Ukraine: Putin Congratulates - EU and US protest

Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 23 Nov, 2004 11:20 pm
'Ukraine stands on the brink of civil war', that's what (some) correspondents said yesterday evening.

Fortunately, the night was rather calm, especially, because the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, called for negotiations with the opposition.

Just in from ITAR-TASS

Russian MP warns against interference in Ukraine affairs

24.11.2004, 08.16

XIANGGANG, November 24 (Itar-Tass) - A Russian State Duma official said on Wednesday that interference in Ukraine's affairs in connection with the presidential election in that country is inadmissible, and the entire world should recognize its results.

Visiting deputy speaker of the Russian lower house, Valentin Kuptsov, believes "it is extremely necessary to ensure stability in Ukraine, and such is the stance of the State Duma and the Russian leadership as a whole". Kuptsov is visiting Xianggang for talks with officials of the local administration and its lawmakers.

Russia is interested to see peace in Ukraine, as "our peoples are inseparable". He stressed that attempts to undermine Russian-Ukrainian relations on the wake of the present-day political conjuncture are "fraught with serious dangers".
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 03:06 am
The opposition in Ukraine announced that there will be no negotiations with the government on the occasion of the results from the Presidential elections, reports AFP.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 10:49 am
Statement by the Foreign Affairs Committee

Brussels, 24 November 2004


Following a meeting with a report of the EP delegates to the electoral observation mission to Ukraine, as well as an exchange of views with High Representative Solana and the Ukrainian ambassador to the EU, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Elmar BROK, issued the following statement, which was adopted by the Committee:

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament

is convinced that the presidential elections in Ukraine were manipulated and that the preliminary result, as announced by the Central Electoral Commission, was falsified, and cannot be recognised in such a case,
expresses its solidarity with the Ukrainian people, whose right to freely elect its president has been trampled upon,
emphasises that a Ukrainian President who has reached this position with the help of irregularities would lack credibility in the international community and harms the interest of Ukraine,
stresses the need for everybody involved to continue to use only non-violent means and welcomes signs of a emerging dialogue with a view to resolve the crisis,
firmly rejects allegations, especially by the Russian President, that the European Union and the international community by expressing its support for the Ukrainian people's right to exercise their constitutional rights would encourage violence,
stresses the urgent need to investigate - in a fully transparent manner, with full respect for all legal provisions and with the participation of international observers - all complaints on the conduct of the elections as well as on the conditions under which the election campaign took place, and to undertake a recount, taking full account of the results of the investigations; notes that requests for a rerun of the election, if any, might then have to be dealt with,
suggests to rapidly send a European Parliament delegation to Ukraine to follow developments on the ground, and to show solidarity with the people; calls on the Commission and Council to join this initiative,
calls on the President of the European Parliament to immediately convene a special session or start the session on 1 December 2004 with a debate on the situation in Ukraine and to invite the Members of the Ukrainian Parliament and Members of the Kyiv's City Council,
calls on the Council and Commission to use the opportunity provided by the EU-Russia summit on 25 November to underline that Russia carries a great responsibility in this case.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 10:52 am
Ukraine opposition seeks new poll
By Henry Meyer in Kiev
November 25, 2004

UKRAINE'S opposition called today for a new round of presidential elections to resolve the political crisis gripping the nation, as European leaders, alleging fraud, warned of "consequences" if the poll was not reviewed.

The central election commission announced today Ukraine's pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich had won the election.
With ballots from all polling stations counted, Mr Yanukovich received 49.46 per cent of the vote, compared to 46.61 per cent for the West-leaning opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, it said.

But as Ukrainians waited for the central election commission to announce the final results, Viktor Yushchenko said the opposition was ready to contest a fresh vote.

"We are ready again to hold a second round if there is no outside pressure," he told tens of thousands of demonstrators in central Kiev joining a third day of mass street protests.

