Tuesday, November 30, 2004
More on Laughland
Help a Ukrainian pupil
- Readers in the Manchester area
- Those in charge of corporate giving
- Anyone interested in contributing to a Ukrainian child's education
As a letter in The Daily Telegraph recently stated, William Hulme's Grammar School is offering 50 per cent bursaries to Ukrainian sixth formers who can find sponsorship for the other half of the fees (i.e., about £3,600 a year) and a place to live in Manchester. The headmaster tells us he would prefer to find corporate sponsors, but it may be possible for private donors to help as well. They are also looking for people in Manchester, especially in the Ukrainian community, who would be willing to have a pupil stay with them. If you can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Andrew Stuttaford on New York protest
In Manhattan, they say, everyone wears black, but not this Saturday, not in this plaza just across from the U.N. The demonstrators, perhaps 500, perhaps more, have turned up on this briefly glorious late autumn day in orange hats, in orange scarves, in orange coats, in orange sweaters, draped in orange blankets, wearing orange ribbons; anything, however small, will do so long as it is orange. Baseball cap advertising Land Rover? No problem. If it's orange, it's fine. Sweatshirt proclaiming the virtues of Steinway pianos? Why not? It's orange.
Standing in that New York plaza I talk to one of the demonstrators, Marko, about what's going on. We touch on the past. "My father," he says, "survived the Holodomor." I look around at some of the older faces in the crowd, and wonder what they had heard back then, what they knew, what they had lived through.
The likeable crowd, mainly twenty or thirtysomethings, a blend of recent immigrants, visitors, and the diaspora, were festive, optimistic, excited, cheering the speeches, the singers, and the sentiment, pausing only to chant the only name that counted, the name of their president:
"Yushchenko, Yushchenko, Yushchenko."
Polish support for Ukraine
Thousands of Poles are on the streets decked out in orange. Both of Poland's post-communist presidents have been to Kiev to mediate. A near-total consensus in parliament and in the media: Poland has been absorbed by the events in Ukraine over the past week, and its politicians, media, and citizens are expressing an overwhelming solidarity with the Ukrainian opposition as it tries to overturn the results in Ukraine's flawed presidential elections.
In Warsaw crowds of Poles, most of them young, have gathered outside the Ukrainian Embassy, the parliament building, and the monument to Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's national poet. Thousands have attended special concerts, Ukrainian poetry readings, and a range of other events in Warsaw. In some parts of central Polish capital where demonstrators gatheredy, not wearing anything orange has seemed at least a little odd. The same applies in Katowice, Krakow, Lodz, Wroclaw, Lublin, and many other cities with large student populations.
Those who believed opinion polls that indicated that Poles disliked Ukrainians more than Germans or Russians might now be feeling astonished. So too might Warsaw's shopkeepers as they try to cope with the new fashion for orange. Orange scarves, gloves, hats, and even shoes have reportedly been sold out, and kilometers of orange ribbon have been bought up.
Reuters report on PORA
A pensioner was seen taking notes as opposition leaders addressed the crowds. On closer inspection he had written:
"Take note: learn not to be afraid."
Monday, November 29, 2004
Now Russia has its own PORA
WE MUST STOP PUTIN
LET’S GET RID OF THIS MONSTER
IMPEACH PRESIDENT PUTIN
We declare juridical, informational, aesthetic and moral war on this disgrace to Russia
Let each of us in their own place decide what they can do and how.
It may be:
legal action, humorous posters, songs, photographs, collages, aphorisms, slogans,
anything you like, but
WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK of Russian law.
Crisis 'major setback for Putin'
Whatever the outcome of Ukraine's current political crisis, it already amounts to a significant victory for the Ukrainian people and an equally significant defeat for the Kremlin and for President Vladimir Putin personally.
The muted reaction in Moscow and across Russia to what is happening in the capital of a large, fraternal country is quite striking. Have we grown unaccustomed to democratic demonstrations? Are we too caught up in our own affairs? Are there simply no political leaders capable of rallying the people? Apart from the statements made by the human rights organization Memorial, Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky and former Union of Right Forces leader Boris Nemtsov, there has been very little reaction. At the same time, preparations for an opposition Civil Congress in Moscow are proceeding apace. Knowledgeable people predicted that they'd be draping the Ukrainian Embassy in orange ribbons, but when I went by on Friday evening everything was quiet, and not a single ribbon could be seen.
The significance of the outcome of Ukraine's political crisis for the fate of democracy in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, however, is very great indeed. In Ukraine, citizens are defending their right to be called citizens and their right to choose their leaders. In Ukraine, the people are determining the extent to which democracy can be managed and breaking up the games played by the ruling elite. The current crisis will determine to what extent a so-called managed democracy can survive the transfer of power. And Russia will learn whether its neighbor will be governed by a regime more or less democratic than Russia itself.
Perhaps no one in Russia has done as much to ensure victory for Viktor Yushchenko as Putin. By its open intervention in the Ukrainian presidential election, the Kremlin intended to assert its right to determine the internal development of the largest and most important country in the so-called near abroad.
But the Kremlin's enormous investment in the Ukrainian election not only failed to strengthen but actually weakened Russia's standing on the world stage. This intervention disrupted the Kremlin's ongoing attempt to integrate post-Soviet space, which even before this election was widely viewed as neo-imperialistic. And the Kremlin's actions led to the rise of anti-Russian sentiment in Ukraine and around the world.
By playing such an active role, the Kremlin raised the stakes across the board. Thanks to its efforts, the choice now being made by the Ukrainian people has come to seem a historical one. The opposition's battle against a candidate foisted upon them by the regime now looks like a national liberation movement.
The Kremlin has painted itself into a corner, and a major foreign policy setback now seems inevitable. Unfortunately, this means a setback for Russia as a whole, because the relations between the two largest Slavic nations are far too dependent on the regime in Moscow. While the Kremlin has come out against a unipolar world in international relations, it has built a centrist system at home that is now producing negative consequences for the entire country.
