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Friday, December 17, 2004

 

Christmas notes

We will be away from this blog from 19 December to 7 January. Because the next round of the Ukrainian election falls on Boxing Day, we were unable to arrange a public demonstration. However, we encourage our readers to remember the Ukrainian people during their celebrations. Perhaps you will have an opportunity to remind relatives about the election, or to include prayers for Ukraine in worship services.

In the New Year, our campaign will be widening its focus to include all of the former Soviet Union (including Russia). Watch this space for details of demonstrations and other activities in 2005.

We wish all our readers a very happy Christmas and New Year!

 

New PORA newsletter

www.pora.org.ua
Issue #13, 14 December 2004
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Pre-election Developments
The re-run of the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine is scheduled for December 26. The contenders in the run-off remain the same: opposition leader and candidate Viktor Yushchenko and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

On December 9, amendments to the Electoral Code were adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament. These changes are aimed at preventing the forms of electoral fraud that rigged the second round of the presidential elections, and at holding a more efficient re-run on December 26; see the amended version of the electoral law at http://www.obkom.net.ua/articles/2004-12/09.1156.shtml.

Issues of Recent Social Interest
Together with amendments to the electoral law, a constitutional reform package was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament. Among others, changes pertain to the competencies of the President and of Parliament. The decision on constitutional changes was reached by the pro-governmental majority and deputies of the “Nasha Ukraina” opposition group as a compromise with current President Leonid Kuchma. The constitutional changes will enter into force in September 2005; see more details at http://news.org.ua/reports/?id_numb=1567

Despite the no-confidence vote passed by the Ukrainian parliament on December 3, President Leonid Kuchma has so far refused to sign the motion to resign Prime Minister Yanukovych arguing that it was unconstitutional; see http://www.jamestown.org/publications_details.php?volume_id=401&issue_id=3163&article_id=2368956

In recent days, presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych has markedly changed his political rhetoric, starting to criticize especially President Leonid Kuchma, his former supporter. In a campaign speech on December 6, he sought to distance himself from Kuchma in an apparent effort to shed an image as a presidential puppet and broaden his support base; see more details at http://www.kyivpost.com/top/22006/ and http://www2.pravda.com.ua/archive/2004/december/13/news/21.shtml

The shifts and his newly adopted opposition stance reflect, according to Volodymyr Lytvyn, the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, pre-election manoeuvers Viktor Yanukovych; see http://www.korrespondent.net/main/109175/
On December 9, President Kuchma accepted the resignation of Prosecutor General Hennady Vasyliev; see http://news.org.ua/news/?eid=2962
On December 11, Michael Zimpfer, head of the Austrian Rudolfinerhaus clinic confirmed that Viktor Yushchenko had been poisoned by dioxides; see http://www2.pravda.com.ua/archive/2004/december/11/news/13.shtml and http://www.razom.org.ua/en/news/4935/
On December 12, the Sunday Times quoted opposition MP Yuriy Pavlenko blaming the Russian National Security Service FSB to be responsible for the Yushchenko poisoning; see http://www.korrespondent.net/main/109111/ and http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1400053,00.html

On December 13, Ukraine's Parliament decided to reopen its inquiry into opposition leader Yushchenko's illness after doctors in Austria said he had been poisoned; see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4092689.stm

On December 13, the civic campaign PORA announced to move its tent camp on Maidan Nezalezhnosti from the street to the pedestrianized part of the square. The decision responsed to a request by mayor Omelchenko to release the traffic situation in central Kyiv. http://www2.pravda.com.ua/archive/2004/december/13/news/33.shtml and http://pora.org.ua/en/content/view/717/2/

Images from the tent camp at Maidan Nezalezhnosti can be found at www.nepokora.com.ua and http://www.brama.com/news/press/slideshow/2004/041128vl_kyivmaidan/. Picture galleries of the orange revolution are displayed at http://www.razom.org.ua/album/164/, http://www.vybir.yarema.info/ and http://www.ukraine-online.org/gallery.php. An article on the “Maidan’s soul” can be found at http://www.mirror-weekly.com/ie/show/525/48663/

On 10 December, an attempt of PORA activists to carry out an action called “It’s time to love” and to set up tents in Yanukovych’s home city of Donetsk was met with aggression; see more details at http://pora.org.ua/en/content/view/709/2/

See recent news on Ukraine at http://www.rferl.org/newsline/3-cee.asp

Reactions from the International Community
International observers expressed their concern about the confirmation by Viennese physicians that Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned "It's also clear that if there has been a case of deliberate poisoning, then those who are responsible must be brought to justice" said stated Emma Udwin, external affairs spokeswoman for the EU Commission; see more details at http://www2.pravda.com.ua/archive/2004/december/13/news/17.shtml and http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200412/s1264421.htm

