Ukraine: Day 5

Tobias’post below has already mentioned the letter on Tulipgirl and, like him, it reminded me of a quote, this time from Alan Moore’s graphic novel V For Vendetta:

‘It does not do to rely too much on silent majorities, Evey, for silence is a fragile thing…one loud noise, and it’s gone… Noise is relative to the silence preceding it – the more absolute the hush, the more shocking the thunderclap. Our masters have not heard the people’s voice for generations…and it is much much louder than they care to remember.’

Also via Tulipgirl, this blog is in Ukrainian, but has a lot of good pictures of what’s going on in Kiev. Le Sabot has more photos and more background analysis. Meanwhile Neeka has written a piece for the NYT (as well as being quoted in The Guardian and has an ineresting story about a protest by a TV sign language interpreter. Foreign Notes discusses the proposed swearing-in of Yanukovich as President today.

News keeps coming in from Maidan, but there have been no posts from Victor Katolyk or his friends this morning. There have been reports of Brama being offline, but it seems to be operating fine just now.

Javier Solana is now on his way to Kiev, along with President Kwasniewski of Poland, to try and mediate a solution between the two sides (the official press statement is here – pdf). It appears that early reports of Walesa’s visit yesterday were wrong and he is cautiously optimistic’ about progress being made. Indeed, he may have set the groundwork for Solana and Kwasniewksi’s visits. The Kyiv Post also reports that Lithuanian President Adamkus will also be visiting. The other important development inside Ukraine is that management imposed reporting restrictions are being lifted on many TV stations also in the Kyiv Post which refers tto the ‘regime’s grip over TV media crumbling’.

Finally, some other interesting sites or comments: Political Ukraine has background, Randy McDonald has some thoughts on Ukrainian national identity along with links to academic papers on the subject, The Russian Dilettante has several thoughts on the issue as does Siberian Light.

The live webcam feed from Independence Square is still available. And finally, back in May we had several features here about the Eurovision Song Contest (which was won by Ukraine) and now thi year’s winner Ruslana has declared she is on hunger strike in support of Yuschenko.

Update: Tulipgirl has website buttons for democracy in Ukraine. There are more at Amelia Hunt’s website. Examples below:

13 thoughts on “Ukraine: Day 5

  1. It’s possibly significant that the report quoting Walesa as saying he is “cautiously optimistic” originated with the state-controlled Russian Interfax news agency. Reports from Polish sources suggest a different version of Walesa’s reactions after his meeting with Yanukovych yesterday.

  2. In the Guardian today, Ian Traynor and Jonathan Steele argue that the opposition has been funded and guided by US government and private interests, who are applying a proven campaign strategy previously used in Serbia and Georgia.

    Intervening in foreign elections, under the guise of an impartial interest in helping civil society, has become the run-up to the postmodern coup d’etat, the CIA-sponsored third world uprising of cold war days adapted to post-Soviet conditions. Instruments of democracy are used selectively to topple unpopular dictators, once a successor candidate or regime has been groomed.

    There is also a profile of “millionaire revolutionary” Yulia Tymoshenko.

  3. “. . .the opposition has been funded and guided by US government. . .”

    Well, if they haven’t, maybe they should have. . .

    But honestly, people, the strong, emotional, country-wide outpouring of support and energy among the Ukrainians is not something that cam simply be “bought” or imported from the US.

  4. Ah, it was about time for this one to crop up. Originates with the ex-Living Marxism boys who thought Milosevic was just the thing. The Grauniad tends to indulge Neil Clark, the main pusher of this view, excessively in my view.

  5. The Traynor article is a mix of good insights and twaddle. He’s right that OTPOR played an important role; wrong to think that it was crucial. (OTPOR never had much influence outside of Belgrade and a few other cities.)

    He’s also right that OTPOR was funded by USAID. Wrong to think that made them a puppet. OTPOR’s brilliant branding was its own work, and kudos to those Serbian students for it. (The great OTPOR symbol — a graffiti-stencil of a white hand — was the work of a kid who wanted to be a fantasy artist. It was based on the “white hand” symbol of Tolkein’s evil wizard Saruman.)

    He’s right to note that OTPOR’s model has been vastly influential. Yet he seems to think this is purely because the US has been pushing it. Georgians and Ukrainians aren’t bright enough to pick up clever ideas on their own? Hm.

    In brief, the whole article suffers from the notion that the US is masterminding all these movements. OSCE is an American tool? The NDI and the IRI — the foreign-aid and international policy-teaching arms of the US Republican and Democratic Parties, respectively — are working hand in hand? George Soros is in cahoots with George Bush’s State Department?

