CHESTER HAS MOVED!: On-the-ground Update from Ukraine

Thursday, November 25, 2004

On-the-ground Update from Ukraine

One of the regular readers of The Adventures of Chester finds himself in Ukraine, observing the events there. This is his report. I am removing his name until he gives me permission to use it. Quick thought: In the book "The Clash of Civilizations" by Samuel Huntington, there was a map of Ukraine included showing the voting patterns of the populace during a recent election. If I remember right, made our red-blue split look silly. In one half of the country, 70-80%+ plus voted for one candidate, and in the other, the opposite. If anyone has a copy of this book and can point us to an image of this map, we would be most appreciative. Let's hope the Ukrainians have something big to be thankful for this time next year . . . ----------------------------------- I have been here 6 days, yet today is the first day I went into the center of Kiev, ie Krischiatek Blvd. Now I think I know a bit about crowds having grown up in Pasadena and seeing between 1-2 million people on the 1st of January for the Rose Parade,but this dwarfs Pasadena. The People are packed in on Krischieatek \Blvd for a solid 5 km. THis street is one of those wide Soviet era streets which is usually 200 meters across when you count the walking areas, I estimate about 1 million here alone supporting of Yuchenko. At each stop on the metro you see 1000s more milling about outside. There is one phrase for this "Controlled Rage". People are offended that there was so much vote rigging and destroying of legitmate votes. For those of you in the dark, Yuchenko is an economist with an Ukrainian/American Wife. He is pro west, but realizes ties to Russia.On the other hand, Yanokovich is a thug. A rapist, a thief who was arrested twice during Soviet times. He is supported by Russia and Putin. He is 50 years old and ran a gang of thieves in the Donesk region. I have taken many photos but will send them when I arrive back in Germany. Hopefully I will get out on Sunday, as I have to teach at the American School on Monday. These people in Ukraine have had 12 extra years of tyrants running their country. When I was here in the summer, Rumsfeld, McCain, Bush Sr, Rice, and many other high profile American diplomats were here. They sent a message, if Ukraine has honest elections, EU membership, stronger financial ties with the west and possible NATO base in Odessa are all on the table. There are several American Senators currently here in Kiev. I just returned from Krischiatek with my good friend Alexander Bogart who runs a Reformed Seminary here in Kiev. He was my translator. When people heard him and his wife telling me what was happening in Kiev many rushed around us curious as to who I was. Then they started telling stories of election abuse in their regions of Ukraine. Some had friends in jail. I told them that Americans have always been sympathetic towards those abused by tyrants, and strongly encourage democracy and peaceful demonstrations. So far all demonstrations are peaceful. It is overwelmingly for Yuchencko. Current President Kuchma with his appointed successor are SCARED as the Presidential Palace is surrounded by tens of thousands of additional Yuchenko supporters. There is a deal in the making of having a third election in order to ease the tension in the air so thick you could cut it with a knife. In the center, it is Tent city, they have even run lan lines to communicate in fear of telephones and cell phones being jammed. Pretty well organized resistence if I do say so myself. Lets hope that democracy wins. I hope to give a daily update till I leave. Semper Fi [name withheld] Former Marine and U S Dept of Defense Educator here in Kiev Ukraine on Turkey day P S: feel free to pass this on to others in America not aware of these abuses of basic human rights of voting ------------------------------------------ UPDATE: [From the same reader] By the way returning the AP news report, it says that Yanokovich supporters have the colors of Blue and White flags. I am yet to see ANY of them in Kiev. Only the orange of Yuchenko.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very disappointed that an American in Ukraine would be so lacking in perspective and so gullible about propaganda. Perhaps his biases have clouded his judgement.

First of all he says what a terrible thing it is that Yanokovich was a criminal sent to prison in soviet times, accused of rape. He swallows this whole and spreads it readily without any pause or consideration.

Please notice that Lek Walesa and Solzhenitsyn were "criminals" accused of worse crimes who spent time in prison during soviet times. These were innocent men of virtue and character who were falsely accused, the latter spending considerable time in a Siberian gulag. I say, being called a criminal and thrown in prison during soviet times may be a badge of honor. Yet this man throws this out there to demonize a candidate he wishes had lost. Perhaps we should hesitate to throw out such gossip, even when it helps demonize the candidate we hope had lost.

Notice he talks about popular opinion in Kiev, as if it represents the entire country. Kiev is overwhelmingly in favor of Yuchenko it is true. But one cannot judge the mentality of the country as a whole from this -- it would be as absurd as judging popular sentiment in America from demonstrations in New York! A famous Manhattan socialite once said she didn't know how Ronald Reagan could have won, because she had never met anyone who supported him...

There are is a significant parallel with the election in the USA. In both cases, we have a George Soros backed losing candidate, with highly questionable exit-polls which show the loser having won. In the case of Ukraine, the exit polls were conducted by westerners sympathetic to Yuschenko, and only conducted in areas known to favor him. The exit polls are cited as proof of massive electoral fraud. In the case of the USA, these exit polls are being used as evidence of massive electoral fraud, since the exit polls show that Kerry really won.

Don't be quick to assume Yuschenko is the most pro American candidate. Yuschenko made campaign promises to immediately withdraw Ukraine's 1600 troops from Iraq... I say take a deep breath and let the truth reveal itself, don't believe everything you hear. The western media is not giving you the perspective of the millions of people who voted for the other guy, so be it, but keep it in mind. Many of the protesters in Kiev would not accept the result even if they knew it was legitimate, many simply won't accept anyone but their candidate in power.

November 25, 2004 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger KeithJamesMc said...

Check out the graphic in todays (Fridays) Times of London to see the split in voltes across the country in the current election...

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,174-1375107,00.html
(note click on the image for it to be readable)

November 25, 2004 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger hank_F_M said...

Chester

A little background on the voting.

Under the Czarist régime there was not clear boundaries between ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians, the populations overlapped.

The Soviets insured when they set the republic boundaries that there were significant ethnic Russians in the Ukrainian Republic.

The “encouraged” Russians to move in and Ukrainians to move out.

Thus Ukraine has a large Russian minority.

The voting to a large extent reflects the ethnic mix of the population. The ethnic Ukrainians want a solid Ukrainian Republic. The ethnic Russians prefer a strong association with Russia.

That is over simplified but represents a good part of the voting pattern and explains much of the tension.

November 26, 2004 at 8:31 PM  

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