The United States was "deeply concerned about these findings, a state department spokeswoman said and urged Ukrainian authorities to investigate; see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4088345.stm and http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20041211/pl_afp/ukrainevoteyushchenko_041211180055

On December 13, Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe visited Ukraine. The visit included meetings parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and other officials. Mr. Davis congratulated Ukraine on the steps made towards overcomin the political crisis and returning Ukraine to democratic development. “I hope there will be less violations during the repeat election on December 26,” Mr. Davis said; http://press.coe.int/cp/2004/632a(2004).htm, http://www.unian.net/index.php?url=novina&id=9811 and http://www2.pravda.com.ua/archive/2004/december/13/news/26.shtml

On December 10, the meeting of the Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg welcomed the efforts of the Verkhovna Rada and the President of Ukraine in the adoption of constitutional reform; see http://eng.imi.org.ua/?id=read&n=1664&yy=2004

At a December 7 hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, gross irregularities in the November 21 elections in Ukraine were outlined. Key speaker Senator Lugar was nevertheless hopeful that election reforms will be implemented. However, Lugar stressed that Washington needs to provide money and additional monitors to prevent the elections from being rigged; see http://www.brama.com/news/press/2004/12/041208hfrc_ukrainehearing.html

Efforts are underway in the international community to ensure a sufficient number of election observers to monitor the re-run of the presidential election on December 26.

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress issued a call for election observers; see http://ucca.org/events/obap.htm

On December 5, announced to send 30 observers to the OSCE/ODIHR election observer mission," according to Laila Freivalds, Minister for Foreign Affairs; see http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/4850/a/35007

On December 6, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, called for an active role of his organization in helping Ukraine with the re-run of its presidential elections. Passy welcomed financial pledges to support the election observation process made by a number of OSCE countries; see http://www.osce.org/news/show_news.php?id=4581

On December 8, the U.S. State Department said to dispatch 100 election observers. Vote, who will form part of a 960-strong mission being sent by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; see http://www.asianewsnet.net/level3_template1.php?l3sec=10&news_id=32784

On December 9, the German Foreign Office announced to send 110 election observers to be part of the OSCE Election Observation Mission; see http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/en/ausgabe_archiv?archiv_id=6584

Ukrainian organizations have also urged the international community, as well as foreign individuals, to come to serve as international poll monitors; see http://eng.imi.org.ua/?id=read&n=125&cy=2004&m=thm

On December 14, the Central Election Commission registered 395 official foreign observers for the December 26 poll. In total, 5,155 official foreign observers are expected; see http://hotline.net.ua/eng/content/view/2853/37/

Recent Activities of PORA
On December 8, the civic campaing PORA issued a statement urging for constitutional reform after a change in the elected authorities; see more details at http://pora.org.ua/en/content/view/699/2/ and
We hope that you find this newsletter interesting. With any questions, comments and suggestions, please contact us at anastasia@pora.org.ua Latest news about the PORA campaign can be found at www.pora.org.ua

Anastasia Bezverkha, Representative of the informational-educational PORA campaign

http://www.radio.org.ua/reports/?eid=&id_numb=21431

The civic campaign PORA initiated a project aimed at closer peer-to-peer communication between Ukrainians in different regions of the country. This “Bridge of Friendship Kyiv-Donetsk” encourages people from East and West to contact each other, exchange impressions and share opinions; see www.nesam.net.ua (“Not alone”).

On 11 December, the civic campaign PORA launched an All-Ukrainian action of collecting presents for inmates of Ukrainian orphanages on the occasion of St. Nikolas Day; see http://pora.org.ua/en/content/view/714/2/

On December 14, the Center of Spiritual Renaissance, jointly with the civic campign PORA, launched car convoi to Eastern Ukraine. More than 70 private drivers will travel across the Poltavska, Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska, Zaporizka oblast and the Crimea for 10 days, displaying pictures from the orange revolution in Kyiv and organizing concerts; see http://www.imi.org.ua/?read=6610:1 and http://www.razom.org.ua/en/news/4940/.
News of car convoi is avalable at http://www.avtoprobig.domivka.net/

Results of continued media monitoring of the coverage of the election campaing can be found with the Ukrainian Monitor at http://prostir-monitor.org/index.php?language=eng




We hope that you find this newsletter interesting. With any questions, comments and suggestions, please contact us at anastasia@pora.org.ua Latest news about the PORA campaign can be found at www.pora.org.ua

Anastasia Bezverkha, Representative of the informational-educational PORA campaign


Thursday, December 16, 2004

 

Amnesty statement on Belarus

Amnesty International has issued a statement on the suppression of free speech in Belarus. To read it, click here.

