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News :: International
Demolishing the American Myth that the Ukrainian Elections were "Flawed"
29 Nov 2004
by Srdja Trifkovic

The media myth: An East European "pro-Western, reformist democrat" is cheated of a clear election victory by an old-timer commie apparatchik. A wave of popular protest may yet ensure another Triumph of Democracy a la Belgrade and Tbilisi, however. The fact: neither the winner of the presidential election in the Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, nor his Western-supported ultranationalist rival Viktor Yushchenko, are "democrats" or "reformers" in any accepted sense. They differ, however, on the issue of the Ukrainian identity and destiny in what is a deeply divided country. Ukraine is like a large Montenegro, split between its Russian-leaning half (the south, the east) and a strongly nationalist west and north-west that defines its identity in an unyielding animosity to Moscow. The prediction: "The West" - the United States, the European Union, and an array of Sorosite "NGOs" - will fail to rig this crisis in favor of Yushchenko: the critical mass that worked in Serbia in October 2000, and in Georgia in 2003 - the complicity of the security services and mafia money - is simply not present.

The myth is virulently Russophobic. It implicitly recognizes the reality of Ukraine's divisions but asserts that those Ukrainians who want to maintain strong links with Russia are either stupid or manipulated. This view has nothing to do with the well-being or democratic will of 50 million Ukrainians. It is strictly geopolitical, in that it sees Moscow as a foe and its enemies (Chechen Jihadists included) as friends. Radek Sikorski of the American Enterprise Institute even hinted that Washington may have to take up arms to face the threat from a reconstituted empire. Three days before the election Georgie Ann Geyer asserted that the Ukrainian vote "will decide whether Vladimir Putin's Russia can again be a formalized, or informalized, empire," and demanded action to prevent such outcome. Complaining that America is too "obsessively sidetracked" by Iraq to pay attention to this momentous election, Ms. Geyer stated the alleged options. The Ukrainians "have a clear choice.

"They can vote for Viktor Yuschenko, the reformist candidate who stands for joining the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and NATO as soon as possible, for strengthening Ukrainian nationalism, and for the interests of Western Ukrainian Christians and the Ukrainian diaspora in the West. His people [are] mirroring the idea of the ‘Velvet Revolution' that freed the Czech Republic from its Soviet era. Or they can vote for Viktor Yanukovych, the candidate of the Eastern Ukraine, where many Ukrainians speak a language called Surzhik, a bastardized combination of Ukrainian and Russian. Here, the huge Soviet-era enterprises like Donetz steel still dominate the economic state, and Moscow still dominates the mind-set? Putin's dreams of a renewed Russian empire cannot be fulfilled without the Ukraine. It's the pivotal piece in that puzzle of nations, the linchpin between East and West - and it could be the revolt of the borderlands against the metropole, should Yuschenko win."

This theme was replicated a thousand-fold on both sides of the Atlantic: Yushchenko good, Yanukovich bad. It is telling that later in the article Ms. Geyer referred to "the progressive Ukrainians," implying that there are those who are on the side of History in its forward march, and the rest. (Her reference to the southern Russian dialect widely spoken in the southern and eastern half of Ukraine as "a bastardized combination of Ukrainian and Russian" was scandalous, on par with calling Sicilianu a bastardized combination of Italian and Arabic, or Yiddish a bastardized variety of German.) Propaganda disguised as fact was rampant. Votes in the heavily pro-Russian Donetsk and other eastern regions were deemed "probably falsified" but we were not informed of equally credible claims that vote-rigging was rampant in Yushchenko's western Ukrainian strongholds, including turnouts in excess of 100 percent of registered voters, total local media control, and multiple voting by persons in possession of numerous IDs belonging to Ukrainians residing in western Europe.

The attempted technique was well rehearsed. Yushchenko has rejected Yanukovich's victory and claims fraud, pointing to exit polls by his supporters as evidence. He even proclaimed himself president, and tens of thousands of his followers have taken to the streets of Kiev in support of his claim. Their campaign of civil disobedience relies on expectation of support from Washington and the EU. The White House declared that Ukrainian authorities should not certify results "until investigations of organized fraud are resolved." Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, called outgoing President Leonid Kuchma to express the EU's "serious concerns." NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to express the alliance's "disappointment" with the way the election was handled. The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, declared that the election showed massive fraud. Vaclav Havel, the former Czech president and leader of the 1989 "Velvet Revolution," urged Ukrainians to keep up their protests.

Strong Western bias in Yushchenko's favor has been evident throughout the campaign. The monitoring of election abuses has focused exclusively in areas favorable to Yanukovych but it has ignored or even suppressed documented abuses in pro-Yuschchenko areas. A seasoned Western analyst who visited western Ukraine reported that the news media "is all under Yushenko's control, even state TV":

"During our three days in Transcarpathia we never saw Mr. Yanukovich once on the TV! They showed Yushenko, Kuchma voting but ...not him!! Completely out of order programme on Saturday night (during the so-called election silence) with ‘experts' talking about the likelihood of fraud interspersed with stars, rock singers, beards etc. wearing orange ribbons and rooting for Yushenko. In fact, Yushenko and the mob control Kiev and all points West."

Reports like this one are so unpopular with those who control Western media and NGO purse strings that we have to protect our source with anonymity. USAID's grant for election monitors went only to activists known for their hostility to Yanukovych; they delivered predictable results. It is ironic that some of those activists are also funded by billionaire George Soros - President Bush's arch-enemy - whose investment in Yushchenko's victory is said to be $75 million. "Two generations ago we had the Comintern," says a Western analyst familiar with the situation. "Now we have the Demintern and its related NGOs which have an increasing global reach."