The opposition charges that the government helped rig the poll in favour of pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and to rob Mr Yushchenko, who is seen as pro-Western and willing to ally Ukraine with the European Union and NATO.

The European Union stepped up criticism of a poll marred by what it called "massive fraud", urging Ukraine to delay the final election results pending a review.

The Dutch EU presidency and President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland both said they were sending special envoys to Ukraine in view of the situation.

With security forces guarding the presidency, President Leonid Kuchma, who had hand-picked Yanukovich as his successor, said he had ruled out the use of force.

"As acting president, I categorically reject the use of any kind of force," Interfax quoted him as telling a government meeting.

In a day of fast-moving developments, Mr Yushchenko accused the government of planning to quell the protests by force and urged law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint and "prevent a tragedy".

The standoff looked set to continue, with a spokesman for Mr Yushchenko saying there could be no negotiations unless authorities "recognise that the results of the vote were falsified".

"I want to tell you that we will not hold negotiations with Mr Yanukovich and the people who surround him," said Mykola Tomenko, a close aide.

Most independent exit polls on Sunday gave victory to Mr Yushchenko, but some of those commissioned by Mr Yanukovich's team showed the premier as the winner.

The premier was quoted by ITAR-TASS as telling a cabinet meeting he was "a law-abiding man" who would recognise defeat "only on the basis of a legitimate ruling" from the election commission.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Olexander Kuzmuk urged the army to "remain calm, act in a measured way and fulfil your constitutional duty in keeping with the law".

He insisted the vote was "in conformity with the law" and denied tanks and troops were being moved into position in the capital Kiev.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso warned of "consequences" for the bloc's relations with Ukraine because of the impasse, now overshadowing a summit tomorrow with Russia in The Hague.

"We regret that the Ukrainian authorities have not taken the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to democracy," he said.

"There will be consequences, if there is not a serious, objective review," he added, declining to be more specific.

The crisis has put Russia at loggerheads with Europe and the US as Moscow tries to keep control over the most populous of the former Soviet Union's republics after Russia.

NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to voice the alliance's "disappointment and deep concern over the current events" and called for all disputes related to the poll results "to be fully examined".

In Washington the State Department took the unusual move of calling in the Russian ambassador for an interview to express US concerns over the Ukrainian vote.

In the face of mass protests and international reaction, even Mr Yanukovich's main international backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has backtracked after initially recognising his win.

The opposition sees this as perhaps its best chance in a generation to pull the nation of 48 million people out of Russia's grasp.

The vote has polarised the country into clearly defined Ukrainian-speaking western regions supporting Mr Yushchenko and eastern Russian-speaking districts which back the prime minister.

The graphic divide has prompted some politicians to warn that Ukraine might split in two, with more than 150 Ukrainian diplomats posted around the world recognising Mr Yushchenko as the new president.

Mr Yushchenko declared himself president yesterday in a symbolic ceremony in parliament attended only by his supporters, a move Kuchma branded a "political farce".

Pope John Paul II told Ukrainian pilgrims he was praying for them.

"I assure you and all the Ukrainian people that I am praying particularly for your very dear country in recent days," the radio quoted the 84-year-old Polish-born pope as saying in the Vatican.

Agence France-Presse

This report appears on NEWS.com.au.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 11:00 am
So, in the meantime, Ukraine Election Commission declared Yanukovich won the Presidential Elections.

Commission head Serhiy Kivalov told reporters that Yanukovich has won 49.46 percent of the vote to 46.61 percent for liberal opposition challenger Viktor Yushchenko.

But just before that news arrived, the latest was the following:

Ukraine 'winner' breaks silence

Viktor Yanukovych has said he does not want a "fake victory" in Ukraine's presidential poll as thousands of people protest over the disputed vote.
Huge crowds have ringed the election commission, which is thought to be preparing to declare an official win for Mr Yanukovych, the prime minister.

But opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who says the election was rigged against him, remains defiant.

