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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The decline and fall of Russian Democracy:
   Ukrainian elections, split loyalties and Russian pragmatism

Last year's victors of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution have fallen to squabbling amongst themselves. The bad guy from last year, Russian-sponsored Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych lost the Presidential elections to Ukrainian banker and former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, who is more politically and culturally attuned to the West, after the Supreme Court of Ukrainian overturned the initial election results that were beset with charges of electoral fraud.

This year's parliamentary elections resulted in the Orange Party, which split between Yushchenko and former PM Yulia Tymoshenko, garnering less than 47% of the parliament seats, favoring Tymoshenko 8 to 5.

Yanukovych's party got 43%.

According to the Christian Science Monitor,

Such an alliance [between Orange rivals Yushchenko and Tymoshenko], however, could prove unstable, Ukrainian experts say. The two are divided by a bitter personality conflict - Mr. Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko from her job as prime minister last September - as well as deep policy differences. Yushchenko is an orthodox liberal reformer, while Tymoshenko is a fiery populist who has pledged to reexamine thousands of 1990s-era privatizations.

Although, according to Vira Nanivska, director of the independent Center for Policy Studies in Kiev, in the same article,

leaving Yanukovich's huge parliamentary bloc in opposition [...] could deepen Ukraine's social polarization between the Ukrainian-speaking west and Russified east, and create opportunities for Moscow to interfere.

"Believe it or not, a 'grand coalition' between Yushchenko and Yanukovich might be best," she says. "It's not acceptable to anyone at the moment, but may be in a few months. It would bring Yanukovich forces into the mainstream of Ukrainian politics and accelerate our national integration."

But the biggest story in all this is Russia.

Russia is concerned about ... Ukraine's movement toward the West, particularly its insistence that it will apply for NATO membership as early as 2008.

"The feeling here is that Russia has given up enough to Western demands," says Sergei Markov, deputy head of the Russian Public Chamber, a Kremlin consultative body. Mr. Markov says that Ukrainian ascension to NATO could be a "red line" for Russia, which would see the Western military alliance push into its historic heartland.


Over the past three years, the Kremlin has watched a succession of former Soviet states, including Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, stage pro-democracy revolts and leave Moscow's geopolitical orbit. As Russia works to bolster its influence in the region, Ukraine ... is likely to see a sharpening struggle for influence between Moscow and the West in months to come, Russian experts say.

"Now Moscow's strategy is about consolidating [regional states] around Russia, and integrating them with Russia's economy. We can expect to see fresh efforts to strengthen [pro-Russian politician Viktor] Yanukovich," says Dmitri Suslov, an analyst with the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, an independent Moscow think tank.

When democrats squabble, tyrants move in.

Just ask any anti-Deaniac.

Let's hope Republicans are smarter than that.


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