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January 04, 2005

The Anti-Yushchenko Fringe

In some corners, people still refuse to accept the validity of the Orange Revolution. They do not want to see that it sprang up from the Ukrainian people themselves. They find comfort, or political advantage, in positing elaborate political conspiracies in an attempt to minimize the truly momentous, peaceful revolution it was.

Those of us who live in Ukraine or intimately understand the region clearly see that the Orange Revolution did come from the hearts of the people of Ukraine.

Over at Le Sabot, Hubby is dialoging with Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com. He's well known for his attacks on basically anything America does. Raimondo's anti-Yushchenko (and anti-Ukraine?) rants are simply grasping at air. Why is it some people seem so set upon seeing machinations and conspiracies instead of appreciating this movement for democracy and true freedom?

If you've heard any of the American money bought the election screeds, you need to go over and read Le Sabot. Be sure to also read Hubby's commentary on Jake Rudnitsky's slapdown of the pro-Yanukovich crowd.


Update: Instapundit gets in on the action: A fly, SWATTED.

Also joining in are BloggledyGook, Fire Ant Gazette, The Senescent Man, The Argus here AND here, and in the comments were Orange Ukraine, Aris Katsaris, Ivan Lenin and Mr. Tom G. Palmer. If I were Justin Raimondo, I think I'd go crawl under a rock. . .

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Comments

Some people just like to be cynical, I guess. I like the way John Golsworthy said:cynicism is bearable only in the combination with the good taste and wittyness. Without them it is just bad manners.

Posted by: Anna at January 4, 2005 01:45 PM

My very best to Disco. Mr. Raimondo is truely hardcore. Actually I think it is a compliment to Disco that Raimondo has gone after him. Disco must be ruffling a lot of feathers. I know that Raimondo posted a long thing about Yush not being poisoned,... on Orange Ukraine a few wks. ago. He relied alot on the word of BHHRG. Bad news for him that he posted around the same time that it was announced that yes, Yush was poisoned. There is this really little circle that quotes each other's articles, info. etc. in order to buttress their ideas because nothing/no one else does.
Keep fighting the good fight. God bless.

Posted by: Hello at January 5, 2005 01:07 AM

New site look - mucho bueno. As for the naysayers... eh - if no one were upset, it wouldn't be much of an accomplishment.

Posted by: rox_publius at January 5, 2005 01:11 AM

T-G

What is so uplifting about Ukraine's strong, peaceful march to freedom - and what cranks like Raimondo will never get - is that this is a true people's revolution, not cooked up oligarchical propaganda. The left have no use for revolutions that come from the bottom up. For all the talk of "people power" the modern left really distrusts people and places all their faith in government - when that government is opposed to western democracy.

You and Disco and all those like you have inspired many of us and I for one am proud to be able to bring your stories to my readers.

My family is of Eastern European (Hungarian) origin and long proud of it. If my father were alive today, he'd stand with his chest out and proclaim that his Ukrainian brothers and sisters sure know how to throw a party.

Posted by: Daniel at January 5, 2005 08:42 PM

I am so happy Yanukovich will not be the President, especially now that Ukrainian politics will not be in black and white, nor about nice guys and bad guys. Now a couple of uncomfortable questions:

- if Kuchma instructed the rigging of the elections, why didn't he go all the way by dissolving the demonstrations on Khreschatyk (would have been easy, especially the first day, just a few dogs and a little tear gas would have made it, without any gunfire), and then calling it all a day? I don't have a logical answer myself, just a theory, and the certainty that conspiracies do happen sometimes...

- why did foreign media report numbers of demonstrators which were 2/3 times the true numbers? Don't tell me I'm wrong, i was demonstrating on Maidan: on nov 22nd there were no more than 40.000; and BBC and CNN were talking about "more than 100.000".

- i have read that Yush has recently said the Ukr. troops wiil stay in Iraq for "as long as necessary"... isn't this going blatantly back on an electoral promise?

Posted by: Liberty at January 6, 2005 10:18 AM

Liberty-

Interesting questions.

"if Kuchma instructed the rigging of the elections. . ."

This is bizarre. Given the governing structure of this country, who DID rig the elections if not the President and Prime Minister? Did they rig themselves? Or are you going to seriously contend that they weren't rigged?

