Democracy Rising

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

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.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

...And There Is Your Excuse To Invade Abkhazia

The past week has seen a flurry of military activity in Georgia. A local warlord (yes Georgia still has people calling themselves such titles) has been stirring up trouble. 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?

Regardless of the political intrigues, Georgia has repeatedly said it will not invade Abkhazia (that's the breakaway state sharing a ceasefire line very close to where Kvitsiani is operating). Yet an interesting development occurred today as the rebel leader escaped from the clutches of the Georgian Interior ministry. Whoops! A bit of a blunder considering all the bravado earlier in the week from Saakashvili about the 'might of the armed forces'.

Apparently the fugitive has escaped to Abkhazia, although what solid evidence this is based upon is anyones guess. Oh and what is this? The 'exiled-government' of the break-away region has unexpectedly moved this evening from Tbilisi into an area of Abkhazia that has been under the government's control for years...make of that what you will. Stand by, is the ground work being put down for a full-out war against the break-away region? Would be an excuse for violating the Abkhazian territory...

Yushchenko The Great Philosopher Or The Great Fool?

Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko apparently 'sees a moment of truth' in Ukraine's political life. Is his party about to join forces with the Party of Regions? Check out their website to see what a rudderless organisation they are. Every other story is "we will join on our own terms/we will go into opposition".

On the subject of a different coalition being formed...well all this clap trap about Our Ukraine joining the government without the Communists....don't be silly Yushchenko. If the Commies have in fact taken a £300 million bribe, the PoR will want to make sure that they're receiving guaranteed 'Tak' votes on every single bill. And that just ain't gonna happen if the Communists are in opposition. Besides, Our Ukraine's votes won't be guaranteed. They can't even be attempted to be bribed as that would expose what a sleazy party the Regions are. In addition, they might just rebel in Parliament. I mean with no financial benefits MP's might actually act on their own morals. Good heavens! In Ukraine?

Why Yushchenko is entertaining such an idea is beyond me. It's pipe dreams that will never come true. Why? Because as I just explained Regions have their bribed majority, and all the while Our Ukraine is seen to be negotiating with Donetsk gangsters, their popularity continues to slide. So, if Yushchenko does decide to call an election, it will be a clean PoR, BYuT fight. And Yanukovych knows he will win.

Malawi - Democracy Or Revenge?

Former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi has been arrested on charges of corruption. The former leader left office in 2004, handing over to Bingu wa Mutharika, his chosen successor.

What is interesting about this development is to look at it from a Democratic angle.

Firstly let's be to the point and say that Muluzi was no Democrat. He tried to change the constitution to allow him that infamous, 'extra term to finish off his good work' - a symptom that many African Presidents suffer from. Amongst the chaos of an angry public and church, the Head of State barred demonstrations and forced some MP's into hiding. Yet eventually Muluzi accepted his fate and rather oddly gave the Presidency to Mutharika.

The new Head of State had previously ran against his predecessor and had even formed a rival party before deciding to join the President's UDF party. Clearly Muluzi didn't believe such past behaviour, strongly indicating a dislike for the President and a desire to remove him from power, would come back to bite him on the nose. It's on a similar par to Mugabe allowing Tsvangirai the Zimbabwean Presidency and then being suprised when he winds up in a police station a few years later. If anything the 40 charges of Corruption that have been levied against the ex-President are deserved. Not very calculating for a so-called Autocrat Muluzi...

So are these charges based upon a desire to clean up politics, or just an attempt to seek vengance upon a former rival?

Well the situation in Malawi is certainly complex. The UDF Party lost parliamentary elections and, with Mutharika setting up his own bloc, are now out of power. Therefore some sort of turn-over of faces has occurred in Malawi. But it's all been done in a shady fashion. Mutharika was not elected democratically. He managed to buy off one of his main rivals. How did the UDF respond? They tried to impeach Mutharika. Clearly this is not the stuff of Democracy but of a naked power struggle, occurring in some sort of bizzare quasi-legal battlefield.

