Democracy Rising

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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Did The Orange Revolution Actually Happen?

Cast your minds back to this time last year in Kyiv. Russia is Ukraine's strongest ally. Yulia Tymoshenko is in opposition to the government and has some of the largest public supprt. Viktor Yanukovych wields wide political power. And Kyiv cuddles up to 'friendly' Belarus. In the latter months a huge political upheaval occured. Yet all four of these points are just as valid today, as they were prior to the Orange Revolution. Is Yushchenko betraying the events of last year? Read the analysis over at RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

As for the cuddling up? Check this out. Despite his commitment to western-democracy Yushchenko is heading towards supporting one of the worlds most repressive regimes? Why? With every day that passes im becoming more concerned that Ukraine is turning its back on the EU and towards Russia. These bizzare games can only be an attempt to please the chief puppet-controller. Unfortunately it appears this political pinocchio never grew into a real democracy, leaving the hopes of the west in tatters. Ukraine's last chance may only come when parliamentary elections are held, and a stronger-willed leader has the opportunity to bring Ukraine towards the EU forever....

Georgia's Democracy Test

Well almost 2 years after the revolution that unseated Shevvie, Georgian voters return to the ballot box to elect MP's in five single-mandate constituencies tomorrow (October 1st). With President Saakashvili's commitment to democratic principles sliding all over the shop in the last 12 months, they will provide a key test for just how far Western principles have taken hold.

Its important to remember that opinion polls show a drop in support for the ruling National-Movement but no rise in the oppositions figures. Quite how well either side will do remains to be seen, but most analysts say the opposition can expect to achieve no better than 1 seat. International observers will be in attendance so an account of the fairness of the vote should be provided by next week. However some forces, from the opportunist opposition, are likely to knock all kinds of wild accusations about, regardless of their report. Unfortunately the government doesn't help its case by doing stuff like this and this. Whats most alarming about that last article is this statement by President Saakashvili:

“Some people [referring to opponents] say that we are doing this just for the elections. But we were working a year before the elections, three months before the elections, the day before the elections, we will work on the election day and we will continue to work after the elections as well, only if there will be your support

Now correct me if im wrong but isn't this the sort of thing that goes on in Singapore? The electorate told that if they vote opposition they will be last to receive state investment. Lets hope im just reading too much into that statement. Regardless of what happens i'll keep you updated, and if you want further reading The Messenger has its own low down on the elections.

The Zimbabwe Situation

A great post over at The Zimbabwean Pundit from Eddie Cross. As the title quite rightly points out, the current situation is a stalemate


The first in a series of blogs has launched from neweurasia, Thinking-East’s Central Asia and Caucasus sibling. launches with a story regarding the dismissal of another governor, in Niyazov's totalitarian nation.

I'll let you know, as and when, the other blogs go live!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

From Kazakhstan.....

Two developments covered by RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. The first regards the decision by a printing house to end its contract to print seven opposition newspapers. Thankfully by the end of the day another printing house stepped in to save the day. The Almaty-based Daur publishing house, run by Svetlana Nazarbaeva offered an acceptable deal to print th......hold on, Nazarbaeva? That sounds a lot like Nazarbaev. Oh wait! It turns out that it IS one of the Presidents relatives peddling this operation! Well thats a relief! Im sure the opposition's views are in safe hands now......

Striving For Unification But Creating Disintegration?

There's a great little article over at the Eurasia Daily Monitor. It talks of the recent escalation of tension between Tbilisi and Georgia's seperatist regions. Whilst essential for Saakashvili's political credibility to bring these republics back under central control, a violent confrontation would suit neither side. Due to the expulsion of Abkhazia's ethnic Georgian residents during the civil war 12 years ago, Tbilisi's troops would likely meet extreme resistance by the now-majority Abkhazian's. A similar reception could be anticipated in South Ossetia.

However the interesting development in recent weeks has been the restless nature of regions within Georgia's controlled territory. Samtskhe-Javakheti, an ethnic Armenian area, called for its own broad-autonomy, as recently offered by Saakashvili to the two break-away states. Similar events are occuring in Kvemo Kartli a predominantly Azeri region.

The question therefore is, will Saakashvili call their bluff? Unlikely.

The problem with Saakashvili is that despite his friendly rhetoric (which often alternates with more blood-thirsty language) he has authoritarian tendencies which tend to lean towards centralisation. Devolution/Federalism come into direct conflict with such attitudes, and only fuel speculation that the President will repeat the Ajara-scenario. Here, despite a pledge of autonomy, the region has found itself under de facto government control. The legislature is packed with National-Movement members and led by one of Misha's most staunch allies.

