Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yanukovych's Post-Communist Ukrainian Party Of Regions Joins Putin And Yeltsin In Sending Congratulations To Lukashenko On Successful Rigged Election

... "[Viktor] Yanukovych is not a reformed leader, and his Party of Regions followed the communists in sending greetings to Lukashenko on his "victory" (Yushchenko and Ukraine`s foreign ministry shared the western position of refusing to recognise the official Belarus result).

Yanukovych has never acknowledged his defeat in 2004 and he still believes he won the election but was then "betrayed" by then-president Leonid Kuchma. Throughout the 2006 elections, the Party of Regions continued to denounce the legitimacy of the orange revolution as an "illegal coup" and continued to denigrate its supporters as "orange rats".

The Party of Regions is in favour of economic reform because it is dominated by oligarchs and businessmen. Yet, it voted against World Trade Organisation legislation in 2005. The Party of Regions opposes Nato membership, favours full membership in the post-Soviet Common (or Single) Economic Space, and supports the elevation of Russian to a second state language.

... [Any] alliance [between Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych] would send the wrong signal to the European Union and Nato that the orange revolution is in retreat. The EU is already passive in its attitudes towards Ukraine and an alliance with the Party of Regions would give sustenance to those inside the EU who do not want Ukraine inside.

An alliance with a political force hostile to Nato membership would also lead to a postponement of Nato offering Ukraine a membership action plan at its Riga summit in November 2006.

[Yulia] Tymoshenko`s second place, after quadrupling the number of seats she won in the 2002 elections, puts her in a powerful position. Our Ukraine, in contrast has fewer seats than in 2002 and is running a poor third.

Why has Our Ukraine fared badly when its honorary chairman is Ukraine`s president, swept into office by people power? The answer is that ... [Yushchenko] made countless mistakes in 2005, including sacking the Tymoshenko government and dividing the orange camp, signing a memorandum with Yanukovych, mishandling the gas contract with Russia in a non-transparent manner, and keeping prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun until October, thereby not following through on instituting charges against high-level officials.

Yushchenko also wasted a year when he inherited Kuchma`s extensive executive powers, failing to use them to stamp his authority on the country....

Senior orange businessmen accused of corruption in September 2005 refused to back down from standing in Our Ukraine, ignoring Yushchenko`s advice. Meanwhile, political parties in Our Ukraine refused to merge into a single pro-presidential party.

Yushchenko failed to understand perhaps the most important factor driving the orange revolution - the widespread feelings of injustice against abuse of office, corruption and the "bandits" running Ukraine.

Yuri Yekhanurov, the prime minister appointed in September after Yushchenko sacked his cabinet, totally misunderstood this feeling, as seen by his invitation to Ukraine`s oligarchs to a meeting in October where he described them as "Ukraine`s national bourgeoisie".

The rule of law cannot move ahead in Ukraine without dealing with these issues from the past - election fraud in 2004, corruption at senior levels, the identity of those who ordered the Georgii Gongadze murder, and the attempted assassination (by poisoning) of Yushchenko.

Tymoshenko will become prime minister or parliamentary speaker. Much of what Yushchenko/Our Ukraine have taken credit for economically was initiated under her government. This time, foreign investors` fears about property rights will have to be assuaged.

But the free 2006 elections, followed by an orange coalition, will combine to show the consolidation of Ukraine`s democratic progress after the orange revolution. It is doubtful though that Ukraine`s parliament will last its full term of five years.

The contradictions inherent in the Party of Regions between businessmen and pro-Russian, ex-communist voters will lead it to implode."...

Taras Kuzio "Ukraine: free elections, kamikaze president" UNIAN News Agency March 30, 2006

[Taras Kuzio is visiting professor at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, DC. The article was monitored by The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service, Morgan Williams, Editor.]

An Anti-Nato demonstration held outside of Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine in July 2005.

Crimea has previously been scarred by Imperial 'Great Power' Conflicts in the 1850s and the 1940s.

See also Steven Lee Myers "Resisting Kiev, Crimeans Hold to Moscow Orbit" New York Times, March 24, 2006.

Photo credit: With thanks.


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