Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Monday, August 16, 2010

Democracy Rising Rises From The Ashes....

It's been almost 4 years since we last posted, but Democracy Rising is about to breathe once again. Older, wiser and smarter - the new format will mean fewer posts but of far greater quality and analysis of the hottest topics in the march towards or (sometimes more sadly) away from Democracy.

It's good to be back!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kyrgyz Revolution Concluded

Check out my new blog here for the first analysis of the Kyrgyz constitutional reforms. It seems Bishkek may finally be moving towards some form of Democracy...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thai Coup Update

According to the usually slow Channelnewsasia, the Council of Political Reform is the name of the new Thai 'Junta'. More soon...

Thai Coup - Potential Leaders

The King - An unlikely possibility, the monarch has often intervened to prevent such putsch attempts in the last 15 years, although he had been an apparent supporter of military regime's in the earlier years of his reign. The King still retains several strong powers, and it would be fair to say that Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation (later reversed) earlier in the year was as a result not only of massive street protests but of the monarch's own personal preferences. Needless to say, I would rule this possibility out.

The Government - This option has been bandied about on the BBC this afternoon, but it seems unlikely. Why would Thaksin Shinawatra launch a coup to seize power? Granted elections are forthcoming and the opposition is looking strong, but with a robust economy and strong rural support the P.M should be able to secure a victory. Additionally to launch such an audacious attempt whilst out of the country seems slightly bizare to me

The Opposition - Unlikely the opposition have the necessary resources and contacts to launch such an attempt. Needless to say they do have a strong distaste for the 'Thai Love Thai' ruling party.

Opposition Leaning Army Units - A more likely possibility, but still remote. Whilst some in the army may no doubt dislike Shinawatra, his recent activities lack anything severe enough to warrant a forceful removal from power.

Nationalistic Army Units - The most likely source of the coup. Thailand has been fighting an extremist insurrection for several years now, and much of the south remains under martial law. Perhaps certain elements feel that only under a military dictatorship can these 'terrorists' be defeated. Shinawatra appears to be thinking along a similar line -the chief of the army has just been sacked. Only recently police arrested five army officers over a suspected coup plot.


If the latter option is infact closest to the truth, then an extremist insurgency will ironically be the biggest winner from the coup. During the chaos of a civil service and interior ministry unsure of how to act, law and order can quickly break down. Such power vacuums are dangerous and would be easy to exploit for enemies of the Thai state. Gaining a stronger hold over the south, or even expanding into the remainder of the country become increasingly likely possibilities in such a scenario. Furthermore, any attempt to deal with the insurgency through stronger and more ruthless repression than that of a Democrat (no matter how much of a dysfunctional one) are only doomed to further failure.

My quick analysis of the coup attempt, and I'm no professional mercenary, is that it will fail.

Shinawatra's rule may have been marked by cronyism and an erosion of some freedom's, but it has also brought greater wealth for many, has increased opportunities for Thai's and generally presents a greater prospect for future prosperity than that of a Burmese style Junta. It is safe to say that Thailand's people have awoken to Democracy. This is why they poured on to the streets earlier in the year, and why, no matter how much of an autocrat Shinawatra may seem, many thousands of supporters and detractors will be prepared to face this attempt head on. I cannot see even the Thai Democrat Party who are fiercely opposed to the government welcoming the current developments.

Finally, you must ask yourself what kind of amateur job is this coup? The instigators of such an attempt have clearly got their ideas straight out of the 'Kurmanbek Bakiev: How To Be An Incompetent Dictator' school of thought. Firstly boys you don't seize government buildings and leave half the media in the hands of the man you're overthrowing, allowing him ample time to broadcast statements to the nation, and whipping up anti-coup feelings. Furthermore if you're going to take the nation, a good power-cut or complete switch off of external communications, ala Pakistan, usually is sufficient to keep people in the dark for long enough to overthrow the existing regimes. School-boy errors

*I'll update later, but for now I have work. Please leave comments

Thai Coup Attempt Underway

News just in, and apparently tanks have appeared on the streets of Bangkok. Much of Thai's media is in the hands of the government and the army (an after-taste of the days of dictatorship) and the military outlets are allegedly broadcasting images of the King after suspending normal programming.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has declared a state of emergency. Too bad that he is in New York for the UN general assembly. Appearing on his own station the P.M ordered troops not to move illegally.

More soon.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Moldova And Ruddy Blogspot

Dear readers,

Firstly may I begin by apologising for the lack of updates recently. Quite frankly I could barely be bothered in the last few weeks to write anything - probably due to the lack of positive events which have occurred in terms of world affairs. Whilst Israel smashed up half of Lebanon, the British government pressed self-destruct. Elsewhere the Party of Regions gangsters have been busying themselves lining their pockets with more money they've stolen from hard-working Ukrainians and reverting to their trademark bully boy tactics against the media.

