/ political / spontaneity / planned /
Katrina vanden Heuvel, [link via the Angry Arab] pretty much expresses my rather undecided reaction to events in Ukraine. Especially combined with this Ian Traynor report from the Guardian... there seems to be more than meets the eye playing out in Ukraine at the moment.
Yeah, I know that Ahmetov and the corrupt Kuchma regime is behind Yanukovich, but isn't (beautiful, powerful, ex(?)-oligarch) Yulia Tymoshenko behind Yushchenko? Wasn't the decapitator himself a "pro-western moderate" backed by the same Western powers that are now backing Yushchenko? Wasn't Yushchenko prime minister under Kuchma? Weren't the 2002 elections at least as flawed? Who gave a damn then?
I do not know. Honestly I can't tell you either way... I can only direct you to this BBC report from the 2002 elections and point out a few of the things mentioned:
...Myth 2: Former Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc is "an opposition alliance"
Mr Yushchenko has never described himself as "an opposition" politician. On the contrary, he once even called himself the "son of the president."
...Myth 5: Ukraine is divided between nationalist regions in the west, and pro-Russian regions in the east
Elections from 1991 to 1998 did indeed show up such a divide. But the 1999 presidential election was won by Mr Kuchma on pro-European ticket with strong support from western Ukraine, and a reasonable level of support from central and eastern Ukraine too.
This time, Mr Yushchenko's Our Ukraine alliance has gone some way towards repeating Mr Kuchma's 1999 achievement, with good results in the west, and some success in the central and north-eastern part of Ukraine.
Myth 6: The election was won (a) by Russia (b) by the pro-Western / pro-American Our Ukraine alliance
Both ideas are untrue.
Moscow-based commentators have noted that three parties endorsed by the Kremlin - the pro-presidential For United Ukraine, the Communists and Social-Democrats - picked up nearly 200 of the parliament's 450 seats.
But that fails to reflect the pro-EU orientation of the president's bloc, and the fact that the Communists have recently been toning down their pro-Russian rhetoric... Mr Yushchenko's pro-westernism is also easily exaggerated - his bloc's list of candidates includes many self-made businessmen with commercial interests in Russia.
Mr Yushchenko himself has never said anything bad about Russia, the Russian language or the ethnic Russian community in Ukraine.
His campaign advertisements widely featured him with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his current employment is as director of the Russian-Ukrainian Management Institute...
Of relevance perhaps is this 2002 public opinion survey of Ukraine, [pdf] including a wide variety of issues relevant to public political perceptions, priorities and preferences.
Finally if you're eager to draw obvious geopolitical lines, in this case, it's not that simple: Yushchenko has vowed to withdraw Ukrainian troops from Iraq, troops that were sent there by the decapitator himself (as a tribute perhaps to his former career as pro-western moderate?)