Monday, January 23, 2006
SENT JAN. 23, 2005 or on Yushchenko's Inauguration Day
(Note: this was one heck of an optimistic note generated on that exciting day. . .)
I am writing to you from an internet club on Independence Square in central Kyiv. Yushchenko was just inaugurated inside the parlaiment buildings, and there is a huge crowd of 100,000 or more gathered on the square, and who knows how many more thousands are milling about the streets of the capital. The atmosphere is positively jubiliant, and for the moment, people are standing in the crowd, shaking hands, hugging, some I saw crying, and chanting, going through each of the chants one could hear during the course of the Orange Revolution:
"Together We are Many, We Won't be Overcome!"
"East and West Together!"
etc. Where I was standing at least, people around me dwelled on this last chant, as within our midst were a few Yanukovych demonstrators.
That's it for now--I now have the dubious task of finding my family and friends from Pidhajtsi once again, through this jubiliant crowd. However, milling through this crowd or multitude is positively energizing. I have seen here that a government can be made by the people; and I have great hope that here, it will remain for some time for and of the people, too--so much potential has been unleashed in this country. It took so much to turn the lights on again in this country, and so many of the people who labored here in the dark seem very ready to work in the light. People can change as much as governments. There are sincere people doing good work here, who at one point played the oligarchy game--they played it, they changed themselves, and they worked with the people to change this country. Change is quite possible, on personal and social scales, or so I hope time and the Orange Revolution well tell. . .
PS--as I was about to hit send, someone came walking in the door of this club, and through the open door blew in not only a blast of frigid winter air, but a decibel breaking cheer of "Hooray!"
People are sticking around on the square. Its time to celebrate!
SEE PHOTOS OF THE DAY IN THE POST BELOW. . .
I was standing next to this guy during the inauguration who was holding one Ukrainian and one Russian flag. He spoke to his mother in Russian and to Tato in Ukrainian; his mother was born somewhere in the midst of Siberia and was the one holding the Yushchenko flag. He told me that he saw Ukraine and Russia as cousins within an European extended family, but that Russia was a cousin that had always been a bit estranged from the family, always rocking the boat and tyring to bully its cousin to go along with his shenanigans. He said that he hoped that the OR would be an example, and that the Russian grassroots would be emboldened by this display of pro-democracy sentiment in Ukraine. He said that one of his cousins--from his mother's side, from Russia--who was working in some EU country (I can't remember which) had, during the OR, walked near the Russian embassy in whatever country, drinking Fanta while others ate oranges or also drank Fanta.
This girl was from Ivano-Frankivsk. She came to Kyiv, so she said, the first day of the OR in November, and had been sleeping in the tent camp ever since. She was among the thousand or so who had, after the end of the mass demonstrations, declared that they would not be leaving the camp until Yushchenko had once and for all been inaugurated as president. However, their numbers dwindled after the Xmas holiday in the beginning of January, as of course many wanted to be home for the holidays. Nonetheless, a few hundred remained for the inauguration. However, just before the inauguration, Yushchenko and gang, especially through the agency of Roman Bezsmertnyj, had attempted to convince those who had remained in the camp to clear out in time for the inauguration ceremony. The idea was to have a "civilized" appearance for the events, and that the camp whad become unnecessary. This made a lot of people mad. I was too. Those people who stayed in the camp should have been honored, rather than treated as a nuissance who were supposedly making the inauguration ceremony seem uncultured. Yushchenko should have felt only so honored that these people had been willing to see the active phase of the OR to its real conclusion. But again, as always, Yushchie was operating with some idea of what it means to be a gentleman. I understand that he wanted to be inaugurated in a way that demonstrated his intention to be a president for all of Ukraine; but by making such a big deal about the continued presence of the camp, Yushchenko et al gave more cause for the divisions within Ukraine to be expressed rather than transcended.
Anyhow, this girl said (I am paraphrasing here, as I don't recall her exact words and don't have time at the moment to look them up on my computer), "I am not going anywhere. I did not demonstrate to have a new authority come to power and tell me when I should demonstrate or not. I said that I was going to stay until the inauguration, and that is what I intend to do. I will go home after today."
The next night, Monday night, was an emotional goodbye as the remaining people in the tent camp kept their word and moved on.
I thought it was beautiful and great that a portion of the camp still stood during the inauguration and that the thousands who milled on Khreshchatyk on inauguration day could interact with those who had remained.
The inauguration, however one wanted to cut it, was a celebration of the victory of the OR. If it was not to be so, the columns of the Palace Ukrainy should not have been orange; orange balloons should not have been flown; no speeches about the OR should have been made, etc. The attempt to remove the camp was ridiculous and unnecessary.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
SENT NOV. 30, 2004, or DAY 9 of OR, entry II
Greetings Friends and Family,
The opposition has called off all negotiations with the government of Viktor Janukovych since it has become abundantly clear that they have no intention of truly compromising or listening to opposition demands. Janukovych stated today that he would only agree to another election if there was valid proof of vote fraud, which he claims he has not yet seen. Also, the Supreme Court of Ukraine has been "reviewing" the issue of vote fraud for two days now and has made no sign of acknowledging the claims of the opposition and Western observers that the vote was rigged. This was Jushchenko's last hope that a strategy of negotiating with the government might succeed--if the Court had ruled the elections as fraudulent, then there would be a third election without questions asked. It appears that the Court is the last stronghold of authorities--rumors are that Kuchma is using the court to stop approval of a third election (by intimdation and threats to the jurors) while trying to publically save face by publically condeming the elections as rigged.
I could have said I knew it. . .well, I will. There is no talking with this government. They are proving it now, and it is very scary to think of what might happen next. Although I was frustrated at first with Jushchenko's embarking on negotiations, I had come to think OK, maybe this is working, given all the uproar that happened yesterday, with Janukovych apparently loosing key supporters. Now there is yet another upset. People are angry and tired, and many have been in Kyiv without a decent place to sleep and eat for days, some for over a week. The scene of protestors storming the parliament--I think more of this is to come. Tomorrow will be very interesting.
Two things, both hopeful: despite Janukovych's (and Kuchma's behind-the-scenes) refusal to cooperate with the opposition, the huge uproar in the parliament over Kharkiv's and Donetsk's declarations of autonomy has caused those state's parliaments and national deputies to rescind their calls for autonomy.
Second, I heard today on Ternopil radio an interview with a fellow from the city of Ternopil (remember that Ukraine's states are named after their capital cities) who has been in Kyiv since November 22. He was asked, when do you plan to come home, and he said, "DO PEREMOHY budu v Kyjevi! (I will be in Kyiv until Victory)!"
And oh, one more thing: I am tired of the Western press constantly hammering the issue of Ukraine's East-West, Ukrainian-speaking-Russian-speaking divide without qualification. What I mean is this: Ukraine is indeed a nation with regional differences and linguistic and cultural differences, and there is indeed a West-East divide. The point however is that this need not be a political division. The post-Soviet leadership, like the Soviet leadership, like the Imperial leadership before as well, all have sought to maintain its power in this country by manipulating these differences, by politicizing issues of culture. The Russophile oligarchy does so in Ukraine by convincing a segment of the Russian speaking population that the Russian language is under threat in Ukraine and that the opposition threatens to break off any cooperation between Ukraine and Russia. All of this is nonsense. The Russian language is not threatened in Ukraine in any way imaginable. Every news program has both a Russian and Ukrainian variant. Many talk shows have one announcer who speaks Russian, the other Ukrainian. Most foreign movies and books come to Ukraine dubbed and translated in Russian. The pop music industry is dominated by Russian variants, although the Ukrainian pop industry is strong and growing. Almost all Ukrainian-speakers can speak and understand Russian. The same can not be said of Russian-speakers in Ukraine, although a growing number of them are able to at least understand it. And Ukraine already cooperates with Russia enormously. If the Russophile oligarchy was not so dependent on keeping Russian-speaking voters alienated from Ukrainian-speaking voters to stay in power, one would look at Ukraine's cultural diversity and regional variations as something to be cherished. So all reporters writing about Ukraine should emphasize how authorities, through their propaganda, policies, and control of media are keeping Ukraine divided. And then they should report that a large number of Jushchenko supporters have spoken to the pro-Jushchenko masses from the central Independence Square in Kyiv in Russian. In fact, one of the most incredible moments to have occured yet--to my mind--was when the General-Major of Ukraine's police forces declared his support for Jushchenko on Saturday or Sunday (I forget exactly when), and said speaking in Russian that he was happy "that the time has come in which we can say 'No' to this regime."
Ukraine is a nation, like every society throughout human history, made up of differences--of difference of language, culture, religion, creed, and it should remain as such. The succes of a government is how much it can promote and maintain harmony between differences. Ukrainians know themselves that differences appear even when everyone is of the same supposed language and culture. Differences of opinion and creed then take over from differences of language and culture. There is no eliminating differences. To be a mature human being, one must love and respect those who are different from you. Therefore I personally am as much against Ukrainian ultranationalists who think Russian should be wiped off Ukraine's linguistic map of as much as I am against Russian ultranationalists who think Ukraine is nothing other than Little Russia. It would be a shame if a future Ukraine could no longer speak nor understand Russian. What needs to change is that Russian-speakers in a future Ukraine need to be able to speak and understand Ukrainian as well as Ukrainian speakers already can in Russian. And this is the kind of future Ukraine that Jushcheno and the opposition in general are struggling for--and so it is important to note that the truly ultra-nationalistic Ukrainian parties, such as the OUN (which is a shadow of its former self) and the character of (I forget his first name) ? Kozak, have rejected Jushchenko, not only because he's tolerant of Russian language, but also because he's got an American-born wife (Jushchenko's wife is Ukrainian-American). Jushchenko is too tolerant for their intolerant tastes.
