Sunday, November 28, 2004

Ukraine crisis continued - one week on

For a chronology of events and a by-the-minute look at the boom in global coverage over the last week: one, two, three , four, five, some analysis, and six - between them these provide a chronology of events and coverage from 7pm on Monday 22nd November until 11pm on Thursday 25th (London time), as well as an almost insane number of links to other blogs covering events, articles, news sources and the like.

Since then, the mainstream media seems to have picked up the job of covering events rather better, and I've been massively busy for the last couple of days - sorry for the lack of updates. If you want a good overview of the last couple of days' developments, try All About Latvia, No Illusions or Le Sabot Post-Moderne. For an ever-growing compendium of Ukraine-related links, try this site, or Fistful's rather handy Kinja digest.

If you've liked my coverage, please consider bunking a vote my way in The Deutche-Welle International Weblog Awards, where this blog has been nominated in the category Best Journalistic Blog (English) - it'd be much appreciated.

An article in the Kyiv Post highlights many of my own thoughts over the last couple of days:

"it remain[s] unclear whether opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko w[ill] take the presidency of Ukraine through a street-side revolution or by legal-political means – if he t[akes] it at all."

This has to be a legally valid election, no matter who the eventual victor is (no pun intended), or a large chunk of the Ukrainian population will be left feeling cheated and disaffected. Emotions are high, there are still thousands of supporters - both blue and orange - on the streets, and there still remains the fear that violence could kick off at any time.

Without a result which none can argue with, the country will never be able to get over this, and large sections of the population will feel disenfranchised. That is, after all, why Yushchenko's supporters have been on the streets for the last few days. Declare him the winner without democratic and legal support, and his people will simply be replaced by Yanukovych's equally upset supporters.

Most are agreed that the second round of the presidential elections, held one week ago today, were riven with vote-rigging, intimidation, and every kind of dodgy tactic in the book - hence the Ukrainian parliament's vote of no confidence in the Central Elections Committee. But because of this, a simple re-count will not do it - the election has to be run again. After all, what's the point of re-counting ballots which may have been falsified, and where some voting papers may have been destroyed?

One thing's for sure, the sense of collective, national identity and pride is booming. Reports of little acts of human kindness are flooding in from all over. There are thousands - perhaps millions, of Ukrainians feeling just like TulipGirl's friend Lena. There are thousands of people, like Foreign Notes' Scott Clarke's mother-in-law helping the protestors with food and warm clothes, and even the protestors helping out others. Meanwhile, supporters of Yushchenko continue to mobilise, and plan ways to spread the word. There are reports of protestors from each side showing restraint and respect, and doing their utmost to avoid violence.

As has been pointed out on Ostracised from Österreich, there are two kinds of non-Ukrainian supporters for the Ukrainian protestors: those who identify ideologically with Yushchenko and want to see him win, and those who want to see democracy win. The Russian Dilletante sums it up nicely.

Please remember, if you're planning on wearing orange tomorrow to support democracy in Ukraine, that Orange is the colour of just one party. Spare a thought for those who genuinely voted for Yanukovych as well. It is vital that those who are pro-Yuschenko don't forget that him gaining the presidency through a popular revolt is just as bad for Ukrainian democracy as Yanukovych gaining the presidency through rigging the election.

As it stands at the moment, there is still no clear solution beyond holding the elections again to ensure that whoever wins has a clear democratic mandate. And that could still take some time...

Europhobia's Ukraine coverage continues here.

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