    The other article is mostly tripe. Yeah, Yushchenko’s no angel. It’s not good vs. evil; it’s so-so vs. really bad. That’s still not a hard distinction to make.

    But Steele insists that they’re equivalent:

    “Nor is there much evidence to imagine that, were he the incumbent president facing a severe challenge, he would not have tried to falsify the poll.”

    (Yes, I had to read it twice too. You can almost smell the indignation. Damn the grammar, they’re trying to steal Ukraine!)

    And then there’s this:

    “Ukraine has been turned into a geostrategic matter not by Moscow but by the US, which refuses to abandon its cold war policy of encircling Russia… The EU should have none of this.”

    Yeah, I wonder why the other EU countries aren’t seeing the US hand at work. Joschka Fischer, have you sold out? You have, haven’t you?!

    “Many Ukrainians certainly want a more democratic system. Putin is not inherently against this, however authoritarian he is in his own country.”

    Oh, I’ll just stop.

    But, really, it is quite remarkable how the Guardian seems to go completely mad once it gets south or east of about Vienna or so. I’ve commented on this before. They can give thoughtful, nuanced analysis of what’s going on in Brussels or Paris or Berlin… and then they’ll print some piece of crap about Serbia or Romania or Turkey, badly written, poorly reasoned, and filled with factual errors and glaring leaps to pre-assumed conclusions.

    It’s weird.

    Doug M.

  6. Neil Clark. Don’t get me started on Neil Clark.

    Yeah, the Living Marxism crowd. Oddly enough, they arrive at the same destination as a certain element of the British far right — google up some of Mark Almond’s stuff, if you must.

    But they don’t turn them loose to comment on French or German affairs, as far as I can see. Is it, I don’t know, some sort of sop to some odd corner of the Grauniad’s perceived readership? They have to allow a certain number of these, but they don’t want to ruin their reputation by letting them write about stuff that matters, so they let them bloviate about affairs in Belgrade and Kiev?

    Doug M.

  7. Doug – I think the problem with the Guardian is that anything south and east of Vienna starts to become ‘a far away country of which we know nothing’. ‘We’, in this case, seems to refer to the editors of the Guardian’s comment pages.

    As for the Living Marxism crowd – now calling themselves Spiked and the Institute of Ideas, IIRC – they were also the Revolutionary Communist Party who, as someone once remarked to me, were proof that politics is circular – go far enough round to the left and you end up coming out on the right. I can recall RCP candidates at a National Union of Students conference standing on a platform that’s best described as ‘defending the Serbs from Western aggression’ – in 1993.

    (see also the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, as covered by Harry’s Place here.)

  8. “But, really, it is quite remarkable how the Guardian seems to go completely mad once it gets south or east of about Vienna or so.”

    Yeah. I snickered at that for some reason. What’s galling, though, is the utter condescension masked by Steele’s silly pseudo-contrarian arguments. For him, every country south or east of Vienna is one of “the new vassals” populated by people who can’t think for themselves. Anybody remember this column?

    “The crisis over Iraq shows how the US will attempt to manipulate the latest adherents to the EU, the countries of central and south-eastern Europe. Nations that were once the vassals of the Soviet Union are now in danger of becoming vassals of the US.”

    Right! Except for the part where they have open borders, a free press and elections and stuff like that…

    “In 1989 there were those who thought these newly liberated countries would be bastions of new thinking. But the west was an attractive-looking club and they were anxious to join the winning side in the cold war…. After all, eastern Europe’s elites had spent 40 years accommodating themselves to superior power.”

    Translation: Old school lefties like myself were disappointed when we discovered East Europeans actually wanted to join the West all along.

    Same confused crap, different year.

  9. (see also the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, as covered by Harry’s Place here.)

    Ah yes, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group. After John Laughland stood up for the human rights of an oppressed Belarusian president in the Guardian, I wrote a letter pointing out Amnesty International’s rahter different view of the situation.

    More recently, Mr Laughland stood up for Russia’s War on Chechens by attacking neoconservatives supposedly soft on Chechen terrorism. (See also letters in response.)

  10. “In the Guardian today, Ian Traynor and Jonathan Steele argue that the opposition has been funded and guided by US government and private interests”

    But doesn’t Yushchenko want Ukrainians out of Iraq? Is that in US Govt interests? (and was Powell’s vocal support for Yushchenko a farewell poke?)

    “”Nor is there much evidence to imagine that, were he the incumbent president facing a severe challenge, he would not have tried to falsify the poll.”” And to poison his opponent after the car crash didn’t work?

  11. I am from Otpor and have to tell you that some people in the west don’t realise that some things happen because people want them to happen not because US want it to happen. It seems they need a little revolution too.

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