Below are two articles from Yahoo/Europe/AP, and one that I wrote this weekend when I was feeling frustrated with Jushchenko for negotiating. I didn't send it at first because I had grown more tolerant of his attempt to negotiate, but now it seems more apropos.
Peace and Love,
The first article, that I wrote, I posted earlier to this blog here: "Viktor Yushchenko--Reluctant Revolutionary?"
Ukraine Opposition Ends Compromise Talks
1 hour, 38 minutes ago
Europe - AP
By NATASHA LISOVA, Associated Press Writer
KIEV, Ukraine - Opposition supporters on Tuesday abruptly broke off compromise talks over Ukraine's disputed presidential election after pro-government lawmakers blocked a no-confidence motion seeking to topple the prime minister, who was declared the victor in last week's vote despite allegations of massive fraud.
Slideshow: Ukraine Elections
High Court Meets Again on Ukraine Election(AP Video)
The opposition's rejection of the talks raises pressure on Ukrainian authorities, while Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) said the crisis in the former Soviet republic must be resolved without foreign meddling.
The Supreme Court was wrapping up a second day of hearings with no sign of a decision on an opposition appeal to annul the results from the Nov. 21 runoff election, which put Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych ahead by 871,402 votes.
The moves came after outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, who did not run in the election, spoke out harshly against any steps that would divide this nation of 48 million and said he would support a new vote.
Ukraine's government has been paralyzed since the election results sent hundreds of thousands into the streets of the capital for round-the-clock protests to support opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, who claims he was robbed of victory.
Putin told German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that "an exit from the crisis should be found in a democratic way, that is, on the basis of observing the law and not under external or internal pressure based on political passions," the Kremlin press service said in a statement.
Schroeder and Putin also discussed the possibility of new elections in Ukraine and agreed that any results should be "strictly respected," according to the German leader's office.
Russia considers the energy-dependent Ukraine part of its sphere of influence and a buffer with NATO (news - web sites)'s eastern flank and the political crisis has deepened the political tug-of-war between Moscow and the West.
Yushchenko's campaign chief, Oleksandr Zinchenko, announced Tuesday that the opposition candidate was breaking off talks with Yanukovych. The talks began last week under the mediation of European Union (news - web sites) foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
Solana is set to arrive in Kiev Tuesday night for another round of talks and is to be joined Wednesday by Kwasniewski. The two planned to meet with the rival candidates on Wednesday, the European Commission (news - web sites)'s Kiev office said. It was not clear if the opposition announcement would affect Wednesday's meeting.
Zinchenko's comments came after pro-government lawmakers blocked an opposition attempt for a no-confidence vote in Yanukovych's Cabinet due to the emergence of separatist threats in the nation. Only 196 of the 410 lawmakers present supported the measure, however, less than the 226 votes needed.
Legislators later tentatively approved a resolution that would cancel Saturday's nonbinding decision to declare the election results invalid, prompting demonstrators massed outside to try to storm the session.
Protesters — some crawling on top of each other's shoulders — got as far as the lobby of the building before police pushed them back. Yushchenko also addressed the demonstrators in an effort to calm tensions.
Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn adjourned the session until Wednesday and said the nonbinding decision would not be rescinded.
In an apparent bid to compromise, Yanukovych said that if he becomes president, he will offer Yushchenko the post of "first person," or the prime minister's job.
Yushchenko quickly brushed off the offer, saying he wants to focus on the vote fraud.
"The election was rigged," he said. "People are asking whether this country has a political elite capable of upholding a fair vote."
Yanukovych also has said that he would support a revote if allegations of fraud are proven — but that he had yet to see such proof. On Tuesday, he even suggested he could withdraw from the race — if his rival did.
"We need to overcome the crisis and for the sake of this I propose that neither Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko nor I participate in the (new) election if the result of the vote will be declared falsified," Yanukovych said, according to Interfax.
Threats to Ukraine's unity, meanwhile, seemed to dissipate after the eastern Donetsk region said it would not hold its referendum on self-rule as planned Sunday amid sharp criticism from lawmakers and potential legal action to protect the nation's territorial integrity. The Kharkiv regional legislature also retracted its threat to introduce self-rule.
Donetsk Governor Anatoliy Bliznyuk — whose region is Yanukovych's home base — said his region was seeking "not autonomy, but to become a republic within Ukraine." He said the referendum would be held within the next two months.
The Supreme Court began hearing the opposition appeal on Monday, but officials have said a decision could take several days. Under Ukrainian legislation, the court cannot rule on the overall results but can declare results invalid in individual precincts.
The appeal focuses on results from eight eastern and southern regions — more than 15 million votes, almost half of the total cast in the runoff.
Yushchenko's lawyers on Tuesday cited turnout of above 100 percent in hundreds of precincts in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, problems with voting lists and multiple voting with absentee ballots.
The opposition also asked the court to annul the vote and name Yushchenko the winner based on his winning a narrow plurality of the votes in the first round on Oct. 31.
Yushchenko, whose stronghold was western Ukraine, a traditional center of nationalism, says he wants to push the country to greater integration with Western Europe, and he has suggested he would seek NATO membership.
Yanukovych drew his support from Ukraine's pro-Russian, heavily industrialized eastern half and was expected to pursue closer ties with Moscow.
SENT NOV. 30, 2004, or DAY 9 of OR
Note: At this point during the OR, I had not written to my list-serve in about 5 days, as I had been traveling about, looking in on OR events in various parts of Western Ukraine, and was hoping to get to Kyiv. I was back in Ternopil for a day, then headed to Ivano-Frankivsk, and then was off to Lviv, after which I planned to go to Kyiv, making a stop along the way.
I had really wanted to document what was happening in the rest of the country; that is, I had come to feel that OR events from around the country were not getting the credit nor attention that they deserved, and I was planning after the weekend to nonetheless head to Kyiv. Well, I did make it to Zhytomyr when I got really sick, and so I hurried back to Pidhajtsi where I laid in bed for two or three days with flu. So I did not get to Kyiv until the end of the OR, which is something that I regret in soo many ways. However, once there I saw and experienced enough of the real thing, and b-t-w, I did end up spending some nights in the tent camp later on, during the weeks from the end of the mass demonstrations to Yushchenko's inauguration. Thus I focused some of my writing to my list-serve and the articles I tried to publish on what was happening outside of Kyiv, while also reporting on the major events in the capital. The Orange Revolution did not happen only in Kyiv, but in towns and cities and villages all throughout Ukraine. I have been, and will continue to be, posting photos of OR events in locales outside of Kyiv on my main blog here. . .
Now to what I wrote from Pidhajtsi on this day a year ago after I had started feeling a bit better:
Things have been really shaken up in Ukraine since I have last been able to write to you all. Below is an article I have prepared once again to send to newspapers, followed by a round-up of news. There is a lot of news from today that I just don't have time to write about, but today has been a big day in Ukraine, with protestors trying to storm into the parliament. Read more below. (And oh, I have become more patient with Jushchenko's tactics, if not whole-heartedly embracing what he's trying to do. . .see more below):
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution:
It’s being called an Orange Revolution. In towns and cities throughout Ukraine, millions of people are wearing orange—scarves and hats, jackets and sweaters, arm and headbands, socks and mittens. Cars have orange ribbons tied to their antennas. Over the central Independence Square in the capital city of Kyiv an orange flag flies under the blue-and-yellow national flag. Orange represents forces allied with Viktor Jushchenko, the banker and economist cum presidential hopeful cum leader of a national uprising against corruption and oligarchic rule that began November 21.
A second round of presidential elections occurred on November 21 that like the first round, has been widely condemned as unfair by both the OSCE and US, both of which had previously declared the campaign season leading up to the elections as rife with violations of protocols of free and fair election campaigns. Nonetheless, authorities in Ukraine are proving desperate to steal the election for Viktor Janukovych. Janukovych is the best guarantee for the survival of their regime of corrupt oligarchs with a stranglehold on Ukraine’s government and economy that has, throughout the past 13 years of independence, kept most people in this resource-rich nation of 48 million people hovering in poverty.
Our Ukraine, the party of Viktor Jushchenko, has compiled a list of 11,000 election-day violations. However as a national uprising is taking place, the issue of the legitimacy of the election has become beside the point. The actions of authorities, not only today but throughout the past thirteen years, have pushed the clear majority in Ukraine to demand one thing today: from streets throughout the country, millions of people wearing orange are shouting “Jushchenko is President!” The real question today concerns the legitimacy of the ruling oligarchy itself.
Jushchenko promises to reform Ukraine’s economy and to initiate wide-ranging social programs to help the people of this nation rise out of poverty. He promises to reform Ukraine’s unequal power structure and to redistribute Ukraine’s wealth, while at the same time he promises cultural sensitivity and to work towards a civic and plural sense of Ukrainian identity, which means inculcating a sense of civic nationalism that includes all of Ukraine’s diverse peoples and languages. Viktor Janukovych, while challenging Jushchenko’s claims to being a populist with little more than name-calling and highly contestable assertions about Ukraine’s economic progress while he has been prime minister, has mostly attempted to split Russian from Ukrainian voters by playing on ethnic Russian fears about the status of the Russian language in Ukraine and of Ukraine drifting out of reach of Russian influence. Janukovych’s brand of populism is divide and rule.