Russia's national interests are far less directly tied to Viktor Yanukovych than the Kremlin's declarations and actions would suggest. The Kremlin would obviously prefer to deal with an updated version of the Leonid Kuchma regime, which in the last two to three years has increasingly shifted its orientation from West to East. Russia's market-oriented businesses, however, have very different interests in Ukraine. They would be better served by a Yushchenko government, which would make the Ukrainian economy more open and less dominated by the state. And as for Russian society, it would be far better off with a free and democratic Ukraine next door than the bureaucratic, clan-based regime of Kuchma and Yanukovych.
The events of recent days in Ukraine brilliantly illustrate citizens' power and potential. It was their active protest that disrupted Kuchma's well thought-out plan to hold on to power while formally transferring it to his successor.
The hostage crisis in Beslan put Putin's new system of governance to the test in a domestic crisis. Now the Ukrainian election has tested that system in an external crisis. In both cases, Putin's system broke down. Following Beslan, Putin announced the cancellation of direct gubernatorial elections. Will direct presidential elections be the next to go?
Behind the scenes
PORA 'not U.S.-funded'
Mr. Yanukovich's supporters, and Russophiles, have portrayed the youth as naïve tools of the West, or as agents of foreign power, saying they have been seeded by the United States and other interests to interfere with Ukrainian political life.
Pora denies this flatly and says accepting foreign aid would undermine the group's local credibility. The American government also says that while it has provided $13.6 million in aid in recent years to encourage fair elections here, Pora has not been sponsored. "We provide zero money, directly or indirectly, to Pora," said an American diplomat in Kiev.
New PORA newsletter
THE SECOND ROUND OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
On November 21, the second round of presidential elections was held in Ukraine. The two contenders, the leading candidates of the first round held on October 31, were incumbent Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych and opposition candidate Victor Yushchenko.
A national exit-poll, conducted by the Razumkov Center for Economical and Political Research and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology and released immediately after the closing of polling stations, indicated an overwhelming victory of the opposition candidate, as Yushchenko received 54 percent of the votes, while Yanukovych was supported by 43 percent of Ukrainian voters; see link
A parallel vote-count conducted by the opposition confirmed these results, showing that Yushchenko won with 52.84 percent of the votes, while Yanukovych received 42.31 percent of the votes; see more detail at link
On November 23, opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko took a symbolic presidential oath of office before 191 MPs in the Ukrainian parliament; see link
On November 24, the Central Election Commission announced the official results of the elections and declared Victor Yanukovych the winner and president-elect. According to the official outcome, Yanukovych won with 49.46 percent of the vote against Mr Yushchenko's 46.61 percent; see link
These official results have been rejected not only by opposition candidate Yushchenko.
On November 22, 150 senior Ukrainian diplomats signed an open statement describing Yushchenko as the country’s new legitimate president. "We cannot remain silent and observe a situation which could call into doubt Ukraine's democratic development and destroy the efforts of many years to return our country to Europe," the statement read; see link
The city council of Kyiv said that parliament should not accept the election result, and several other municipalities including Lviv, Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Ivano-Frankivsk announced their support for Yushchenko; see a list of municipalities at link
On November 25, Ukraine's Supreme Court ruled that the results of the presidential election are not official until it hears an appeal from Yushchenko who appealed to the court. The appeal will be considered on November 29; see link
By November 26, five of 15 members of the Central Election Commission had withdrawn her signature from the country's official presidential election results; see link
On November 26, closed-door talks between the two rival presidential candidates were held in Kyiv. The meeting was convened by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma and attended by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament; see link
The politicians decided to start the negotiation process which envisages carrying out of the possible third round of the elections in order to re-elect the legal President of Ukraine. Many inhabitants of the tent camp were disapointed by this decision, considering Viktor Yushchenko to be their fairly elected President.
AN ORANGE REVOLUTION
The second round of the elections and their aftermath were accompanied by an outpouring of social activity and support for opposition candidate Yushchenko. In reference to the orange color displayed by Yushchenko supporters, in contrast to the blue worn by Yanukovych and his followers, a veritable “orange revolution” ensued.
Activists of the civic campaign PORA set up a tent camp in Kyiv’s main square, the Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square, on November 22. This camp, called the “territory of freedom”, has continuously grown, as numerous supporters of opposition candidate Yushchenko joined in. What started with 15 tents near the conservatory at Maidan Nezalezhnosti has quickly grown into a makeshift city of more than 2,000 tents housing over 7,000 inhabitants. People from all regions of Ukraine, and tents of universities, media and non-governmental organisations can be found there. Kyiv locals support the camp in bringing food, hot drinks and warm clothes, and they extend their hospitality by housing hundreds of guests from the regions of Ukraine. The total number of people accommodated in the city center of Kyiv center is estimated at over 700,000 people.
The extraordinary events of Ukraine’s “orange revolution” can hardly be described in words. More appropriate are visual images of the atmosphere and scenery in Kyiv and other major cities of Ukraine.
The beginning: tents of the civi campaing PORA near the conservatory:
Setting up tents on the Kreshchatik Boulevard on November 22: link
The tent camp at Maidan Nezalezhnosti:
Peaceful protesters at Bankova street, near the premises of the presidential administration: link
At night (November 24, 3am): link
Kyiv, November 23: link
Kyiv, November 24-25: link
General picture sets available at link and link
A web camera from Maidan Nezalezhnosti is available at link
Rally in Kharkiv on November 24, 2004
Yanukovych supporters in Kiev: link and link
RESPONSES FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Following the second round of the elections, foreign governments and international remained largely reluctant as to the official results and responded with much concern over the democratic character of the elections.