As for how the Civil Rights situation has improved for Malawians since Mutharika took over? Look no further.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Democracy Update: Wednesday 26th July 2006

This is how the world's Democracy looks at 17:30 GMT

  • Is President Yushchenko growing a spine? Apparently "Ukraine Is Facing Serious Threat Of Isolation" and thus the Head of State is fully prepared to use his constitutional right to maintain Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration.

That's all from the revived update for today guys, take care.

Matt Jay

Whilst The West Is Distracted, Lukashenka Acts

Yes it was only a matter of time, but it appears the pro-Western opposition leader in Belarus - Alexander Milinkevich - has been arrested. Thanks to Belarus American Blog for this one.

Will the arrest spark much noise from the West? Unlikely. Ukraine is about to fall back into Russia's sphere of influence, and most of Europe is concerned with the current mess in the Middle-East. Im sure Chavez is patting Lukashenka on the back as we speak....

Monday, July 24, 2006

The True Test Of Yushchenko....

...Will he dissolve a parliament already infested with corruption, or is July to be the last month in which Ukraine enjoys freedom of speech and assembly?

In this month Ukrainian Democracy has taken a pounding. For those who haven't been following Foreign Notes, this week has been marked by major allegations against Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions. Lip-Readers (hopefully employing more skill than the numerous individuals wildly guessing about that 'Zidane-Headbutt') allege that a certain video proves the Blue team bought off the Communists and Socialists for figures of around £300 million. Further evidence is emerging today, all fueling growing anger and concern in Liberal Ukrainian hearts. How much of this is true remains to be seen, but lets throw some educated guesses about, and then provide some form of analysis to current and future affairs.

Educated Guesses....

  • Firstly it is quite obvious that either Oleksandr Moroz has been an unexposed power-hungry bribe-taker for the past 16 years, or he really does just love that anti-Socialist, Big-Business agenda of Party of Regions. Whichever one of those is true is becoming increasingly irrelevant - Moroz is a sly liar. Today he took it upon himself to announce that the section of the Ukrainian Constitution providing Yushchenko with the right to dissolve parliament somehow had no legal basis. Gosh, riding rough-shod over the law? Moroz you sound more like Yanukovych everyday!

  • Finally, Yushchenko is clearly displaying all of his characteristically weak traits. Over the past month mixed messages have been leaked to the press, and Yushchenko himself seems to have switched from; wanting to team-up with Yanukovych to being happy in opposition; happy to have Yanukovych as PM to demanding a neutral; even from wanting Parliament to get on with things to possibly seeking its dissolution. All this flip-flopping means that whatever choice he now makes he looks a fool. I get the impression that the man simply reads opinion polls everyday and tries to base his decisions upon them. It's clear that President Yushchenko must grow a spine and gain a bit of his old charisma for the sake of Democracy...

What Yushchenko Must Do....

  • Do NOT let the Anti-Crisis Coalition take control of any of the government posts. The whole time that Yuriy Lutsenko is Acting-Interior Minister he controls the police forces. Once Yanukovych gets his tenticles around law-enforcement expect to see him give the Cops a massive pay-rise (see Buy-Off) and any peaceful attempt to change power dramatically crushed. Remember - in the Orange Revolution, Yanukoych wanted to crush Maidan, but because a then more powerful Presidential post was held by Kuchma nothing happened. In the new constitutional situation Yanukovych would be in charge of the man pulling the police's strings and quite able to smash demonstrations and strikes. This one fact makes 2006 more dangerous than 2004.

  • Dissolve Parliament and expose what a bunch of corrupt individuals the Regions and many Socialists are. If Yushchenko and Tymoshenko launched a joint bloc and called upon all those concerned about Democracy to vote for them, im sure they could beat Yanukoych. Remember in March one of Regions strengths was getting out the vote in the East. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Our Ukraine in the West.