The "Community of Democracies" illustrates the point. According to the State Department, "The United States is a strong supporter of The Community of Democracies (CD), a unique forum that brings together those nations committed to promoting and strengthening democracy worldwide." It has a symbiotic relationship with a number of NGOs through which the U.S. Government promotes "democracy" in foreign countries - meaning political candidates favored by the U.S. government. These NGOs (see this list) include the Open Society Institute that in a domestic context are anything but supportive of the Bush administration. Some are creatures of the National Endowment for Democracy (e.g., while others had begun as projects of the Open Society Institute, e.g., It also should be noted that CD is itself handing out U.S. government money to these NGOs, and even had advertised a current solicitation. Bogus NGOs, such as the Committee of Ukrainian Voters, use Western funds to employ presentable, educated English speakers. As John Laughland noted in the Spectator,

"Because they speak English, the political activists in such organisations can easily nobble Anglophone Western reporters. Contrary allegations - such as those of fraud committed by Yushchenko-supporting local authorities in western Ukraine, carefully detailed by Russian election observers but available only in Russian - go unreported. So too does evidence of crude intimidation made by Yushchenko supporters against election officials."

All facts which contradict this morality tale were suppressed, says Laughland. Thus a story had been widely circulated that Yushchenko was poisoned during the electoral campaign, allegedly because the government wanted to kill him, but no English language outlet has carried the interview by the chief physician of the Vienna clinic which treated Yushchenko for his mystery illness: "The clinic released a report declaring there to be no evidence of poisoning, after which, said the chief physician, he was subjected to such intimidation by Yushchenko's entourage - who wanted him to change the report - that he was forced to seek police protection.

"You see the whole apparat," says our source, "a conclave of governments, friendly (and government funded) NGOs, and contract opportunities. Something for everybody - and all for ‘democracy.' Y'gotta love it!"

The reality is that the apparat will fail on this occasion. A Serbian or Georgian scenario cannot work in a country in which the key elements of power - the police, the army, and the business community - have not decided to support the opposition. The key to Milosevic's downfall was a secret deal between his political enemies and Serbia's key security chiefs in advance of public protest. Even if the authorities in Kiev accede to Western demands and investigate fraud or conduct a recount, the results are unlikely to change because they reflect a political landscape too complex to be reduced to the NGO black and white paradigm. It includes the unreported fact that Yushchenko's supporters included notoriously anti-Semitic skinheads from the "Ukrainian National Self-Defense" (Unso), a semi-paramilitary movement whose members enjoy posing for the cameras carrying rifles and wearing fatigues and balaclava helmets.

The influence of UNA-UNSO among Yushchenko's supporters is well documented. In June 2004,

"400 members of UNA paraded through Kiev dressed in Nazi-like uniforms and carrying flags with SS-style inscriptions. UNA leader Eduard Kovalenko reportedly called for an end to 'the dominance of Yids in key positions of the government.' The UNA also came out strongly in support of Our Ukraine and Yushchenko."

These youths rely on a rich tradition. Tens of thousands of western Ukrainians collaborated enthusiastically with the Nazis, supplying volunteers for the "Nightingale" Police Battalion and the Ukrainian Waffen SS Division "Galizien." Useless as a fighting force against the Red Army, these volunteers were highly effective in terrorizing Jews, Poles, and "unreliable" Ukrainians. Many were deemed reliable enough to serve as auxiliaries in key extermination camps such as Sobibor and Treblinka. Today the UNA-UNSO members use their grandfathers' insignia. Their former leader Andry Shkil was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in a single ticket election in the Lvov region with the support of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine. A Jewish organization points out that at the time elections were held he had been in jail for a year, accused of organizing mass anti-government riots. Having been elected, however, "Shkil was granted immunity to criminal prosecution."

As John Laughland notes, "Were nutters like this to be politically active in any country other than Ukraine or the Baltic states, there would be instant outcry in the US and British media; but in former Soviet republics, such bogus nationalism is considered anti-Russian and therefore democratic."

About a half of all Ukrainians who voted for Yanukovych did not do so solely on the grounds of his pro-Russian outlook, however. As the Financial Times noted on November 19, strong economic growth of 13 percent has helped his campaign of "peace and stability." This year's grain harvest will reach 45m tones, the highest since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Increasing social spending, including payment of pensions and state salaries, are attributed to the Prime Minister's policies. By contrast Yushchenko's stronghold in western Ukraine is an economic wasteland. Nikolas Gvosdev was a rare Western commentator to point out that for many in central and eastern Ukraine increased links with Russia translate into greater prosperity: trade turnover in goods and services between the two countries is expected to reach $20 billion in 2004, one-half of Ukraine's current GNP. By contrast, its trade with the EU accounts for only a fifth of the total. "Many Western observers lament Ukraine's continuing economic and political ties to Russia," Gvosdev says, "but U.S. and European governments have done little to provide more concrete economic incentives for change." Yushchenko's campaign was not helped by a statement earlier this year by the president of the European Commission Romano Prodi that Ukraine will "never" be a member of the EU. Despite all the rhetoric supporting a "European" the scenario of Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration was not seriously entertained in any important Western capital. It was unrealistic to expect the Ukrainians to make a plunge without any concrete promises of what they'd get in return.

Washington would be well advised to accept the result with equanimity. As Doug Bandow of CATO Institute says, the United States and Europe aren't going to "lose" Ukraine: it will continue to expand its commercial and political ties with the West regardless of outcome. On the other hand, excessive insistence on the preordained outcome would unnecessarily alienate Russia at a time when her cooperation is sorely needed in the war against Jihad.

This work is in the public domain
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