If Saakashvili did allow broad autonomy to the two aforementioned regions and Ajara, there would be concrete evidence to support the belief that Ossetia and Abkhazia might receive the same. Unfortunately bringing these breakaway republics under control has more to do with Misha's personal power drive than the territorial integrity of Georgia. Georgians may have to wait years for a new leader, with pragmatic ideals, to become President before they see the borders of their land returned to their true state. In the meantime those minorities already under central control will grow in restlessness as their rights continue to be ignored. Will the next Georgian Civil war come from these areas? Watch this space

The Path To Recognition?

If there was ever a nation more deserving of international recognition (other than Taiwan) it would be Somaliland. This northern section of war-torn but recognized Somalia has escaped the death, chaos and lawlessness of its southern counterpart. It is the only part of the territory to have Democracy (a rare diamond in Africa) coupled with a thriving economy. The territory had been independent in 1960, before unification with what was then Italian Somaliland (modern day Somalia). It re-declared independence with the outbreak of war in 1991, unfortunately unable to bring the regions of Sanag and Sool, which had previously been part of its territory, back under control.

Well thats the history lesson, and the significance? Today for the first time the people of this nation are going to the polls to elect a parliament. 3 parties are able to stand, with a handful of women candidates vying for 82 seats in the lower house. In addition to funding 70% of the costs of the ballot, many observers will be from EU states.

So why has Somaliland been unable to obtain the elusive international recognition it seeks? Largely due to the instability in Somalia. The world is hoping this war-torn nation can rise from the ashes to some form of stability. By granting independence to the break-away region the fragile peace that currently exists would surely be shattered. Unfortunately the 'stability' of Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed is unlikely to bring democracy, economic growth, the rule of law, or any of Somalilands many credentials.

In his previous post as head of the Puntland region, Ahmed oversaw yet another African dictatorship, repressing media and attempting to extend his mandate through illegitimate means. He also triggered a series of skirmishes with Somaliland, attemtping to wrestle for control of land exempt from Puntlands territory. Since taking over as Transitional Head of State Ahmed has stirred up trouble through the recruitment of private militias. It seems that once again the West is chosing to support a repressive dictator, whilst one of the continents few democracies struggle by.

With international recognition, the democratic process of Somaliland could be authoritively overseen and monitored. In addition, this region could be a powerful ally to Washington. Only this week it arrested four al-Qaeda militants, including one prominent member of the terroist group. However with no positive signals coming from the world community, Somaliland looks set to remain an unknown and unloved state for years to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Kyrgyz Suprise

Over at RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. The internationally popular Roza Otunbaeva's nomination was rejected by parliament for the job of Foreign Minister.

I had read that she wasn't especially popular in Kyrgyzstan, but still, seemed to be the best person for the job. Could this be linked to the Uzbek refugee fiasco? Are some annoyed that Kyrgyzstan's neighbour fell out with its little brother over the issue? Will she become part of the opposition, or remain in government? Who will be nominated as an alternative FM? More questions than answers tonight.

Kyrgyz News

Well some interesting articles just noticed here regarding Kyrgyzstan......

Three great articles all relating to a point I raised over the weekend. That Bakiyev has only a half hearted approach to reform. I gotta say these pieces only raise the suspicion that this so-called revolution was merely an exchange of ruling clans.

Quiet Carnival

Well for those wondering just where the dickens the Carnival of Revolutions is......its right here! Well done to Ken McCracken for a top update

Monday, September 26, 2005

Putin Strenthens Democracy

In another shrewd move, Vladimir Putin gave the nod to a bill drafted by his envoy to the Southern Federal District, Dmitrii Kozak.

According to Russian Television, the bill will give the Prez the opportunity to take back the authority to appoint local officials and decide how to spend federal funds from federation leaders, 'unable to improve socioeconomic conditions despite receiving huge state subsidies'. Basically, Putin does not feel his ability to handpick governors is centralisation enough. Now he will reserve the right to take away their power, should they be unable to use it as wisely as Russia's Tsar can.

As many before me have said, one of the main problems with Putin assuming power (aside from the fact that he is nothing more than a mid-level bureaucrat out of his depth) is that he doesnt have the physical time to oversee all this control. Therefore the aforementioned regions fall into even greater problems. Still at least hes not gonna stand for a third term aye........