Observers for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that the run-off vote fell far short of European democratic norms. “I am very concerned that both rounds of the presidential election in Ukraine, as witnessed by international observers, failed to meet a considerable number of OSCE commitments and showed serious shortcomings,” said Solomon Passy, OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Bulgarian Foreign Minister on November 24; see link
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Peter Schieder expressed similar concerns. “The International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) found that the second round failed to meet democratic standards,” he said on November 25; see link
The U.S. official observer, Senator Richard Lugar, stated that "it is now apparent that a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental authorities”; see link
The U.S. State Department said it was "deeply concerned" and called yesterday for "quick action on the part of the government of Ukraine" to "ensure an outcome that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people;" see link
The European Union called on Ukraine to review the election, and Ukrainian ambassadors in all the EU states were to be summoned to the foreign ministries in the countries where they are accredited and officially told about the EU's refusal to recognize the election result; see link
The EU also issued a statement by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende that he doubted that the official results "reflected the will of the Ukrainian electorate"; see link
Marek Siwiec, head of the delegation from the European Parliament, said electoral abuses "cast a shadow over the genuineness of the election;" see link
Even stronger in wording was the Dutch foreign minister, Bernard Bot, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency. "We don't accept these results. We think they are fraudulent"; see link
Charles Tannock, a British member of the European Parliament, said the conduct of the election were more reminiscent of Turkmenistan, an authoritarian state; see link
German Foreign minister Joschka Fischer demanded that "the political will of the Ukrainian people must be reflected in the results of the election. We ask the Ukrainian government, together with the OSCE, to examine both the election process and vote counting and to make the necessary corrections"; see link
Similarly, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that „questions that hang over the elections in Ukraine” and that he urges “the Ukrainian authorities to cooperate with the OSCE to ensure that all proper procedures, including legal challenges to the results, are fully followed before declaring a final result”; see link
A number of elder statesmen also supported the call for democratic, free and fair elections of the next Ukrainian president. Former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa flew to Kyiv to join the democratic opposition; see link Former Czech President Vaclav Havel addressed Yushchenko and his supporters with a message; see link Former Slovak President Michal Kovac, known for his struggle against the authoritarian regime of Vladimir Meciar, arrive in Kiev on 26 November.
By contrast, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who openly backed Yanukovych throughout the campaign, sent his congratulations late on November 23 even though the Central Election Commission had yet to declare a winner. "The battle was hard-fought, but open and honest, and his victory was convincing," Putin said according to link A day later, however, Putin appeared to backtrack stating that he sent “congratulations to one of the contestants not based on election results but on exit poll projections"; see link
Letters to the Telegraph
Sir – During the past decade, the economic conditions in Ukraine deteriorated significantly, with many people surviving on less than £50 a month. The savings of many pensioners were wiped out by inflation, leaving them with almost no means of survival. Many have lost any hope in future.
The people of Ukraine thought that the only way they could change their lives was by voting – and this fundamental right has been taken away from them. The issue in Ukraine is much bigger than the presidency of a particular candidate: it is the issue for which many British people struggled and died over many centuries, the right to vote and to free and fair elections.
Britain now has a chance to help a struggling country to become a stable and prosperous democracy, and this window of opportunity might last only a few more days.
Alexander Orlov, Cambridge University Ukrainian Society, Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Sir - In supporting Ukraine now, western Europe has an opportunity to right one of the great wrongs of 20th-century history.
The West stood aside in the 1930s as Stalinist Russia exploited Ukraine's resources and exterminated millions. At the end of the war, the allies conspired to send Ukrainian nationalists who had fought with them back to Russia and certain death.
Now this country has an opportunity to build a new future and share its riches with its own people. It will do so only if we match political support now with clear economic, social and cultural support in the future. This is a pivotal moment when the West must not only speak the rhetoric of democracy, but also offer the hand of friendship and economic aid. Support now will pay future dividends: Ukraine is rich in resources - raw materials, agriculture and, above all, its people.
As a gesture of support, my school will offer 50 per cent bursaries to Ukrainian sixth formers who can find sponsorship for the remaining 50 per cent of fees, and accommodation with the Manchester community. I hope that other schools will offer support. Ukraine needs a developing middle class with business and language skills and entrepreneurial expertise. Surely some of our universities could also offer such places? And European business interests need to find the vision to offer sponsorship.
This is not only a time of trial for Ukraine, it is also a time of trial for the whole of Europe. This time we must not fail.
Steve Patriarca, Headmaster, William Hulme's Grammar School, Manchester
Meanwhile, in Moldova ...
24 November 2004 -- The new Russian ambassador to Moldova has warned Chisinau not to turn away from Russia in favor of better relations with the European Union.
Ambassador Nikolai Reabov said in his first news conference since arriving in Chisinau that Moscow has "an understanding attitude" toward the Moldovan government's attempt to forge closer ties with the EU.
But Reabov warned that "if relations with Russia are reduced," Moldova can lose its close ties with Russia and "be left only with a dream" of European integration.
Reabov also criticized Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin for stating that Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in the Russian-speaking separatist province of Transdniester are "inefficient."
Transdniester is not recognized internationally, but receives support from Russia and Ukraine.
Voronin suspended settlement talks with the rebel province in July.
Watch Moldova; we predict it will be the next hotspot after Ukraine.
Alexander Motyl: EU hypocrisy must end
Leading European Union officials have been quick to reject the results of Ukraine's disputed presidential election. But there is no disguising the fact that for 13 years the EU has been indifferent to democracy in Ukraine. The Union should redeem itself by supporting the Ukrainian population's democratic aspirations with the prospect of EU membership.
Rector: Opression 'makes Christian life impossible'
LVIV, Ukraine, NOV. 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University warns that "religious freedom is under threat" in his country.
During a telephone interview with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Father Borys Gudziak said there is no persecution of the Church as in former Soviet times.
Yet, "the disregard for civil liberties and human rights on the part of the current regime as well as the extreme poverty of the population, resulting from corruption and mismanagement of the old power clans," make it impossible for families "to lead a normal Christian life," the rector said.
Ukraine is facing a crisis over its recent presidential election. The country's Supreme Court ruled today that the results of the election are not official until it hears an appeal from Viktor Yushchenko, who says it was stolen from him.
It was unclear whether the court even has the right to annul the vote count that gave victory to the Kremlin-backed candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the Associated Press reported.