 

More nonsense from the BHHRG crowd

Did you think the confirmation of Yushchenko's poisoning would give the Yanukovych apologists pause? How naive. As Justin Raimondo assures us, there's no reason to believe qualified medical opinion when you can believe a convoluted Internet conspiracy theory instead. Oh, and by the way, all those nasty things you've heard about the KGB are just 'urban myths'. Includes the requisite quotation from John 'friend of Milosevic' Laughland.

 

A record he didn't want

Ukrainian's dioxin level is second-highest ever


Tests reveal Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko's blood contains the second-highest level of dioxin poisoning recorded in a human -- more than 6,000 times the normal concentration, an expert says.

"This guy is in uncharted territory," said Robert Middleberg, a forensic toxicologist at National Medical Services, a bioanalytical laboratory in Pennsylvania that specializes in criminal cases.

"If he did receive it as an oral poison, he'd be one of the only cases we'd be aware of," he said. "It's not a good poison to use if you're trying to acutely kill someone. If you want to make someone sick, it's certainly a good poison."

Brouwer said the highest dose recorded was in a woman in Vienna, who was poisoned with dioxin in the mid-1990s. Tests showed her blood had 144,000 units per gram of fat, and she survived.

 

Russian secret service 'studied dioxin'

From The International Herald-Tribune:


With speculation running rampant in Ukraine over the dioxin poisoning of the presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, the use of poisons as a sinister tool of statecraft has again entered the public arena in a former Soviet republic. Some former officers of the Russian security services say that it never left.
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On several occasions in the past decade, the successor agencies to the KGB in Russia and other countries once in the Soviet sphere have come under suspicion of giving drugs or poisons to prominent critics.
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And while authorities have repeatedly denied ordering such actions, the former intelligence officials say they find many of the allegations credible.
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"The view inside our agency was that poison is just a weapon, like a pistol," said Alexander Litvinenko, who served in the KGB and its Russian successor, the Federal Security Service, from 1988 to 1999 and now lives in London. "It's not seen that way in the West, but it was just viewed as an ordinary tool."
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Litvinenko said a secret KGB laboratory in Moscow, still operated by the Federal Security Service, which is known by its Russian initials FSB, specializes in the study of poisons.
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In analyzing what is known of Yushchenko's case, Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general who now lives outside Washington, said it appeared to be "certainly an attempt to remove him from the political scene."
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Kalugin speaks from unusually direct experience. In 1978, he passed along orders directing Soviet agents to supply the Bulgarian secret service with a spring-loaded umbrella that was later used to deliver a dose of the poison ricin, killing the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London.
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Litvinenko and Kalugin both said they believed Yushchenko was poisoned with the involvement of the Ukrainian security service, which has maintained close relations with the Federal Security Service, and they suspect that Russian security services may have been involved.
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Yushchenko fell ill after having a meal Sept. 5 with the head of Ukraine's security service, General Ihor Smeshko.

In making their cases, Litvinenko and Kalugin describe alleged cases of poisoning or drugging in recent years in which Russian authorities have come under suspicion.
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Among the victims were a Russian banker, Ivan Kivelidi, and his secretary, who died in 1995 after using a telephone apparently dosed with poison. In 2002, a Saudi militant known as Khattab who fought with Chechen rebels against Russian forces died after opening a poisoned letter. And a former speaker of the Russian Parliament, Ivan Rybkin, who disappeared for several days in February during his race against President Vladimir Putin, accused the Federal Security Service of drugging him and spiriting him away.
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On Sept. 1, in an incident that received widespread media attention in Russia and Britain, Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Russian journalist with the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, lost consciousness after drinking tea aboard a flight to Beslan, in the Caucasus, where militants had seized a school. She later said she thought Federal Security Service agents on the plane had poisoned the tea. When she regained consciousness in the hospital, she wrote in The Guardian in England, a nurse whispered to her, "My dear, they tried to poison you."
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Vil Mirzayanov, a onetime dissident Russian scientist who lives in New Jersey, said a secret unit inside a Moscow chemical institute studied dioxin for many years while developing defoliants for the military.
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He said he had never heard of dioxin being studied as a weapon in the former Soviet Union, but Paul Wax, vice president of the American College of Medical Toxicology, said that at a 2002 conference in Volgograd, Russian scientists told him such research had been conducted.

Monday, December 13, 2004

 

Sunday Times on Yushchenko poisoning

Kremlin Accused over Yushchenko Poisoning


Yushchenko’s supporters, who see Ukraine’s future in Nato and the European Union rather than in the Russian sphere of influence, suspect he was targeted at a dinner late on September 5 at the summer house of Volodymyr Satsyuk, the first deputy chairman of the SBU, the Ukrainian intelligence service.

The organisation was formed from the Ukrainian branch of the former KGB and many members still pine for the days of the Soviet Union.

The American-born Katerina Yushchenko said she had tasted poison on her husband’s lips when he returned home. “I tasted some medicine on his breath, on his lips, and I asked him about it. He brushed it away, saying there is nothing.”

