Next week, the world will have the answer to a fascinating geopolitical question: whether the pivotal post-Soviet state of Ukraine will choose to return eastward, toward Russia, or to move westward, toward Europe.
This is far from a random choice, for around it flow political torrents that will decide whether Vladimir Putin's Russia can again be a formalized, or informalized, empire -- or whether it will be forced by Ukraine's action to turn itself toward Europe, and toward becoming more European than Asian.
Seldom has a moment in recent history been more potentially decisive -- and seldom has such a moment been less attended to in America, now obsessively sidetracked by Fallujah, Mosul and Ramadi.
Russian intervention in the campaign has been intense, public and utterly clear. President Putin traveled pointedly to Kiev, reviewed troops with "his" Viktor, and set up Potemkin groups to support Moscow's candidate, like the now-famous and mysterious "Russian Club."
The Russians have also used this fall's elections in Ukraine, and the far more problematic ones in totalitarian Belarus, to challenge the kind of institutional European election-watching that had given some hope to these elections. These attempts to cut back on European influence, particularly in the sensitive areas of elections, show the extent to which President Putin is trying to isolate the remnants of the Soviet empire from the West.
For now, the only clear fact is that, while so many in power in Washington are dreaming of empire, other parts of the world are busily working out their dreams. We might pay attention.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.