Over the past few years, some 5 million Ukrainians have gone abroad in search of employment, leaving many families motherless or fatherless.
According to Father Gudziak, in such dramatic poverty a Christian education is unaffordable. The sense of despair, he said, has led to a rise in alcoholism, and the life expectancy of Ukrainians has dropped to 55 years, one of the lowest in Europe.
"The Church stands by the people who are pinning their dignity on these elections, because dignity is rooted in truth," said Father Gudziak.
"If the true results of these elections are denied, it means that not only civil rights, but also the voters' dignity is being trampled underfoot," he added. "This is a profoundly ethical question. The peaceful protest of millions of Ukrainians in almost all of the cities shows that people see their freedom and dignity jeopardized."
The university rector said that he is worried about "Moscow's open efforts to meddle in our internal affairs. Although no Russian military forces have been seen so far, the government has not denied rumors ... that Russian special forces are already present in the country."
Orange is catching on!
Friday, November 26, 2004
Thoughts on demonstrations
A translator's rebellion
On Channel 1 (UT-1), the main state channel, 237 journalists are on strike now. Today, during the 11 am newscast with live translation into the Sign Language, the translator, Natalya Dmytruk, did not translate what the host was saying about the election results, but said (in Sign Language) the following (quote via Ukrainska Pravda):
The results from the Central Election Commission have been falsified. Do not believe them. Our President is Yushchenko. I am very disgusted that I was forced to translate the lies until now. I'm not going to do it anymore. I'm not sure if I'll see you again.
The program Dmytruk was translating into Sign Language for is the only news program in Ukraine adapted for people with hearing impairments. The audience is about 100,000 people. Dmytruk has now joined her 237 striking colleagues.
Don't forget ...
- Write to your government representatives
- Get your best orange clothes ready for Monday
- Send chestnuts to the Ukrainian embassy in your country
We are also looking into the possibility of sending blankets, food or other necessities to the Ukrainians who are protesting in sub-zero temperatures. We'll let you know what we find out.
The Guardian on youth movements
US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev
With their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime, the democracy guerrillas of the Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory - whatever the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev.
Ukraine, traditionally passive in its politics, has been mobilised by the young democracy activists and will never be the same again.
But while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Although one would ordinarily expect these words to be followed by a Dave Spart-style rant, even The Guardian has trouble making the overthrow of Milosevic sound like an evil imperialist act.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Good news, for now
The Supreme Court on Thursday barred official publication of results in Ukraine's contested presidential election that officials said handed victory to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.
The court also said it would examine on Nov. 29 a complaint from opposition challenger Viktor Yushchenko alleging fraud in the poll. The action delays any move to inaugurate Yanukovich and keeps outgoing President Leonid Kuchma in power for now.
"The court ruling bars the Central Election Commission from officially publishing the results of the election and proceeding with any other action connected with this," a statement from the court said.
Before the election, the Government mobilised groups of thugs to harass voters. On the day of the election, police prevented thousands of opposition activists from voting. Nevertheless, when the votes were counted, it was clear the opposition had won by a large margin. As a result, the ruling party decided to falsify the result, and declared victory. Immediately, the Russians sent their fraternal congratulations.
No, that was not a description of the presidential election that took place last Sunday in Ukraine. It was a description of the referendum in Soviet-occupied Poland in June 1946.
But although that infamous Polish election took place nearly 60 years ago, there are good reasons why it sounds so much like last weekend in Ukraine. According to the Committee of Civic Voters, a volunteer group with branches all over Ukraine, the techniques haven't changed much in 60 years. In the Sumy region, they record, a member of the electoral commission was beaten up by unidentified thugs. At one polling station, "criminals" disrupted the voting and destroyed the ballot boxes. In Cherkassy, a polling station inspector was found dead. More "criminals" broke polling station windows and destroyed ballot boxes. In the Zaporozhye region and in Kharkov, observers saw buses transporting voters from one polling station to the next.
There was, in other words, not much that was subtle about the disruption of the election - no arguments about hanging chads or "secret software" here - and not much that was surprising about the result.
It can't be a coincidence that if the Ukrainian election is settled in Moscow's favour, it will mark the third such dubious vote in Russia's "sphere of influence" in the past two months, following the polls in Belarus and the separatist province of Abkhazia.
All of these places may seem obscure and far away. But so did the events 60 years ago in Poland, at least until it became clear they were part of a pattern: 1946 was also the year Winston Churchill gave his celebrated speech describing the "iron curtain" that had descended across Europe.
New letter from PORA
sign the letter of freedom and solidarity
To all CITIZENS of FREE WORLD
Now, while you are reading this letter, 48 millions of people that live in one of the largest European countries, have a unique chance to make their choice and change ruling corrupted regime.
This autumn 2004 is the moment of truth for Ukrainian nation
We know that choice of Ukrainian people is clear.
They are tired of years of corrupted regime and distrusted government. They are exhausted by permanent lie and lawlessness. They want prosperity and stability for their children. They want to live in a democratic country. They value freedom of expression and freedom of press They want to join European community. They want their choice to be heard and respected.
But we also know that this choice could be falsified, as it happened during parliamentary elections in 2002, during the elections in Mukacheve and in tens of small towns all over Ukraine. We recognize that people’s choice could be disgraced and replaced by the will of a small oligarchic group. And again millions of Ukrainians will be deceived
We started this letter of freedom and solidarity to protect free and fair results of elections.
If you believe in freedom, if you care about future of Ukraine, sign this letter to prevent falsifications and to protect thousands of young Ukrainians, who created a national network of volunteers and started PORA (TIME) civic movement, aimed at ensuring and protecting fair and democratic elections of the President of Ukraine.
We need your help
because regime will be afraid to break the rules in front of
because only UNITED we can win
There is no alternative to public action:
1. Check our website www.pora.org.ua/en
2. Sign our letter of freedom and solidarity
3. Make a difference: join PORA Campaign and contribute to campaign
4. Forward this letter to your friends
There might not be other chance
It is TIME to act, TIME to struggle, TIME to win
The letter was signed by: (show all).