Kazakh Election Update

Well im sure i'll get round to doing a proper round up of all the relevant facts ahead of Kazakhstans Presidential Ballot on 4 December. Expect no revolutions here due to incumbent Nursultan Nazarbaev's shrewd economic policy. However without the odd police beating/petrol bombing it just wouldnt be a Central Asian election would it? The ball starts rolling with this at RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Azerbaijan Election Update

Here's this weeks election update from youngeurasia. Been another busy week, one item that did escape the eyes of the blog however, was this one. Seems Mr Soros has decided that revolutions arent a good idea after all. Blogrel and Baku Today have the details.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Here's a little bit of news from the worlds most populous nation...........

Firstly angrychineseblogger has a post regarding the recent UN summit, where the Chinese Foreign Minister was confronted by Tibetan protestors. Well worth a read.

And also news today that pro-democracy members of Hong Kong's Legislative Assembly are making a ground-breaking visit to the mainland.

Leung Kwok-hung, a pro-democracy member known as "Long Hair", arrived on the mainland in what appeared to be a Tiananmen Square protest T-shirt which showed a lone man stopping a line of tanks and the words "The people will never forget".
"Long live democracy! Long live the people!" he shouted, punching the air, as the delegation toured a metro station.

Im sure the Chinese were thrilled. Nonetheless, couple that with an article I read in one of the British broadsheets this week and things are looking up for Hong Kong democracy. The report came from an unamed official saying that there was a very good chance of the Chief Executive being popularly elected by 2007 and almost certain by 2022.

Cant seem to find any blog entries on either of those topics, so if someone points me in the right direction I will definitely include a link. Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Awfully Convenient?

Whilst being shocked and appalled at the murder of Bayaman Erkinbayev this week, I cant help but feel it gives an awfully good opportunity for a purge. Confused? Allow me to explain.

Following the death of the Kyrgyz MP on wednesday, President Bakiyev adressed Parliament. During the speech he lashed out at law enforcement agencies, claiming they were riddled with corruption

"The fact that criminal elements have merged with law enforcement agencies is not news to anybody. You all know this perfectly well, too. Among those sitting here are people who know perfectly well about it, who know who is connected to whom and how they are connected"

Whilst this may be true, he also advocated a 'purge'. There are several problems with this. Firstly if the police are investigating themselves and these 'mafia' links go right to the top of the force, how can anyone be sure such individuals have been erradicated? Secondly how can anyone be sure this is not just a chance to get rid of influential figures who perhaps dont tend to agree with Bakiyev? Afterall the Prosecutor-General was dismissed, without reason, only this week. Many have claimed this is linked to his corruption drive. It would appear some cages were rattled once Aidar Akayev (the son of former President Askar) was stripped of his parliamentary immunity. Lastly, Erkinbayevs business dealings can be called 'shady' to put it politely. He had many enemies, and so how can Bakiyev be so sure the police were implicated? Did the o-so-reliable security forces tell him so? I doubt it.

What is emerging now has parallels to Ukraine, where the Head of State is forced to work with people of questionable backgrounds from the old regime. Unfortunately Erkinbayev was close to Bakiyev, and if early signs are anything to go by the new President is only prepared to prosecute rivals, rather than ALL people genuinely involved in crime. This half hearted approach will only lead to a new clan system and inner circle, rather than the pluralistic society necessary to strengthen Kyrgyzstan. In my opinion, Bakiyev and Kulov are likely to clash over this issue, as the latter becomes frustrated by the formers unbalanced attitude towards corruption.

If you wish to read more in this issue, check out Central Asia - Caucusus Analyst, where theres an interesting article asking if the revolution was one step ahead or two steps back?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Webpages of the Day

Hey, bit too tired at the mo (after a stressful week) to update for myself, but here are a few sites worth a look on 23 Septemeber 2005

  • Registan raises an issue I was unaware of. Appears that the Kazakh President's daughter is openly crossing him for the first time, regarding China’s new oil acquisition, PetroKazakhstan

Happy reading and enjoy the start to your weekend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Thats the only word I can think of to describe the current situation for Ukraine.

As speculated here yesterday Yuri Yekhanurov's nomination for the post of Prime Minister failed to recieve the neccessary approval in parliament.