  • Appeal To The East. At the last elections the Liberals barely bothered to touch eastern regions such as Donetsk. It's high time they attempted to unite Ukraine, but under a Democratic banner.

  • Make This A Fight About Democracy. If BYuT and Our Ukraine abandon their staunch pro-EU, NATO and Ukrainian language positions, they might stop being seen as lackeys of Washington and Brussels in the East. A pledge to hold referendums on all 3 issues would show that power truly did lie with ALL Ukrainian people - and some of the fears about voting for anyone other than Regions by Russian-speakers might fade.

What may happen...

  • Yushchenko has been waiting until today 25 July - 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 25 July - 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 25 July - 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.

Appologies for the deeply sarcastic tones at the end of the article, but it's late and when I get really annoyed about a subject, I try to vent my frustration through 'humour' rather than sw%*r#ng. Today is the day folks. Has Yushchenko got any guts?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Let's Talk About The Middle - East Over A Bread Roll

There's too much I could say about the current desperate state of affairs in the Middle-East as Israel and Hizbollah batter each other to death. Perhaps I will at some point in the next few days, but for now I think this video just about sums up efforts by Bush and Blair. The link can be found here.

This will go a long way to dismissing the stereotype that Tony Blair simply listens and nods along with Bush. Furthermore the impression that Bush is some kind of uncultured fellow with little in the way of basic table manners can no doubt be expelled. Most importantly of all there can be no doubt that the next meeting between the two leaders and Kofi Annan should be incredibly warm and friendly.

My biggest regret is Channel 4 in the UK are the only station to have shown the video in full. A cheeky looking Vladimir Putin can be seen sniggering to himself as Blair panics and switches of the mike - but most News programmes are cutting the clip before then. Putin seems to be cutting himself as quite an amusing leader at the moment.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yushchenko Must Disband Parliament As Regions Tenticles Infiltrate Orange Coalition

We all thought it would be Our Ukraine that would betray the Orange coalition. Just weeks ago Oleksandr Moroz and Yulia Tymoshenko stood shoulder to shoulder, harping on about Democracy and how Yushchenko's party was on the verge of a great betrayal.

However in the past hours, Moroz, leader of the Socialist party and the smallest fraction within the Orange team has defected. Why? So this old man can take up the last chance he has at placing his hands on any type of power. After a flat 'No' from the Orange team in regard to Moroz's demand to be Speaker, the Socialists have teamed up with Communists and Regions to get their man to head the Rada.

My anger, and I am sure it is shared by many in Ukraine, is not at the economic future now ahead for Ukraine, nor is it at a feeling of great love for Yulia or Viktor, but, out of sadness for Ukrainian Democracy.

As I have said several times in the past, the Party of Regions have no interest in Democracy. Most of their leading members are corrupt or shady Oligarchs. When Yanukovych's cronies last had a grip on power they attempted to rig a Presidential election, and even considered crushing the Orange protestors. See here. With accusations being batted around that half of the Socialist party have accepted back-handers to act as political slaves to Regions things aren't looking good. Thus sadly what we now have is De Facto Regions control of government, with a weakened Presidency that will struggle to clip any immoral decisions made by this government.

The only option left now is for Yushchenko to dissolve Parliament - something Tymoshenko is arguing for. A coalition was not created within 30 days of the Rada's first meeting so it is all still theoretically possible. Yet, would Yushchenko be saving Ukraine? With the Socialists in Yanukovych's pockets, Our Ukraine and BYuT would struggle to get anywhere close to a majority of votes. The only card the team can play now is to indeed dissolve the legislature and rally as many like-minded voters around its unified cause. There is a slim chance of success, but surely it is better than the status quo.

The conclusion for now though surely must be that Moroz is the ultimate Judas - he may have just sent Ukrainian Democracy down the drain in his desire to take a hold of power. Shame on him.


Check out Ukrainian Notes, and Neeka's Backlog for more information. Meanwhile you can watch some very sad Orange faces as Moroz makes his acceptance speech.