If you want to sign this letter please send your name, organziation you represent and your email to email@example.com
Putin congratulates Yanukovych -- again
This may dash hopes that Putin was giving up on Yanukovych, as he appeared to give up on Shevardnadze during Georgia's 'rose revolution.'
Diplomats join protest
Mr Potiekhin was among a group of Ukrainian diplomats in the US who released their own condemnation of Prime Minister Yanukovych. He said the crisis was not simply "the choice between western or eastern orientation of Ukraine".
"It's the choice between the normal European democratic way for Ukraine and the Belarussian way for my country," he told the BBC's World Today programme.
"I don't want to live in a dictatorship under Mr Yanukovych."
He said Yanukovych supporters, mainly from the east of the country, had been starved of information and would not have voted for him had they been fully informed.
"They're completely 100% brainwashed by Dr Goebbels-style propaganda. Mr Yushchenko was pictured as a Nazi, as an anti-Russian, as anti-Semitic, as an American spy.
"Everything, all this nonsense, has nothing in common with the reality. So after the first opportunity to receive a free flow of information, these poor guys in eastern Ukraine will change their point of view."
Article about protest
Wear orange! -- part II
Get the word out anyway you can - wear orange for Ukraine and Democracy
in the World - Monday, November 29,2004. Spread the word!
We encourage supporters of Ukraine to wear orange at any time, but please make a special effort on Monday. Don't forget our chestnut campaign either!
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Worrying reports from PORA
We have just received information from the sources close to Security Service of Ukraine that in two hours (on November 24th at 16:00) Victor Yanukovych will be announced a President and Russian special troops that are already in Kyiv will start force actions against the people in the center of Kyiv.
According to information just received from sources close to SBU internal channels, Viktor Yanukovych will ostensibly be announced as the President at approximately 04:00 p.m., November 24, 2004. Russian special forces units, which are currently in Kyiv, will start force actions against the people at a rally in the center of Kyiv. According to this information, force will be applied against the people both at Independence Square and Bankova Street!
Pope speaks in support of Ukraine
At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II told Ukrainian pilgrims he was praying for their country in a "special way."
"My most dear ones, I assure you and all the Ukrainian people that in these days, I am praying in a special way for your beloved homeland," the pontiff said Wednesday.
As soon as John Paul started speaking in Ukrainian, about 100 pilgrims from the country stood up and started singing a patriotic song and waving blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags and orange banners.
Ukraine's twofold struggle
As the wait for the opening of talks between the president and the opposition continues, and the protests go on, it's perhaps as well to consider that Ukraine's struggle has always been a twofold one: while the first stage of the struggle, independence, has been won, the second stage, which will decide what kind of a country Ukraine is to become, is still being fought.
Ukraine may be a faraway country of which west Europeans know little and care less. But we would be wrong to look the other way. With 48 million people, it is the largest of the former republics of the Soviet Union after Russia and, 13 years after independence, is still sandwiched awkwardly between Russia and the west - in essence what this whole story is about.
At a time of mounting concern about the authoritarian turn being taken by Vladimir Putin, this is extremely worrying. If Ukraine remains unfree, what hope can there be for far smaller Belarus and Moldova? New eastern members of the EU such as Poland and Lithuania are deeply unhappy, as are Sweden and other near neighbours. Ukrainians must find their own peaceful solution - but western democracies must be fully supportive and not retreat into a cold-war shell.
More on censorship
Journalists in Ukraine have refused to present election programmes and walked out in disgust at "blatant" attempts to censor their coverage, according to independent observers from the International Federation of Journalists.
The IFJ said four newsreaders on Channel 1+1 had refused to read the news after complaining of "crude" censorship, forcing the station to drop certain news bulletins altogether.
Three newspapers had their distribution blocked in the days leading up to the election, while a fourth had 500 copies seized from sellers in northern Ukraine.
The main TV channels are effectively controlled by the state and subject to heavy censorship. They have heavily backed government candidate Viktor Yanukovich, who won the disputed election by a margin of 3% on Sunday.
Journalists have also complained at the government's "systematic" use of "temnyks" - instructions to editorial offices as to how certain subjects should be covered.
Three hundred and thirty broadcast journalists have now signed a public statement attacking the state-run censorship under which they are expected to work, pledging to refuse to work on reports that aren't impartial.
State television has not shown pictures of the events in Kiev and dozens of journalists have resigned over what they say is state censorship.
Police joining protesters?
Protesters' hopes rise
UKRAINE’S opposition supporters were claiming to have won concessions last night in the tense stand-off over the country’s bitterly-contested presidential elections.
Yuliya Tymoshenko, a key ally of the opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, emerged from the presidential building in Kiev and said the opposition had accepted an offer from out going President Leonid Kuchma to hold talks on the crisis.
The concession was being interpreted late last night as a move towards handing victory to the supporters of Mr Yushchenko.
"There may well be bloodshed, it is very possible, but we have to stay here as long as it takes," said Maria Florko, a high school teacher.
The mood in Kiev was one of carnival and celebration. "We came last night and we’re not leaving until Yushchenko is the president," said one supporter.
Hotels near the parliament building opened their doors to allow shivering demonstrators to go in, drink tea and thaw out.
As snow fell last night, several thousand Yushchenko supporters marched to the presidential administration building and stood in front of riot police guarding the building. Others set up tents on the main avenue and in Independence Square, pledging to stay until their man was declared president.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
The Economist comments
So what now? Much depends on the determination of Mr Yushchenko’s supporters. Already, there is talk of a general strike. The city councils of Kiev and another big city, Lviv, have refused to recognise the official result of the election. Will there now be a crescendo of protests and civil disobedience until they reach a point where Mr Yanukovich has no option but to step aside? After all, something rather similar happened last year in another former Soviet state, Georgia, where people power forced its then president, Edward Shevardnadze, to resign following dodgy parliamentary elections.
