to the well established laws of the United States and not some unknown foreign country, these men will attempt to thwart the President in living up to his oath of office. It is their desire to create new laws that are not in accordance with the Constitution, but in agreement with the wants of selfish people who do not wish to live by the laws of our government, and certainly not those of any God who may have inspired or guided our founding fathers.
President Bush won the last election in spite of everything the Democrats did to prevent it from happening. And now rather than gracefully accepting that fact, and the fact that the majority of the population does not wish to live under the type of government the Democrats offer, they are going to spend the next four years creating havoc in the halls of congress.

They and their liberal followers are going to behave like spoiled children, kicking, biting and scratching, until they get what they want.

At noon on the 20th I will be fervently praying that God will give President Bush the courage and fortitude to withstand the knives and the lies of his enemies, especially since those enemies will be the unkindest of all, our own countrymen.


Friday, January 14, 2005

More neat space stuff

By Aussiegirl

As long as we are flying around in space -- take a look at the latest pictures from the Huygens-Cassini space probe showing the surface of Saturn's moon, Titan, a place that has a lot of earthlike features and may possibly even support life.

Huygens-Cassini was launched 7 years ago and has traveled 1.25 billion km. It's so far away that it takes light, traveling at the well-known velocity of 186,000 mps a full 67 MINUTES to reach earth. Just imagine the engineering skill to enable this craft to travel so far and perfectly set down a robot on the surface of a distant planet-like moon. Simply mind-boggling. I'm excited and fascinated by this news. Who knows? Maybe there's a LGM (little green men) base already there.

Read the the full article at: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/4084236.html

Also check out the Huygens Cassini news at:

And the European Space Agency website at:

European space officials displayed the first pictures of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan on Friday, black and white images of what appeared to be channels cut by a liquid - like river and streambeds running through hilly terrain.
ESA/NASA/University of Arizona

This is the first image of Titan, from the Huygens probe, taken from 10 miles up.

The first pictures were taken from about 10 miles above the surface as the European space probe Huygens descended by parachute to a safe landing, buoying hopes that the mission could shed light on the origins of life on Earth. A narrow-field picture taken from the surface after the space probe landed was released later."I think all of us continue to be amazed as we watch our solar system unveil," NASA science administrator Alphonso Diaz said as the images were displayed on screens at mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

"It challenges all our preconceptions that all these planets are static places. Seeing a planet emerge that has dynamics and complexity to it is just amazing," he added.

Huygens was spun off from the Cassini mother ship on Dec. 24 before its descent by parachute to the surface of Titan on Friday, capping a seven-year journey.

Little green men are already here?

By Aussiegirl

Now this really caught my eye today. Scientists are saying that it is highly likely that intelligent life is already visiting earth and that reports of UFO's should not be readily and summarily dismissed.

Now, before you start humming the Twilight Zone theme and slowly backing out the door -- just hold it there for a moment.

Although I have never personally witnessed a UFO, I have read some of the literature and I must say, some reports are intriguing enough not to be dismissed out of hand, particularly the sightings of strange objects above Rendelsham Forest in England by credible American military witnesses.

I also have a friend, who is the most calm, sane, down-to-earth and skeptical person I know, who reads heavily in the sciences and is not given at all to flights of fancy or suggestion. Yet he very calmly has related to me that he has had a daylight sighting of what he can only describe as a classic flying saucer. It was the classic shape, with a dome in the middle and flashing and rotating red and green lights around the middle. He was a college student at the time and was in a large field practicing archery for a class he was taking. He watched it for several minutes and then looked around to see if there was anyone else about who was also seeing it. When he looked back the object was gone. He was so puzzled that he searched the newspapers in vain to see if it had been reported by anyone else. He never learned anything else. But he has also never forgotten the experience. He describes his feelings as ones of amazement and puzzlement. He hasn't engaged in any obsession with UFO's, or pursued it in any way. It is simply something that he is absolutely certain he saw, and that is that. He also says that he hadn't read anything in the papers prior to that that would have put him in a frame of mind to be looking for something so extraordinary. He is absolutely certain that he was not looking at a plane, or any other object he was familiar with.

Although most sightings of UFO's can be readily explained by natural phenomena, there is nevertheless, a small portion of sightings with multiple witnesses that defies natural explanation. I'm open to all possibilities.

I just hope they are friendly, and don't bring us a book entitled: "To Serve Man".

Here's an interesting and informative site on credible UFO sightings with quotes from famous scientists on the phenomena, as well as detailed descriptions of the Rendelsham Forest sightings as well as the Hudson Valley sightings.


