Friday, September 28, 2007

Canadian politician confronted by police in Ukraine

This article certainly illustrates the democratic backslide in Ukraine under Yanukovych.

Gerard Kennedy, a Canadian politician observing the election process in Ukraine, was confronted Friday by ... a squadron of police ... at the election commission in Mariupol, an area of Donetsk.

Kennedy said the police tried to hinder the observers from ensuring that the process was fair leading up to Sunday's parliamentary poll.

"Police came, one carrying weapons into the area, which is not supposed to happen, and then a kind of humorous thing happened where local TV stations came and there was what we considered mock interviews, where the party's regional representatives denounced us one after another in front of the TV cameras," Kennedy said.

Members' passports were taken by police and the group was temporarily stripped of its observer status, Kennedy said, adding that he felt a palpable feeling of hostility from authorities. ... Kennedy said the group has already observed major flaws in the voting process.

"There are extra ballots being distributed," said Kennedy. ...


Full article here.

Let's just hope voter apathy in Ukraine isn't so bad that the citizenry will just roll over and let the slide continue.

Update: Canadian journalist Mark MacKinnon also weighs in on his blog with some interesting observations.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Ukrainian electorate is thoroughly disillusioned; apart from tens of thousands who are being paid by the parties to voice their affiliations, as evidenced by numerous candid camera recordings, most people do not expect any changes for the better.

This and Ukraine's being divided into the hostile western and eastern parts (with the former still struggling to uphold the national language and cultureand the latter being Russia-dominated, owing to historical reasons when Stalin destroyed the populace by the Holodomor and purges, and then replaced it with settlers from Russia, to whom anything Ukrainian is simply alien) offers a very grim picture.

I'm sure that a great many people will simply ignore the Sept. 30 election; they won't cast their ballots, but their names on the lists will be used and their "ballots" will be cast. The parliamentary elections will be another step down the ladder; Ukraine is being taken over by Russia, with the West sitting comfortably on its hands.

BUT the West will suffer for its shortsightedness. While we have Russia breathing down our neck (now siding with communist China), the West, particularly North America, has the Arab zealots ready to stage another Sept. 11 massacre, maybe on a far larger scale.

If only those thickheads in Brussels and Washington had moved their bloomy arses and thought ahead, I'm sure the situation would have been different!

Personally, I am not going to vote, period, although I would choose Yulia, for the lady has it in her, her background and previous rash decisions notwithstanding.

Pawlina said...

Interesting view, and one that is no doubt shared by many.

I'm sorry that you have decided not to exercise your right to vote. I actually find that very surprising, since you pointed out that if you don't cast your ballot, someone else will cast it for you!

I do hope you'll reconsider.

Anonymous said...

The tragic fact remains that practically no-one in decadent Europe and least of all in North America can actually comprehend what's happening in the ex-Soviet countries.

We should probably thank the Lord for allowing Ukraine to win its formal national independence without bloodshed (perhaps as a consolation prize of sorts for surviving Chornobyl), but the Soviet mentality is still there.

99.9% of our oligarchs are former Komsomol functionaries, who are much worse than the Nazis, for the latter had their Lebensraum and other ideas; ours have had none save for clawing their way up the Komsomol/Party ladder, at all costs, organized crime, et al., included. These characters are absolutely corrupt, immoral, prepared to lick anyone's ass, if and when expedient. Likewise, they will kill anyone and destroy anything.

Their biggest flaw is lack of culture and understanding of what business is all about. Their only purpose is to earn/steal as much as possible and then run with the money. They know next to nothing about investment, they don't give a shit about charity (for they were once among those undernourished children who went to Soviet schools having to wear heavy army-style uniforms, crewcuts,and beaked caps even when the temperature was murderously high). They were raised as "Young Pioneers", the Soviet version of Boy Scouts where everything was shamelessly stolen from the West and made Soviet, including the slogan that now sounded "Be always ready to carry out missions assigned you by the Great Communist Party of the Soviet Union!"

I could go on and on. In short, one can only understand all this by spending some time here...

Hryts'ko from Ukraine

Pawlina said...

Thanks for this insight, Hryts'ko.

You've confirmed what I'd suspected from day one, and in fact what ex-pats told me back in the 1990s... essentially that post independence the apparatchiks just tore up their Communist Party cards and switched them for those printed with "Democrat" ... and carried on as usual.

Stalin did a stellar job of killing off the Ukrainian leadership, but I imagine we can still invest hope in the next generation, with the energy, hope and naivete that is an integral part of youth.

Yuschenko disappointed a lot of us in the west, too. I suppose he had health issues and with his back to the wall most of the time, no doubt didn't have the fortitude or desire to take the risks necessary to carry out his election promises. Welcome to democracy. I hate to say it but that's how it functions here, too, for the most part. Of course, western politicians are somewhat more refined but that's just cultural upbringing. There's an alarming "levelling out" going on here, as a new generation continues to worship at the altar of Marx and pretend that their vision of socialism is different from the communism that caved in on itself in eastern Europe. In the west, not much has really changed since the 1930s.

Our only hope is the internet, really. And it is an awesome hope. It connects people and facilitates the exchange not only of information but of ideas and inspiration. And the apparatchiks can't control it, because to do so would require cooperation and coordination, which is diametrically opposed to their "me-first" barbarian mentality.