The next morning Yushchenko complained of headaches, a recognised symptom of dioxin poisoning. They got worse and he was rushed to hospital for treatment.

Serhiy Hrabovsky, a Ukrainian journalist, said: “Many politically active people have died suddenly in Ukraine since independence in 1991 of heart attacks brought on by suspected poisoning and in staged car accidents.”

Earlier this year Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist well known for her criticism of the Kremlin for human rights abuses in Chechnya, claimed a severe illness she suffered was caused by poison administered by Russian agents.


Politkovskaya -- whose book Putin's Russia we recommend highly -- became ill after drinking tea on a plane to Beslan, where she was flying to cover the school siege.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

 

Yushchenko poison identified

Yushchenko's doctors have now identified the substance that poisoned him as dioxin. Perhaps surprisingly, the story has leapt to the top of the BBC's news reports.


"There is no doubt about the fact that the disease has been caused by a case of poisoning by dioxin," Michael Zimpfer, the head doctor of the Rudolfinerhaus clinic where Mr Yushchenko is undergoing treatment, said.

"There were high concentrations of dioxin, most likely orally administered."

It is still not clear whether the poisoning was deliberate, though Dr Zimpfer said it was likely to have been caused by "a third party".

The question of who was responsible was a matter for the judicial authorities, he said.

Dr Zimpfer said the substance was soluble and could have been administered in something like soup.

Mr Yushchenko's blood and tissue registered concentrations of dioxin 1,000 times above normal levels.

There appeared to be little lasting damage to Mr Yushchenko's internal organs, though experts say it could take more than two years for his skin to return to normal.

Dioxins are common pollutants - produced as the result of many industrial processes.

But toxicologists say little is known about the effect of such a large single dose.

"It's usually low-level, long-term poisoning," Professor John Henry of London's St Mary's hospital told the BBC.

"A very large dose, nobody has any real idea of what it would cause. Now we do know."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

 

Democracy, Putin-style

From Radio Free Europe:


Six regions of Russia held gubernatorial elections on 5 December, and second rounds will be required later this month in four of the six.

But the courts -- rather than the political parties -- appear to have played the most significant role in these elections: In three regions, competitive candidates likely to finish first or second in their respective races were disqualified shortly before the ballot. All of those disqualified candidates were poised to oppose representatives of Unified Russia and/or representatives that the Kremlin favored.


The people of Ukraine have risen up against this type of 'democracy.' Will Russians be next?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

 

Parliament passes election reforms

Not total victory, but still good news.

 

Austrian doctors: Yushchenko WAS poisoned

From The Times:


Doctors at Vienna’s exclusive Rudolfinerhaus clinic are within days of identifying the substance that left Mr Yushchenko’s face disfigured with cysts and lesions, Nikolai Korpan told The Times in a telephone interview.



Specialists in Britain, the United States and France had helped to establish that it was a biological agent, a chemical agent or, most likely, a rare poison that struck him down in the run-up to the presidential election, he said. Doctors needed to examine Mr Yushchenko again at the clinic in Vienna to confirm their diagnosis but were in no doubt that the substance was administered deliberately, he said.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

 

William Safire on 'Chicken Kiev'

From The International Herald Tribune:


The elder President Bush's most memorable foreign-policy blunder took place in Kiev in 1991, then under Communist rule. With the Soviet Union coming apart, the U.S. president - badly advised by the stability-obsessed "realist" Brent Scowcroft - made a speech urging Ukrainians yearning for independence to beware of "suicidal nationalism." His speech, which he now insists meant only "not so fast," was widely taken as advice to remain loyal to Moscow's empire.
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I dubbed this the "Chicken Kiev speech." That so infuriated Bush, who mistakenly saw the phrase as imputing cowardice rather than charging colossal misjudgment, that he has not spoken to me since.
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Contrariwise, the reaction of President Vladimir Putin of Russia to the latest manifestation of the desire of the majority of the Ukrainian people for independence from Moscow is that of a dictator gripped by fear.
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Putin remembers all too well how people power worked in Moscow for Boris Yeltsin, overturning 70-year Communist rule; that is why he panicked this month. The KGB alumnus hailed the fraudulent victory of his puppet prematurely; as protests rose, he summoned the Ukrainian president to Moscow, ostentatiously to give him marching orders; and with all else failing, he stooped to standard anti-Americanism.
This is the reaction of a man who fears the contagion of people power. Up to now, conventional wisdom has been that - with some brave exceptions - most Russians long for an authority figure like Putin, embrace his takeover of Parliament and provincial government, believe all they see and hear from obedient state-controlled media and befog Russia's declining population with vodka.
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It could be, however, that Putin sees in his Ukrainian setback the handwriting on the Berlin Wall. He knows how many Ukrainians welcomed Hitler's army as a lesser evil than Stalin. He senses the danger to his rule of a Ukraine that turns westward to join the European Union. He fears that the outbreak of people power in his huge neighbor could abort his plan to change the Russian Constitution to make himself president for life.
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As an unreconstructed idealist (and, as the global mushrooming of democracy proves, idealists are the real realists), I believe people power will be unstoppable. But new democracies will not be our clones, and newly liberated peoples will irritate the superpower.
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The pockmarked fresh face in Ukraine has already promised to withdraw that nation's 1,600 troops from Iraq. The repressed youth of Iran, when they overthrow the repressive theocracy, will still press for a nuclear bomb. The free federalists of Iraq will cut shadowy deals with post-Chirac France and post-Putin Russia. The young lion of a democratic Palestine will lie down most grudgingly with the lamb of Israel.
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Thorns in tomorrow's rose garden? You bet. But it is America's calling, as well as in its self-interest, to foster the flowering of freedom.

