Many early proponents of democracy believed that public education was of utmost importance for the people to be able to exercise democracy. I am not sure whether they thought of graduation ceremonies of the kind Viktor Yushchenko is planning to hold in Kyiv today – yet it seems that everyone wearing orange will receive a certificate of democracy – “We want everybody who is related to the Orange revolution to have one. We will give this certificate to everyone tomorrow!” said Yushchenko according to Maidan.
But even for graduate democrats, the appointment of a new central election committee will likely become difficult. And there are already early reports about plans concerning tactical tampering with the electoral rules – reports that Mr Yanukovich might decide to drop out of the race less than ten days before the run-off, in which case Mr Yushchenko would have to receive more than 50 per cent of the vote to become President.
It will also be interesting to see how Moscow is going to spin the court’s decision. Sergei Markov, one of the Kremlin spin doctors suggests the direction – according to today’s FT, he elaborated that the events in Kyiv showed that “Ukraine is not a sovereign country.” Commenting on the Supreme Court’s ruling, President Putin allegedly managed to upset the White House, stating that policies “based on barrack-room principles of a unipolar world would appear to be extremely dangerous,” and that “[e]ven if dictatorship is packaged in pseudo-democratic phraseology, it will not be able to solve systemic problems . . . It may even make them worse.”
I don’t think dictatorship is an appropriate term, but replace it with “authoritarian presidency”, and Mr Putin has painted an impressive self-portrait. Interestingly though, the US administration felt the need to react, if only privately, to such criticism. Maybe the cap does fit a little?
There are still many things that could go wrong. Above all, we will have to wait for a reaction of the Yanukovich supporters in Eastern Ukraine. But today’s Guardian leader correctly states that it was “The Right Verdict.” The article also lauds the EU’s newfound maturity in foreign policy matters, and believes, as I wrote two days ago, that the Orange Revolution offers a number of opportunities for everyone.
Thus, after two weeks of constant tension, let us congratulate the revolutionaries in Ukraine. Let us hope their heating works when they get home. And let us all take a deep breath and enjoy the fact that the latest breaking news story in the Kyiv Post deals with the auction of Russian Czars’ ancient Crimean wines in London.