Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Reading Polish press again about the situation in Ukraine. Here's some developments, snippets and opinions that might not all be widely publicised through the Western coverage:
Russia seems to be backtracking: Here's the newsreader on Moscow's RTS TV station, widely seen as close to the Kremilin: "The opposition leader Yushchenko is not a bad partner for talks. He's a balanced, calm politician. In addition he has the support of Washington, and presidents Putin and Bush, after all, do enjoy a special relationship." Writes "Izviestia": "Russia lost the Ukrainian revolution."
Passionate but not hostile: 8,000 orange-clad opposition supporters and 2,000 blue-wearing pro-government supporters demonstare in front of the Supreme Court building, as the court deliberates on the validity of the vote count. Both groups are intermingling without any hostility or altercations. Only 10 policemen are keeping order outside.
Devious tactics: Many in the pro-government camp are now starting to push for the complete invalidation of the elections (as opposed to a recount, or an additional, third, round of voting). Under the Ukrainian electoral law this would have the effect of preventing both the main candidates from re-contesting the new poll. Needless to say, Yushchenko's people want to prevent that scenario from happening.
The autonomy referenda: Have no legal legs to stand on. Under the Ukrainian constitution there is no such thing as a local referendum. To declare autonomy one would have to secure a presidential declaration, a change to the national constitution and the support of at least 300 deputies of the parliament. It won't happen, peacefully in any case.
Poles in Kiev: Polish and Ukrainian flags flying over the Independece Square. There are a few dozen Poles, mostly students (of course), taking part in pro-democracy rallies. In all, a rather more muted and grass-roots foreign presence than the rumored Russian special forces. "One week of protests has done more for the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation than the last 15 years," comments one report.