Mr Shevardnadze was forced to quit after it became doubtful if Georgia’s armed forces would obey any order to crush the protesters. The question is whether Ukraine’s security forces would react in the same way: on Monday night, they issued a statement promising that any lawlessness would be put down “quickly and firmly”.
Though Mr Yushchenko is now hoping for a Georgian-style bloodless revolution, there are also some less promising precedents among the former Soviet states: only two months ago, Belarus’s president, Alexander Lukashenka, “won” a rigged referendum to allow him to run for re-election. The EU is said to be planning to tighten its sanctions against his government but so far there is no sign that he will be dislodged from power. Azerbaijan and Armenia both held flawed elections last year: in Azerbaijan, there were riots after the son of the incumbent president won amid widespread intimidation and bribery, but these were violently put down; and in Armenia, voters reacted with quiet despair at the re-election of their president amid reports of ballot-stuffing. If Ukraine follows these precedents, hopes for change there will be dashed.
We have not yet found out the author of Yushchenko's main and most brilliant political technology --- the orange colour of his election campaign. Igor Gryniv, one of Yushchenko's main PR-specialists, says it to be the colour of the political party "Reforms and Order", and it originally symbolized honey and bees, which are known as the PRO symbols. That may be so but there are other versions concerning the authorship.
For the first time the orange colour appeared in Yushchenko's campaign 2002 but its real boom was in autumn 2004, when even trees campaign for Yushchenko. The orange colour has already become a matter of a common psychosis. Taxis and Mercedeses, drivers of both of which like "Chanson"-radio, are decorated with orange ribbons. One can see orange people in restaurants and in the Tube, in institutes and schools, though children have no voting rights yet. Everything is orange.
Upon announcement on the site of the leader of "Our Ukraine" that orange trappings were to be given away freely from his press club, the Sagaydachny street was blocked by the crowd of the interested. For now ribbons and window banners are over, though it is promised that they are to be on Monday. Another jam-up on the Sagaydachny street is to be expected...
If there's a revolution to happen, it is not going to be chestnut but orange.
Why not wear an orange scarf or ribbon to show your support for the Ukrainian people?
U.S. threatens punitive steps
The United States on Monday threatened to review its relationship with Ukraine and to take punitive steps if the Ukrainian government fails to investigate allegations of fraud and abuse in its presidential election.
"The United States is deeply concerned over the elections in Ukraine," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters. "We call on the Ukrainian authorities to curb additional abuse and fraud, to uphold its international commitments to democracy and human rights and to act to ensure an outcome that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people.
"Should, in the final analysis, this election prove to be fundamentally flawed and tarnished, we would certainly need to review our relations with the Ukraine and consider further steps against individuals who had engaged in fraud," he added.
Ereli said the Ukrainian government could avert punitive U.S. action by investigating and dealing with allegations of fraud and respecting the will of the people.
A U.S. official who asked not to be named said Washington could trim economic aid to Ukraine, reduce military assistance, freeze the assets of people who engaged in fraud or ban them from receiving U.S. visas.
The official said Washington was more likely to trim aid than to take the "radical" step of eliminating it outright.
"What you would see is not black and white but shades of gray -- at what speed do you go forward on certain programs, what kind of levels of assistance or engagement are you talking about," he said.
What's more important than revolution in Ukraine?
This is the attitude we're up against. It shows why we must take it upon ourselves to inform others about the situation in Ukraine.
PORA site is back
Monday, November 22, 2004
The tents of PORA at the Independence Square
Civic Campaign PORA just put first tents near the building of the Conservatory at Independence Square. It is planned in total to put 15 tents.
At the moment there are about 700 young people at the Independence Square, who observe the parallel tabulation of votes.
Member of Estonian Parliament joined the tent camp of PORA
This night another resident join the community of PORA's tent camp. 26 year old member of Estonian parliament Silver Meikar, who came to Ukraine as international observer, visited the PORA's tents at the Independence Square.
Two days ago Silver met the activists of PORA, who put the tent camp near the university. He was impressed by the energy of Ukrainian youth, which reminded him about events in Estonia at the beginning of the independence. The visit to the camp resulted into desire to stay in the camp till the end of his trip to Ukraine.
Silver gave an interview to our journalist.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Silver Meikar. I came to Ukraine as an election observer. 10 per cent of Estonian government, which include 101 MPs, came to Ukraine to observe whether the elections are democratic
So what do you think about Ukrainian elections? What is your impressions? Were they democratic?
During the first round I was in Donetsk and we observed only minor violations. During the second round I stayed in Kyiv oblast and in one of the polling stations in Kyiv. Here at the polling station number 103 in Kharkivskiy district we saw a bus with a big group of people, who wanted to vote with absentee ballot. They did not show their documents. But we talked to the group of volunteers, which was following the bus on its trip and filmed their action. This group showed us the video and pictures, which demonstrated how the bus was traveling through Kyiv and how the people were voting on different polling stations.
Can you call these elections democratic?
Almost democratic. I think it is very important that people in Ukraine understand what their vote means. I saw motivated people. It was almost like in Estonia. There were incidents and violations. But it is important that people want to be in committees, they want to do their job the best. In the first round the procedures were fine. But I was very interested to observe the results on TV this time. Today I saw that in Donetsk more than 95 percent voted. I wander how it is possible that 96 percent of people voted I cannot say that that there were violations, but it is a big difference comparing to the first round. In Kyiv region there was only a small change in participation rate. But in Donetsk the change was 20 %. And now it is almost like in Soviet time.
How many people came for the referendum about EU accession?
Approximately 25 per cent, but when we voted for independence, more than 70 percent came
I think it is first time when people feel that they have chance. I was an observer in Kyiv and I saw old people coming and asking, if everything is ok, whether elections are democratic, whether everything is in order.
Tell how did learn about PORA.
I was told that there are tents in the park. I met with some youth and we talked for a long time in the bar. I asked them why you are doing this, why this is important for you, why you are taking risk for this. And they told me that they cannot be silent anymore. When I was in Horlovka 2 weeks ago, people were interested where I am from, what I am doing here. I told them that I am from Estonia and I came here because I think it is important It is important that elections in Ukraine were democratic. And people were impressed that in Estonia Estonian people think about elections in Ukraine and for Horlovka it is not that important.