Monday, December 06, 2004

 

PORA newsletter #12


www.pora.org.ua
Issue #12, 6 December 2004
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The course of the Orange Revolution
Ukraine is entering the second week of the orange revolution. On December 3, the Ukrainian people celebrated their first major victory. During five days of intense sessions, the Supreme Court of Ukraine considered an appeal by presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko pointing to numerous violations of the law during the electoral process. The court ruled invalid the official results of the second round of the presidential elections as announced earlier by the Central Election Commission, and ordered that the second round of elections be re-run on or by December 26; see http://ua.proua.com/news/2004/12/04/185729.html. The Supreme Court also ruled that a new Central Election Commission is to be formed; see http://www.obozrevatel.com/index.php?r=eng&id=169032. A video of the verdict of the Supreme Court can be downloaded at http://www.5tv.com.ua/video/143/0/101/.

On December 4, Viktor Yanukovych announced to re-run as as a candidate in the presidential elections; see more detail at http://www2.pravda.com.ua/archive/2004/december/4/news/4.shtml.

On December 2, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted passed a vote of no-confidence against the government of Prime Minister Yanukovych, and it began the creation of a government of “popular trust” in order to stabilize the political and economic situation in Ukraine. However, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma is yet to sign the declaration of the parliament. The opposition announced to continue blocking Kuchma’s residence if he does not sign the declaration of no-confidence; see http://ua.proua.com/news/2004/12/03/154321.html

The Parliament remains the only legitimate body of authority in the country. MPs are currently working on several drafts to amend the electoral code and to change the constitution to limit the powers of the president and enhance the competencies of parliament; see http://ua.proua.com/news/2004/12/03/203525.html. The democratic opposition announced to block the entrance to parliament until these changes are adopted; see http://www.korrespondent.net/main/108522

Issues of Recent Social Interest
Supporters of candidate Viktor Yushchenko continued their siege of government buildings through December 5, after pro-government lawmakers blocked legal changes designed to ensure a free and fair ballot in the re-run of the presidential runoff; see http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/12/05/ukraine.ap/index.html. At the same time, an increasing number of MP defects from the pro-governmental majority; see more details at http://ad0.bigmir.net/c.bbn?15525&4&b39643.

Sergiy Tyhypko, head of Viktor Yanukovych’s election office and head of the national bank, resigned from both positions on November 29; see more detail at
http://www.politikan.com.ua/web/1.php?rej=1&idm=5258&idr1=1&idr2=0&idr3=0&kv_m2=0&kreg=&aleng=1

The opposition created a new body of authority – the Committee of National Salvation. For a list of the committee’s members, see http://www.obozrevatel.com/index.php?r=news&id=169000

On December 3, a new website of the tent camp at Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) was launched. The the site at www.nepokora.com.ua for recent news from the camp and images of life in the camp.

Pictures from the camp are available at http://www.brama.com/news/press/slideshow/2004/041128vl_kyivmaidan/
Photos from the streets of Kyiv are displayed at http://www.razom.org.ua/album/164/. A picture gallery on the orange revolution can be found at http://www.vybir.yarema.info/ and http://www.ukraine-online.org/gallery.php.