The blame? Can largely be placed on ex-P.M Yulia Tymoshenko. It comes as no suprise that Kuchma supporters blocked the nomination but quite frankly as a more 'democratic' party, better should be expected from the former P.M's bloc. It would suit Ukraine's interests for Yekhanurov or anyone to be nominated as P.M rather than a continuation of the current standoff. Unfortunately Tymoshenko seems more interested in serving her own personal interests than anyone elses. Sitting in the corner sulking wont reinstate her as Head of Government, its time to move forward, the Ukrainian people deserve a government.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Ukraine Heads For Further Trouble

Interesting article that I noticed over at the Kyiv Post. It would appear that certain forces have decided to abstain or vote against the nomination of technocrat Yuriy Yekhanurov for Prime Minister tomorrow. It appears that rather than work constructively for the good of the nation, certain legislators are hellbent on blocking any government work whatsoever. Unsuprising to read this comment from Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine's first president and a leader of the opposition (pro-Kuchma) Social Democratic Party of Ukraine:

"Our principled stand is that we shall not vote even for an angel because we are in opposition,"

How terribly unprincipled of you. It appears that Mr Kravchuk is jumping on an anti-Yushchenko bandwagon to block the nomination. Although this may appear as a setback for the President ahead of the 2006 parliamentary elections, it may play right into his hands. If the other parties in parliament continuously block Prime Ministerial nominations and WTO bills they may become seen as nothing better than troublemakers. This would severely dent their credibility, and the oppositions popularity would be likely to nosedive. The Ukrainian people could then begin to percieve Viktor as the only person trying to work for the good of the nation, thus handing him a comfortable majority in the Verkhovna Rada.

Seems like all Yushchenko needs to do, is sit back and watch the opposition implode......

Azerbaijan's Parliamentary Elections Monitor

Another fantastic update over at the top blog for protests, registrations, arrests and more. Check out this weeks edition here

Carnival of Revolutions.........

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Alarms, But No Suprises

Appologies to those who have been awaiting my post on 'that' documentary regarding Koba Bekauri. Well it was finally shown through both 202 and Public Television on September 13th. The documentary gave away nothing that had not already been batted around the internet, newspapers and no doubt the dinner tables of Tbilisi. The gist of the piece centres around Bekauri's shady business dealings and is summed up much better than I could offer by Civil Georgia

According to this report, MP Koba Bekauri’s assets increased by 294,000 Lari (about USD 163,000) since he became a parliamentarian one year ago. In an interview, which is the part of this report, Bekauri admits that he received a USD 150,000 interest-free loan from an Israel-based Georgian businessman. According to the law on conflict of interests, an interest-free loan is the same as a gift and public servants have the right to accept gifts within a year only if the gift's value does not exceed 20 times the minimum cost of living – USD 150,000 is much more this figure.

MP Koba Bekauri also admitted that he bought 20% of the shares in the customs terminal Opiza, but registered these shares under his wife's name. But according to the investigative report, MP Bekauri is directly engaged in the management of the terminal. The law also prohibits public servants from participating in the management of private enterprises.

What is probably of greater significance is that this film was transmitted in the first place. Despite my many criticisms of Saakashvili's rule, the broadcasting, on public television, of this sort of film would have been unthinkable under Shevvie's Presidency. Perhaps, as I explained in an earlier article, there are a number of reasons for this. One such possibility raised was that the documentary did not significantly damage Bekauri. Everything shown in the documentary had already become public knowledge, merely rebroadcasting these facts/accusations would not shed new 'negative' light on the case. Infact any attempts to block the documentaries broadcast could have created the impression of guilt for Bekauri.

Further developments in the week seem to reinforce the view that Bekauri, just doesnt have that much dirt on his hands. A parliamentary commission was set up to investigate the MP's activities on wednesday, and this will contain an opposition majority. Thats right. The same opposition who often seem content with just slandering the government (see here) and regularly walking out of Parliament in protest at something or other(see here, here and here). The government must be pretty confident if they dont think even these people, will find Bekauri guilty.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Restoring The Balance

Well in the interests of objectivity and impartiallity, here is an article supporting Bakiyev's moves in the media environment.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Step In The Right Direction

You might remember a few weeks ago I posted an article regarding the offer by the head of Public Television in Georgia to broadcast an investigative report on MP Koba Bekauri’s activities (which have created nothing short of a scandal in Tbilisi).

The programme will indeed be transmitted tomorrow (wednesday) evening, after being shown later tonight on '202' television. I will try to speak to my contacts in Georgia and dig a little bit deeper into exactly what the programme shows, and whether or not it goes out unedited on Public Television.

As previously stated this could be a step in the right direction for Georgian democracy. Stick here for updates!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Revolution Runs Into Trouble?

There's an interesting take on events in Ukraine over at Georgia's English language newspaper 'The Messenger'. The publication is always a top read for relatively independent news from the ex-Soviet republic and home to the first 'colour revolution'

In this edition it adresses the possibility that Yushchenko's perceived failure in Ukraine, (the revolution falling apart when Tymoshenko was fired) could damage the chances of a democratic upsurge across the CIS region.