A few minutes ago I completed a cracking post about the current situation in Moldova. It took over an hour to write, and covered an angle that nobody else in the blogsphere appeared to pick up on. Unfortunately due to Blogspot being a piece of cr*p I lost the entire post. I won't go into the details, but anyone who has a blog with Blogspot will be aware of how easy it is to lose those, oh-so-carefully constructed posts in seconds.

For those interested, a brief summary of the post is as follows:

  • Yanukovych is the new Ukrainian PM. Most people in senior Ukrainian government/state positions have now been replaced with men that make your local used-carsalesman look like Mother Terresa. Yanukovych doesnt care about Democracy.

  • Ukraine's former government's cared about Democracy. Hence all these useless talking shops such as GUAM that it set up alongside Georgia and Moldova. In addition Kyiv had previously committed itself to a blockade of the rebel Trans-Dniester region of Moldova. The blockade would mean eventual economic collapse for the mafia running the rebel area, as Dniester shares a border only with Ukraine and Moldova.

  • PoR are in the pockets of President Putin. Putin virtually controls all these little break-away regions in the former Soviet Union. Sooner or later the Russian dictator will tell Yanukovych to end this silly little blockade, because Trans-Dneister is a good way of bullying Moldova (which is of no geographical or economical use to Moscow) into doing what the Kremlin wants.

  • President Voronin has hardly had a great news-day today. RFE/RL have published two stories that hardly flatter his Moldovan government and it's record on Democracy. (see here, and here)

  • In Conclusion. Yanukovych's election may well mean that Moldova's Communist government gives up on this pretence of Democracy. With Eastern Europe sliding back towards old authoritarian ways what is the point in Chisianu continuing to pander to Brussels? Keep watching to see a clash between the west and the KGB mafia in Moscow.

Yeah, im very irritable tonight.

Good evening to you, until next time

Matt Jay

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Closure... last, after Yushchenko finally made a decision. In spite of earlier predictions, a scenario previously unseen occurred. Our Ukraine looks set to join Regions and the Socialists without the Communist Party, who failed to agree to a number of points in a National Unity Document.

So good news or bad news?

Well no Communists is certainly good news. If they were thrown a bung by the Party of Regions, they're now out of a likely government, which should make decision making a bit more fluid. A situation where a bloc in the government has been bought off, tends to result in their blind and unwavering support. At least with a (more or less) honest Our Ukraine holding a few posts, the chance of Democracy being completely destroyed are slim.

More good stuff. Yulia Tymoshenko has agreed to come back to Parliament. This means there will be someone leading from the opposition who isn't an old school Communist. Should certainly keep Regions on their toes, and might give the kiss of death to the government in the coming months. Afterall if Yulia is serious about recruiting Regions/NSNU/Socialist rebels, she may get enough people on her side to bring down the government - or at least frighten Yanukovych enough to prevent him doing anything too radical.

Bad news. A lot of people still aren't sure exactly what Yanukovych will get upto in office. Fears about Freedom of Speech and government transparency are likely to remain. Furthermore in spite of the pledges to continue integration towards the EU - I just cant see it. If Yanukovych is to be a Dictator, then he has no hope of joining the Union, and will make no pretence about that. If he is to rule as a Democrat then he will need to rely on his Russian-speaking support base. His work will be cut out if they are to change their minds - personally I think it is a no-go.

A few final thoughts for now...

Why has Yushchenko insisted that the Orange Revolution was about bringing Ukraine closer to the EU and NATO? These are positions that Yanukovych would have found intollerable - so why would he have signed any documents pledging support for such policy. Surely the spirit of Orange was Democracy and Freedom of Speech. These would have been much more easier for Regions to agree to (although only if they wanted to), without abandoning their core supporters. Why did the two Viktors not agree to put the whole EU/Russia thing on pause for 4 years, and work simply towards economic growth and raising the Ukrainian standard of living. The country is big enough to stand and grow on it's own without being propped up by Brussels.

Yanukovych can rule as a Democrat. He has the opportunity - if he wants it - to start afresh and run a clean government. The past is the past - he was allowed off the hook by Yushchenko, and any shady dealings of the past should be left to history. Starting from today, he can run a smooth ship and improve all of Ukraine's wealth (which would include his own) if he so wishes.

All is not lost. Yushchenko will exercise some influence through the Our Ukraine involvement in government. He also has a veto that would require a 2/3rd's majority to overturn at his disposal. Unless Yulia teamed up with Regions to do so, it's likely that what laws Yushchenko finds unsatisfactory will be overturned.

We wait and see......