Authorities are trying to save themselves by posing as the legitimate power, obedient to and guarantor of the law, while claiming that Viktor Jushchenko, along with the two other main leaders of the opposition, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz and Julija Tymoshenko, leader of a parliamentary opposition bloc named after her, is attempting a coup. This is the view of the situation in Ukraine promoted by the Kremlin, but few others buy it—especially not in Ukraine, where a shadow government and society has begun to form. Already, numerous cities have passed resolutions rejecting the legitimacy of the elections and declaring loyalty to Jushchenko, and demonstrators in other cities, such as Chernihiv, have gathered in front of city and state government buildings to demand adoption of similar resolutions. Also, activists in the city of Kirovohrad held a public trial for the city and state officials that participated in the falsification of the election, while in towns large and small crowds are gathering before state administration buildings to demand that officials come out and explain themselves.
In the capital Kyiv, where an estimated 1 million have arrived from all over the country, a support network for those coming from afar has been established. Kyivans are opening their homes to demonstrators, while various groups and organizations have erected food and first-aid tents throughout the city. A general fund has been established to which people throughout the country and the Ukrainian diaspora abroad have been donating to help pay costs of getting people to the capital and for their support while they are there. A new flag has appeared at pro-Jushchenko rallies throughout the country as well, one displaying the word “Solidarity” written in orange letters on a white background.
In reaction to this building pressure, authorities last week first attempted to lure Jushchenko into a compromise. Janukovych appeared twice on TV to state his “willingness” to compromise with the opposition, but there were rumors that authorities were willing only to negotiate on a power-sharing government with Janukovych as President and Jushchenko as PM. The opposition repeatedly stated in response that it would negotiate only a turn over of power to the man who most consider already to have won the election. It seemed that at this point, authorities had only two options left: either the hope that the energy of demonstrations would dissipate, leaving Jushchenko and the opposition in a weakened position whereby they would have to accept authorities’ overtures for a power-sharing government; or the use of violence in an attempt to outright suppress the ongoing national uprising.
However, as the weekend began, it became apparent that energy was not dissipating. On Thursday a caravan of twenty or more cars and two buses was seen leaving the west Ukrainian city of Ternopil with signs proclaiming “To Kyiv for Ukraine!” The movement toward the capital continued so that by Saturday night, it was reported that more people had packed onto Kyiv’s central Independence Square than before, topping 200,000 while numbers of people throughout the city continued to grow. In this context, Moroz and Tymoshenko, the more radical of the opposition’s guiding triumvirate, stepped up their calls for radical action with the suggestion that the opposition may begin to erect barricades to seize control of all roads and rails to and from the capital.
By Friday however, both the government and Jushchenko had become more open to negotiation for a compromise. First of all, ongoing standoffs between pro-Jushchenko supporters and special police units—who are suspected to have been flown in from Russia, as police units throughout Ukraine have been declaring their loyalty to the Orange Revolution—almost broke into open confrontation in a number of cities across Ukraine on Friday. In the city of Chernihiv, police struck demonstrators with truncheons and fired shots into the air as demonstrators attempted to storm state buildings. The threat of escalating violence was becoming a reality, making Jushchenko concerned to prevent bloodshed. On the side of authorities, the increasing pressure from the streets and the fact that numerous European heads of state arrived to urge Kuchma to cooperate with the opposition had by Friday forced authorities to negotiate more than just a power-showering government. The result was the start of negotiations on Friday for a third election with guarantees of equal access to the media and total fairness.
Ukrainian authorities are proving more stubborn than authorities were last year in the Republic of Georgia. In fact, the closest precedent for the behavior of Ukrainian authorities at this point is that of Nicholae Ceaucescu’s stubborn hold on power that led to widespread bloodshed in Romania in 1989. Jushchenko seems very eager to prevent this from happening, while still pushing for the government’s capitulation to his eventually becoming president. Over the weekend and into Monday, things have been shaken up in Ukraine’s government. At first, the Janukovych camp seemed emboldened by Jushchenko’s sitting at the negotiating table, taking it as a sign of weakness. Parliament was more full with pro-Janukovych deputies than it has been since November 21. Then Janukovych's home state of Donetsk declared its desire for a state-wide referendum on autonomy, while the state of Kharkiv outirght declared its autonomy and refusal to pay taxes to the government, in actions rumored to have been supported if not secretly ordered by Kuchma.
However on Saturday the parliament nonetheless passed a resolution denouncing the elections and declaring the start of negotiations on political reform. None of this is binding without Kuchma's signature, who in a shocking declaration Monday announced that the election was indeed falsified. Also Monday the fall out over the Kharkiv and Donetsk declarations was great. Serhij Tyhypko, head of Janukovych's campaign resigned from both that position as well as his position as National Bank chief. Volodymyr Lytvyn, the speaker of parliament who supported Janukovych in the election, denounced the seperatist moves and the fact that the prime minister, Viktor Janukovych, supports them. Janukovych is fast loosing support: he was caught stating while he thought he was off-camera that as president, "I will deport all western Ukrainians on foot to Siberia." In reaction to this, former President Leonid Kravchuk, a staunch Janukovych supporter until yesterday, said that "we don't need another Josip Visarionovych," refering to Joseph Stalin, who allegedly had desired to deport all Ukrainians to Siberia.
Thus it appears that so far, Jushchenko's tactics are working. Jushchenko addressed his supporters from Kyiv's Independence Square on Monday night, stating that although Janukovych and Kuchma are still dragging their feet in the negotiations, they had been deeply shaken over the weekend. Jushchenko urged further restraint: "We are winning," he said, especially since the parliament was to begin debate Tuesday on a vote of no confidence in the government of Viktor Jushchenko.
However, on Tuesday as the parlaiment failed to begin debate on the no-confidence vote, pro-Jushchenko supporters broke through gates and attempted to storm the parliamentary chamber. Jushchenko has been reluctant to outright endorse such actions, but has repeatedly stated that if authorities fail to make real progress toward meeting opposition demands, the opposition will have to resort to more radical action. This reflects the desire of fellow opposition leader Julija Tymoshenko, who has frequently addressed the crowds in Kyiv stating that although she backs Jushchenko's attempts at negotiations, she does not trust authorities and believes that the time will come when radical action may be necessary. "Be ready, and be on your guard," she said to opposition supporters, refering to the increasing likelihood that authorities may start provocations to provide the excuse for a crackdown. Thus both Jushchenko and Tymoshenko have asked people to remain in Kyiv and be patient for now. Furthermore, Jushchenko has said that, “any conflict begun in the streets must be resolved in negotiations with authorities.” Only time will tell which one of their tactics will take precedent—but no doubt, the Orange Revolution is for the moment benefiting from them the leadership of both personalities.
Thus, against all stereotypes of an East-West divide and disunity between Russian and Ukrainian speaking voters, the vast majority of Ukrainians are proving more united in their fight against a corrupt regime of ruling oligarchs than anyone would have expected. Certainly the authorities never imagined they would face such widespread and unified rebellion, especially as they have worked hard with a high degree of success to keep the East-West divide alive and Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers alienated from each other these past thirteen years. In actual fact, however, Janukovych did not perform as well as authorities expected during the election in those parts of the country considered his stronghold, where significant minorities support Jushchenko. Thus while support for Jushchenko in generally pro-Janukovych regions is significant, support for Janukovych in pro-Jushchenko regions is negligible. The simple fact of the matter is that somewhere between at least 60% but very possibly up to 75% of Ukrainians want Jushchenko as President, and they want to see, as Jushchenko has said again and again during the campaign season, that “Bandits (i.e., the oligarchs) will sit in jail.”
NEWS BLURBS that I have been compiling since last Thursday, and I don't have much from today written yet, but there is a ton to write about from just today, let alone since last Th.:
Oleksandr Moroz, speaking in parliament Tuesday, said, “Isn’t it obvious that falsification took place? The government is sick, its gangrenous, and there is nothing left to do other than cut it off.” The parliament today is to debate a no-confidence vote in the government of Prime Minister Viktor Janukovych over the matter of the use of administrative resources on his behalf and the role of his government in falsifying the vote.
Kuchma on Monday admitted that the elections were falsified, but said that his government had nothing to do with it.
One of Janukovych’s spokespeople declared that while no "administrative resources" were used on Janukovych's behalf, many were used in western Ukraine.
On Thursday, there was a standoff in Ternopil when word spread that the road to Kyiv was blockaded. A crowd marched to the state administration buildings to demand an explanation.
Thursday night there was a large mass held on Ternnopil’s central Theater Square, cite of the week’s demonstrations, to cater to the spiritual needs of people in struggle.
On Friday, the highway between Kyiv and the town just outside the capital where Viktor Jushchenko has been spending the nights was blocked by a semi-trailor that was deliberately parked crossing the highway.
In the state parliament in Donetsk, deputies discussed declaring Donetsk an autonomous republic.
In Dnipropetrovsk on Friday were reports of a tense standoff between pro-Janukovych and pro-Jushchenko supporters.
In a village outside of Kyiv, Jushchenko supporters blocked the passage of a train full of Janukovych supporters on its way to the capital. The media arrived and showed interesting scenes of tense confrontations between camps.
Nonetheless on Friday, a pro-Janukovyh rally started outside of Kyiv's Central Train Station. About 5-7,000 Janukovych supporters, mostly men and mostly miners from the Donbas (the states of Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk), Janukovych’s heartland have gathered in front of the central train station in Kyiv (interesting to note that Janukovych has had to rely so heavily on people from Donbas, while Jushchenko is drawing huge masses of supporters from all over Ukraine). Janukovych addressed the crowd, and in his usually crude manner, called Jushchenko a trypach (one who says a lot, does a little, but in a term that I have been told is rather crude-sounding) who was trying to fool “my people,” Janukovych said, and who was fomenting disorder for the sake of his own power. He also called Jushchenko some other nasty names.