"why didn't he go all the way by dissolving the demonstrations on Khreschatyk (would have been easy, especially the first day, just a few dogs and a little tear gas would have made it, without any gunfire)"

Kuchma was shocked by the response and the sheer number of people. He also doubted the loyalty of the MVS troops. He also had the precedent of the "Ukraina Bez Kuchmi" experience which taught him that if he waited, this thing would just fade away over time.

Plus, your question misses the fact that this wasn't happening in a vaccuum. One thing both sides said throughout the confrontation was that whoever used force first would lose -- both on the world scene and with the people. Your assumption that a violent confrontation would have been seen as positive by Kuchma isn't supportable.

"- why did foreign media report numbers of demonstrators which were 2/3 times the true numbers? Don't tell me I'm wrong, i was demonstrating on Maidan: on nov 22nd there were no more than 40.000; and BBC and CNN were talking about "more than 100.000"."

I don't need to tell you you're wrong, you haven't demonstrated anything that needs disproving. First of all, you haven't provided any documentation for these claims. Secondly, I have no reason to trust you as an authority in crowd estimation.

Thirdly, even if you were one, we have no idea how your methodology compares with the BBC's -- were they counting the total number of people over the course of several hours, were they also factoring in an estimate of the people who were wandering downtown in groups, etc.

As for YOUR number, I was on Maidan that day too.
I'll diplomatically describe my impression of your estimate as "really, really skeptical." How we have a full Maidan, plus people packing out the Globus Mall, the hill overlooking the Maidan and the area around the Palace plus the length of Kreshatyk. . . And still only have 40,000?

"- i have read that Yush has recently said the Ukr. troops wiil stay in Iraq for "as long as necessary"... isn't this going blatantly back on an electoral promise?"

I'll need to see a source with the context of the statement before I can comment. I remember seeing nothing similar on Russian-language websites, nor did several, various news.google.com searches bring up anything in the Western media. I'm not denying your report, just asking to see it myself before commenting.

Posted by: Discoshaman at January 6, 2005 03:25 PM

Thank you for the reply.

1) Regarding Yush. comments on Iraq, this is an excerpt of the German newspaper der Spiegel's interview with him, that came out on New Year's Eve:

SPIEGEL: Werden Sie die eigenen Truppen aus dem Irak zurückholen?

Juschtschenko: Unsere Beteiligung an der Lösung der Krise im Irak hat mit ukrainischen Interessen zu tun, wir haben Wirtschaftskontakte und Investitionen dort. Unsere Einheiten verfolgen rein humanitäre Ziele. Es hängt jetzt von der künftigen nationalen Regierung im Irak ab, ob sie uns weiter braucht. Wir werden die Frage aber auch mit unseren Verbündeten abstimmen.

Short translation: (forgive me purists)

"Do you intend to withdraw your troops from Iraq?"

"Our military presence in Iraq concerns Ukrainian economic and investment interests, and is of a humanitarian kind. It will stay there as long as the Iraqi leadership asks for it, and in accord with our allies".

2) Concerning Kuchma's abstaining from using force to dissolve demonstrations, some reasons why Kuchma could not have believed it was going to fade away:
- anyone who witnessed the tents being set up, must have wondered why people would want to sleep on Khreschatyk.
- the tent strategy was tried two years ago during the "Stand up Ukraine, Kuchmu het!" demonstrations; and the police swiftly dismantled the tents before the protests went any further.
- Kuchma must have had better intelligence reports on what the opposition movements were up to than anybody else.

The point is: during the second round, the Presidential Administration intervened the CEC's
server and doctored the participation figures (especially in the Southern oblasts), to a crucial extent. If you decide to go such criminal lengths to secure power for "your" candidate (not caring about the West's opinion, it anyway despises you as an evil oligarch), why give in to demonstrations, when you have a riot-brigade ready for it? It doesn't make sense... Kuchma deserves being called all kinds of names, but not stupid.

3) No point in quarreling about numbers of demonstrators, when all sides tend to exaggerate or minimize it, but I still think half of Maidan (there was almost nobody behind the stage), up to the Globus balustrade, and a bit of Khreschatyk down to Passazh, with people not very tightly squashed, makes for a bit less than 40.000. Anyway, it is normal that pro-Yushchenko media (say 5 kanal, Zerkalo Nedeli) would maximize the numbers, but it is not healthy for Western media to take (almost unanimously) partisan pro-Yushchenko informations always at face value.