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Still Waiting For Yushchenko

Midnight has passed and still no decision from Yushchenko on whether or not to dissolve the Ukrainian parliament. What is he doing!? Quite possibly the most indecisive President in the history of Europe. Well Yushchenko must have made his decision by now because the deadline (23:59pm) has passed. And still we wait...

A reminder of his options...
  • Yushchenko has been waiting until today - when he can now legally dissolve Parliament. He takes this choice and Regions accept - ready for the challenge. An election campaign is fought in which the Orange team narrowly winning and Lytvyn's bloc managing to get back into Parliament. Realistic? 10%.

  • Yushchenko has been waiting until today - when he can now legally dissolve Parliament. He takes this choice and Regions accept - ready for the challenge. An election campaign is fought, but in spite of an heroic performance by Tymoshenko, Regions scrape a majority. Yushchenko realises his impeachment and a trip to Kiev by Alexander Lukashenko are only months away. Realistic? 65%

  • Yushchenko has been waiting until today - when he can now legally dissolve Parliament. He takes this choice and Regions announce a Coup is underway. Thanks to Lytvyn and Tymoshenko messing about last year and refusing to swear in judges, no Constitutional Court exists. Chaos ensues. Yanukovych and Moroz announce they are holding the Rada against the Coup, and begin to make moves to impeach Yushchenko. Sensing disaster, Tymoshenko and Poroshenko urge the President to use force to capture the Rada. The move is successful, but only smells like mid-1990's Russia. The taste is much sharper and some form of mild Civil War breaks out between the East and West, with local councils in the East deciding they want to break-away and join up with the Russian Federation. Yushchenko rules by decree. Eventually western-Ukraine splits away and forms its own state - quickly joining the EU. Realistic? For the most part 35%

  • Yushchenko reads the above possibility or realises that he better not risk lowering his opinion poll rating any further. He decides to do nothing. Regions form a government, but it turns out Moroz was just pulling our leg. He really is a decent Socialist. Realising that he and the Communists have nothing in common with Yanukoych, he causes all kinds of havoc before teaming up once more with BYuT and Our Ukraine. Now though he has the Speaker's post, and £300 million to retire to a villa in Northern Cyprus once his disgraced party flunks the next election. Well....maybe not the latter part. Realistic? 10%

  • Yushchenko reads the above possibility or realises that he better not risk lowering his opinion poll rating any further. He decides to do nothing. Regions form a government, but it turns out Moroz really couldn't care less about Socialism or Democracy. The £300 million bung he MAY have received is enough for him to keep quiet whilst Yanukovych closes down all independent media and slips a more effective poison, than the job SOMEONE did on Yushchenko, into Tymoshenko's soup. Yushchenko fades into the sunset, barely making a speech or visit out of shame until his term in office runs out. Realistic? 80%

  • Yushchenko reads the above possibility or realises that be better not risk lowering his opinion poll rating any further. He decides to do nothing. Regions form a government, but waste most of their time not on sorting out the economy but dealing with a weak, poc-marked President. The Constitutional Court becomes stacked with Donetsk gangsters who are quite happy to impeach Yushchenko. Viktor leaves office, Moroz becomes acting-President (at last the position he dreamed of in 1999!), but is told to refrain from any independent thoughts. Yushchenko and his family are forced to flee to the EU whilst Tymoshenko stays to fight on. Within 10 years Ukraine is in a Belarus situation, where BYuT can't muster a seat in Parliament and foreign investors have lost all interest. Realistic? 70%

N.B - The above percentages are worked out using a mathematical system no more sophisticated than my own hunches. Any references to suspected poisonings, bungs or villa's in Northern Cyprus are purely fictional.

So why the hold-up? Either because of this, or because Yushchenko is hoping to break the news at 2:00am when everyone is asleep and avoid causing a massive riot in Kiev.

One tit-bit of info to wake you from the snooze this 'crisis' is causing - thanks to Reuters

'Presidential adviser Mykola Poludenny indicated that Yushchenko was leaning towards dissolution.
"This situation in parliament, it cannot go on. There should be a new parliament," he told the Fifth television channel.'

Fingers crossed

Friday, July 28, 2006

Unity In Ukraine At Last?

Despite my feelings about any possible coalition between the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine, things seem to be moving forwards. Or are they still stuck in neutral? It's hard to tell with all the conflicting reports at the moment.

There has been much talk today of a National Unity Declaration - basically a document to be negotiated over and agreed to by all parliamentary sides - specifying and committing any future government to safeguarding freedom of speech, Ukraine's territorial integrity, liberal economic reforms, European integration efforts and support for a single national language, Ukrainian (it's a trap Yushchenko! See yesterday's post)

Basically the N.U.D will allow NSNU to join up with PoR in government under the cover of human rights. Listening to Roman Bezsmertny banging on about 'preserving the ideals of the Orange Revolution' had me in fits. Why would the Communists and Regions, who were opposed to the Revolution and everything that the Cabinet of Minister's has done in the past year and a half, suddenly do a U-Turn in the direction of European values? It's quite apparent Bezsmertny is talking sh*t and even the rubbish coming out of his mouth is said with little conviction.

So who can we expect in any government of National Unity? Well as I said yesterday, the Communists are here to stay, due to the large bribes they may have accepted to join the government. Either Our Ukraine puts up with that and joins the coalition (which I think they eventually will - I mean they're joining the PoR. Have they got any morals left?) or sit sulking.

As for who get's what post? Well Yushchenko already gets to nominate the Foreign and Defence ministries under the current constitution. Despite what some people are claiming, I can't see NSNU ever getting the Interior Minister portfolio under a Yanukovych government.

Looking at things logically Regions will currently have to split the main posts 3 ways - giving a power ministry to the KPU and Socialists, and leaving the rest for themselves. Regions will naturaly take the Finance/Economic portfolios, which leaves only the Interior post left. I don't think the Communists will be too happy if they are left picking up scraps such as Minister for Culture - therefore Our Ukraine can discount any chance of controlling the police (which would be the best chance to safeguard human rights).

So either Our Ukraine accepts a lesser post such as Justice or Health, or waits in opposition. As I outlined yesterday, Region's don't really need NSNU. They have their majority - all allegedly paid off and thus in their back pockets for the next 4 years. Therefore even if Yushchenko does join the government, expect his ministers to be out on their backsides as soon as they so much as disagree with Yanukovych.

It's a very sad situation but as always Yulia Tymoshenko is brilliant. She must clearly now accept that NSNU are as much traitors as Moroz - repeatedly saying no negotiations are happening with PoR and then 'chatting' to them by night. She most definitely has the quote of the day:

"In not a single democratic country in the world is it possible to unite all political forces." That's the trouble Yulia. Ukraine is looking less and less like a Democracy and more like a Oligarchy where parties can be bought off with each passing day.

Abkhazia Tension Rises

Following on from yesterday's post about President Saakashvili's decision to relocate the Abkhaz government-in-exile back to territory under Tbilisi's control, developments are happening fast.

Whilst the leaders of the unpopular and weak opposition parties united to denounce the operation, the former Foreign Minister and popular leader Salome Zourabichvili hailed the move. The leader of Georgia's Way however asked the authorities to refrain from Euphoria (something that Misha never does of course) and concentrate on South Ossetia for this year. However that is all looking unlikely...

Abkhazia today said that it would have 'no choice but to use force' if the government in exile is based in the region. Guess who then decided to turn the tension up a notch? Senior Georgian lawmakers, who claimed that "in case the Abkhaz side will pose a threat to this territory [Kodori gorge] they will be hit by a devastating strike". Smashing.

In spite of the rhetoric, I think it is a fairly small possibility that, at the moment, things are about to break out into all out war.

Whilst the de facto government is heavily backed by Moscow, I can't see Putin being prepared to risk the condemnation of the international community by blatantly meddling in another nation's affairs (although we know he does like to do so in a more opaque fashion). However im sure the Kremlin won't tolerate any attempt by Saakashvili to overrun it's peacekeeping forces and launch a full out war against Sokhumi.

Furthermore the Abkhaz government will find it hard to match the strength and quality of an American-trained Georgian army. Quite frankly a war risks Abkhazia taking a beating, losing some if not all of it's territory and of course the risk that past and some current ministers might face war crimes charges over the ethnic-cleansing that took place in the early 1990's. And all this over what? A government in exile that for now poses no real threat to Sokhumi and is likely to be deeply unpopular in the Kodori gorge.

As Gia Nodia, director of the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development in Tbilisi, notes in a RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty article "we know that in the past the legitimate government of Abkhazia was rather unpopular in Kodori -- at least it was in its previous composition. When representatives of the legitimate government of Abkhazia went to the gorge in [former Georgian leader Eduard] Shevardnadze's time they got beaten up."

This point still tell's us much even 3 years after Shevvie was forced from office. The simple truth is that these 'bandits' the Georgian army removed yesterday had been allowed to freely operate for years, with little condemnation from Tbilisi. As I mentioned yesterday 'Emzar Kvitsiani made various statements in the past few days, mainly along the line that he doesn't recognise the new government in Georgia etc. Yet for many years Kvitsiani and his militia have been tolerated by the government - was this the last straw?'

Saakashvili will have to do more than sending in aid to the region if he is to get back people's support there. Like ethnic Armenians in Javakheti they feel isolated and let down by the government. The President in Tbilisi is not their President. Strong armed rhetoric and shooting bandits won't reunite Georgia. It's time for Saakashvili to sense that hearts and minds need to be won before this tiny Republic's territorial integrity can be restored.