I think that young people in Ukraine know what kind of Ukraine they want These people I met, they want to have Ukraine in European Union and maybe in NATO. I feel that culturally we are similar, we are European.
These elections are very important, because if you have a target, like entering EU, you can achieve it in 10 years. 10 years ago only some people in Estonia believed that some day we will be in EU an in NATO. Most people did not. We had a president who believed. His name is Lennard Meri. He was a minister of foreign affairs.
And we achieve the target. It is possible. But you should think and work.
You think it is possible in Ukraine? Ukraine is larger than Estonia.
But look at the example of Poland. They are in EU. I think one day Ukraine will be in EU. You have big possibilities: sea, natural resources and human potential. If you want, you can reach the target.
Full OSCE report
OCSE: Second round more corrupt than first
"The second round did not meet a considerable number of (international) commitments for democratic elections," said Bruce George, head of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Kiev.
The OSCE assessed the second round polling less favourably than the first round, noting "more serious violations, including some isolated incidents of violence, and a pattern of intimidation, including directed towards observers, polling commission members and individual voters".
What will Bush do now?
We urge Americans to write to President Bush and encourage him to keep his word. We will produce a sample letter in the next few days.
Georgie Ann Geyer on the election
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.
Putin: EU 'must not create new dividing lines'
"EU expansion is part of a natural world process of integration and globalization. That's why we treat this process rather positively. But, quite naturally, we proceed from the fact that during these processes, during EU enlargement, new dividing lines in Europe, new virtual 'Berlin walls' should not be created," said the head of the Russian state.
The president said the negotiating process with the EU had been difficult. Russia was concerned about how the EU enlargement would tell on traditional trade and economic ties of the Russian Federation with partners in Central and Eastern Europe.
I'm a pro-democracy activist, get me out of here!
We think the BBC should pay more attention to the 'reality show' unfolding nearer to home, where people the same age as their listeners are being locked up for their political beliefs. If you agree, please contact the BBC's listener response show, Feedback.
Our own 'chestnut revolution'
We urge all supporters of free speech and democracy in Ukraine to send chestnuts to the Ukrainian embassy in their country, along with a card explaining your support for fair elections and civil liberties. One suggestion is:
See? They're not so scary
Let your people speak!
The address for the Ukrainian embassy in London is:
60 Holland Park
London W11 3SJ
3350 M. Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
310 Somerset St. West
Ottawa, Ontario K2P OJ9
Addresses in other countries can be found here.
Let us know how it goes!
We didn't see as many people as we did on 31 October, probably because of the poor weather. But we did give out a fair number of factsheets and even had an interview with a local journalist (we will let you know if it appears online).
Saturday, November 20, 2004
False appeal for boycott
We received information that fake leaflets from Victor Yushenko and Yulia Tymoshenko have been distributed for several days already. They appeal to boycott the elections on November 21st because the protocols to support one candidate are prepared already and that the results will be falsified again.
PORA Campaign is blamed that people with its symbols distribute the leaflets.
We officially state that none of our activists participated in their distribution. PORA stands for fair and transparent election and does not appeal to cancel them.
Friday, November 19, 2004
PORA in the spotlight
"The government wanted to quietly manipulate the election, but we are interfering," said Pora activist Anastasia Bezverkha. "Our actions are raising social tension, and that's what Ukraine needs right now."
Pora called a one-day "student strike" on Nov. 17, combining with other student movements to demand a fair vote in the Nov. 21 second round.
Hundreds of Pora activists - some covering their faces with trademark yellow-and-black bandanas - filled a Kyiv square ahead of a planned concert, handing out leaflets to businessmen and grandmothers passing by.
In the western city of Lviv, about 8,000 students representing Pora and other student movements carried posters reading: "Dictatorship will collapse!" and "Everyone should fight!" Police stood in columns watching.
Yanukovych's supporters have accused Pora and other opposition groups of planning to seize power if the election does not go their way.
Pora's decision to put revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara - wearing a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt - on their T-shirts also raised eyebrows.
"I wouldn't say that we are trying to make a revolution," said Nina Sorokopud, a 22-year-old student in Kyiv in the group's temporary basement office. "For us Che is a symbol of protest and freedom, not of revolution."
Sen. Lugar off to Ukraine
The White House Thursday called for fair elections in Ukraine and said it was sending the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee head as an observer.
"The United States supports Ukraine's aspirations to join the Euro-Atlantic community, a community which requires a commitment to shared values," spokesman Scott McClellan said. "If the election fails to meet democratic standards, Ukraine's aspirations would suffer."
No date was given for the departure of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Factsheet for 21 November
What is happening in Ukraine?
Today (21 November) Ukrainians are voting for a new president. Today’s vote is a runoff, held after the first round on 31 October failed to produce a clear winner. Viktor Yanukovych, who has been endorsed by the current Ukrainian president and the Russian government, is running against Viktor Yushchenko. The campaign and the previous round of the election have been marked by serious violations of democratic principles and human rights.
Censorship. Virtually all media in Ukraine are controlled by the government, and journalists who probe too deeply into sensitive matters are attacked and even killed. Shortly before the first vote, the government tried to shut down the sole remaining independent television channel, TV5. A local court unfroze the channel’s assets after its journalists staged a week-long hunger strike.
Persecution of activists. Throughout Ukraine, people have been arrested and imprisoned purely for expressing their political views. A particular target has been the youth movement PORA (It’s Time). Amnesty International recently stated: ‘The number of such detentions that are taking place across Ukraine and the numerous violations of procedures raise concerns that these young people may have been detained for their legitimate and peaceful opposition activities.’
Electoral irregularities. International observers found that voters were bribed and threatened; that some registered voters were left off the election rolls, while others appeared more than once; and that some ballots were pre-marked for Yanukovych.
What does this mean for the rest of the world?