'Nonetheless, officials in Tbilisi are well aware of the importance of the Kiev government for Georgia and are monitoring developments carefully. The possible collapse of the Orange Revolution and the undermining of Ukraine's western orientation render the idea of making an alliance of countries of "democratic choice" - as foreseen in the "Borjomi Declaration" - pointless. This will amount to a great success for imperialists in Moscow and give them additional means to exert pressure on Ukraine's revolutionary little brother, Georgia. This in turn will likely put an end to the wave of pro-western revolutions in the former Soviet Union that has so weakened Moscow's grip on the region. Therefore, the potential political risks for Georgia are tremendous.'

I think this is a very important and increasingly relevant point. In my opinion the Orange, differed greatly from the Rose Revolution. Tbilisi witnissed the complete destruction of the former Shevardnadze regime, and exposed that he had virtually nil support towards the end of his term in office. The 'Union of Citizens of Georgia' that Shevvie once led is now a completely non-existant force in the Republic's politics. However Ukraine's former leaders did have genuine backing (slighlty less than 50% of the population voted for Viktor Yanukovych in the Presidential ballot). This in my opinion always posed a threat to the revolution. The fact that if people became tired of Yushchenko, their only real alternative lay with the seemingly corruption tainted team of Kuchma.

Some took Tymoshenko's dismissal last week as a positive event. They viewed her as being capable of forming a democratic westernized opposition. This however does not feel me with confidence that she is anything more than a pragmatist:

While addressing Ukrainians during an emotional political talk-show appearance Sept. 9, Tymoshenko clutched in her hands two ribbons - one orange, which was Yushchenko's campaign color, and blue, the campaign color of his rival, losing presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych.She told viewers that she would start carrying both with her, saying "I want us to combine the best we have in both our colors" - a possible hint at her willingness to cooperate with her former political opponents.

Im sorry, but I am of the opinion that Kuchma could foresee a situation such as this developing, and an opportunity for his allies to regain position in a newly empowered parliament. Unfortunately most of Kuchma's ex-team had their hands in state coffers, and are unlikely to have changed their ways in the last 9 months. It would be extremely unwise for Tymoshenko to involve herself with such people, and the democratic gains of last year could easily be erradicated.

As for the end of democracy spreading throughout the ex-Soviet space? Well if Yushchenko can get his government back on track by the time of Azerbaijan's legislative elections, all will be well. However if the Orange events are deemed to have been a disaster, we could be waiting a long while for apathetic Baku residents to rise up against their own cronies.

Carnival Time

This weeks Carnival of Revolutions is up over at Quid Nimis. Each week the carnival traces the latest in democratic movements across the world. Another excellent collection of posts at 12th September's edition!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Around The Web

No update from me today, bit tired after a busy weekend and that marathon post regarding Moldova! However here are a few articles worthy of your attention.......

Thats all from me for now, should post again within the next few days. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Moldova: 'Cuba of Europe' to Democratic Beacon?

April 2001. The first communist government to be democratically elected since 1991 comes into being. Vladimir Voronin a former bakery director and police general during Soviet times becomes President. In his opening speech to parliament he pledges to create ‘modern socialism’ by increasing the role of the state in running the economy and forging closer ties with the increasingly authoritarian Russia. He goes on to describe his vision for Moldova as the 'Cuba of Europe' holding out against "imperialist predators" in what many believe to be a swipe at America. Within the same month his party sacks the heads of state television and radio for providing 'unbalanced programming'. Yet another eastern European nation appears to be sliding towards authoritarianism...

July 2005. President Voronin, speaking to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty " I see my obligation in ... developing the country within the community of the modern European states -- this is our current task, a quite ambitious one, and by this I am referring to European integration."

Is this dramatic U-turn Voronin's awakening to Western ideals, or a pragmatic 'band-wagon' approach, designed to please EU and U.S backers of recent 'colour revolutions'?

The Communists (PCRM) certainly appear to have zig-zagged between Democracy and Authoritarianism at various points during their tenure.

