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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Ukraine: Russian and United Nations incompetence

by StFerdIII

I have worked in both the Ukraine and Russia, having spent almost a decade engaged in business with these 2 countries and the danger that Russian imperialism poses to the geo-political framework of Europe cannot be underestimated. Corruption, mafia, outright murder, no freedom of the press, state owned media and little real political opposition were the norms in this 2 countries. Now this looks set to change in at least the Ukraine. Democratic change in the Ukraine threatens Russia as much as the establishment of democracy in both Iraq and Afghanistan threatens the regime in Iran.

If Yushchenko, and the pro-Western forces backed by a clear majority and will of the population triumph, this will be a momentous loss for
Russia and another clear example of UNO effeminacy. The Ukrainian Parliament’s rejection of the election results and its non-confidence motion to bring down the corrupt government of Kuchma-Yanukovych plus the hundred’s of thousands of protestors from Kiev to Lviv to Odessa, harbors the enticing spectacle of a true populist revolution and the installation of democracy to a country that badly needs it. What most of the media in the West have missed is first the timid and tepid support by the West for the pro-western forces in the Ukraine and second, the complete failure of the UNO to take an active and vocal role in opposing the expansion of Russian political power in the Ukraine. I would state that these two issues are quite inter-related.

The political and economic issues at risk in the
Ukraine are enormous and they go far beyond just the cause of democracy in the Ukraine itself. Although the Ukraine has been plagued by massive corruption and abuse of power, the country did hold -- unlike Russia -- two genuinely free presidential elections mired as they were in unsavory activity including vote buying, murder and poll rigging. As well unlike Russia's conduct in Chechnya, it dealt with Crimean separatism in a civilized and restrained fashion incorporating that area which is pro-Russian and Russian speaking, into the Ukraine using democratic and parliamentary tools. However such case examples are not sufficient to call the current Ukrainian state a democracy. It is a country beset by Russian and mafia money, interests, greed, and corruption. A truly democratic Ukraine would give an enormous boost to the prospects for democracy in the rest of the former Soviet Union and send a clear message to the Russian people – to enact reforms and curtail Putin’s one man rule.

The effect internationally of the
Ukraine’s predicament transcends just Eastern Europe. The obvious ambition of Russia to annex Belarus, the Ukraine and the Baltics makes a mockery of those who feel that UNO safeguards are the best expressions of a secure perimeter. NATO, the EU and US military might are far surer guarantees. Putin is a leader in the mould of the Russian Tsars and Communist dictators - without the mass murders, debasing ideology and orgiatic purges. His tacit and open support for the illegal autonomous declaration of parts of Eastern Ukraine is testimony to his bad political judgement. The Western media routinely states that the Ukraine is split between the Russian industrialized East and the Catholic rural Ukrainian West. This is exaggerated. Talk to anyone who has traveled in the east of the Ukraine and though support for Russia and its puppet Yanukovych is strong [around 40 %], the majority of the population desires a better life, freedom and real Ukrainian autonomy. The Ukraine will not split into two parts.

The United Nations is supposed to be concerned about ‘Human Rights’, ‘Freedom’ and the territorial integrity of its member states. It has never bothered to implement or hold accountable its lofty rhetoric supporting these suppositions anywhere in the world with the exceptions of the First Gulf War and the Korean War. The
Ukraine is another example of UNO dithering and incompetence. A meddling Kremlin, supplying money, advertising, paratroopers, state-visits and numerous Putin appearances on Ukrainian state owned TV, necessitated a swift and firm rebuttal from the UNO and the West, that such gross interference was illegal and counter-productive. However weakly they responded at least the Council of Europe, the US and Canada, made it clear, during and after the fraudulent elections, that Russia had no business annexing the Ukraine as another Russian province, and that the Ukrainian election was a fraud. The UNO has said almost nothing on the issue. One has to wonder why this is so.

Can you imagine the outrage issuing forth from
Russia, France and the UNO if Bush and the Republican party sponsored, funded, advertised and gave personnel to help with the Canadian Conservative Party’s next election, including endless speeches given by Bush on the CBC, supported by state visits? It is the typical liberal-internationalist double standard and shows once again the weak nature and unaccountability of the UNO and most multi-lateral institutions.

