Ukraine Updates

by Nathan Hamm on 11/23/2004

AFoE has superb roundup of their own in which we find a live feed from Independence Square.

Viktor Yushchenko urged supporters to march on Parliament, and a press release from Nasha Ukraina (Yushchenko’s bloc) says that protests are growing throughout the country. Veronica Khokhlova notes that many parliamentary deputies have not shown up, and I read in Yahoo! News photo captions that they do not have a quorum to annul the results of the election.

Reuters reports on the growing protests and notes that security forces have threatened to quell civil unrest.

I am very pleased with the U.S. threat to review relations with Ukraine and penalize those involved in voting violations. Even if the threat fails to yield results, it sends the right message, as this WaPo op-ed notes.

UPDATE: Writing for the National Review, Nikolas Gvosdev notes the difficulties facing Ukraine’s protesters.

But a Serbia- or Georgia style solution to Ukraine’s disputed elections requires not only energetic street protests, but key elements of the business community to conclude that a Yanukovych presidency would irreparably damage its interests and for large numbers of the military and security services to refuse to put down civil disobedience. And in a country the size and complexity of Ukraine, whose political divisions tend to mirror America’s “red/blue state” divides more than the relative homogeneity of small countries like Serbia or Georgia, a successful “Chestnut Revolution” requires voters not only in the west but in many parts of central and eastern Ukraine to believe that they have been robbed of their free choice. Those who cite Serbia-2000 should remember that vocal protests against Slobodan Milosevic in 1996 and 1992 failed to unseat the Serbian leader; what may emerge now in Ukraine is an uneasy truce between opposition-dominated local governments in the west and a central government headed by Yanukovych.

And so Kyiv may end up becoming like Mexico City in 1988. In that year, reform candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas — like Yushchenko a former insider who had broken with the regime — was widely believed to be leading in the presidential polls when a mysterious computer malfunction prevented the tabulation of ballots. One week later, the candidate of the ruling PRI, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, was certified as the winner with 50.75 percent of the vote. Despite protests and demonstrations, Salinas was inaugurated under heavy guard, even though the residents of the capital had voted by a 2-to-1 margin for Cárdenas.

Read the rest.

Lots of superb stuff here.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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