Democracy in the former Soviet Union is under threat. In Ukraine’s neighbour, Belarus, the prime minister has changed the constitution to allow himself to rule indefinitely. In Russia, Vladimir Putin is on the verge of abolishing regional elections, and he has made it virtually impossible for opposition parties to get into government. It is vital that Ukraine does not fall into the same trap. In a leader on 28 October, The Economist said: ‘Ukraine's [election] will help map out not only the future shape of Europe but also the relationship between the West and another, colder East … Showing that Ukraine can escape the Soviet legacy will be a powerful argument against those who believe that Russia and its neighbours are condemned to it.’
What can we in Britain do?
Other countries must insist that the Ukrainian government allow fair elections without interference and that it respect the fundamental human right to free expression. The European Union is in a unique position to help. The prospect of membership has encouraged other countries, such as Turkey and Romania, to clean up corruption and increase civil liberties. We believe Ukraine, too, should be offered this incentive. We are asking people to write to their Member of the European Parliament; we have attached a sample letter you can send.
Whether you write to your MEP or not, we urge you not to turn a blind eye to what is happening in Ukraine and elsewhere in the former USSR. We know the region does not get much coverage in the British press, and people must sometimes make a special effort to find out about it. But we must let the leaders in this region know that the world will not remain indifferent to oppression.
Who are you, anyway?
We are ordinary citizens and do not represent an organisation. We are very concerned about the events in Ukraine and feel that they have not received enough coverage in the Western media. We have taken it upon ourselves to inform people of the situation and encourage them to take action.
Do you support a particular candidate?
No. That is a choice for the Ukrainian people. We are asking only that their choice be measured fairly and respected, and that people on all sides be allowed to express their opinions freely.
Can I help you with future information campaigns?
We would be delighted to hear from you; please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Tannock's reply
As Vice President of the Ukraine delegation of the European Parliament as well as Vice President of the Human Rights subcommittee of the Parliament I am well aware of the political situation in Ukraine, where I will be this saturday as an election observer, and which is mercifully nothing like as bad as some former Soviet states such as Belarus, Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan.
If you look at my website you can read my many speeches and articles on Ukraine which demonstrate my interest in bringing that wonderful country towards western Euro-Atlantic structures.
Dr Charles Tannock MEP
If you write to your MEP, please do let us know by leaving a comment. We would also be interested in any responses you get.
Sample letter to MEP
Please feel free to cut and paste this letter. Londoners can send it to email@example.com. If you live outside London, you can use this site to find the address of a local MEP.
Dear Dr Tannock:
I am writing to you because I am concerned about the situation in Ukraine. As you are no doubt aware, in recent months the country has seen many violations of human rights and democratic process. These include censorship of the media, arbitrary arrest of political activists and a wide variety of electoral fraud.
The European Union is in a unique position to help bring free speech and fair elections to Ukraine. The prospect of EU membership has encouraged other countries, like Romania and Turkey, to clean up corruption and increase civil liberties. Furthermore, the EU can and must serve as a valuable counterweight to an increasingly undemocratic Russia.
Therefore I encourage you to be a strong voice for Ukraine in the European Parliament. Please urge the EU to provide assistance to put Ukraine on the path to membership. Above all, please ensure that the EU does not turn a blind eye to oppression in Ukraine or elsewhere in the former Soviet Union.
Thank you for your time.
Charles Tannock MEP writes to Financial Times
EU must accept Ukraine
Anders Aslund ("Ukraine's voters don't need Moscow's advice", November 12) is essentially correct in his analysis of the current political situation in Ukraine.
However, he misses one essential point, which I have repeatedly raised in the European parliament but which is totally ignored by the other European Union institutions: namely, that unless the EU accepts Ukraine can engage in some kind of long-term aspiration towards eventual EU membership it is inevitable that whoever wins the presidential election on November 21 has only one economic option - to look east to Moscow.
Ukraine will then be obliged to implement fully the Yalta Treaty and the Single Economic Space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and possibly even Uzbekistan. Once it enters into close free-trade agreements with countries such as Belarus and Uzbekistan with lamentable human rights records, and in particular if these evolve into a customs union, its door to EU integration will be irreversibly shut.
With the possible exception of Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, no other EU leader is prepared to make encouraging Euro-Atlantic integration noises to Ukraine. President Leonid Kuchma, at the last EU-Ukraine summit, was so humiliated by Romano Prodi, president of the EU Commission, when he stated that irrespective of how European Ukrainians might feel, so might New Zealanders feel the same, that Mr Kuchma reversed his previously long-held policy of Ukrainian Nato and EU integration.
Hans-Gert Poettering, leader of the EPP-ED in the European parliament, has written to Viktor Yushchenko, the front-running candidate, assuring him that his political group will keep the door open for Ukraine's EU membership. It cannot be morally sustainable to open negotiations with Turkey and be down the road with western Balkan countries and deny such a right to Ukraine.
The run-off, as well as being free, fair and transparent, must allow the option of long-term EU accession to be part of the Ukrainian people's choice.
Vice-President, European Parliament Ukraine Delegation
Ukrainian Presidential Election Observer
Putin lures voters with promise of common market
The choice in Sunday's presidential election: move closer to Europe or Russia?
The fate of a key Kremlin plan to build a post-Soviet common market may hang in the balance this weekend as the voters of Ukraine choose a new president in a cliffhanger election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has risked international condemnation by making two high-profile forays into Ukraine in the past month to all but openly campaign for pro-Moscow prime minister Viktor Yanukovich. Mr. Putin hints at dire economic consequences if the pro-European Union and NATO-leaning liberal Viktor Yushchenko should be elected.
Brief item about Pora in Independent
Students mobilise in Ukraine election
Pora called a one-day "student strike" yesterday, combining with other student movements to demand a fair vote in Sunday's second round.
Authorities have made daily arrests of Pora activists, who make no secret of their pro-Yushchenko sympathies, accusing them of plotting to overthrow the government. Armed police raided their Kiev headquarters last month and evicted them after claiming to have found explosives.