For video and audio interviews with experts on the political situation in Ukraine, see http://www.brama.com/news/press/2004/11/041126aei_video.html

For an overview of the main recent events in Ukraine, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4061253.stm

The Question of Separatism
Representatives of the administration of Ukraine's Russian-speaking Eastern region of Donetsk voted to hold a referendum on January 9 to make Ukraine a federation with greater autonomy for individual regions; see http://eng.imi.org.ua/?id=read&n=1613&yy=2004

Anatoly Kinakh, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, rejected this separatist initiative by the Eastern regions of Ukraine; http://www.razom.org.ua/en/news/4733/

On December 3, a meeting of representatives of local self-govermnent authorities took place in Kharkiv. 1,182 delegates attended the meeting, including more than 500 representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Eastern Ukraine; see http://www.imi.org.ua/?read=6468:1 The meeting in Kharkiv adopted a resolution calling for both Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko to resign from their candidacy in the presidential re-run; see http://www.imi.org.ua/?read=6472:1

Reactions from the International Community
Ukraine continues to attract the attention world media, and numerous international journalists have come to Kyiv to follow the course of the orange revolution. On a political level, most EU countries and the United States have declared their support for Ukrainians in their peaceful struggle for democracy.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Peter Schieder, welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to order a re-run of the second round of the elections; see http://www2.pravda.com.ua/archive/2004/december/3/news/28.shtml, http://press.coe.int/cp/2004/610a(2004).htm and http://press.coe.int/cp/2004/611a(2004).htm.

On December 4, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that the United States “are very pleased at the decision of the Supreme Court, and we will be working with our European colleagues and with the Ukrainians to move forward and have a rerun of the runoff election”; see http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/39395.htm

"We welcome the decision by the Supreme Court annulling the results of the November 21 vote due to evidence of widespread irregularities and fraud”, U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Baucher stated on December 3; see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2004/39390.htm#ukraine

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), welcomed the court ruling. “The European Union had always called for a solution to the political crisis through legal means and in accordance with the constitutional procedures of the country. I appeal on all parties and institutions in Ukraine to fully cooperate in the implementation of the decision of the Court with a view to holding free, fair and transparent elections"; see http://europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_4118_en.htm

The European Union’s External Affairs Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, urged “all parties to work constructively for a rapid, just and transparent outcome"; see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4066617.stm

On December 4, a delegation of Members of the European Parliament visited Kyiv. After a meeting with Viktor Yushchenko and other politicians, MEPs also have visited the tent city on Kiyv’s Independent Square and talked to PORA activists; see http://pora.org.ua/content/view/1803/2/

On December 4, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of Ukraine which “echoed the findings of international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and other bodies that both rounds of the election had been marred by serious shortcomings," he said; see http://www.osce.org/news/show_news.php?id=4578

OSCE Secretary General Jan Kubis and European Union special representative Nicolas Bichman declared their intention to send “as many observers to follow the course of the re-election as possible”; see details at http://www.korrespondent.net/main/108539

This was echoed by British observer Bruce George, who headed the mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE. In addition, Mr. George emphasised that it was crucial to resolve issues of absentee voting, election register and media bias in favour of the prime minister; see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4069599.stm

Responses from Russia were more mixed. President Putin was in India and made no public comment on the Supreme Court verdict but he had been sharply critical of a new a new runoff. Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a leading Russian foreign policy journal, said that no matter who becomes president, Russia has suffered "its biggest foreign policy defeat since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine has been pushed closer to the West.“ Grigory Yavlinsky, a liberal Russian political leader said that “for the first time in a post-Soviet country, falsifications, the use of administrative resources and dishonoring people's will were rebuffed at the highest judicial level," he said. But Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin analyst, said the decision was illegal and meant Kuchma had capitulated under pressure from anti-Russian "radicals" in Yushchenko's camp who he said "shake when they hear the word Russia”; see http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/12/04/world/main659103.shtml

Viktor Yushchenko appealed to international observers to come to Ukraine on December 26 to observe the legitimacy of the re-elections; see http://www.unian.net/index.php?url=novina&id=7588

Video and audio interviews with renowned international experts on the political situation in Ukraine are available at http://www.brama.com/news/press/2004/11/041126aei_video.html

Activities of NGOs
The civic campaign PORA addressed Viktor Yushchenko with an open appeal demanding to end negotiations with President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and to focus on the parliamentary and legislative work in order to prepare an effective and fair re-run of the presidential elections. PORA stated that both Kuchma and Yanukovych were responsible for attempting a coup d’etat in Ukraine; see details at http://pora.org.ua/en/content/view/685/2/.

The Freedom of Choice Coalition declared its intention to continue to monitor the electoral process for possible violations, accuracy of voters lists, and the campaign financing of candidates during the three weeks until the re-run of the presidential elections; see http://pora.org.ua/content/view/1814/2/.

The civic campaign PORA initiated an action aimed at establishing closer peer-to-peer communication between Ukrainians living in different regions of the country. The action, called “Bridge of Friendship Kyiv-Donetsk”, encourages people from East and West to call each other, to exchange impressions and to share opinions more freely; see http://pora.org.ua/content/view/1805/2/.

The Committee of Voters of Ukraine declared the results of the second round of the presidential elections invalid and called for a re-run of the runoff vote; see http://eng.imi.org.ua/?id=read&n=1621&yy=2004. See also http://www.cvu.org.ua/?menu=fp&po=doc&lang=eng&date_end=&date_beg=&id=699 for the full statement.

