Open Ukraine thread
The latest developments in the country: 1) The Associated Press reports that the Ukrainian parliament has declared the last election invalid. This has no binding authority without Kuchma’s signature, but it can’t hurt Yushchenko’s position; 2) After multiparty talks yesterday, one of the options on the table is holding a re-vote, according to David Holley ...
The latest developments in the country:
The latest developments in the country:
1) The Associated Press reports that the Ukrainian parliament has declared the last election invalid. This has no binding authority without Kuchma’s signature, but it can’t hurt Yushchenko’s position; 2) After multiparty talks yesterday, one of the options on the table is holding a re-vote, according to David Holley of the Los Angeles Times. 3) The Kyiv Post reports that the country’s oligarchs are keeping a low profile. 4) Interfax reports that the eastern regions of the country (which are Yanukovich’s base) are threatening to hold referendums on autonomy should Yushchenko come to power. Meanwhile, the BBC’s Lisa Kushch reports on the mood in Donetsk (my old stomping grounds). They’re not happy with what’s going on in Kiev. 5) The BBC’s Sebastian Usher reports that the state-run media outlets, “have joined the opposition, saying they have had enough of ‘telling the government’s lies.'” (link via Glenn Reynolds) 6) The New York Times has the following blind quote:
A senior Western diplomat in Kiev, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivities, said it appeared questionable whether Mr. Kuchma could seize control of the situation with a crackdown on the mass demonstrations, even if he wanted to. Demonstrators blocked access to much of Kiev for a sixth day on Saturday and have essentially paralyzed the government. Some law enforcement officers have crossed the lines and sided with Mr. Yushchenko’s supporters. “The ship of state is leaking power like a sieve,” the diplomat said.
Speculate on what you think will happen here. What keeps gnawing at me is that whatever the outcome, one region of the country is going to be supremely pissed off. Whether this leads to an attempt at secession — and how the Russians would react to this — are the questions on my mind. UPDATE: Much obliged to Andrew for the link (and for his startling link to before/after shots of Yushchenko and the mysterious illness that plagued him this summer). For more Ukraine posts, click here and here. And let me add one admission of fallibility — I’m genuinely surprised that Yushchenko and his supporters have made as much headway as they have to date. ANOTHER UPDATE: On the one hand, this Interfax report suggests at least some degree of comity among the parties contending for power in Ukraine. On the other hand, Roman Olearchyk’s analysis in the Kyiv Post suggests that elites in the eastern parts of the country would take steps beyond autonomy to protect their interests:
The business tycoons in eastern Ukraine that supported Yanukovych appear to be taking extreme measures to protect their interests, which include lucrative assets in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv and Luhansk. Government officials and legislators in these oblasts have in the past two days demanded the formation of an autonomous eastern-southern Ukrainian republic and are threatening to split their oblasts away from Ukraine altogether. Kharkiv governor Yevhen Kushnyarov on Nov. 26 declared that his oblast would rule itself and control the military on its territory before it takes orders from what it calls extreme right-wing factions allied with Yushchenko. Parliamentarians in the eastern oblasts Donetsk and Lugansk and in the southern part of the Crimean peninsula called for the creation of an eastern autonomous Ukrainian republic… They began blacking out Ukrainian television channels that are reporting objectively about the current situation in Ukraine, leaving only propaganda outlets on the air. Officials from these regions also pledged to stop sending budget revenues from their industrial regions to the capital. Granting autonomy to these regions would provide guarantees to the business elite in these regions, such as Donetsk tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, who fear that Yushchenko’s inner circle would attempt to gain control over their multi-billion dollar business empires should they come to power.
Olearchyk goes on to dismiss these moves because they lack popular support. If these protests in Dniepropetrovk are any indication, Olearchyk may be right — it’s a bad, bad sign for Yanukovych if he doesn’t have a lot of support in Kuchma’s old stomping grounds (however, Steven Lee Myers reports in the New York Times that, “in eastern Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of supporters of Prime Minister Yanukovich took to the streets”). However, I fear he underestimates the trouble the elites in these regions can create — particularly if they want to generate a pretext for Russian intervention. Finally, pro-Yushchenko blogs worth checking out for the situation on the ground include Tulipgirl, Le Sabot Post-Moderne, and Orange Ukraine. I’m not aware of any pro-Yanukovich blogs in English, but Jonathan Steele’s essay in the Guardian gives you a sense of what they would say if they existed. Oh, and check out SCSUScholars — one of them has in-country experience.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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