"I speak to you as the president of Ukraine," he told supporters in Kiev.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters are holding a third day of rallies in freezing temperatures. A number of pro-government supporters are also on the streets and the two sides have been trading taunts.

Riot police are on stand-by, but the situation has remained peaceful.

The Ukraine election commission has begun meeting and is expected to announce the final results shortly.

The US and the European Commission have urged Ukraine not to announce the result before reviewing the contentious vote.

With almost all of the votes counted, the commission has already indicated that Mr Yanukovych won Sunday's second-round vote, but exit poll results had shown Mr Yushchenko ahead.

Mr Yanukovych has not declared victory and has said very little since the vote.

On Wednesday he broke his public silence to say that the final results had to be "legitimate" to ensure there was no violence.

"I will not accept the results of the presidential election until it is proved to me and the Ukrainian people that they are legitimate and credible in accordance with conditions set down by the constitution," he said in a statement.
"I need no fictitious victory, a result which could lead to violence and victims. No position of authority, no matter how important, is worth a single human life."

The opposition says it has recorded thousands of voting irregularities in the poll, including a near 100% turnout in some pro-government strongholds.

Western election observers have reported mass violations, and world leaders have expressed concern.

"We consider there is a place in the European family for a democratic Ukraine," said the new head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

"We regret that the Ukrainian authorities have not taken the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to democracy."

Talk of a re-run

Earlier, Mr Yushchenko told tens of thousands of supporters in Kiev's Independence Square that he was prepared to have a re-run of the vote if it was run by "honest" officials.

He said the opposition would also demand that a law be signed banning the use of absentee ballots, which the opposition says were used to allow pro-Yanukovych supporters to vote multiple times.
A BBC correspondent says that given the fraud allegations, the opposition seems unlikely to agree in practice to a new election if it was run along the same lines as before.

Mr Yanukovych told his cabinet on Wednesday he does not believe anything extraordinary is taking place in the country.

"It is necessary that people live in the normal mode. Therefore, we must carry our constitutional duty and ensure the vital activities of state," he said.

Deputy head of Mr Yushchenko's headquarters Taras Stetskiv has threatened a general strike unless the authorities declare the elections as falsified and name Mr Yushchenko as president.

International leaders, such as EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, have raised concerns that violence could erupt. But Mr Stetskiv said he thought the possibility of violence was "not high".

"We know the mood of the army and police," he said. "They are not going to shoot at their own people."

Defence Minister Alexander Kuzmuk has called for the army to remain calm, adding there would be no movement of troops in relation to the protests.

In the east, where many people feel as much Russian as Ukrainian, there have been protests in support of Mr Yanukovych.

Russia TV has reported that thousands of miners from the eastern Donbass region have taken special trains to Kiev to back the prime minister.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 01:18 pm
Lash wrote:
I It wouldn't take much to blow it asunder. Russia is suffering. I bet Putin is getting reamed on a regular basis by the old timers. He may be forced to strike out somehow.

You've mentioned twice that Putin is probably being "forced" to take hardline positions by some force of oldtimers.

Tiny mistake.

Putin IS the oldtimer.

He is the one who's a former KGB chief. A former KGB chief who has never in his political career distanced himself from those times or his position back then. What is more, ever since he took over from Yeltsin he's been stuffing the power organs with other ex-KGB people, especially from among the ones he used to work with himself. Strong clan sense.

Nothing Putin has done politically when it comes to the (ever less free) media, (ever less free) elections, relationships with the (ever more powerless) parliament, (ever harsher) treatment of opposition-minded business people, (ever greater) recentralisation of power (a reversal of the Yeltsin era decentralisation) - etc etc etc - shows any disinclination towards the old ways. On the opposite, from day one he has presided over recentralisation of a re-authoritarianised power.

No other political force of significance was pushing him. Instead, he created his own, a slavishly loyal party that now dominates parliament, a movement that includes practical youth brigades that might remind one of the old Komsomol.

