Controversy Over Kosovo Refugees In Germany

This is an updated version of an earlier post. I first retain the post as it was, then I have added some reflections in the light of comments received.

The Independent is running the following story:

Germany is deporting tens of thousands of Roma refugees to Kosovo despite clear threats to their safety and dire warnings from human rights groups that they will face “massive discrimination” on arrival.
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Most viewed entries

This is interesting. It brings back a lot of memories.

2004’s 20 most viewed entries:

1. Sturm, Drang and Laetitia Casta?s breasts – or – Why France bashing is a feminist issue by Scott Martens
2. Ukranian update by Nick
3. Al Quaida, a Learning Organisation? by Tobias Schwarz
4. Daniel Pipes on Tariq Ramadan: Why French literacy still matters by Scott Martens
5. Hannah Arendt: The Banality of Evil by Norman Geras
6. At least no one can accuse me of being knee-jerk pro-French by Scott Martens
7. Nudity. by Tobias Schwarz
8. The headscarf: Radical Islam?s greatest secret weapon by Scott Martens
9. Sprach und Sommertheater – German spelling reform and linguistic ignorance by Scott Martens
10. Ukraine roundup by Nick
11. Sex and the Singapore Issues by Edward
12. Interpreting Spain?s Election Results by Edward
13. German Is Getting Sexy Again. Again. by Tobias Schwarz
14. Announcing The First European Weblog Awards by David
15. France and the Headscarf: Now the real fighting starts by Scott Martens
16. Cyprus Referendum: A Win-Win Strategy? by Edward
17. Ukraine on your doorstep by Nick
18. A New European by Doug Merrill
19. Swiss Muslim scholar unwelcome in US by Scott Martens
20. Cyprus says ?Yes? and ?No? by Nick

2003’s 12 most viewed entries:

1. The World in 1856 by Matt
2. German Is Getting Sexy Again. Again. by Tobias Schwarz
3. Sturm, Drang and Laetitia Casta?s breasts – or – Why France bashing is a feminist issue by Scott Martens
4. Europe as an economic irrelevancy by Matt
5. Anna Lindh stabbed by David
6. Mark Steyn is on crack by Nick
7. France to be the fourth nation in space by Scott Martens
8. Anna Lindh 1957-2003 by David
9. Papists Under The Bed by Iain J Coleman
10. Privatisation and Market Imperfection by Edward
11. Immigration: Europe?s Difficult and Perplexing Road to Reform by Edward
12. Anti-semitism take three by David

Task Force.

While three hours of negotiation between the parties and the European mediators have – not unexpectedly – not produced an immediate resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, there are reports of some progress (Kyiv Post, tagesschau.de). Mr Yushenko and Yanukovych reportedly agreed to form a joint task force to peacefully end the constitutional crisis. The task force is supposed to start working immediately. Most importantly, given reports about military movements in Kyiv, both contenders once more denounced the use of violence.

Update: (Nick 2355 CET) Le Sabot has news of the results of the talks:

I haven’t been able to get full confirmation for these points, but from what I understand, Yushchenko has announced his support for new elections. This comes with three non-negotiable provisos:

1. A new Central Election Commission composed of half Opposition and half “Parties of Power” members.

2. A ban on absentee ballots.

3. Equal television coverage of both candidates during the intervening period.

The date I’ve heard is for two weeks hence. Word is that if these very basic requirements aren’t met, we go back to protesting. I’ll have fuller information tomorrow morning on this when I can talk to the right people.

The word is that the crowd in Independence Square weren’t initially impressed by the news, but after listening to Yuschenko they’re ‘guardedly supportive’. I’ll update with more when I get it.

Update: (Tobias, 0:33 CET): Via the email list archive of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies I find “[t]his page [that] was created to collect and publish a photographic record of these events from all over Ukraine and from abroad and to provide an opportunity for Ukrainians and other interested parties to witness history with their own eyes, rather than through the dry language of newspapers and mass media.

Interestingly, in addition to the orange wave, there are also pictures from Yanukovych rallies.

Update: (Tobias 1:00 CET) I tried to compile a cartogram about the regional vote/turnout distribution in Ukraine, like the ones we’ve seen with respect to the US election, using free cartogram software but I wasn’t able to find free digital map data that included the administrative units of Ukraine. So I will just link to the maps at SCSU scholars that gave me the idea. I don’t think there is a problem of credibility, but it should be noted that map illustrating the turnout differences has been supplied by the Yushenko camp.

