FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ukraine’s Real Underdog

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:
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
Christopher Brauchli
The Defenestration of Scott Pruitt
Ralph Nader
Universal Voting Dissolves the Obstacles Facing Voters
Ron Jacobs
Vermont: Can It Happen Here?
Thomas Knapp
Helsinki: How About a Fresh START?
Seth Sandronsky
A Fraught Century
Graham Peebles
Education and the Mental Health Epidemic
Bob Lord
How to Level the Playing Field for Workers in a Time of Waning Union Power
Saurav Sarkar
I Got Arrested This Summer (and So Should You)
Winslow Myers
President Trump’s Useful Idiocy
Kim C. Domenico
Outing the Dark Beast Hiding Behind Liberal Hope
CounterPunch News Service
First Big Strike Since Janus Ruling Hits Vermont Streets
Louis Proyect
Survival of the Fittest in the London Underground
David Yearsley
Ducks and Études
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail