A few weeks ago we (the Citizens and some of our friends) got into a little argument on this blog about Russia's President Putin. Well, get ready for another argument. Putin appears to be fiddling around with Ukrainian democracy now.
Ukraine had an election yesterday and the results are being questioned both by Ukrainian opposition supporters and by U.S., E.U. and OSCE observers! The top U.S. observer was Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana). Lugar has long been involved in post-Communist transitions in the former USSR. He's been involved in securing nuclear materials and finding financial aid for Russia nuclear scientists. This is a guy who knows the politics of the region and someone we should trust (absent clear evidence he's biased) if he says the election was rigged. That the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe agree with Lugar is very telling.
So what does this have to do with Putin? The election was between two candidates. The candidate who has the backing of the current President of Ukraine and of Putin is an ethnic Russian, Yanukovych, who wants to slow/reverse reform and make Russian the co-official language of the Ukraine (a signal he wants closer ties to Russia). Yanukovych did time in prison in his 20s for assault and robbery (so he's a common thug - probably ex-mafia/black market).
The other candidate is a Ukrainian named, Yushchenko, who wants to move forward with economic reforms and establish closer ties with the West, especially the E.U. (which now borders the Ukraine). Yushchenko is an economist and advocate of free market reforms.
While the U.S., the E.U. and the OSCE have all declared that Yanukovych committed massive election fraud, Putin has declared his recognition of Yanukovych's victory. In the last debate we had about Putin's commitment to democracy, Law Talking Guy defended Putin saying that Putin was only doing what was necessary to break the strangle hold of communists, mafia and corrupt "oligarchs." But in this case, Putin had a choice between supporting a pro-reform candidate opposed to Russian nationalism or a candidate supporting Russian nationalism and opposed to reform. Putin chose Russian nationalism. There is no evidence yet that Putin directly involved himself or Russia in the election fraud but it is early days yet. This should ring alarm bells around the world if only because of what it says about Putin's true preferences!
I hope that Ukraine can be rescued from this catastrophe. I hope Yushchenko is allowed to assume the Presidency.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 10:04 AM