Update: (Nick 0209 CET) It seems that me and Tobias tried to update at the same time, and my update lost out in the battle. However, mine included the SCSU link as well, so we avoided duplication.

Anyway, Reuters confirm that Yuschenko is calling for a revote and notes that Solana says that option is still on the table for the task force meeting tomorrow. In the context of this, it’s worth noting that we’re still waiting for the Supreme Court ruling (expected Monday) and a special session of Parliament tomorrow. As Jon Edelstein (who found an English-language version of Ukraine’s Constitution) notes, it’s the Parliament, not the Court, that has authority over elections, as we saw with the attempt at a no confidence vote in the CEC on Tuesday.

Ukraine digest

I’ve created a Kinja digest of blogs and websites that are covering the events in Ukraine. Should be very useful.

Update: You might want to use the “collapsed” version to get a sampling of all the blogs.

You’re welcome to suggest more sites.

Update: (Tobias, 18:11 CET) – Amidst rumors about audiotapes that allegedly prove the election fraud being released to journalists, conflicting news about regional authorities/assemblies in Eastern Ukraine demanding autonomy or secession, reports about more support for the Yushenko camp in the East (via Victor Katolyk) and first sightings of orange in Moscow (Maidan.net), there is no news about the roundtable talks between the parties and the European mediators, except a statement from incumbent President Kuchma urging protesters to go home now that negotiations will be held.

CNN has a recent summary of the events online.

Update (Tobias 18:45, CET) . The Kyiv Post has two Ukrainian political analysts assessing the situaion. Denis Trifonov, a defense consultant wih the Kyiv-based International Centre for Policy Studies blames Putin’s paleo-conservative, cold-war-minded advisors for the Russian President’s serious error of judgment –

“President Vladimir Putin should have seen it coming, but he evidently did not … The long-term damage to Ukraine’s relations with Russia has been done … and few in Moscow have grasped just how much real influence Russia has lost in Kyiv as a result of her clumsy and irrational policy.”

Interestingly, according to the article, after claiming that only fraudulent exit polls funded by the West led to the outbreak of protest, Ukrainian pro-government analyst Mykhailo Pohrebinsky, who advises, among others, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, said that it is now

“‘very likely’ that the election results will be reversed and that Yushchenko will become president thanks to an ‘illegal revolution.'”

Update: (Tobias, 19:29 CET) I don’t know what in the Russian attitude makes them think so (the article is not really clear in this respect), but The Economist now believes Putin is already hedging his bets.

Given the high stakes, the international pressure on Ukraine’s leaders has been strong. As well as the pressure from America and the EU, a key determining factor will be the attitude of Mr Putin. He would risk serious difficulties in his relations with both Europe and America if he were to back Mr Yanukovich in repressing the protests. Towards the climax of the Georgian revolution last year, Mr Putin seemed to lose patience with Mr Shevardnadze, perhaps contributing to his downfall. Does his wavering response to the Ukrainian conflict mean he is already hedging his bets?

Update: (Tobias, 21:20 CET) So that’s what it’s all about 😉 – according to the (conspiracy) theory of Sergei Markov, a Russian political scientist with alleged close ties to the Kremlin, published by MosNews.com (via chrenkoff), former President Carter’s Polish born National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (the guy who lured the Russians into Afghanistan) is behind Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, and he wants to weaken Europe as well Russia, and drive a wedge between Putin and Bush –

[T]he original plan is for Poland to impose its patronage over Ukraine. Polish politicians are seeking more influence within the European Union, currently dominated by France and Germany, and to achieve this, they want to become patrons of the whole of Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian analyst said.

Markov said the United States would benefit from a Yushchenko victory as it would weaken Germany and France on the world arena and also split Ukraine and Russia. He also added that ?the majority of the representatives of the Polish diaspora in the United States hate George Bush and want to cause a quarrel between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin?.

Glad we know that now.

Ukraine roundup

I’ve just got time for a quick roundup of the latest developments in Ukraine.

First, and most importantly, the Supreme Court has suspended publication of the election result while it considers the case brought to it by Yuschenko. This is probably more routine than a sign of any clear intent on the part of the Court, but it does indicate that they’re taking the complaint seriously and are not dismissing it out of hand, as happened with a case Yuschenko brought earlier in the week, I believe.

Also, according to The Periscope, Kazakhstan, China, and Armenia have recognized Yanukovych – probably unaware of the Supreme Court decision to not decide today.

