Saturday, November 27, 2004

# Posted 7:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HOPE IN UKRAINE? In the short term, the most effective (although immoral) response to a massive, peaceful protest is extreme violence. The longer such a protest remains peaceful, the less reversible it becomes. Thus, I am hopeful about the prospects for democracy in Ukraine.

Reuters reports that the Ukrainian parliament has issued a non-binding resolution declaring the election to be invalid. In other news, negotiations between the government and opposition have begun. Opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko has declared that
"We will only hold talks on staging a new vote," Yushchenko declared after the talks to supporters in Independence Square. "If there is no decision within one or two days, it means Yanukovych cannot hear you."
I also consider the following detail to be quite interesting:
Yushchenko appeared to be drawing support from some members of key organs of government in the capital -- the security services, the prosecutor's office, state television journalists and government workers.

In a symbolic but potent example of that shift, cadets from the country's Interior Ministry academy marched in uniform Friday morning to a spot where riot police were protecting the offices of the president. The cadets called on the riot police to cross over and join them. None did.
Without firm control of the security forces, violence may not be a viable option for the government.

On the international front, there is also good news. Vaclav Havel has forcefully stated that democracy is non-negotiable. Lech Walesa has also lent support to the opposition.

The WaPo has characterized President Bush's first direct response to the crisis as dangerously ambivalent. According to correspondent Mike Allen,
Bush's comments appeared to allow for the possibility that the Moscow-backed candidate's victory will stand, despite charges of fraud, and that the administration will have to work with him instead of his Western-leaning opponent.
What Bush said was that
There's just a lot of allegations of vote fraud that placed their election -- the validity of their elections in doubt. The international community is watching very carefully. People are paying very close attention to this, and hopefully it will be resolved in a way that brings credit and confidence to the Ukrainian government.
Even though Allen is correct to point out that the President's comments were less forthright than those of the Secretary of State, it seems strange to suggest that the President indicated any tolerance for fraud. In contrast, NY Times correspondent CJ Chivers portrays the President's remarks as fully consistent with other strong statements issued by the United States government.

For the latest updates and in-depth commentary on the situation in the Ukraine, head over to the ever-informative website of the incomparable Dan Drezner.
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion

George Bush Jnr. is certainly an expert on rigged elections. Perhaps the Ukranians need some help from the experts at bush-clan.com in how to rig elections and get away with it?
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