According to the Institute of Mass Information, Journalists in the East were banned and beaten during the election campaign. This claim is based on the results of a monitoring of the freedom of speech during the election campaign; see http://eng.imi.org.ua/?id=read&n=1614&yy=2004

On November 29, a Financial Times reporter was beaten in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian News Agency reported; see http://eng.imi.org.ua/?id=read&n=1606&yy=2004.



We hope that you find this newsletter interesting. With any questions, comments and suggestions, please contact us at anastasia@pora.org.ua Latest news about the PORA campaign can be found at www.pora.org.ua

Anastasia Bezverkha, Representative of the informational-educational PORA campaign

 

Sound familiar?

According to PittsburghLive.com:


Dateline D.C. is written by a Washington-based British journalist and political observer.


Gosh, who could that be?

 

Scotsman article

Today's Scotsman carries a story that attributes the following comment to a PORA activist:


One senior activist, inside Tent City, said that the non- violence of earlier protests may now be dropped.

"We could have taken the presidency last week, and maybe we should have done. Sure, one or two people might have been killed but at least we would have control," he said.


We have been unable to find any confirmation that PORA has changed its official policy of nonviolence. We also note that no other news outlet seems to be reporting this. Therefore, we must assume for the moment that this is the ill-advised remark of one individual and does not represent the organisation. Please be assured that we will not support any group that advocates violence.

Friday, December 03, 2004

 

A personal note

Several people we have met through our campaigning have asked Laura what region her Ukrainian ancestors came from. She has since learned that her great-grandmother was baptised in 1896 in the parish of Peremyshl/Przemysl (which became part of Poland after World War II). Her great-grandmother's maiden name was Feodosiia Wasylechko.

 

Woman's Hour piece on Tymoshenko

Today the Radio 4 programme Woman's Hour broadcast a brief piece on Yulia Tymoshenko. You can hear it here.

 

It's official

We just got a news alert saying that the Supreme Court has ordered new elections. There's nothing on the blogs yet and the BBC's site is still focusing on David Blunkett's private life. Stay tuned. ...

Update: There's now a story on IOL.

... And the BBC has now weighed in.

 

Razom Nas Bahato

If you haven't yet heard the unofficial theme song of the Orange Revolution, you can download it or read the lyrics at Orange Ukraine. Pass it on!

 

Anne Applebaum on 'freedom haters'

Thanks to David McDuff for drawing our attention to a new editorial piece by Anne Applebaum:


The larger point, though, is that the "it's-all-an-American-plot" arguments circulating in cyberspace again demonstrate something that the writer Christopher Hitchens, himself a former Trotskyite, has been talking about for a long time: At least a part of the Western left -- or rather the Western far left -- is now so anti-American, or so anti-Bush, that it actually prefers authoritarian or totalitarian leaders to any government that would be friendly to the United States. Many of the same people who found it hard to say anything bad about Saddam Hussein find it equally difficult to say anything nice about pro-democracy demonstrators in Ukraine. Many of the same people who would refuse to condemn a dictator who is anti-American cannot bring themselves to admire democrats who admire, or at least don't hate, the United States. I certainly don't believe, as President Bush sometimes simplistically says, that everyone who disagrees with American policies in Iraq or elsewhere "hates freedom." That's why it's so shocking to discover that some of them do.


Amen to that.

 

An Arab view

Mohammed A.R. Galadari, a commentator from the United Arab Emirates, writes in the Khaleej Times:


There are more number of other regimes that do not care for development or welfare of their peoples and refuse to reform their system in keeping with the times. The Central Asian region itself requires a major overhaul, across the board, as they are still caught in the mind-set of the former Soviet systems. They want to hold elections, if only for respectability for their systems, but end up making a mess of it and cutting a sorry figure. Democracy is the name of the game, but the over-riding spirit is that of totalitarianism.

The Ukraine election fiasco should send the right kind of message to these countries. All those nations will have to reform their systems, and make sure that development is not held back. People have to have a better life. How is it possible as long as the systems are not strong, and there's no transparency in governmental functioning?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

 

Putin: revote 'pointless'

From The Scotsman:


Russian President Vladimir Putin become more deeply embroiled in the Ukrainian crisis today and attacked the opposition’s push to repeat the nation’s disputed presidential run-off election.

He told Ukraine’s outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, who had flown to Moscow for an emergency meeting, that a revote would be pointless.

“A revote could be conducted a third, a fourth, 25th time, until one side gets the results it needs,” Putin said sarcastically at Vnukovo-2 airport.