In 2000 despite an earlier referendum, considered free and fair, expressing citizens desire for a stronger Presidency, the Communist legislature removed many of the powers of, and abolished direct elections for, the Head of State. Even to this day around 80% of those surveyed in opinion polls support the reutrn of Presidential elections. Interestingly Voronin adressing Parliament prior to the March elections stated that he would democratize society in line with the first Copenhagen criteria. Yet no attempts to reinstate direct elections have been made and if the opposition is to be believed the Communists are actually back-tracking on their democratic pledges. The 'United Gagauzia' movement claims:

"In September [2005], the Popular Assembly [of the Gagauzia Autonomous Republic] is going to sit and submit to the Moldovan Parliament a legislative initiative on amending the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauz Yeri [Gagauzian Land] in a way to equip the Popular Assembly with the exclusive right to elect the Governor"

Previously, as had been the case nationally, the head of the republic was directly elected by the people. The opposition fears that a similar scenario to that of 2000 in the national legislature, will be repeated in Gagauzia. Perhaps the reason for this rests with the dramatic fall in Gagauz support PCRM suffered during this years parliamentary elections. In 2001 they had the backing of 80% of voters, yet this has now dipped to 30%. This dramatic tumble can largely be attributed to the Central Authorities behaviour in 2002, as outlined by the U.S state department report from the following year:

"In 2002, central authorities pressured the Gagauzia Governor Dmitry Croitor to resign, and there were irregularities in the October 2002 elections that replaced him with Communist candidate Gheorghe Tabunschik. Gagauz observers complained that the Government did not abide by the terms of the agreement giving Gagauzia autonomous status and that it enacted laws that contradicted both local and national legislation establishing Gagauzia's autonomy. Gagauz opposition figures argued that harassment continued in the May 25 mayoral races in the region."

As the above quote, and explanation for an alleged change in electoral system for Gagauzia demonstrates, the government, despite its European aspirations, appears to regularly influence elections in order that its candidates succeed. The recent legislative elections appear to be a case of such 'influence'

Despite being regarded as largely 'free and fair' by most Western observers, all pointed to the major problem of bias within the state media. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe noted:

"In the period from 1 February to 4 March, the news bulletins on Moldova 1 gave some 73 percent of time to cover the ruling party and officials affiliated to it, either in positive or neutral contexts, while BMD received 13 percent, almost half of which was in a negative also reported that context, and PPCD three percent, equally distributed among positive, neutral, and negative contexts. The time dedicated to PSDM also reached three percent"

They also claimed that:

'...a credible report was made of a university dean being pressured to ensure that students attended campaign activities of the ruling party. In one instance, students were threatened with failing grades'

In their final report they recommended:

"Measures should be taken to ensure that all contestants have free and equal access to voters and can campaign without any impediments. The authorities must ensure that local government and police do not unduly interfere in campaign activities. "

The government has however, largely failed to rectify the situation at the time of writing. The Chisinau mayoral election report contained an almost parallel assesment of the legislative vote. Again the vote "..generally complied with most OSCE commitments and Council of Europe election standards," but TeleRadio Moldova was once more criticized for its unbalanced reporting. The organisation also stated that, once more, there were "instances of abuse of public resources and illegal campaigning by state employees"

This is not to say that the Moldovan governments sails have gone entirely against the winds of democracy. In July they ammended the electoral threshold for parties and "social political organizations" from 6 percent to 4 percent and for electoral blocs of two or more parties to 8 percent. This should result in a more democratic parliament, than under the current scenario where, despite proportional representation, the PCRM has been able to gain majorities without the need for support from other parties. It is highly likely, looking through the 2005 percentages, that at least two other parties will be able to pass this threshold by the 2009 elections.

Voronin has, in recent months, eagerly attempted to be seen as part of the 'colour revolution' leaders club. He has thrown himself into the GUAM revival, where the more 'democratic' nations of the CIS have found a common home. The reason for this, appears to be largely pragmatism.

Stuart Henselan analyst at the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says Russia wasn’t proving to be the ally the Communists had hoped for in 2001:

“They (the Communists) came to power thinking they could get a lot more out of that [relationship with Moscow] and have been dismayed by how little they’ve gotten. They think Russia’s been very uncooperative and unhelpful in solving the Transdniester issue, so I think that’s led to a lot of disappointment over Russia. And then I think there’s also a growing sense amongst the Communists that Moldova actually has a lot to gain through a closer partnership with Europe. They’ve begun to see that there is a lot of potential there and that they should maybe pursue that as a more beneficial partnership than the Russian one,” Hensel says.

