FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ukraine’s Real Underdog

by CHAD NAGLE

Kiev, Ukraine.

With only a couple of days before Ukrainians go to the polls for the third time in two months (i.e., f.or the presidential election’s repeat second round), outside observers might be worried that the “notorious regime” in Kiev will try to “rig” the poll again on behalf of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, declared winner from the Nov. 21 vote. The reality is that Yanukovych is the underdog, not because he lacks popular support relative to opponent Viktor Yushchenko ­ all indicators show Yanukovych’s support to be heavy in all major population centers except Kiev. Rather, it is because the administrative machinery of the state is now almost entirely in the hands of the “orange revolutionaries,” backing Yushchenko.

About two weeks ago, Nina Karpachova, human rights ombudsman in the Ukrainian parliament, submitted a complaint to Speaker Vladimir Litvin about infringements of voters’ rights in a new package of reforms to the election law. The new law restricts the right of citizens to appeal to territorial election commissions (TECs) about exclusion from electoral registers. The ability of voters to lodge appeals with TECs had been a major plus of the system in the first round, and an orderly redress of grievances was not only possible but the norm. Karpachova also complained about curtailment of home-voting rights as potentially disenfranchising the disabled and elderly, and urged Litvin to introduce appropriate amendments. The law will disproportionately affect pro-Yanukovych voters. Of the 11 million pensioners in Ukraine who have benefited under the Yanukovych government, it is estimated that up to four million may be effectively immobile. The mobile ballot box is their only hope. Suspiciously, the law is designed to lose force after the December 26 election.

Litvin ignored Karpachova’s complaints, and on the same day received the Order of the State and the title of “Hero of Ukraine,” awarded by President Kuchma, for “extraordinary personal services to Ukraine and the development of the state, reform of the Ukrainian political system, and consolidation of the ideals of civic unity and reconciliation in society.”

Just about every state institution, it seems ­ from the parliamentary leadership to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to the foreign ministry ­ has effectively lined up behind the “Orange Revolution,” making Yanukovych’s public condemnations of the “traitorous” and “double-dealing” authorities in Kiev far from mere bluster. On December 8, parliament, with pro-Yanukovych MPs abstaining, approved a new formulation for the CEC, giving pro-Yushchenko representatives an clear majority. All pro-Yanukovich nominees were rejected.

The international election-observing apparatus on December 26 will likewise be controlled by the Yushchenko-ites and active in eastern Ukraine, despite increasing evidence that Yanukovych supporters in western Ukraine are threatened and persecuted. On December 16, student unions from Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Hungary and other Western countries jointly announced an “international student action” to observe the election on the 26th, using some 480 Ukrainian and 120 foreign students members of “mobile rapid-reaction groups” in southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. These areas, they said, were reportedly where “mass falsification of the vote” was carried out in favor of Yanukovych. The “Action HQ,” it was announced, would cooperate closely with the office of the National Salvation Committee of Ukraine, an overtly pro-Yushchenko group, but so would the joint mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the main international election-monitoring body), the Council of Europe and the European Union. The OSCE, relying exclusively on opposition sources for information on polling day, said it would send more than 1,000 observers to the election, the OSCE’s “largest mission ever” according to the OSCE website.

It can be little wonder that the West has been so vocal in support of Yushchenko when Ukraine’s foreign minister himself has been an ally of the “Orange Revolution” leader for years. On December 18, Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko publicly announced his approval of the November 23 foreign ministry statement that the entire Ukrainian diplomatic corps supported Yushchenko. The senior civil servant added that this was “in line with the requirements of patriotism and professionalism.” Transport Minister Georgi Kirpa had made his pro-Yushchenko sentiments known publicly even earlier, and the tide of rats leaving the sinking ship has only accelerated.

As Yanukovych has witnessed one after another of the members of Ukraine’s political elite turn against him, he has redoubled his efforts. “I will never let you down,” he yelled to a crowd in Donetsk on December 8. “I would rather die than let them break me. You must know that!” Western media and governments have badly distorted the picture of the Ukrainian election from the beginning, painting Yushchenko as the disadvantaged candidate who must sweep to power on a popular wave of “freedom” if Ukraine is to have a happy Hollywood ending. The reality is the opposite, and in the American tradition I tend to instinctively sympathize with the underdog. That underdog is Viktor Yanukovych.

CHAD NAGLE is an American lawyer, accredited as an international observer of the Ukrainian election. He writes from Kiev.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail