Dressed For Success!

UPDATE: (18:02 CET) I just removed the question mark behind the headline! Yushenko’s lawyers were dressed for success: According breaking agency reports, Ukraine’s Supreme Court, after five days of hearing, just ruled that the disputed presidential election officially won by Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich is invalid. Moreover, the court has not just backed Mr Yushchenko’s claims of systematic fraud. According to Reuters, the court’s Chairman Anatoly Yarema, said a “repeat vote” was necessary and should take place on Dec. 26. He apparently also suggested it would be a run-off vote only. Outgoing President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yanukovich had proposed a complete repeat of the election in a couple of months.

[Original post starts here] I suppose the appearances of lawyers should not influence the outcome of any legal matter, yet according to Matthias Braun’s “Moskauerzeit“, the Russian newspaper Komersant (in Russian) noted that Mr Yushenko’s lawyers at the Supreme Court hearing are apparently not simply brighter than those representing Mr Yanukovich, but also clearly better dressed. Let’s hope this fashion statement won’t be turned into another round of speculations about European and American hard-money meddling in Ukraine.

While the Supreme Court retired to deliberate about the verdict, the Ukrainian Parliament declared it would be in session all weekend, although earlier rumors about the introduction of price controls turned out to have been just that: rumors.

The situation is still incredibly tense. Just as an example – Maidan reports that there are now Water-Jets being filled with water. Their use would clearly have devastating consequences, not simply because of the Ukrainian climate. The opposition is either angry or in disbelief about Kuchma’s trip to Moscow, and Le Sabot provides some new evidence of the danger of ethnic cleavages being exploited in a political conflict –

I was reminded last night just how insidious the Yanukovych propaganda machine really is. My good friend Roma is from Russia but lives in Kiev. He only listens to the establishment channels for news, because he doesn’t like the Opposition.

He’s a die-hard Yanukovych man. Why? “Because Yushchenko is like Hitler — he wants to kill all the Russians.” He can’t tell you why he thinks Yushchenko wants to do that, but he’s been convinced.

If a young, well educated Kievite can be this blinded to reality, I can only imagine what Donetsk must be like.

It should be noted at this point, however, that Yushenko’s national movement apparently has not just been supported by seemingly altruistic Western pro-democracy movements, but has significant ties to the Ukrainian nationalist right, including the – intended, or unintended – support from the far-right, which is flatly called “fashist” by some commentators. Clearly, for a plethora of reasons, this element of his coalition building is not given the appropriate attention at the moment.

On the day on which the Russian Duma decided to further weaken Russian checks and balances (Spiegel Online, in German) – approving President Putin’s requests about the appointment of regional governors as well as raising the minimum membership of a “political party” to 50,000 (up from 10,000) with at least 500 (up from 100) members in at least 45 of the 89 Russian Regions – Veronica Khokhlova translates an article from Natalia Gervorkyan, a Russian journalist, about the “orange threat” for Russia, which makes the point I made about the “orange solution” a couple of posts down – albeit in a far more emotional manner. Beyond private interests, Russia has no reason to be too worried about losing influence in Kyiev: the countries are structurally too intertwined in too many ways. But authoritarian model of governance being practiced in Russia today has all reason to be worried about the organizational change being implemented in Kyiv right now.

“[Ukrainians have] swept away the vertical supports and are bellowing so loudly it might wake our cattle, peacefully asleep for now. Orange threat! It’s crucial to act fast. First, to amend the anti-terrorism law, appropriately or not, with a ban on “actions that may affect the government’s ability to make decisions aimed at satisfying social and political demands and interests” of the protesters. So that it didn’t occur to them, God forbid, to come out into the streets and rally, as in Kiev, and to exert psychological pressure and demand their social and political rights.

What soldiers have in common with lawyers

Hi folks. I’ve been off-line a bit fighting with my landlord and trying to get my new apartment straightened out. I’ve moved as of the first of December. My new Internet connection is up and running, but my workstation hasn’t been able to talk to my monitor since the move. I have to bring it in to work to get it fixed, and until then, I have limited ‘Net access. There’s a post coming one of these days on the joys of IKEA when you’re an expat.

A lot’s been going on while I’ve been offline. Chirac and Raffarin have started acting like idiots over how kids dress at school. The EU constitution looks like a casualty of rapid expansion. Jean Chrétien calls it quits – the last of the Pearson-era Liberals still in the Liberal party – and turns the reins of power over to borderline conservative Liberal Paul Martin. And, Saddam Hussein is now in American hands, which will make excuses for failing to find WMD or links to Al Qaeda just that much thinner.

Speaking of Iraq, I wanted to draw your attention to yesterday’s New York Review of Books. Especially to a piece entitled Delusions in Baghdad. If Marshall McLuhan were alive today, he could stand fully vindicated before his critics.

Very young men in tan camouflage fatigues, armed, red-faced, flustered; facing them, the men and women of the world press, Baghdad division, assembled in their hundreds in less than a quarter of an hour […] as Lieutenant Colonel George Krivo put it bitterly, to “make the story. Here, media is the total message: I now have an understanding of McLuhan you wouldn’t believe. Kill twenty people here? In front of that lens it’s killing twenty thousand.”

When the US Army starts appreciating someone like McLuhan, you know the world has changed.
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