Also, Viktor Janukovych has been caught saying while he thought cameras were off that as President, he’d deport on foot all western Ukrainians to Siberia.
Reports on Friday of provocations: at the standoff in front of buildings of the presidential administration there apparently were men shouting to demonstrators, “Hey guys, come on, forget all this—we’ve got lots of vodka, let’s go get drunk. . .” Sounds kind of funny, but this is real. Never underestimate east Slavic love for vodka. . .
Officials are suspected of burning incriminating documents—special police outside of presidential administration buildings seen carrying out boxes of documents and burning them.
The Supreme Court of Ukraine had previously declared that no one can declare a winner in the presidential election until it has made its own judgment on the fairness and legitimacy of the election. However, the government’s newspaper (i.e., the newspaper of the presidential administration, The Government Courier) had intended to declare Janukovych winner, and had printed its papers for distribution. They were prevented from doing so by Jushchenko supporters who broke-in to their press and seized the papers.
An army officer in Ternopil made a declaration, “We took an oath to defend the
people, and that’s what we will do,” implying sympathy for the Orange Revolution.
Russian special police (Spets-nas) are suspected in Uzhhorod. There has been a tense standoff in front of state administration buildings, and one person there declared, “This is foreign occupation.”
There are reports of police using fire hoses on demonstrators in city of Sumy.
Reports of 100 police heading to L’viv on Friday to support and protect pro-Jushchenko demonstrators.
Friday, President Leonid Kuchma was visited by EU’s Javier Solana, Poland’s Kwasniewski, and the Lithuanian President (who’s name I forgot). Also, Lech Walesa is in Ukraine to be a mediator between the opposition (proJu forces) and the governmen (proJa forces)t.
Polish students wearing orange are demonstrating in solidarity with the Ukrainian movement. And I have seen plenty of Polish students at demonstrations already, especially in Lviv and Ternopil.
Janukovych’s campaign office claims to be telling its people to stay off the streets in general with the notion that they are legitimate and don’t need to resort to street tactics—most likely this is a propagandistic attempt to explain to pro-Janukovych supporters why Jushchenko has so many and Janukovych so few in the capital.
Also Friday, two members of the Central Electoral Commission announced that they rescind their signatures certifying results of the election. Rumors are spreading in grassroots information channels that the head of the CEC was slightly beaten and otherwise threatened that he must cooperate and declare the election for Janukovych.
Saturday: students from the Kyiv Music Conservatory spent the afternoon “entertaining” the special police guarding the buildings of the presidential administration with Ukrainian traditional and pop songs. Said one student, “We just wanted to raise their spirits.”
It was reported that on Saturday night, more people than ever had packed onto Independence Square.
Saturday night cadets of the police academy came to the Independence Square to announce their support for the Orange Revolution and the Ukrainian people despite threats that they would be expelled if they did so. The crowd of 200,000 or more responded by chanting “Molodtsi! Molodtsi!” a difficult to translate phrase; its kind of like saying to someone “At-a-Boy!” or “Job Well Done!” Ukrainians and Russians say it all the time as a compliment (Molodtsi is plural, Molodets is the singular).
Following the students, a police captain also made a similar declaration, and the crown chanted “Molodets! Molodets!”
And then the pinnacle of police anti-government protests occurred on Sunday night. The Major-General of all of Ukraine’s police forces appeared on Independence Square and declared that “the police are with the people,” and expressed his joy that finally, “the time has come that we can say ‘No’ to this regime.” He also announced the establishment of a hotline to which people could call-in any suspicious activity by authorities, especially as regarding possible provocations. And he ended by starting up a chant, “Militsija za Narodu (Police are for the People)!” which was picked up by the crowd that had boisterously been applauding his announcement.
A New Propaganda Campaign: on Inter, one of Ukraine’s nationwide TV channels, they are showing screens with the slogans “We Have Understood One Another,” “We are All Fellow Citizens,” etc., all written in orange and blue-and-white letters (the colors of Jushchenko and Janukovych respectively) while showing, interspersed, photos of Jushchenko and Janukovych, and pro-Jushchenko and pro-Janukovych rallies. Also, in its reporting of the daily news, Inter has been portraying the ongoing pro-Janukovych rally outside the train station in Kyiv as though it were the same in seize as the pro-Jushchenko rally on Independence Square through mostly close-up camera shots that make the rally of 5,000 look the equal of a rally of 150,000 and more.
Here’s a run-down of the all-Ukrainian channels (channels broadcast throughout Ukraine; for each major town has its own channels as well):
1) 1+1 = State television
2) Pershyj Natsionalnyj (First National) = State TV, but completely under influence of an oligarch
3) Inter = which is owned, most people say, by Viktor Medvedchuk, an oligarch and politician, head of the presidential administration
4) ICTV = Viktor Pinchuk, oligarch and also, son-in-law of President Kuchma
5) Novyj Kannel (New Channel) = neutral?
6) STB (not sure what the letters stand for) = oligarchic channel
And then there is the opposition Channel 5 which is broadcast in a few regions of Western Ukraine and which is otherwise available only via satellite. Just as in the US, independent, opposition channels have the problem of money and of the oligarchy’s stranglehold on licensing and broadcasting at the national level. Since the start of the Orange Revolution, the local Ternopil Channel 4 has been transmitting Channel 5’s coverage of events, and we can get Channel 4 in Pidhajtsi.
One of Channel 5’s main anchorman likes to sign off with the phrase, “Kokhajtysja! (Love each other!)” which is a much more sincere statement, when contrasted with Inter’s “We understand each other.” The three main anchormen on Channel 5 are refugees from State TV 1+1, and one can tell they are thrilled to be speaking the truth, such as, “No matter—the word travels faster than the image.”
Viktor Jushchenko, while addressing the crowd of supporters Friday night to inform them of the start of dialogue with authorities, said that Viktor Janukovych had proposed that he would remove “his people from Kyiv,” if Jushchenko promised to remove his, to which Jushchenko said he replied, “Viktor Fedorovych, you only have 5,000 people here.” (Janukovych’s full name is Viktor Fedorovych Janukovych, while he is Viktor Andrijevych Jushchenko).
Natalija Vitrenko, leader of the so-called Progressive Socialist Part of Ukraine that is closely allied with the Communist Party has made an interesting comment. When asked, “To your mind, how will the problem of unemployment in [western] Ukraine be solved?” she answered, “By dressing people, putting shoes on them, feeding them, and off to Chechnya with them.”
Is the State TV Channel 1+1 turning against the government? Watching Ternopil Channel 4, which has been transmitting on its channel coverage of events in Ukraine from the opposition Channel 5, I saw on Friday evening a speaker addressing the crowd of 150,000 or more on the central Independence Square in Kyiv, who claimed that journalists and directors at the state television channel promised to report only the truth from now on. If so, in light of the new disinformation campaign of the channel Inter outlined above, this would be a highly significant moment. Channel 1+1, like the other oligarch owned channels, is an all-Ukrainian channel, reaching nearly every household. During the anti-Soviet rebellion of the Baltic Republics in 1991, bloodshed broke out in Vilnius when the anti-Soviet opposition seized control of the State media and Soviet paraptroopers attacked, killing 14. A crucial turning point in the revolution that led to the collapse of the Slobodan Milosevic regime in the rump-Yugoslavia came when state television went off the air to return to airwaves with anti-Milosevic messages. And a similar moment was crucial in the Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia last year. Will the state Channel 1+1 turn against Kuchma, Janukovych, the bandit government of oligarchs and join forces with the Orange Revolution?
Why November in Eastern Europe? The Berlin Wall fell in early November, the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia collapsed in November, Georgia’s Rose Revolution happened in November. . .does it have something to do with Scorpio energies afoot?
Julija Tymoshenko, addressing Sunday night the crowd on Kyiv’s Independence Square stated that rumors are that Janukovych has complained to Kuchma about the negotiations. Thus she said, “We need to stay on guard,” and said that if the authorities do not cooperate, the opposition needs to erect barricades, seize control of road and rails to and from capital, and raise hell!
On Saturday, in Moscow, fifteen people were seen walking around the Ukrainian Embassy, eating oranges and drinking Fanta.
And finally, Ukraine is suffering from a serious lack of orange material, and oranges are nowhere to be bought in the country today. Therefore, the EU—where a number of national parliaments have members displaying oranges on their desks and wearing orange in a display of solidarity with the Ukrainian movement—has begun organizing shipments of oranges and orange-colored items to Ukraine. A convoy suspected to be carrying such products has been seen crossing from Germany to Poland earlier today on its way to Ukraine, and already one semi-truck full of oranges and other orange items has been stopped at the border and harassed by border guards eager to obtain orange materials for themselves and their family.
OK, I’m just kidding, most of this isn’t true, all except for the display of solidarity in Germany’s parliament, and the fact that there reall is, not surprisingly, a shortage now of orange shirts, sweaters, hats, scarves, even tape in Ukraine, while what remains is of course much overpriced. I should like to be wearing an orange scarf about, but you snooze you loose. But there are oranges still available in Ukraine: today pro-Jushchenko deputies arrived early to the parliament and placed oranges on the desks of pro-Janukovych deputies, many of whom threw their oranges at the pro-Jushchenko deputies as they arrived.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
SENT NOV. 25, 2004, or DAY 4 of the OR
Headlines of many newspapers in Ukraine today read: ORANZHEVA REVOLUTSIJA (ORANGE REVOLUTION)! Thus events in Ukraine now have a name, and what is being born out of this revolution, out of this turning of the wheel, is the chore of a new Ukrainian civic nation.