Read the whole article at:


ET Visitors: Scientists See High Likelihood
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 14 January 2005
06:47 am ET

Decades ago, it was physicist Enrico Fermi who pondered the issue of extraterrestrial civilizations with fellow theorists over lunch, generating the famous quip: "Where are they?" That question later became central to debates about the cosmological census count of other star folk and possible extraterrestrial (ET) visitors from afar.

Fermi's brooding on the topic was later labeled "Fermi's paradox". It is a well-traveled tale from the 1950's when the scientist broached the subject in discussions with colleagues in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Thoughts regarding the probability of earthlike planets, the rise of highly advanced civilizations "out there", and interstellar travel -- these remain fodder for trying to respond to Fermi's paradox even today.

Now a team of American scientists note that recent astrophysical discoveries suggest that we should find ourselves in the midst of one or more extraterrestrial civilizations. Moreover, they argue it is a mistake to reject all UFO reports since some evidence for the theoretically-predicted extraterrestrial visitors might just be found there.

The researchers make their proposal in the January/February 2005 issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS).

Curious situation
Pick up any good science magazine and you're sure to see the latest in head-scratching ideas about superstring theory, wormholes, or the stretching of spacetime itself. Meanwhile, extrasolar planetary detection is on the verge of becoming mundane.

"We are in the curious situation today that our best modern physics and astrophysics theories predict that we should be experiencing extraterrestrial visitation, yet any possible evidence of such lurking in the UFO phenomenon is scoffed at within our scientific community," contends astrophysicist Bernard Haisch.

Haisch along with physicists James Deardorff, Bruce Maccabee and Harold Puthoff make their case in the JBIS article: "Inflation-Theory Implications for Extraterrestrial Visitation".

Students fight back

By Aussiegirl

If you read nothing else today, don't miss this wonderful (and long) editorial in todays WSJ, detailing not only the abominable domination of our campuses by left-wing idiots, BUT also the predictable, though long-in-coming backlash from conservative students. At last, students are doing what they have always done, bucking the establishment and rebelling, only this time the establishment is made up of left-wing agitprop, post-modernist, feminist, racially obsessed, America hating, Western Civ loathing, sandal clad, bearded and -- have I missed anything? -- professors and administrators.

There's nothing a young person hates more than being forced to conform -- as we all well remember, and what better way to fight back than to resist the PC nonsense and brainwashing propaganda of college courses and take it right back to the professors with an abundance of wit and pluck and courage.

I vividly remember my own experience with this same phenomenon when as a freshman in a college English class I received an "F" on an otherwise excellently written and argued essay on why we were right to get involved with the Vietnam war and fight it to a successful conclusion. Imagine my shock when it was the SUBSTANCE of my argument (which was, of course, flawless -- ahem), and my point of view which brought the failing grade, and not my lack of logic, facts, and cogent presentation. I naturally refused to rewrite the essay to state the opposite of what I believed. Thus began a lifetime career in fighting back and refusing to knuckle under to these noodniks of PC.

Now I see that a whole new generation of refuseniks has grown up and is fighting the same fight. The young always rebel against the old, and now the old -- who used to be the rebels -- ARE the establishment. DOWN WITH THE RULING CLASSES! The only true revolutionary anymore is a conservative.

Read the entire article at:

Here are the opening paragraphs:

Right on Campus
Conservatives begin to infiltrate the left's last redoubt.

Friday, January 14, 2005 12:01 a.m.

Throughout 2003 and into 2004, a surge of protests roiled American campuses. You probably think the kids were agitating against war in Iraq, right? Well, no. Students at UCLA, Michigan and many other schools were sponsoring bake sales to protest�.�.�. affirmative action. For white students and faculty, a cookie cost (depending on the school) $1; blacks and Hispanics could buy one for a lot less.
The principle, the protesters observed, was just that governing university admission practices: rewarding people differently based on race. Indignant school officials charged the bake-sale organizers with "creating a hostile climate" for minority students, oblivious to the incoherence of their position. On what grounds could they favor race preferences in one area (admissions) and condemn them in the other (selling cookies) as racist? Several schools banned the sales, on flimsy pretexts, such as the organizers' lack of school food permits.

The protests shocked the mainstream press, but to close observers of America's college scene lately they came as no surprise. For decades, conservative critics have bemoaned academe's monolithically liberal culture. Parents, critics note, spend fortunes to send their kids to top colleges, and then watch helplessly as the schools cram them with a diet of politically correct leftism often wholly opposed to mom and dad's own values.

But the left's long dominion over the university--the last place on earth that lefty power would break up, conservatives believed--is showing its first signs of weakening. The change isn't coming from the schools' faculty lounges and administrative offices, of course. It's coming from self-organizing right-of-center students and several innovative outside groups working to bypass the academy's elite gatekeepers.