Marching in Blue & White?

Significantly trailing in the polls for the repeated Presidential election on December 26, the Ukrainian “establishment candidate” Victor Yanukovych, declared today that reports about his urging the use of violence are wrong. According to the BBC

Mr Yanukovych says he merely urged Mr Kuchma to restore order according to the constitution. ‘This information is false. There was no talk of bringing in troops,’ Mr Yanukovych said, according to the Interfax news agency. ‘It was about ensuring order properly and observing the Ukrainian constitution,’ he said.

He also explained that he is serious about protecting the constitution even after his likely electoral defeat, as Spiegel Online(in German) reports. His campaign is said to have already enrolled 35,000 volenteers from Eastern Ukraine for a march on Kyiv ” to protect their rights”. Given the authoritarian administrational practices the definition of “voluntary” is certainly debatable in this context. However, as there are still a couple of thousand orange-clad protesters blocking main streets in Kyiv – and renewed reports about preparations for electoral fraud in Eastern Ukraine – the constitutional crisis might not be over after Christmas.

While the Yushenko camp has – so far -largely refrained from campaigning on the poisoning alligations now – once again – confirmed by the Austrian doctors in charge, and is instead trying to convert undecided voters in the east, Mr Yanukovich is once again denouncing Mr Yushenko as a puppet run by US President Bush. Interestingly, and possibly related to the reinstated Parliamentary inquiry regarding the poisoning, Spiegel Online reports that the deputy Wassiliy Gorbal now demands an inquiry about US funding for the Ukrainian opposition. The US and other Western governments and NGOs have repeatedly denied direct funding of the opposition’s electoral campaign. Writing about campaign funding, Le Sabot claimed two days ago that

“Russia spent 6 times more money during the Ukrainian presidential campaign than the United States. Russia’s money went rather directly to one candidate. America’s was mostly spent on ensuring free and open elections through NGOs. Remember this the next time some chucklehead starts spouting tin-foil hat theories about how America stole the elections here.”

Interestingly, the ancien régime seems to disagree about the appropriate strategy to deal with their hunch of – political and legal – guillotines after December 26, and is accordingly dissolving, as indicated by Presidential Head of Administration Medvedchuk’s resignation. The FT article quoted below mentioned him, along with Mr Yanukovich, to have proposed the use of violence against protesters in Kyiv.

3 thoughts on “Marching in Blue & White?

  1. The speach by Victor Yanukovich in Mykolayiv, despite his assertions to the contrary, was incendiary. He claimed that 35,000 would arrive in Kyiv from Sevastopol alone to prevent a coup. The targeting of ‘US funded NGOs’ is not new – this administration has harrassed any NGO dealing with civil society and media for years. Having directed one of the major funders of NGOs in Ukraine I can attest that people like Yanukovich and Medvedchuk (who now claims he did not resign) will not go down without a fight. Neither will Putin. If they come to Kyiv, there will be violence.

    The government intends to deploy 170,000 security police – combining local police with the internal security forces (who support Kuchma). The SBU and certain military units support Yushchenko. If Yushchenko wins, and wins by at least 55%, then the old guard will be on the run for once. Interestingly, Yanukovich has spent over $1 million in the United States to promote his image.

    The developing scenario has all the earmarks of something exceedingly unpleasant.

  2. Hi Tobias.

    This was a report in Ukrayinska Pravda and refers to payments prior to the first round. UP listed the contracts that were signed pursuant to materials provided by the US Dept. of Justice. The contracts were signed with the following firms:

    Venable, LLP
    Potomac Communications Strategies Inc.
    Creative Response Concepts
    DBC Public Relations Expers
    Jefferson Waterman International

    The contracts were signed by Alek Kiselev who has been in the US since 1992 and is a native of Odessa. He is Yanukovych’s US strategy counselor.

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