That is, despite what far too many western journalists continue to write today (such as an article from Reuters on the Yahoo website just now), Ukraine is not that divided of a nation. The major division obtaining today is between the people and the illegitimate leadership, between the majority and a leadership with a weak and dwindling base of power in society. In truth, at least 60% if not more actually voted for Jushchenko; and more importantly, more and more are switching sides, joining the revolt. Witness, as I reported yesterday, the demonstrations that began for Janukovych in areas traditionally thought to be in his camp that by end of the day had become pro-Jushchenko rallies (such as in Cherkassy). And witness the fact that wherever there were pro-Janukovych demos, pro-Jushchenko rallies also took place. The authorities' power base is dwindling. What authorities are hoping is that the energy of the people will also dwindle. That is all they can hope for now--the only other method they have at hand is use of violence.
With that, as the crisis of legitimate authority deepens in Ukraine, there are signs emerging today of a parallel society taking shape. That is, much like the oligarch's illegitimate domination of the economy this past thirteen years has forced upon Ukrainians the choice of building their own shadow economy, it appears that today the continuing, illegitimate rule of authorities is triggering the formation of a shadow society of sorts that recognizes Jushchenko as President. Recall what I reported yesterday about towns refusing to recognize the elections as legitimate; add to it Jushchenko's symbolic taking of the presidential oath. Also add to it today the rumor that many towns are publically declaring Jushchenko their president. Also, activists in the city of Kirovohrad planned to hold a symbolic trial in absentia of those officials of the Kirovohrad state administration who are accused of participating in falsification of the vote. In Uzhhorod today, 16,000 protestors stood in front of state administration buildings, demanding that officials come and face the people. Ukrainians are waiting for the illegitimate authorities to step out of the way so that the society they are starting to build without them can step into the light with Jushchenko as President.
Would this constitute a coup de etat, as the authorities claim? No. Coups occur from the top down in total disregard of popular opinion. When one leader is removed and another is swept into power on the wings of a popular uprising, that is called a revolution. And revolutions occur when governments have failed to meet the needs of the majority of people, who then withdraw their support of the government. And this is precisely what is happening in Ukraine at the moment.
However, although things look very hopeful, the end and ultimate success is not yet in sight.
Events on the gournd in Ukraine are proving however, that there is indeed, at long last, a nascent civil society in Ukraine, and with that, that there is a civic sense of Ukrainianness that unites all of Ukraine's diverse cultures and peoples. It is up to the illegitimate authorities to decide whether there will be violence perpetrated against the will of this civic nation waiting to be fully born. And they should think carefully: is the support of maybe 1/3 or a little more of the population enough to support them through a crack-down?
But also--and this is very important--Jushchenko needs to see and hear from his supporters, the clear majority of the population of this country, that they are willing to stand with him through to the end. That is, with authorities still posing as legitimate rulers (with of course only the CIS recognizing them now), Janukovych has made statements that he is "willing to cooperate and negotiate with the opposition," and rumors are floating of offers being made by authorities to Jushchenko and the opposition leaders that a compromise government be established with Janukovych as president and Jushchenko as PM--in essence, they are tempting Jushchenko into betraying revolution and fundamental change for compromise and simple reform. Jushchenko has today firmly rejected all such offers; it is clear that most people on the streets will only accept a handover of power to Jushchenko. To my mind, Jushchenko is clearly a man with the strength of character to not capitulate to any such tactics. But what he needs now more than ever is a display of the willingness to keep on fighting, a further display of the true and genuine strength of the Ukrainian people .
And this he is getting. The energy is not dieing down; recall what I have already written about Kirovohrad and Uzhhorod. And right now I am back in Ternopil, where things continue to simmer. There is now a stage set-up on the central Theater Square, and there are entertainers. The crowd remains huge. Students and PORA! activists have pitched tents and are staying the night. And upon arrival in town today, I saw a huge caravan of taxis and buses flying Ukrainian and Orange flags heading out of town, the lead car and many others displaying signs "DO KYJEVA ZA UKRAJINU (TO KYIV FOR UKRAINE)!" This is precisely what Jushchenko and those in the capital need: reenforcements. I have been busy encouraging young people in Pidhajtsi to either go to Kyiv or Lviv. [note: what I meant was, some of us had been traveling to other villages in the Pidhajtsi county, telling people that those in Kyiv already need to come back home for a rest, but that they would not come back unless they knew that others were on the way to replace them. We also told people that we could give them 100 UAH or $20, a third of an average month's wage, for the trip, and that once there, our people from Pidhajtsi were already organized and would find them a place to stay and food to eat. I finally made it to Kyiv toward the end of the street demos.] I plan myself to head with a bunch of people this weekend to Lviv, possibly on to Kyiv thereafter. The movement is continuing, and energy is not being lost--especially not as we head into the weekend.
This weekend, my gut tells me, will prove critical.
So, now some news:
In Kyiv, thousands demonstrated in front of the Russian Embassy to demand the removal of Russia special police from the capital.
Also in Kyiv, about 1,000 Janukovych supporters demonstrated in front of the parlaiment today, while Jushchenko demonstrators also stood on the streets and Jushchenko supporters drove in cars, circling around the parlaiment building.
Also, I forgot to mention before, over 150 tents have been set up on the central Independence Square, and people have been staying the night, despite the cold and the snow.
More buses are reported to be arriving in the capital, Kyiv, from Donetsk, full of men (which means that they are most likely coming as provocateurs).
Oleksandr Moroz of the Socialist Party and Julija Tymoshenko of what is called the Julija Tymoshenko Bloc, who along with Jushchenko form a kind of triumvirate guiding the opposition, began talking today about the opposition seizing control and power in Kyiv by blockading and controlling roads and rails to and fro the capital. This is a huge threat to the power of authorities, and if it is to happen, will be very provocative. Such actions--the building of barricades, seizing control of the means of transportation, are major moments in the history of every major revolution. There is also talk of storming the state TV--not from Moroz or Tymoshenko, but in the general ether. All of this could seriously provoke the illegitimate authorities.
I forgot also to mention that yesterday, Jushchenko, Moroz, Tymoshenk and other leaders of the opposition met with Interior Ministry officials in Kyiv, officials who allegedly gave promises that they would refuse to obey orders to open fire on demonstrators if such an order were to come from President Kuchma.
Janukovych today repeated his call to open dialogue between the opposition and the illegitimate authorities.
Both the US and the EU declared today that they do not recognize the election.
Russian deputies warn the US and EU not to meddle with Ukraine.
Kuchma still has not ceritified the results of the election--the last step in declaring Janukovych (the illegitimate) President. What is he waiting for? What is he afraid of? Perhaps he's hoping that the revolution taking place isn't real. Maybe he thinks he's asleep and all of this is a bad dream. But seriously, authorities greatest hope at the moment is that things will quiet down--and no doubt, Kuchma's giving a final OK at the moment will bring things to a boil.
Then today, I was listening to an independent Ukrainian radio station [Radio Era] that had someone on who was talking about all the violations in the town of Donetsk. A caller from Kyiv phoned in to say, in perfect Ukrainian, that he was from Donetsk, and that he has many friends there who speak Ukrainian and voted for Jushchenko and that he himself voted for Jushchenko and that he couldn't understand why the speaker was saying such terrible things about Donetsk. The speaker repsonded with saying in general, "Sir, I am not saying that no one in Donetsk is for Jushchenko--on the contrary, I am saying that your voices there are not being heard! We're talking about the massive falsification of the vote there, and you confirm for me that there are voices in Donetsk that are not being heard!"
Also, this radio station today is periodically giving instructions on how to stay warm, on signs of hypothermia, and is also reporting on the need for solidarity and mutual support.
Also, I saw a new flag today flying over heads in Ternopil: it was a white flag with the SOLIDARITY written across it in orange.
With that, I want to say there is nothing like the feelings of hope and inspiration that comes of millions of people working together to fight for a better future.
Peace and Love,
SENT NOV. 24, 2004, or DAY 3 of OR
The fall out over Viktor Jushchenko's taking a symbolic presidental oath yesterday has been tremendous. Already yesterday and immediately after the oath was made, the speaker of the parlaiment, Volodymyr Lytvyn commented that Jushchenko is only discrediting himself by taking such actions, and all day long various figures supporting Janukovych have echoed this claim. Furthermore, Putin in a statement today said that Ukraine is a state of law, implying that Jushchenko's actions are illegitimate (while taking the supposedly legitimate action of sending Russian special police to guard the offices of the presidential administation in Kyiv). And finally, this evening during debate at the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) over the final certification of the the results of the election, a Janukovych supporter stated that the opposition is leading a circus on the streets of Kyiv and throughout Ukraine.
It is no surprise that Janukovych was certified this evening as the Ring Leader of the real circus happening in Ukraine today (i.e., the CEC did certify tonight its declaration yesterday that Janukovych won). Who looks more ridiculous, the millions on streets throughout Ukraine demonstrating for Jushchenko, or the men in suits sitting inside buildings guarded by Russian special police flown in this morning for their and Kuchma's "protection?"
And who looks more ridiculous than the filthy rich oligarchs and politicians that backed Janukovych whose applications for visas to the US are "under review" (an anonymous source has let it out that these mens' applications most likely will not gain approval, and that furthermore, the White House is considering seizing all their money in US banks, since the money was made illegitimately, and even some of it is money stolen from US taxpayers, as it was money given to Ukraine as AID money through the IMF/World Bank.)