So, please don't give up hope altogether! There is hope, honestly, so please go exercise your right to vote!

To paraphrase a great Canadian pop culture icon, "you're all in this together" so please help bring back the spirit of "razom nas bahato." We're pulling for you! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Have you ever wondered about Stalin and Hitler? Sworn enemies, weren't they? Each tried to kill the other by using all available resources, clandestine agencies topping the list. The NKVD proved better trained and dedicated.

Another interesting aspect: whereas using Nazi/Nazis is standard practice in the West, even now, in most former USSR republics, now independendent countries, "fascist" is the only acceptable noun and adjective. Why? Any historian will tell you that fascism comes from and is peculiar to Italy.

Answer: Back in the late 1930s Uncle Joe issued a top secret directive whereby all NKVD stations were to see to it that only "fascist" and "fascism" were used in the media. Nazi is short for National SOCIALIST. Stalin was building a dazzling socialist future for those who would survive his purges, the Holodomor, the war, you name it. How could National Socialism possibly coexist with Soviet Socialism?

BUT the most astonishing thing is that even now, in independent Ukraine, few if any seem to question the notion. Fascism it has been and remains.

Another interesting detail. Back in the 1930s, a large team of future Nazi officers (SS/Gestapo) were made welcome in the USSR, under Stalin's special directive, and flown to the Gulag (incidentally, Vladimir Lenin was the first to conceive the concentration camp idea shortly before the SOB kicked the bucket, must be smt 1923). They were speechless watching myriads of ants climbing slowly up and down the giant anthill, dying in the process, with the guards pushing the dead bodies down the slope while smoking, joking, enjoying themselves).

They had a secret meeting with Stalin afterwards and told him that Germany was too small to accommodate so many prisoners. Stalin started his pipe, paused, then said, "Apparently you must find a solution to this problem, using your inherent skill at engineering, chemistry, and suchlike." Well, you know what happened afterwards.

What I am driving at that what happened back then has left its trace in our mentality. Until the Soviet Union fell apart, KGB was the world's most formidable clandestine agency (with all respect due the CIA, the KGB is known to have made it eat shit on a record number of occasions), but when Birthmark Billie started having his way, KGB top analysts and residents/sleepers either retired or defected.

Getting back to Ukraine. Whatever the outcome of the parliamentary election (most likely Yanukovych, regrettably), we are faced with the problem of our Ukrainian/Russian mentality. A very tricky matter, all things considered. On the one hand, Ukrainian must be our official language, like English in the States. On the other hand, a large part of Ukraine is inhabited by people who were sent there by Stalin to fill in the gaps left by hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians killed by the Holodomor. Needless to say that they were all from Russia.

Russian has remained their mother tongue, and after 70 years of Soviet rule when Russian was predominant in all the Soviet republics …with the happy exception of the Baltic States. (There the populace hated anyone visiting from Moscow (note: I have never heard anyone voice any bad feelings about anyone from St. Petersburg) and made wholeheartedly welcome anyone from Ukraine: I know this from my experience). In Ukraine, every effort was made to suppress what things Ukrainian were left, so how can you expect them to fall in love with Ukrainian?

The more so that most our current leaders at best struggle to speak Ukrainian (in fact, Leonid Kravchuk was and remains the most eloquent and literary native speaker, BUT he was trained at a special school for commie party functionaries in Moscow. BUT again, it is a different story; this man is very intelligent, he is a chess player, too. Next comes Moroz (well, the man has taken up poetry), and perhaps two or three others.

I hate to admit it but Yushchenko's Ukrainian leaves much to be desired, although he has no accent, unlike our dear Comrade Yanukovych.

Yulia is unique. She spent a long time mastering Ukrainian. Now she has a fluent command of the language, albeit betraying Russian accent now and then, especially in the heat of debate. All I can say is I love her. Remember her climbing over the cordon of riot police to get to the president's quarters during the Maidan days? Now this takes courage!

Where was I? Never mind. There is a big circus tomorrow, followed by months of lawsuits, each side claiming rigged election, accusing the central election committee/commission, hurling bucketfuls of dirt at each other...

There is a Ukrainian saying: "While two landlords are fighting it out between themselves, their serfs are losing hair" [Swahili variant: "When elephants are fighting, it's the grass that suffers."

Hryts'ko

Pawlina said...

It may well be a circus, Hryts'ko, but if you go out and vote for your heroine, you'll be increasing her chances of winning, and changing the status quo.

If otoh you abstain from voting, you are essentially helping to tie her hands behind her back ... then sending her into battle and expecting her to win! That's hardly fair to her.

In a democracy, we all have to do our part, whether it is to lead or to follow. Change is difficult and takes time under the best of circumstances. Democracy is messy, and it's a terrible system, actually. Just that it's better than any others out there.

In the end, Hryts'ko, if you abstain from voting for Yulia, you might as well cast a vote for Yanukovych. And so if the circus continues, it's in large part because of those who didn't vote for Yulia and thus robbed her of a clear majority and a decisive win.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pawlina:
I did reconsider and cast my ballot for Yulia. Yet the election fraud is clearly apparent: I mean the delay with sending vote results to the Central Election Committee in Kyiv from the Yanukovych-dodminated localities. Anyone will tell you that they were busy fixing the ballots. Hence the result