Second, the EU/Russia summit took place today, though there doesn’t seem to be anything concrete coming out of that yet. The official report from the summit is here (pdf file) and it’s more interesting in what it doesn’t say about Ukraine. Note that almost every other issue mentions refers to the EU and Russia jointly agreeing whereas Ukraine was merely the subject of an ‘exchange of views’. I think we have to wait for a statement from Solana (or possibly Barroso or Balkenende) to find out more. On the same note, Solana’s address to the Foreign Relations Committee yesterday can be foung here (also a pdf)

The situation in Ukraine itself appears to be developing into a standoff – Victor and friends keep posting at The Periscope and it seems to be following the same pattern as the last couple of days – rumours of movements of troops and miners, coupled with announcements of official support for Yuschenko from various locations. The latest news is that the Deputy Economy Minister has resigned and said he is ‘with the people’ and rumours are that Yanukovich is trying to make sure he has the loyalty of the rest of the Cabinet, particularly energy ministers. Maidan continues to post reports of military commanders stating they are with Yuschenko.

The protest in Independence Square continues, of course, while strikes are taking place across the country in support of Yuschenko.

There are also reports that Lech Walesa has tried to negotiate, but hasn’t achieved anything. He’s supposed to be holding a press conference around now, but there are no reports yet.

Via Harry, PORA now have an online petition up which they’re asking people to sign.

And quickly around the blogs – something new from Neeka, Le Sabot has photos and background.

Update: (Tobias 18:11 CET) One more night to come up with a solution. In other good news, after having been approached by numerous government officials as well as cnocerned citizens, lieutenant-general Mykhaylo Kutsyn, officer in chief of the Western Operational Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stated that ?[his] actions are directed towards unquestioning fulfillment of the law and Constitution of Ukraine and [he] officially declare[d] that divisions of the Western Operational Command will not fight their own people.?

That is certainly good news. Although I am not at all familiar with the Ukrainian military organization – I assume, given the East-West cleavage, it would be important to get a similar stament from the other Operational Commanders. (via Maidan.net)

Update: (Tobias, 19:24 CET) Jamie of bloodandtreasure has a useful link to a Ukrainian military guide at globalsecurity.org.
Apparently, Ukraine has three regional military commands, Western, Northern, and Southern (see this map). Kyev is situated in the Northern military command.

Update: (Tobias, 21:17 CET) The showdown may have begun. Victor Katolyk reports that, following a “declaration of truth” by several hundred Ukrainian television employees, several tv stations have begun broadcasting “real” news. While several hundred Policemen appear to have pledged allegiance to the people, and former Deputy Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko apparently declared the beginning of a seige of Presidential Administration, Cabinet of Ministers, and the Parliament, there are also reports of pressure on Supreme Courst judges and their families to rule in favor of Mr Yanukovich.

While Russian President Putin, speaking at the EU-Russian summit in The Hague, remained firm that the victory of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was “absolutely clear”, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende finally clearly rejected the results as forged: “The election did not meet the international standards. Therefore the EU is not able to accept the result.” Maidan.net reports that the European Parliament will hold an emergency session devoted entirely to the situation in Ukraine next week.

It could become a serious problem that President Putin has gone further than even the Ukrainian administration in “ruling out” any kind of negotiation and accusing the West of stirring violence in Kyev. Moreover, for the moment, Russia seems not concerned about developing an exit strategy, but is fueling the flames – according to EUbusiness.com, “the president of the foreign affairs committee of the State Duma lower house of parliament, Konstantin Kossachev, also made clear on Thursday it was time for Russia to defend its territory, after a period of letting the West ‘back such or such a leader of such or such a country of the post-Soviet space, as long as they were pro-Western and therefore anti-Russian'”.

Such an official statement about Ukraine being Russian property will likely be counterproductive should it become widely known in Ukraine.

Update: (Tobias, 22:33 CET) The FT wonders if Ukrainian Oligarchs, who have supported Yanukovich and clearly stood to gain from his victory, are now beginning to think about hedging their bets.

Most remain wedded to Mr Yanukovich, especially the barons of his political heartlands in the industrialised Donetsk region. But a few are beginning to wonder whether Mr Yanukovich still offers the best protection for their interests.

Many are also coming under pressure from employees who are openly supporting Mr Yushchenko – putting up posters in factories and workplaces and taking time off for demonstrations.

Update: (Nick 0005 CET) The Times has a map showing the breakdown of the votes in the elections