By the way, let me repeat I am glad Yuschenko won, and that I demonstrated for him now, and two years ago; but I hope happy atmospheres do not cloud sound skeptical assessment of Ukrainian tricky politics.

Posted by: liberty at January 7, 2005 11:44 AM

1) Regarding the Iraq pull-out-

It IS a back-pedal, I don't mind saying that at all. I think he is genuinely opposed to the Ukrainian presence in Iraq (and I'm not crazy about how they went there -- as penance by Kuchma for Gongadze, rather than out of a genuine belief in the war by Kuchma.) I imagine this says a lot about the diplomatic pressure being put on him at this point.

"some reasons why Kuchma could not have believed it was going to fade away:

- anyone who witnessed the tents being set up, must have wondered why people would want to sleep on Khreschatyk.
- the tent strategy was tried two years ago during the "Stand up Ukraine, Kuchmu het!" demonstrations; and the police swiftly dismantled the tents before the protests went any further.
- Kuchma must have had better intelligence reports on what the opposition movements were up to than anybody else.

The situation between his pulling down the "Ukraina Bez Kuchmi" tents and ours are very different - the biggest day of UBK was a mere 10,000 people in a march, according to what I've read. The tents were pulled down early morning when there where few people. That first night, Yushchenko asked from the stage for people to stay and defend the tent city. Tons of people stayed on the Square all night. Apples and oranges.

Also, Omelchenko gave us permission to be there. Obviously, that in itself would not have stopped Kuchma, but it is an example of the fact that this time he had anything but undivided loyalty from the chinovniki. You can see that also from their silence during this thing -- the bureaucrats were waiting to see which way the wind would blow.

As for his better intell, the PORA and Yushchenko leadership themselves were astounded at the scale of the popular response. Kuchma's spies couldn't know something the Opposition didn;t. Like all critics, you miss the decentralized nature of the thing.

Once again, the loyalty of the Kiev-based troops was also in doubt. Which was the reason behind the troops shifts from Crimea. By that time, we already had major MVS officers declaring for Yushchenko. I think the answer is that he thought he could ride the thing out, that the people lacked the will to decisively resist. Ukrainian history up til the Orange Revolution seemed to support that assessment.

I'm curious, what is YOUR theory of why he didn't use force? He's a closet democrat? ;-)


"but it is not healthy for Western media to take (almost unanimously) partisan pro-Yushchenko informations always at face value.

If they were, I would agree. I just don't have any reason to think they did.

We're obviously going to disagree on the number. Once again, I have no reason to go with your figure over my own and that of the world press. But we can agree to disagree.

Hey, debating aside, did you notice Yushchenko's statements about the separation of power and business? And now Poroshenko is planning to relinquish direct control of his factories and turn his stocks over to an independent auditing group if/when he becomes PM. Things really are going to be different.

Posted by: Discoshaman at January 7, 2005 01:13 PM

1)Western media on 2002 protests:

"Organisers of the so-called Rise Ukraine! rally claimed that as many as 50,000 people took to the streets of Kiev, although police said up to 30,000 attended." BBC NEWS

The square was covered by a sea of colorful flags, various hues representing the various factions. Police estimated the crowd in Kiev at 20,000, while organizers put it far higher. WASHINGTON POST

"Known as temniki, the directives outline the issues to be covered in news reports and provide instructions on how these issues are to be treated. For example, when mass protests take place — the most recent, in September, drew 100,000 people in the capital, Kiev — photographers are told to start taking pictures only after most of the demonstrators have departed, resulting in shots of a few stragglers milling around in a public square instead of tens of thousands shouting for Kuchma's resignation." TIME MAGAZINE

... my own recollection is about 12.000 protesters on European Square, but maybe I was under temniki influence.

2) Now, the big question: to what extent was Kuchma aware of the intensity of the protests, and why didn't he do anything to even prevent them? A book could be written on this, and we can only theorize...