 

New EU resolution

Situation in Ukraine -- elections


In adopting a joint resolution on the situation in Ukraine, MEPs express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, whose right freely to elect its president must be recognised and implemented, and not repressed. Parliament strongly condemns the conditions under which the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine have taken place, as regards both the final stage of the election campaign and the irregularities and apparent fraud during the counting of votes. The House rejects the decision by the Central Electoral Committee under the chairmanship of Serhiy Kivalov to declare Mr Yanukovich as the winner of the presidential elections without having fully considered the validity of the elections and the electoral process and therefore with apparent disregard for the wishes of the people of Ukraine.

MEPs call on the Ukrainian authorities to cancel the second round of the presidential elections and reorganise this second round before the end of this year with the participation of international observers, whilst guaranteeing an open and transparent electoral process in accordance with international democratic standards during both the election campaign and the actual voting and counting of votes, and thoroughly improving the election campaign conditions.

The House calls on all protestors to allow a normal functioning of the Ukraine state organs and to refrain from barricading the main buildings of these organs of the state. MEPs consider threats of separatism and the partition of Ukraine as unacceptable and expresses its commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Parliament rejects allegations, especially by the Russian President, that, by expressing their support for the Ukrainian people's right to exercise their democratic rights, the European Union and the international community were encouraging violence; stresses at the same time that Russia carries a great responsibility for the situation in Ukraine. Parliament believes that relations with Ukraine depend on a democratic solution, and pledges its continuing support, assistance and commitment to the Ukrainian people's establishment of a free and open democratic system, their creation of a prosperous market economy.

Finally, MEPs call on the Commission, the Council and the Members States, in the anticipation of a satisfactory outcome of the present situation, to speed up the adoption of the Action Plan for Ukraine, to engage in the rapid implementation of this plan and to include new measures aimed at strengthening the role of civil society.

 

Six questions to the critics

Timothy Garton Ash has written an excellent article in the Guardian about those in the West who criticise Ukraine's orange revolution. Please read it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

 

That evil 'Western support'

Looks like everyone got the memo. The Russian state press agency RIA-Novosti has taken up the theme that PORA is a Western creation:


Like in the above three countries, students became the main striking force of the opposition in Ukraine. The only difference is the names of the youth organizations: Otpor in Yugoslavia, Kmara in Georgia, Zubr in Belarus, and Pora in Ukraine. The common element is that all of these student organizations were set up with the money of Western sponsors. The same instructors trained the post-Soviet young people in the art of controlling the crowd, storming buildings, and erecting barricades.

So, these are not public outrages proper. The public was simply attracted to the orchestrated revolutions as extras. The conclusion is that Western political experts are turning civil disobedience into a method of ensuring victory at elections in foreign countries.


(This article also claims the elections were fair, citing the British Helsinki Human Rights group -- an organisation represented by none other than John Laughland.)

Reason.com responds to these allegations:


There's a bit of truth to this story, but only a drop. The resistance movements are indeed interrelated, and American money did help nudge them forward. But there's no evidence that they're a creation, let alone a catspaw, of the United States. "The whole U.S. assistance thing is way overplayed," argues Jack DuVall, president of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and co-author of A Force More Powerful, a history of "people power" revolutions. "It's an aspect of Washington-centrism that if the United States thinks favorably about something, or someone inside the Beltway thinks favorably about something, that must mean that person is responsible for it having occurred. Which of course is absurd." For one thing, DuVall points out, the offices in Washington that have assisted these groups are not exactly close to the Bush administration. For another, the U.S. government is hardly the only institution that has aided the uprisings. (When Otpor was fighting Milosevic, it posted all its donors on its website, in real time, to demonstrate the international breadth of its support. The diverse list undermined the claim that it was a tool of a foreign power.)

Most important, says DuVall, "You can't simply parachute Karl Rove into a country and manufacture a revolution." You need, he explains, a mass movement that's rooted in civil society, tuned to local conditions, and willing to take risks.

Outside aid can be helpful. It can hurt the cause, too, by opening the rebels to charges of foreign manipulation or by fostering a dependence on grants. But in a successful insurrection, it plays a marginal role; change has to be built on the ground, not abroad. Otherwise, you get a dud like Zubr, the Otpor clone in Belarus that, as the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe put it in a 2003 report, "was [an] artificially created organization built by Western donors around a romantic appeal and relying on paid activists to distribute materials. In the end...it was unsupportable because it lacked a true base." That wasn't the case in Serbia and Georgia, and it doesn't seem to be the case in Ukraine.



 

Liberals to Putin: Stop promoting separatism

From mosnews.com:


Russian liberal politician Boris Nemtsov and other public figures called on the Russian government to stop provoking separatist tendencies that have sprouted in the Ukraine as a result of its election crisis.

“Russia should not promote separatist tendencies, wherever they might arise — in eastern Ukraine or in western Ukraine,” said an open letter addressed to President Vladimir Putin. “Because tomorrow Russia’s homegrown separatists will start using the same strategies to pull Russia apart.”

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