These are the figures whose respect for the law that they are suddenly trumpeting today has lead to millions of people mobilizing across the country to certify in the streets the fact that Jushchenko has already become their president. Jushchenko's oath was a pledge to his supporters that he will stay the course until the end, and in one comment yesterday, he declared, "Some don't like to see my face, but its the face of my nation" (a statement which has an additional sense for those who know about what is widely beleived as an attempt on his life via poisoning last September--he looks a lot worse today than he did before the incident). Jushchenko is not one among that sad line of ego-driven, megalomaniacal leaders of revolutions. Kyiv and most of Ukraine is covered today in orange. The cities of Lutsk, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Khmelnytstkyj, Vynnytsja, and Kyiv have all passed resolutions rejecting the validity of Sunday's vote, and more of such resolutions are coming. Against all the most negative stereotypes in the West about Ukrainians, people here are proving with each passing moment that they are not a nation of thieves and bandits, nor of the politically apathetic; they are instead proving that they have been a battered nation whose time has finally come to rise and fight for its dignity. PORA (Now's the Time)!
And it is just fantastic that all of this is happening on the first anniversary of the Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia that uprooted the corrupt oligarchy of ex-Communist Party chiefs and Soviet bosses (Sheverdnadze stepped down last year on November 23).
But the Ukrainian officials are proving more stubborn--perhaps they are proving one stereotype about Ukrainians true. But so are the millions who are demonstrating against them.
With that, the situation is getting tense. I am once again back in Pidhajtsi, and I have heard all day long people asking whether if the shooting has begun. Nothing of the sort has happened yet, but there are all kinds of reports about this and that indication that provocation is about to begin. The authorities are rather openly mulling over using force to clear Kyiv. Bush has warned against this, and has strongly urged Putin to back off. The spectre of the Cold war seems to on the haunt, especially as the EU early-on just threw up its arms in disgust. Germany's Schroeder also made a statement today, rejecting the legitimacy of authorities' actions in Ukraine and urging Putin to keep his distance.
And then the soldiers, the damned police--Russian "special police" in Kyiv?!? And the authorities here claim that they believe "Ukraine is not Russia" (which is the title of a book published by Kuchma this summer)? If they fear that they can't rely on the Ukrainian police and soldiers to potect them, how can they claim to be the legitimate power in this country? And how else is one to read the situation, other than that Putin's
government is determined to keep the Ukrainian masses (whether Ukrainian, Russian, Jews, Romani, etc.) impoverished and pinned under the control of a corrupt oligarchy?
Ok, enough of the polemicizing. Here is a round-up of some news and rumors from today and last night, followed by photos:
In Kyiv, the flag pole in the center of the central Independence Square is flying a Ukrainian flag and below it, an Orange Flag.
A whopping 19 international observers were actually able to get into voting centers in the eastern state of Luhansk to do their jobs. Luhansk had 2,000 voting centers.
My uncle from Pidhajtsi led a group of observers to Donetsk. He had a video camera with him. He videotaped a man voting without a passport and voter-registration. My uncle protested against this violation. The response was that he and fellow observers were minorly assaulted, removed from the voting center, and the camera was broken. But at least the tape made it back to the OUR UKRAINE offices in Kyiv. Jushchenko has claimed to have, and OUR UKRAINE is preparing, a list of 11,000 violations.
Starting last night, thousands were outside the presidential administration protesting, which triggered the arrival of Russian special forces--especially after Kyiv Mayor Omelchenko switched sides and came out for Jushchenko. With that, it is uncertain that either the army or Kyivan police will help authorities. But they might. And all day today people remained at the administration buildings.
Oleksandr Moroz has claimed that there are upwards of 3 million already in the capital. This conflicts with Western reporting, which gives a much lower figure. I think that Moroz is exaggerating (although he in general is a very reliable fellow). No doubt the Western reports I have read have underestimated the number of people in the capital. Let's say there are 1 million, and more are coming (keep in mind, Kyiv itself is a city of 4 million).
A bus of 40 people left from Pidhajtsi today, heading for Kyiv. And there already are a significant number of fellows from Pidhajtsi in the capital, who went yesterday and the day before by bus and private car. Some of them report many stops by police along the way (I spoke with my third-cousin in Kyiv by cellphone yesterday. . .)
Yesterday and today in Pidhajtsi were huge demonstrations by small-town standards (at least 1,000, out of a pop of about 4,000 within the town itself; Pidhajtsi and connected villages altogether are about 7,000). Today the demo turned angry--people began naming those who had agitated for Janukovych. Yesterday there was a picket after the demo in front of the police station, demanding that those officers present who had turned over their right to vote in accord with the "budget-worker" scandal come outside and explain themselves. Then today, after the demo, a few headed to picket in front of the offices of the Janukovych campaign in Pidhajtsi.
Another bus left from Pidhajtsi for Kyiv after the demo, also after which people--pensioners, workers, business owners, etc.--simply came to the fellow organizing the buses to and fro the capital to give him money for to support the guys on the trip to Kyiv. Altogether they donated 3,000 hryvnjas, a huge sum in Ukraine (up to 10 months worth of wages for a good job, well over a years worth for those with less reliable work and those on pensions) . There was an emotional bon voyage. People said "Go Fight for Us," and sang the national anthem.
No doubt the same thing has happened elsewhere and will continue to. . .
Rumors floating about Kuchma possibly declarring a state of emergency.
Then a humurous anecdote that I got from a Ternopil newspaper: Apparently, there are gangs of Yanukovych supporters going around Kyiv slashing tires of the cars of Jushchenko supporters. Many Jushchenko supporters have tied orange ribbons to their car's antennas or sideview mirrors, etc. Well, apparently a man parked his car who then got out carrying a pro-Janukovych sign. Pro-Jushchenko folks tied an orange ribbon to his car, and later a gang of pro-Janukovych supporters slashed his tires. The fellow was later interviewed, and he said, "I don't mind what they did--what they are doing is right!"
And one more thing: the snow is falling hard in western and other parts of Ukraine. It is cold, the winds are blowing hard (or really were today), but the heat of the moment is keeping us warm and the mutual support of people in struggle is keeping spirits high. People are opening their homes in Kyiv to those coming from the provences, and the solidarity, the smiling, the mutual affection being shown. . .is simply fantastic. And people are celebrating. They're singing folksongs at night in the pubs, but also at the demonstrations, and also on the streets walking to and fro from demos. And no doubt a significant amount of wine, beer, and horylka is being consumed in many places, both to keep warm, but also to celebrate, and at least it is being consumed with an air of hopefulness, and not the desperation that has driven so many to drink in this country these past 13 years.
Please, everyone, keep in mind what is happening here, tell friends, write letters to papers, and call senators and representatives if you have the energy, and tell them that there is no question about the situation here. Tell them that Ukraine already has a new president, Viktor Jushchenko.
SENT NOV. 23, 2004, or DAY 2 of OR
UKRAINE'S ROSE REVOLUTION IS WELL UNDERWAY:
This is being described as a national uprising. Here is what I have seen today, writing to you from the city of Ternopil, (pop approximately 250,000):
I arrived from Pidhajtsi at 12 PM. All along the way from Pidhajtsi to Ternopil one could see, on the streets of the various villages and in the bus stops throughout the countryside, people wearing orange arm bands, orange-colored jackets, hats, scarves, gloves. In one village, someone had painted the entire fence encircling their property orange. Once in Ternopil, I saw warms of people wearing orange. Orange is the color of Jushchenko's flag.
I started walking the short distance from the bus station to the town center, to Teatral'na Ploshcha (Theater Square), where people have been gathering, demonstrating, since last night. All along the road were people coming and going from the meeting, carrying Ukrainian flags, carrying PORA! flags, carrying signs and banners and the flags of the Jushchenko campaign, and the flag of Our Ukraine, his Party. People shouted, "Jushchenko!" at random; sometimes the shouts caught on and turned into the chants of the many: "JU-SHCHEN-KO PRE-SI-DENT!" Groups of students with PORA! and TAK! banners around their arms where walking to and fro the center, singing new lyrics to folk songs, all chiding Janukovych. Some of them chanted: "Ju-shcen-ko Pre-si-dent, Ja-nu-ko-vych IM-PO-TENT!"
In the center, on Theater Square, is a constant presence of at least 5-10,000 [I amend this figure; most people after the OR told me that the size of the crowd was more like 20,000 daily, and looking at my video footage and photos again, I agree. . .], with people constantly coming and going. They were here yesterday. They came back at 9AM, while many diehards stayed the night. And every side street to and fro the center is crawling with more people in orange. No doubt, Ternopil is not the only city having demos. In fact, I have seen on the opposition news channel 5 a map indicating where demos are happening in major cities. Every major city in Ukraine has a demo happening. Only three of them are having major, pro-Janukovych demonstrations: Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, and of course in Sevastapol and Simferopol. But in each are taking place pro-Juschenko rallies, albeit smaller (there are also counter, pro-Janukovych rallies happening in many cities where the majority is for Jushchenko). And there are townhall meetings and demos happening in smaller towns and villages everywhere.
Kyiv is overrun with Jushchenko demonstrators. The cenral, Independence Square is full (but its been full now since Sunday night), but people keep arriving. Every major boulevard heading into the center is crowded. Khreshchatyk is overrun, Hrushevs'kyj Street is overrun, etc. And most importantly of all, the building of the Verkhovna Rada or National Parlaiment is nearly completely surrounded by people who are shouting "Jushcenko President!"