Now with Gorby, one could still say he was torn by the reformers on his left and the orthodox communists on his right (sorry, that was how "left" and "right" were used there back then) - he was a relatively weak leader, pushed and egged on by powerful factions here and there. But Putin listens to noone - and needs not listen to noone, because he has long eliminated or coopted all rivals that had a significant power base of their own. All there's left now is Zhuganov's nostalgia-club of angry communist pensioners and a bunch of ever reasonable, but mostly-unheard and utterly powerless free-market, pro-democracy liberal intellectuals like Nemtsov or Yavlinsky.

Putin is not being pushed. Unlike Gorby, he has no such excuse. Putin IS the restoration.

The EU has faced up to that some time ago, but is too bloody cowardly to do much about it but accept the odd symbolic declaration of disagreement. Time for Bush to better the Europeans. Glad to see his administration seemingly taking a tough stance on developments in the Ukraine now.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 01:50 pm
Orange-scarf wearer checking in here.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 01:55 pm
Checking in as well and reading with interest.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 01:56 pm
There's a rumour in the Ukraine that the daughter of Head of Ukrainian Central Election Commission has received a bribe accounting to USD 25 million by factions supporting Yanukovych.

Putin, Schroeder urge legal solution in Ukraine
MOSCOW, Nov 24 (Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged Ukraine today to solve its political crisis through legal means, the Kremlin said.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said in Berlin that Schroeder phoned Putin to discuss the disputed Ukrainian presidential election, whose results Germany believes have been marked by massive fraud.

''It was noted that the post-election situation should be solved on the basis of Ukraine's existing election laws,'' a Kremlin statement said.

''As far as other political problems are concerned, they could be solved through relevant political contacts and consultations,'' it added.

A similar statement by the German government said that Putin and Schroeder had agreed that all efforts must be taken to prevent the Ukrainian crisis turning to violence.

Fischer told parliament that Schroeder had reiterated to Putin his position outlined earlier on Wednesday to German lawmakers.

''I have nothing to question about what the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer said, which was that massive electoral fraud took place in Ukraine,'' he said.

In Sunday's polls Russia heavily backed pro-Moscow Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich against Western-leaning opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko. Yushchenko has defied the official vote count which favoured Yanukovich.

Putin has angrily reacted to reports by OSCE observers and a U.S. envoy to polls, who had branded them as ''fraudulent'' and missing key elements of free and fair elections.

''I am firmly convinced, firstly that the Russian President wants to develop a democracy, and wants to do so out of inner conviction,'' Schroeder told parliament.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 02:05 pm
in case anyone's interested in a quick, potted, history of Ukraine, I think the CBC backgrounder is quite decent


(good links to current status on the right side of the page)
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 02:19 pm

There are plenty of times I am unaware of histories that you provide--and I'm always grateful for them. However, I was aware of Putin's history. I still think his cozy relationship with us (Bush) and his many public agreements have earned him private scolding by more aggressive hardliners.

I am proud of Bush's related statements thus far.

Independence Square in Kiev--seeming more like Tiannenmen Square. If violence starts, we and others could be dragged in quickly. Very concerned.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 02:22 pm
I don't hope that has serious-political reasons, but the news-agency Interfax-Ukraine has this message since some times on their website:

Sorry for temporal problems. They will be fixed as soon as possible.

The BBC Country Profile Ukraine, btw, has got some good links as well.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 02:33 pm
This 'opinion' just came in, interesting re Putin/Europe (tomorrow, there's a summit in Den Haag)

Putin Vexes West With Ukraine Support

Associated Press Writer

November 24, 2004, 3:19 PM EST

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Increasingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin walks alone. He has alarmed the West with authoritarian policies at home. He announced last week that Russia was developing new nuclear missiles. And now he has embraced the official outcome of a Ukrainian election that Western observers say was rigged.

