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.

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The Independent reports a ‘government source’ in Kiev telling their reporter that plans are afoot to try and connect the opposition forces with a terrorist attack:

Ukraine’s embattled government is ready to stage faked terrorist attacks to destabilise the country and discredit the opposition ahead of a rerun of the presidential vote, a senior government source has told The Independent.

The official, who works for the government of the Moscow-backed candidate and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, said: “One of the plans is to blow up a pipeline and blame it on opposition supporters. Ukraine is the key transit country for Russian gas supplies to the West.”

Mr Yanukovych’s backers fear the prospect of their candidate losing to Viktor Yushchenko and are ready to plunge the country into economic chaos, the source revealed. “They are planning to use criminals – plain bandits – that they have a hold over.” The source said that a senior member of the government had been tasked with overseeing terrorist acts.

There’s also talk of potential financial chaos in Ukraine because of the protests:

Supporters of Mr Yanukovych and the current President Leonid Kuchma will also seek to play on fears that inflation will wipe out people’s savings as it did after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

There has already been a run on banks and black market money changers are returning to the streets with far higher dollar and euro exchange rates.

The government has already suggested that it will not be able to pay pensions and government salaries in December, although the opposition claims there are adequate reserves to pay everything.

Is this the resolution?

Ten days on, and we may be close to a resolution of the crisis in the Ukraine. There’s definitely been some agreement between Kuchma, Yuschenko, Yanukovich and the mediators (Solana, Adamkus, Kubis and Kwasniewski) but, as ever, the devil is in the details. The basic points seem to be that there will be a revote, there will be constitutional reforms before the vote occurs, protestors will stop blockading government buildings and an all-party working group will implement changes based on the rulings of the Supreme Court.

The questions that remain to be answered though, are:

  • What form will the revote take? The full election, or just the second round? Will new candidates be allowed to stand, and will existing ones be barred from standing? Will more observers be allowed in for the elections, and will Yuschenko’s other requirements, such as limiting absentee ballots, be accepted?
  • What form will the constiutional reforms take? The general opinion seems to be that the Prime Minister and Cabinet will gain powers from the Presidency, but is this to weaken a potential Yuschenko Presidency? And will the reforms address the regional issues?
  • Where do the protestors go now? Blockades are over, but will some remain on the streets to keep the pressure on?
  • Finally, what will the Supreme Court actually rule and when? It seems the election process can’t really begin until its deliberations are completed?
  • As I said, reaction seems to be mixed amongst both the media and the bloggers as to whether this is the end of this stage of the crisis, or whether it still continues. See the Kyiv Post, PA/Scotsman, Le Sabot, Foreign Notes, Notes from Kiev and SCSU Scholars for more.

    In related news, The Argus notes that while the events in Ukraine may have inspired protestors in Tajikstan Uzbekistan, while attention’s been focused elsewhere, Russia is demanding Abkhazia reholds its recent election.

    Finally, I’ve received a report from Tarik Amar, who reported from Ukraine on John Quiggin’s blog last week. He’s been talking to the people in the tent city and you can read the full thing below the fold.
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    Elections Or Active Actions.

    Tanya at The Periscope is providing a translation of a Ukrayinska Pravda article explaining that both parties appear to sense Mr Yukshenko’s momentum and accordingly presented antithetic proposals at yesterday’s negotiations (of which Euronews offers some realvideo footage)

    Mr Yanukovych allegedly offered an investigation into the fraud alligations, which, according to a statement by Mr Yushchenko, would last “till the end of our days!” In contrast, the Yushenko camp is unlikely to accept any task force proposal short of a well-monitored full scale re-election on December 12.

    Further conditions outlined by Mr Yushenko allegedly included a law prohibiting the use of additional voting coupons (which allowed people to vote numerous times in the last run-off and were allegedly used heavily by the Yanukovych campaign), the dismissal of the current Central Election Committee and formation of a new one based on equal representation, as well as equal access of the candidates to the mass media, and a refusal to use administrative resources.

    Mr Yushenko knows that exhaustion and the weather are playing against him and added that if a solution is not found in one, two days, and “[i]f Yanukovych aims to wear out the strength and draw out the time, we come to the active actions straight away”.

    Nothing in the article specifies what he referred to by “active actions” – or what the original term was – and both men have reiterated their committment to a non-violent solution. Yet this statement can hardly not be interpreted as a thinly veiled threat to at least continue to establish parallel governmental structures.

    A Crucial Night in Kiev

    The Ukrainian election is turning into a huge story, as careful observers had suspected. At stake is whether Ukraine — as big as France, with a population of 48m — will make a decisive political turn toward Euro-Atlantic structures, or whether it will go down the CIS road of defective democracies and subordination to Russia.

    (Not blogging it earlier was a blunder, but I’ve had my eye on it, working with a project to present analyses at a Berlin conference on December 6; the papers are obviously on hold, awaiting events.)

    That Yanukovych is attempting to steal the election is clear. Two regions in eastern Ukraine are reporting voter turnouts of 98 percent. These Stalinesque numbers are simply not credible, and reports indicate that the difference in just these two regions would be enough to turn the election. Every independent observation group has said there were significant flaws in the election. I think they’re waiting a little to see which way the wind is blowing before coming out with stronger statements.

    The central election commission has called the election for Yanukovych, the prime minister and Russian president Putin’s clear favorite.

    At present, 100,000 people are in Kiev’s main square at a rally for Yushchenko, the opposition leader who stands for a clear European vocation for the country. The atmosphere is peaceful, happy, electric. One of our authors reports consistent rumors that Yushchenko is negotiating with the security forces to help him or remain neutral.

    (BBC and CNN have finally made this the lead story on their Europe pages.)

    The city councils in Kiev, Lviv and three other cities in western Ukraine have refused to recognize Yanukovych as president. Putin sent his congratulations to Yanukovych before the official results were announce.

    A special session of Parliament has been called, and a prominent ally of Yushchenko has called for a general strike.

    In the footage I’ve seen from the main square in Kiev, the new Georgian flags were prominently being waved, suggesting that a pre-revolutionary situation may be well underway.

    More as this develops.