Inside the parlaiment are deputies who are trying to pass a resolution nullifying the vote. For the most part, only opposition deputies are present. The speaker of the parlaiment, ??? Lytvyn is presiding and is overall cooperating. Lytvyn is widely considered a slippery character who slides along the political spectrum in Ukraine depending on where the power is: because of this, people say that Lytvyn is a Litmus test. You want to know where things are heading in Ukraine, watch his behavior. One can hear from inside the parlaiment the shouts of the thousands of people (from the opposition TV it looked like at least 5-10,000 alone around the parlaiment) outside. At one point, those outside started singing the national anthem. I was in a cafe eating lunch, talking with some people I just met about what Americans know about the situation in Ukraine, when those demonstrators started to sing. Everyone in the cafe stood and sang the national anthem. I saw an old man with a tear on his cheek. This is an emotional experience for all.
A national uprising is taking place. The vast majority of Ukrainians--and I mean this in a civic sense, meaning citizens of Ukraine regardless of ethnicity--are voting once again today. The majority know which candidate is a pluralist, who is open to all their diverse interests, cultures, and dreams. Most importantly of all, they know who is the populist, who will fight to end corruption and will fight to reform an unequal power structure, and who will fight to redistribute the wealth of a rich country whose people are poor but proud.
Today, Ukrainians are indeed harvesting oranges in their own country, because they are tired of having to leave home and harvest oranges elsewhere!
PS--As I write you, at 5 PM, Jushchenko is addressing those deputies at and the nation from the Parlaiment.
PPS-I just read that a pro-Janukovych rally in Cherkasy was overrun by Jushcenko supporters, and has turned into a pro-Jushchenko rally. The same seems to be happening in Kharkiv. Please look at Jushchenko's Our Ukraine website, which has an english versiosn and constant updates and photos of what is going on: http://www.razom.org.ua/
And one other thing: things seem farely calm, no reports of provocation, etc., yet. . .
YANUKOVYCH DECLARED WINNER (sent minutes later):
I just heard--been sitting at this computer for too long. The bastard government of Ukraine has declared Janukovych winner in the election. Absurd. The fight, now, really is on. . .
To get the election nullified, the President must initiate the nullification, not the parlaiment. . .this according to Ukraine's absurdly undemocratic constitution that gives all the power to the president. I like to call Urkaine's system a limited presidential dictatorship.
YUSHCHENKO TAKES PRESIDENTIAL OATH (again minutes later, but this time it was a short article from the AP):
KIEV, Ukraine - Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko took a symbolic presidential oath of office in Ukraine's parliament chamber Tuesday, defiantly claiming power as tens of thousands of his supporters massed outside.
Yushchenko approached the podium and took the oath after a special parliamentary session had officially ended, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Some 191 lawmakers had gathered for the special session to consider an opposition request to vote no-confidence in the Central Election Commission and declare the official results of Sunday's run-off election between Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych invalid. Support from at least 226 members of the 450-seat parliament was needed for the motion to succeed.
Yushchenko had earlier claimed victory in the runoff, even though the commission declared Yanukovych the winner. The opposition has said the election was rigged.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
SENT NOV. 22, 2004, or DAY 1 of OR
Let us hope that this day will serve as a powerful reminder to the YuGov (thanks Leopolis for this coinage), or the current powers-that-be that are of the "Orange" persuasion, of the need to cooperate going into parliamentary elections this Spring. . .
Here is my post to my list-serve one year ago today, followed by pictures:
IS THE REVOLUTION BEGINNING?
My hands are shaking, my head is spinning, and things are moving fast. The authorities in this country are beyond shameless. They have dared to repeat again what they did the first round, but to an even greater and more fantastic extreme. There has been violence, there have been police actions, it is all rather unimaginable and simply absurd. But it appears that the people of Ukraine are not taking it. There are demonstrations everywhere today. People are heading en masse for the capital.
Early in the day yesterday the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the EU's human rights watchdog, the descendant of the Helsinki Commission) simply threw up its arms in disgust yesterday. All other watch-dogs (beside the CIS, of course) have confirmed the absurdity of the situation here as well. Abuses, violations, and falsifcations are rampant, at a level much worse than in the first round (I will try to provide a catalogue below, if time remains before I need to catch a bus). This is the objective situation in Ukraine right now: anyone who denies it is a shameless liar, ignorant fool, or power-drunk apologist. Any Western newspaper or reporter (such as the Wall Street Journal who published the Yanukovych letter, or the Washinton Post that printed an article by US Democrats who stated that the first round was overall fair) are not objectively reporting an objective situation but are subjective apologists for a power-drunk oligarchy that is keeping its people in poverty and which looks like, at the moment, it just may fall.
I am writing to you from the town of Berezhany (pop. approx. 25,000), which is close to Pidhajtsi, and which is also a county seat in the state of Ternopil. A town-hall meeting turned into a street march to the seat of the county govenment with maybe 3,000+ in attendance. Berezhany is one of the places in which authorities have been biligerent in their demands that budget workers turn-over their right to vote. Demonstrators shouted "Shame! Shame!" They demanded that the county authorities come out and explain their actions. Shouts were made, "Show your Faces!" as well as "Face the Power of the People!" Authorities did not come out, so the call went out: everyone return tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM, the start of the working day. Before departing, we sang the national anthem, "Shche Ne Vmerla Ukrajina" (Ukraine has not yet died). In fact, today and tonight, Ukraine is WAKING up!
There are 150,000 people in the capital city of Kyiv and more coming every hour (in fact, the last I heard any figures was earlier today, and there was a steady stream of people coming into the capital; people are expecting upwards of 500,000, possibly 1 million).
Earlier today it was reported that a tent city is forming in Kyiv. There are kitchens serving kovbasa (sausage), salo, and hot drinks. People already began gathering last night in Kyiv. 100,000 were on Independence Square last night protesting the government's actions, listening to speakers and dancing in the streets to the music of pop stars who have declared support for Jushenko. At the end of the night, the call came out for all to return at 9AM. It is now winter in Ukraine--a front arrived this weekend, bringing snow and cold. Regardless, a few hundred remained on the square overnight. A kitchen-tent was set up to support them last night. The 100,00 people returned this morning, and the movement to Kyiv continues.
Viktor Jushchenko, Julija Tymoshenko, and Oleksandr Moroz (the three biggest names in the opposition) as well as others have called for a nation-wide strike tomorrow.
They have called on all those who can to come to the capital. Those who can not, they have asked to go to the bigger cities and regional centers, and then if one cannot, to demonstrate at home, to stike at home. Reports are of huge movements of people. Students right now in Berezhany are here in this club writing to friends and making plans to go to Kyiv. Many are planning to take the regular night train from nearby Ternopil to Kyiv tonight.
There is a huge demonstration in L'viv. Similar demonstrations as what happened here in Berezhany are happening in towns, small and large, all over Ukraine: Pidhajtsi, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk (I heard at least 5,000 demonstrated), Zhytomyr, Kharkiv, Kyiv, everywhere.
Now to the anecdotes of things that have been happening, both good and bad:
To repeat, the OSCE last night made a forceful declaration that this situation is absurd. Why?
All over eastern Ukraine international observers were refused entrance to voting centers, and a speaker at the demonstration here in Berezhany said that Ukrainian observers from this town were blocked from going to voting centers by police who refused to let them leave their hotels in the city of Kherson.
There are reports of wide-spread ballot stuffing, especially in Donetsk, where Janukovych once was governor. Also in Donetsk are suspiciously high voter-participation counts. Supposedly 96% of eligible voters in Donetsk voted. Also from Donetsk are reports of people being caught trying to vote more than once. And one more thing about Donetsk: the town last night held a huge concert and festival to celebrate Janukovych's victory.
In Vynnytjsa, someone broke into a voting center and stole ballots.
In Kyiv and Lviv, there are reports of ballots being damaged by substances spilled into ballot-boxes. Also from Lviv a report has been made of someone trying to burn the ballots, but who was stopped.
The problem of mispelling of names occured once again, as well as all the shenanigans of the first round: the dead voting, people voting twice, etc. Add to it what I wrote yesterday about reports of disappearing ink and the budget-worker scandal.
Also recall that I wrote yesterday that reporters (as well as offical observers) were barred entry into voting centers. The word still travels faster than the image, even in this postmodern age.
In an aside about something that has occured before the election, apparently a good number of people across Ukraine have been fired from their jobs for having had not voted for Janukovych the first round.
Also in Kyiv last night where about 1,000 people demonstrating in front of the buildings of the Central Electoral (Falsification) Commission. However, also present were 4 armored vehicles and soldiers guarding the building. What are they afraid of?
20 buses have arrived in the South Station of Kyiv with people in civilian clothes, but they are suspected to be soldiers. Also, there are reports of other buses arriving in the capital from the east suspected to be carrying paid provocateurs.
In general, it has been reported that buses coming to the capital from the east have had virtually no interference from police, while buses from the West are having numerous problems. Recall what I once wrote about my experience riding on a bus in western Ukraine on the day of the first-round. And then today in Berezhany a speaker said that trains out of Ternopil were blocked.
So before going, I want to make 4 quick points:
1) I could quote statistics about vote counts, but what is the use? The plain and simple and objective situation is that this election was falsified. Jushchenko already became president the first round; but for those who doubt that, there is no doubt today. Only liars, fools, or greedy-pigs deny this. Today huge masses of people all over Ukraine are at demonstrations chanting "JU-SHCHEN-KO PRE-SI-DENT!"