While Viktor Yushchenko, the pro Western opposition candidate, led by half a percentage point after last month's first round of voting, the nation's election commission certified runoff results showing Yanukovych the mafia and
Russia’s candidate a winner by 3 % points. The Ukrainian election vote was draped in fraud including:

-Some people casted multiple votes.
-People supporting Yanukovych were bused to multiple cities to vote many times
-State employers collected the absentee ballots of their workers.
-Polls were ransacked and some polling boxes burnt.
-People were prevented from entering polling stations.
-Some voter names mysteriously were not on election lists.
-Turnout in eastern
Ukraine was unusually high. In Yanukovych's home region, with 99% turnout (compared to 79% nationally), he received 96% of the vote.

Though exist polls are fraught with issues, several such polls indicated Yushchenko was the winner, by as much as 11 percentage points. Even given the margin of error on such exit polls, it is obvious that Yushchenko won this election.

Russia is the Loser:
It is already evident that Yanukovych, the preferred candidate of the oligarchs and personally endorsed by Putin, is the loser. His electoral victory has been totally discredited, while his support for the separatist threat in eastern
Ukraine has disqualified him as a Ukrainian leader. His remaining hope is to become in effect the Ukrainian equivalent of Lukashenko, the Kremlin-sponsored mafia Don in neighboring Belarus, a prospect that should have the populace of the Ukraine frantically running to the country’s exit doors.

U.S. and the EU should make it clear that support for separatism in Ukraine as a means for defeating democracy is an unacceptable form of international blackmail. Russia cannot be demanding support for its suppression of separatism in Chechnya while sponsoring breakaways in Ukraine, in addition to persistently doing so in Georgia. An outbreak of violence in the sensitive regions of eastern Ukraine could prove contagious in the non-Russian regions of Russia itself.

The second big loser is Putin. He has not only identified himself personally with a maladroit, even stupid effort, to subvert the democratic process in Ukraine; he has also made himself the object of ridicule by dashing off two premature congratulatory messages to Yanukovych, while professing support for a fair compromise to the contested elections. Putin grossly miscalculated as Hussein did on 2 occasions, the resolve of the West and in particular the
US, to stand up to aggressive tactics by fascist regimes. Russia’s relationship with the West will be shredded and Putin’s power grab will backfire regardless of what eventually transpires in the Ukraine.

So what to do ?

I would advocate a far stronger and if necessary militarily supported backup by the
US and EU of fair democratic and transparent elections. Russian meddling must not be allowed. The Russians like fascist Islam, understand blood and steel. Obviously a new election between the existing 2 parties [no new ones] is needed. As soon as new elections are scheduled, the U.S. and the EU should again engage themselves, even more and earlier than before, in closely monitoring the electoral process. A renewed effort and even greater vigilance are needed to make certain that the Ukrainians this time round have the opportunity to make their own choice. Free choice was denied to them in the recent elections, and it must be respected in any rescheduled vote. It is particularly important that Ukrainian TV no longer be the mouthpiece of the ruling oligarchs and that the state owned papers do not engage in undemocratic conduct.

The EU and US should also establish a vision for the Ukrainian, and by extension, Russian peoples. Potential Ukrainian entry into the EU, integration into NATO, more aid, monies, investment and political recognition, as well as support for a WTO membership would be politically wise policies to offer the
Ukraine right NOW. Such policies would be predicated on a Yushchenko pro-Western win. That Yushchenko will win in a fair election is obvious but the Ukrainian people should be given a clear policy statement from the West, what the benefits will be if they reform their country and establish a democratic structure and elect Yushchenko. They will also clearly recognize the demerits of electing more Russian backed mafia criminals. If they choose for the latter pity then for Europe and for Ukraine’s long suffering population.

Nevertheless by offering such inducements and being firm, including the movement of troops to the area, the West may help avert a bloody civil war.

[sources include; Mr. Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Carter, is a professor at Johns Hopkins and a trustee at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, WSJ
Dec 1 2004 A10, John O’Sullivan, Nation Post, 12-01-04 Op-Ed].