When he succeeded Boris Yeltsin nearly five years ago, the longtime KGB officer was an enigma whose past raised eyebrows and concerns about his intentions. But as the months passed he seemed to throw his lot in with the West, stepping up ties with the European Union and NATO and pledging to develop a clean, transparent economy.

He became fast friends with European leaders, picnicking in a hunting cabin outside Moscow with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and chatting in German with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Early on, he forged close ties with President Bush -- a strategic bond that remains strong today.

When he arrives in The Hague for a summit with the European Union on Thursday, Putin is bound to be in for a chillier reception.

The meeting, postponed earlier this month, comes days after he set the stage for sharp confrontation with the West by congratulating Viktor Yanukovych as the winner of Ukraine's bitterly disputed presidential vote.

Ukraine election officials on Wednesday insisted that the result would stand, drawing prompt criticism from Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said, "We cannot accept this result as legitimate."

Putin's gesture, which capped an unabashed campaign of support for his favored candidate in a country at the crossroads of Russian and Western interests, was the latest in a long line of statements, actions and policies that have dismayed and alienated Europe and the United States.

His move to legitimize an election result widely viewed abroad as fraudulent will add to their already persistent growing concerns about where he is leading his own country.

When many in the West look at Russia, they see a bleak political landscape painted in Putin's bold brushstrokes: a parliament seemingly manipulated at will by the Kremlin; regional governors no longer elected but appointed directly by Putin; a media that hews closely to the government line; a prominent business leader who challenged Putin thrown into prison.

EU concerns about a drift toward authoritarianism have hampered efforts to forge a new "strategic partnership" agreement with Russia. Europe is demanding that Russia pledge adherence to what it says must be the "common values" of Europe.

Putin said Tuesday that it was important "to avoid creating new dividing lines between us and Europe," but there is increasing concern in the EU that by strengthening control over Russia at the expense of democracy and supporting heavy-handed leaders in former Soviet republics, the Russian leader is throwing up new divisions -- or even rebuilding a Cold War curtain.

Some of Putin's recent statements give off the chilling air of that era.

Last week he boasted that Russia is developing new nuclear missiles he stressed no other nation would have for years. After the Beslan hostage-taking tragedy he darkly suggested that terrorists plotting to tear Russia apart had Western sympathy or support.

But while such statements are meant at least partly for hawks at home, Putin's involvement in the Ukraine election is likely to be the most serious test yet of his ties with the West.

By supporting the establishment candidate in Ukraine -- where the United States and Europe are actively promoting a seminal shift to a more open, democratic society, in part as a buffer to his newly assertive Russia -- Putin is taking his challenge of the West to a new level.
Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 02:46 pm
Deutschlandfunk reports that (a) Putin is peddling back on his congratulations and (b) prime minister Yanukovych is peddling back too. There's still a chance of this being resolved without blood on the streets. (Fingers crossed.)
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 03:17 pm
Lash wrote:
I am proud of Bush's related statements thus far.

Yep <nods>

Lash wrote:
Independence Square in Kiev--seeming more like Tiannenmen Square.

Yep. If the board had invitations I would earlier have invited you to the thread I started on this in perhaps a more passionate mode than Walter's: A wish and a prayer for the Ukrainian democrats, please
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 03:28 pm
Well, I don't mind at all, if this thread is closed, and we join yours.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 04:34 pm
Oh no, I don't care either way - just one thing Lash and I share is a passionate embrace of democratic uprisings, hence I thought mentioning my thread to her. Nothing else intended.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 06:58 pm
Thanks, nimh. I've started my participation there.

Walter, I've appreciated your updating with articles. You can come over and join at nimh's thread, or continue here. I'll be checking any new posts in either place.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 07:14 pm
Does Ukraine have nuclear bombs?

Just askin'.
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Reply Wed 24 Nov, 2004 07:41 pm
I think they checked them all in when the SU dissolved, in some trade-off with Russia ...

<embarassed about not knowing for 100% sure>
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