Jewish World Review Dec. 29, 2004 / 18 Teves, 5765
More powerful than tanks
The "Orange Revolution" in the Ukraine is the most significant political
development in Eastern Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"For 14 years we have been independent, but now we are free," said Viktor
Yuschenko, who won the presidential election Dec. 26th.
Freedom isn't free. Few know this better than Yuschenko, who survived an
attempt to poison him that has left his once handsome face disfigured, and a
ham-handed attempt to steal the election by supporters of his opponent,
current prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, in the election of Nov. 21st.
The fat lady hasn't sung yet. Yanukovich, taking a leaf from Al Gore's
playbook, has refused to concede. But the handwriting is on the wall.
Yuschenko's margin was large; 12,000 international observers said this
election was fair, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he can work
This last is important, because Putin poured millions of rubles into the
campaign of Yanukovich, a former communist apparatchik, and hinted at
military action if he weren't declared the victor.
Yuschenko will be the next president of the Ukraine because his supporters
refused to accept the fraudulent result of the Nov. 21st election, and
refused to be intimidated by threats. In the hundreds of thousands they
camped out in the bitter cold in the streets of the Ukrainian capital of
Kiev, refusing to leave until justice was done.
The eyes of the world were on Kiev. That's probably why Putin failed to
send in the tanks, as Stalin had done in Hungary in 1956, and Brezhnev had
done in Czechoslovakia in 1968. The government of outgoing president Leonid
Kuchma buckled to public pressure, with the normally rubber stamp parliament
advocating, and the normally compliant supreme court ordering the new
Yuschenko, who is married to an American who once worked for President
Reagan, wants to orient the Ukraine towards the West, to join the European
Union, and perhaps even NATO.
This alarms Putin. After Russia herself, Ukraine which is nearly the
size of Texas with a population of 48 million was the largest and
wealthiest of the Soviet republics. Ukraine is the ancestral homeland of
the Russian people, and has the longest western border. (Ukraine means
Russians are paranoid, but they come by it honestly. Russia has been
invaded by every country which conceivably could do so, including Poland,
Sweden and France. Putin has been trying to reconstruct the old Soviet
Union as a buffer against the West, which he and most of his countrymen
still regard with suspicion. A Western-leaning Ukraine puts the kibosh on
that plan, and is an enormous blow to Russian pride, and to lingering
Russian pretensions to be a super power.
With all the Russians and a corrupt Ukrainian establishment at least
imagined they had to lose from the accession of a genuine democrat to the
presidency, the peaceful triumph of the Orange Revolution (orange is the
color of Yuschenko's party) is both one of the most remarkable and one of
the most hopeful developments in modern world history.
But this triumph of the people over the powerful elicited little interest
from self-styled liberals, noted Daniel Berczik, who was surfing the web the
"I went to the Washington Monthly, Tom Paine, the New Republic, Joshua
Marshall, even Atrios, among several others, " Berczik said. "Only DailyKos
bothered to mention (the election in the Ukraine), and then with a
dismissive 'we've been here before.'"
Berczik is an old lefty himself, who "hated our government and the men who
ran it," and "harbored a secret desire for the comeuppance that I knew
But he was interested in "power to the people," and today's leftists aren't,
Berczik said in his web log, "Bloggledygook."
"I'm starting to believe that the modern left is not interested in the march
of freedom and democracy so much as heaping petty spite and hateful
condescension on the rebellious children of a long-lamented and deceased
empire," Berczik said.
"To be in the left today is to scoff at whole countries that want a free and
open society," he said. "The left sees the liberation of Ukraine as an
embarrassment... another reminder of the failed, fake revolution we counted
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