Your arguments about troop loyalty and decentralized spontaneity bear weight, but let us assume for a moment that Kuchma was able to foresee that Yanukovich's "victory" would be contested as fraud, and that sizeable protests would follow. Then if I'd been him, I would have filled Maidan and Khreschatyk with (loyal if possible) militiamen, even before any results were announced. But why the hell would he let people concentrate and then let the protests grow? This is a loose end...

Another loose end: the Supreme Court ruling calling elections for dec. 26th. It was a huge surprise, and better than Yushchenko's best dream (and probably beyond the Constitution's limits, but that's another story). But before that we were all saying that the Court was not impartial, but dependent on Kuchma. Could be that the Court decided on idealistic democratic grounds and all that, one cannot rule it out, yet is it completely impossible that Kuchma "instructed" the Court to rule the way it did?

But why would Kuchma rig the election against the opposition and then help the opposition call the riggers' bluff?? Who benefits from it? Not Yushchenko, he would have prefered to win normally in the 2nd round, rather than through a dangerous crisis. Not Yanukovich or the clans, of course, who have been exposed to the world as miserable cheaters. Certainly not Putin, he's been caught as an accomplice of fraud, and a clumsy diplomat.

Who could have had reasons to prefer an "orange revolution" to a routine transfer of power from Kuchma to Yushchenko, thus exposing pro-russian post-soviet Putin-supported oligarchic fraudulent ways in every telly in the world? And who could have had enough leverage to persuade Kuchma to act the way my (far-fetched, I know) hypothesis suggests?

Well, I will not say my guess, because I am not anti-american; and I think Yanukovich would like the theory more than I do myself. I would rather be proved wrong, and then be able to back Yushchenko as I used to, because I usually distrust conspirational theories. And yet conspiracies do sometimes happen.

3) Concerning the future, what I hope is that Yushchenko will concentrate on a radical internal policy, clean the judiciary, the prosecutors, the tax inspection, the militia, and so on. There is a lot to be done, but the whole country will back him on that. I think Kinakh would be a good bet for that. But Yush. should try not to divide the country on foreign policy issues.

Best regards

Posted by: liberty at January 8, 2005 12:48 PM

Liberty-

1) I appreciate, once again, you sharing your recollections. I once again, respectfully, see no reason to accept your subjective impression of the numbers. The one time our paths crossed I've learned we ended up with very different impressions of the crowd, so I now have even less reason to do so. Again, this is said respectfully.

2) "I would rather be proved wrong, and then be able to back Yushchenko as I used to, because I usually distrust conspirational theories."

How does one "disprove" an outlandish conspiracy theory that has no actual evidence besides conjecture? I've seen no serious political thinkers proposing it (nor anyone else, for that matter), nor any evidence of secret protocols or the like. Why in the world would it need disproving?

3) We agree on this entirely. I have no idea what you mean about divisive foreign policy issues. Are you referring to Russia, Iraq, or what?

Posted by: Discoshaman at January 8, 2005 03:03 PM

Discoshaman:

1) How many people came out in sept. 2002 is, as always, subject to discussion. But the figure mentioned in the TIME article is, I'm sorry, a downright lie (and in the context of criticizing temniki, funny enough). The BBC and POST are more professional, but biased as well (you mentioned 10.000 yourself, see above). This was the point about Western media "sexing up" information on Ukraine.

2) The theory is mere conjecture (all of them are) and outlandish, yes. Theories and conjectures can be refuted by hard facts and by its own logical inconsistencies. That is how knowledge and science work.

Anyway, you were curious about it, and I hope it was entertaining at worst and thought-feeding at best. But when people who see loose ends behind the simple official story are simply dismissed as "anti-yushchenko fringe" or simple minorities, I ask for arguments. Critical attitudes are not about spoiling the party, but about preventing things to go unexplained.

3) Most Ukrainians probably want the closest possible relationship with the EU and a civilized, equal one with Russia. Anything outside that (including NATO and other US-led overseas initiatives) would clearly be very divisive (apart from reinforcing suspicions about Yushchenko's American patronage).

The main thing about the "orange revolution" is, above all, the peaceful display of faith and will by the Ukrainian people, which I admire. I hope we agree on this.

It's been a pleasure debating with you. Z risdvom!

Posted by: liberty at January 9, 2005 09:09 AM

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