2) The media are crucial. The independent news channel 5 deserves respect. All those reporters in the state media and stations owned by oligarchs who went on hunger strike the first round and again today deserve respect. And here is food for thought: a major turning point in the revolution that swept Milosevic from power was when the state TV turned against him. We need that here in Ukraine. But regardless, the word travels faster than the image in a country with generations of experience with resistance.
3) Ukrainians are showing their will to fight. They are taking to the streets. Democracy is not only in the act of voting but the act of filling the streets and shouting. The people of Ukraine are voting a second and a third and fourth time, or however many days they will have to stand and demand that they be heard.
4) This election is not about whether Ukraine will head for the West or toward Russia. It's not about Ukrainian language and culture versus Russian language and culture within Ukraine. It's about Ukraine itself. It is about whether the people of this country--whether ethnic Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Romani, German, Tatar, etc.--can uproot a corrupt oligarchy that is bleeding this country dry for its own gratification, that is manipulating and politicizing the mulitcultural fabric of this fantastic country for the purpose of divide and rule. It is about poverty, about daily bread--it's about getting rid of an oligarchy of greedy bastards who, while dividing the people by pressing them to think in terms of khlib (Ukrainian for bread) and khleb (Russian for bread), has been and is fighting to keep on stealing the dough.
Peace and Love,
PS--as I was about to close this email, I have overheard that a student in this internet club just recieved an SMS message on his cellphone from a friend in Kyiv. The friend wrote, "Kyiv is harvesting oranges!"
Orange is the color associated with Jushchenko's campaign, and this is a humorous statement in that many Ukrainians have found work picking oranges in Portugal, as has this fellow's friend who wrote the message. . .
Back to the present: Read here an article I wrote for Toronto's New Pathway.
Some photos from Berezhany (still had a crappy camera; but I was soon to get a much better one!). . .reading the piece linked above will help with the photos. . .
This is the scene as we got to the center of town 40 or so minutes before the meeting was to begin.
People watch and listen to the speech made earlier in the day by Yushchenko in Kyiv. I believe this is one of the most important moments or speeches in Ukrainian, and also in Eastern European, history. It was the statement that began a revolution, much like the famous statement that began the Bolshevik coup (i.e., "All power to the Soviets," which was a lie, or not what Lenin really meant; he should have said, "All Power to the Almighty Party!").
To paraphrase what Yushchenko said that afternoon to the multitude assembled on Independence Square in Kyiv: "The time has come to build on this square a tent camp, and I want to say to each one of you: have no fear. Be here on the square, and to all of you throughout the country, come to us, by train, by car, by bus. Come here and be tens and tens of thousands of people."
So the Guardian writer who wrote that the OR was a meticulously planned event was partially right: they had planned for, or anticipated, tens of thousands of people, based on the precedents of the Ukraine without Kuchma and the other anti-Kuchma campaigns in 2001. But then suddenly, unexpectedly, without a plan, without even a hope, the incredible happened, beginning on November 22, 2004 and continuing for the next 17 days: approximately 1 million people streamed into the capital! And millions all over the country participated in demonstrations! This was, if anything, spontaneous, unplanned, and in no way motivated nor determined to happen by US tricks.
But also, isn't it strange that a leftist writer would criticize fellow progressives in Ukraine for doing what it is that leftist activists and progressives are supposed to be really good at? That is, organizing? For it was Ukraine's truly progressive community that rallied and organized around the OR, and they should be commended for a job well done. (Note: Vitrenko's party and the Communist Party, which some critics have tried to paint as anti-free trade, anti-neoliberal progressives, are nothing but unreformed, authoritarian and dogmatic Soviet communists; and by the way, the people who tried to paint the critical mass of the Orange Revolution's organizers as neo-Nazis are nothing but ignorant assholes. . .)
The next few photos were of the scene before the county administration building in Berezhany, where people shouted "Shame!" at officials and demanded that they come out to explain themselves. . .
Monday, November 21, 2005
SENT NOV. 21, 2004
UKRAINIANS WILLING TO FIGHT:
On this day of the elections, Ukrainians are ready to fight for their future. My hands are shaking as I write this. I am so inspired by the news of resistance coming out from all over the country. Things are not looking good in terms of what authorities are up to, however, and I am also angry at the moment about an article I read on the yahoo website about Ukraine's election, which I will talk about in a moment. Anyhow, below is a hodge-podge of articles and photos and comments
But first of all, reports of resistance:
PORA! activists have been lying in front of and underneath buses and cars set to repeat what happened in the first round: roaming buses of formerly dead and other types of souls intending to vote more than once. See photos below, from Kyiv:
And here's a poster from the PORA! website www.pora.org.ua calling for demonstrations to start in Kyiv on Kontraktova Ploshcha. BY-THE-WAY you ALL should check out this website. . .it is in both Ukrainian and English and is one of the best sites for real news about what's going on in Ukraine.
VOTE AND COME!
PROVE THAT THEY HAVE LOST
Meeting of winners at Kontraktova Plosha
from 16.00 and till VICTORY
16.00 announcement of the attacking plan
16.30 - 19.00 rock-marathon "Voice of Victory"
19.00 march of winners to the Independence Square
... - ... Announcement of the elections results
PORA hot line: 461-41-58
The translation is from their own website, not mine. . .
What they are calling for in this poster is for activists, students, anyone and everyone, to meet on a square in Kyiv in the Podil neighborhood close to one of the major universities (Kyiv-Mohyla) there from whence they plan to march to the central square, and the stay put until the real election results become known, and Jushchenko declared president, since in actual fact he already won in the fist round (but they didn't write all that in the poster).
This past week has been full of demonstrating, and below are some pics of PORA! actions from around Ukraine. But, by-the-way, about that issue of "budget workers" being ordered to vote: I wrote that the parlaiment had issued a decree ordering that people vote only where they live. Well, to take effect, the decree had to be signed by President Kuchma, who of course has not signed it. Kuchma also appeared on TV last night, once again downplaying the seriousness of the violations in the first round, and warned the opposition that, "There will be no revolution."
More photos from student strikes that took place on Wednesday from all over Ukraine; that is, I forgot to mention earlier that in addition to all the town-hall type meetings and pickets that were held last Wednesday in protest of the budget-worker scandal, nationwide there were student strikes and demos, intended to show the demand of students that this weekend's vote would be free and fair.
In this photo, see the 1+1 crossed out? 1+1 is the state television channel, a network of lying liars. . .
The PORA! symbol/flag
Here are some highlights of nasty things that happened this past week in these various Ukrainian cities, according to the PORA website:
Lviv--unkown attackers entered a Yushenko's supporter's house and beat his mother and grandmother.
Kharkiv--cruel beating by unknown people of PORA activist Kostiantyn ????.
Kharkiv--policemen tear activists' passports
Simferopil--two PORA activists were arrested and later released in Simferopol; PORA states, "We are greatful to everybody who called the police department and demanded the release of Subat Martyrosian and Kostia Chystiakov."
Vynnytsja--seven PORA activists arrested
PORA is the group specifically accused of fostering "terrorism." They say they are victim of the police planting grenades in their offices. One poster at a PORA! demo stated: "Studenty kydajut jajtsja a militsijionery pidkidajut lymony (Students through eggs but policemen plant bombs)" refering to the incidence this summer when a student in the town of Ivano-Frankivsk threw an egg at Janukovych.
There are rumors floating about that the presidential administration may have distributed 130,000 pens with disappearing ink. The Ukrainian people's informal, what I call "spoken-word, do-it-yourself, underground info network" is encouraging all Ukrainians to bring their own pens to voting centers (heard this warning on Radio Era)! This is just incredible, the shamlessness of the authorities.
Oh, by-the-way, there are reports of anti-government demonstrations at the "voting-parties" ogranized by authorities for budget-workers, with people arriving to shout at the party-goers who gave up their passports and registrations "Hin'ba! Hin'ba! (Shame! Shame!). Such activist-oriented people are also gathering, forming into linked-armed chains and standing in front of buses of the dead and of police and shouting "Shame! Shame!". This was reported today on Channel 5, the only independent news network in Ukraine, available for the most part via Cable (although I hear some cities carry the network publically).
Other news reported on Channel 5: In Donetsk, journalists have been refused entry into various voting centers, and have had their press passes taken and destroyed. The anouncer concluded this report with a grin and a reassuring glance into the camera as satetd the following: "No Matter--the Voice travels faster than the Image."
The grassroots information network here, I re-emphasize, is something incredible.
Photo of Jushchenko speaking a the 100,000 person strong rally that took place on Nov.6 in Kyiv, demanding a free and fair election
Picket in front of the TV Channel Inter this week; the sign says "Warning: Lies!"
More picketing of stations: The poster on the right says "Enough Lieing!"
This is a brief statement from Radio Free Europe: Jushchenko this time is not calling off demonstrations. . .
YUSHCHENKO WARNS OF 'STRONG-ARM SCENARIO' IN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF
Opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko told journalists in Kyiv on 19 November that he fears the authorities will resort to a "strong-arm scenario" in his runoff with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on 21 November, Interfax reported. According to Yushchenko, the strong-arm scenario is one in which Yanukovych is declared the winner on the morning of 22 November irrespective of the vote count. "If we encounter large-scale falsification, we will lead people to the streets and we will defend our rights," Reuters quoted Yushchenko as saying. In an address to voters published the previous day, Yushchenko called on his supporters to sign up for "voluntary people's teams" organized by his local election staffs and pledged to mobilize "millions of citizens for the defense of the constitution." JM
More news coming out today (I have copied it from INTERFAX):