This is largely true. Russia's foreign policy has been, in recent years, concerned with maintaining its influence and dominance over the post-Soviet space, at all costs. Moscow's desire to maintain its grip on Transdniester stems from Putin's seemingly obsessive behaviour - designed to maintain a de facto Russian empire against the U.S.A, and to keep the EU from creeping closer to its border, with its powerful economy and democratic ideals. These issues are obviously far more complex and worthy of another article in their own right, but in the short, Transdniester needs Russia (its the only nation that recognises it). Russia gives the republic almost all of its military, economic, financial and political support. Without Russia this last European baton of Leninism would most likely collapse within days, and so its unrecognized status suits Russias cause. If Transdniester became a UN member, or legally reunited with its brothers to the west, it could forge close ties with the EU and U.S and reject Russia as its closest ally. Therefore the regions current statu quo, in the bosom of Moscow, makes it a more reliable partner, than the sovereign (and more democratic) Moldova. This explains the Kremlin's position, and why Moldova was doomed to be infuriated by it.

So what of Moldova? Is Voronin a Dictator or Democrat at heart?

Few would argue that the PCRM are authoritarian in their style of rule, but to compare them to a dictator such as Islam Karimov is certainly wrong. Infact a comparison with Leonid Kuchma or Askar Akayev, so called 'soft-authoritarian' leaders would, in my opinion, be innacurate. These former leaders may well have allowed a restricted independent media and opposition groups, but both appeared prepared to hang on to power at all costs. Rigged elections to their name led to accusations of 'managed democracy'. As, rather interestingly, President Putin said this week "I don't know what this is. Democracy either exists or it doesn't exist. It cannot be set apart from the rule of law"

I am of the opinion that Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Georgia in their past states form a middle ground of 'medium authoritarianism'. Moldova, I believe is a truer example of this 'soft' category. Its government can be grouped with those of Kenya and more significantly Romania, as nations whose leaders may have appeared dictatorial but were prepared to allow democratic elections.

Bucharest, lying to the west of Moldova, may give a clue as to the type of government Voronin leads. In December 2004 Traian Basescu swept to power and replaced the Socialist President, Ion Iliescu.

Mr Iliescu can hardly be desribed as 'democrat of the century'. After the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu his 'National Salvation Front' went back on its earlier pledge to merely organize elections, and instead decided to participate - capturing over 80% of the vote. He is largely held responsible for calling miners to Bucharest on 28 January and June 14, 1990 to end the non-violent protests against himself and other ex-communist leaders. This ended in a bloody massacre where as many as a hundred people died. He also violated the constitution by promoting another candidate in the 2004 Presidential election, even though the Head of State is supposed to be apolitical. He countered this with the argument that he was "the president of Romania, not Switzerland". His final days in office were busied with issuing pardons to former associates such as Miron Cozma, the convicted leader of the miners.

The U.S state department report for Romania - 2003, almost mirrors that of Moldova's. Such problems as bias in the state broadcaster, judicial impartiality and some problems regarding the electoral process all appear. Yet despite all these problems, Iliescu never rigged an election and knew when to step down. In fact he did so twice. Originally defeated in 1996, he won re-election in 2000. He oversaw the transition at the end of both terms, to an opposition leader.

It appears that Iliescu sought to influence politics using less than constitutional means, yet he maintained the basic principle of democracy (free and fair elections) throughout. It could be said that Voronin is taking a similar path, albeit without the help of miners, whereby he attempts to keep power by using so-called 'dirty tricks' to confuse and discredit the opposition. I don't believe that PCRM will change their ways whilst Voronin leads them. He clearly sees state control of TeleRadio Moldova and other questionable methods as acceptable, and there is no doubt that the desire to spread democracy by the Bush administration has clearly come at the right time. Moldova will, in 10 years, be flanked by what should be 2 powerful European economies, Romania and Ukraine. Their financial assistance, as well as their experiences of the transition to democracy, will prove invaluable to Moldova. If it can bring Transdniester back under its wing, with the regions vast industry, the nations economy will certainly kick start and peoples living conditions should gradually start to improve. Europe certainly appears to be the correct direction for Moldova to face in the new century, and as long as Moldova maintains its commitment to democracy, Cuba will seem very far away......


Not sure why but none of the other blogs/news websites seem to have picked this up yet, but after just seven months Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko has sacked his government. In recent weeks there have been several allegations of corruption swirling around (although not concerning) the Head of State. A spate of resignations have dogged the new government in recent days, as the chief of staff Oleksandr Zinchenko claimed things were "even worse" than under the former President Leonid Kuchma.

