Certified Democrats.

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.

2 thoughts on “Certified Democrats.

  1. It’s somewhat of a mystery why Putin threw all his weight behind Yanukovych. Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and other opposition leaders aren’t regarded as hostile to the Kremlin in liberal Russian press, which has been following their checkered careers for many years now. On the other hand, the Donetsk clan isn’t exactly an ally of Russia. The Donetsk clan takes care of the Donetsk clan. Novaya Gazeta reported that in the heat of this election campaign, a top bidder from Russia was prevented from taking part in an auction for Krivorozhstal (“a jewel of Ukrainian industry”), by virtue of being removed from a train under murky circumstances. The auction was won by a Donetsk oligarch who offered half the price.

    There was conjecture that Putin advisors convinced him that Yushchenko would be hearing pillow talk based on memos from Dick Cheney (which in fact isn’t entirely implausible, if Guardian is to be believed.) Going further out on a limb one might also mention that, according to a leaked document posted on Ukrayinska Pravda’s site, Moscow archives hold the only surviving copy of Yanukovych’s criminal records, whose exact nature remains a mystery. (Guardian’s Tymoshenko profile cites a claim that the US government is sitting on some sensitive material about her career.)

    Who knows? Perhaps Putin is just getting carried away playing geopolitics. In any case, in the Ukraine crisis he’s been looking like a complete bungler. One of his trusted methods for managing public opinion is stoking defensive jingoism, both through editorial tutelage of state TV Channel 1 and official talk. I would tend to regard the latest statements as bark directed at the same audience. I can’t see another point, frankly.

  2. A lot of early writings, theorizing what the conditions and symptoms of democracy would be, remain in want of a real life example or experiment.

    Certainly arbitrary justice is the norm today; certainly equlity before the courts, criminally and civilly, is nearly absent (the courts do not listen much to those who have not paid their SHARE of the legal tab); certainly freedom is excessively granted in some instances, unbelievably absent in others ….

    The early writers also had an almost entirely illiterate and uneducated population to think of (not that the average person today has much of a clue of what the Law IS today – heck, most lawyers today no little of the law- this too, ‘Knowledge of the Law’, was an early tenet of democracy, that the law should be clear to all); and “the right to legal counsel” took prominence in national constitutions, but was this a tricky insertion by astute advocates? …

    most engineers, managers and regular people can well represent themselves before a magistrate interested in the truth … the key is to find one more interested in truth, than legal prcedure and conformity (legal representation)!________________________________________________

    Well, one could go on and on … so, in the case of the Ukrainians, let them have their certificate, and let Yuschenko provide his people their Roman Circus, or American pop-culture experience, but hey, what do our populations know about democracy?

    The richer individuals become, the more they are committed to the system that provides their privileges (ask any unionists, including rich athletic unionists), and the less interested they are in democracy or reduction of their privilege …..

    and still today, the democratic nations’ leaders fiddle with this conundrum … and it takes very little legalistic talent, very little political abuse, very little money, very little fear mongering…

    To shove a little human leader, a little democrat (committed to a system that gives privilege via a symbolic position of power, thereby gaining the love of a spouse or partner that is a little prettier than the leader experienced before achieving the symbolic position, and thereby gaining a little more money than once held) …

    To the unending defense of what is in existence, what is powerful, what rules … and away from what is fair, and democratic and FUNDAMENTALLY JUST …

    By the way, FUNDAMENTAL JUSTICE is the first constitutional right, it supercedes the rest of them ……..

    it seldom if ever is uttered in a court room, and is certainly not a path to legal success.

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