It's questionable how much good firing everyone, including the popular Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, will do for Ukraine and Yushchenko's ambitions to join the WTO. The President is already lagging behind on that front, as several deputies have blocked the passage of necessary legislation to join the organisation. Quite how he attempts to achieve that goal by bringing Tymoshenko's Socialists into opposition with him is a mystery. He was forced to work with them orginally, as the majority of parliament contains ex-Kuchma allies. By alienating the more democratic elements in the chamber he leaves little room for manouver. Perhaps he is hoping that this gamble will pay off and he can scoop a large majority in the 2006 legislative elections, however due to Kuchma's tampering with the constitution whichever party obtains the most seats will be entitled to take the post of Prime Minister. Looking at the latest stats there is the very real possibility that Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions will be able to form a government in some shape or form.

Yushchenko's popularity is falling by the day, lets hope for the sake of democracy that he can turn things around, and that Kuchma's ex-allies aren't back in power by this time next year.

For those of you interested he has appointed Yuri Yekhanurov, the Dnipropetrovsk governor as acting P.M.

Check out the Kiev Ukraine News Blog, who im sure will be updating on the situation throughout the day

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hold On A Jiffy!

Hmmm somewhat interesting to note this (albeit poorly written) article at Akipress (a private news agency in Kyrgyzstan).

For those unable to make out exactly what the confusing lingo is getting at, an opposition group is outraged after the brother of newly elected President Kurmanbek Bakiev was appointed Ambassador to Germany. Whats that I hear you say? Sounds like something Akayev would do? Well yes, even Bakiev would have agreed with that just a few weeks back...he was mentioned here, and more specifically here stating that those days were over.

"When I was prime minister I sometimes had to work with unprofessional ministers who were appointed because they were someone's relative or friend"

Jeepers Mr Bakiev, how awful! Thankfully now that western attention is diverted to Hurricane Katrina, Egypt and UN corruption, Kyrgyzstan can resume normal, I mean, what a relief that lessons have been learnt from Akayev's mistakes. Infact those upholders of democracy and human rights in the other Central Asian Kingdoms, such as Kazakhstan, do exactly the same.

Rakhat Aliyev, who resigned last November as National Security Committee deputy chairman after trading corruption allegations with Zhaqiyanov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 2001), has been named Kazakhstan's ambassador to Austria, Interfax reported on 23 June. Aliyev is married to President Nursultan Nazarbaev's eldest daughter, Darigha, who controls numerous media outlets. The two are reportedly estranged, and it is not clear whether Darigha will accompany her husband to Vienna. LF

I just can't see what the problem is, anyone would think Bakiev was forging an alliance with those Commies in China........

Monday, September 05, 2005

Carnival of Revolutions

This weeks carnival is up, be sure to check it out at

Sunday, September 04, 2005

BlogDay 2005

"BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated
to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On
that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors."

Basically a great opportunity to spread the word about some of your own personal favourite blogs. Heres my five recommendations:

Singabloodypore An explanation of the strict control which exists in, and hell hole that can be, Singapore!

North Korea Zone The best place on the web to find news and information about the most secretive society on earth....

Media Network Weblog A fantastic blog regarding international media news, updated several times a day. Catch news that you just won't find elsewhere from Radio Netherlands - the Dutch international service.

Expat Monkey Great pictures and interesting posts as the monkey travels the world!

Angry Chinese Blogger in their own words " alternative view to both the Chinese state media and the popularist western media"

Friday, September 02, 2005

Azerbaijan: From Showmanship To Brinkmanship

Excellent analysis over at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections, as President Ilham Aliyev attempts to secure a comfortable majority for his Yeni Azerbaycan Party, whilst pleasing the west with a free and fair ballot and avoiding a 'colour revolution'. For a weekly update on the situation check out - Azerbaijan's Parliamentary Elections Monitor.

An Encouraging Development

Well during the past weeks and months Georgian democracy appeared to be somewhat on the rocks (see earlier posts). However, today a positive development, as the new head of public television offered to broadcast the investigative report regarding the activities of MP Koba Bekauri originally scheduled for '202' television.

A unexpected move to say the least, should be interesting to see whether or not the programme is broadcast nationwide. There are many different angles to look at, largely relating to Public Broadcasting's independence. Could this be a move by Saakashvili to deflect western criticism over the arrest of Ramishvili? Perhaps the Georgian government sees Bekauri as a liability and wishes to use the documentary as a method to dispose of him? Maybe the programme does not incriminate Bekauri in any way? Or perhaps the new body is truly independent and is making such moves under its own initiative?

If this documentary goes out, unedited, during prime time, on Georgian Public Television, without any criticism from government quarters or reports of intimidation, then it most definitely will be a step in the right direction for Georgian democracy.

Watch this space.......