Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poll: Game over with less than 18 days remaining

The latest opinion poll to be published shows no change in the expected outcome of the election.

With less than 18 days remaining before the first round election there is little to no chance or expectation that the outcome of the election will change. 

According to a survey carried out by the SOCIS Center for Social and Marketing Research Viktor Yanukovych has 31% support. Yulia Tymoshenko remains in second place with 16.7%

The next highest candidate Sergiy Tigipko is 9 percentage points behind Tymoshenko who is on 7.9% followed by  Front for Change leader Arseniy Yatseniuk on  5.0% ,

Incumbent President Viktor Yuschenko is in an unwinnable position with only 4.0% ,  one percentage point ahead of communist party leader  Petro Symonenko who has 3.1%  support and Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn even less on 2.7% .

FOM Ukraine has reported that 88% of Ukrainians disapprove of President Viktor Yuschenko’s performance.

Under Ukraine's two round first-past-the-post voting system only the two highest polling candidates can progress to the second round of voting, a gap of 9% is virtually impossible to breach. 


Monday, December 28, 2009

Lord of War: Hrytsenko proposes absolute presidential authority on deployment of armed forces

Presidential hopeful and Chairman the parliament's committee for national security and minister for defense Anatoliy Hrytsenko has proposed that the President of Ukraine be granted absolute authority over the deployment of Ukraine's Armed forces side stepping the requirement for parliamentary consent.

Currently Ukraine's constitution requires any decision to deploy Ukrainian troops abroad to be determined by law and the consent of Ukraine's parliament.  The changes proposed by  Hrytsenko are alarming to say the least.   What would have happened in 2008 if Yushchenko has such all encompassing authority?

According to recent polls Anatoliy Hrytsenko, a member of Our Ukraine who is running against incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko, has less then 1% support.


Poll: Yushchenko set to fall from tree

Interfax is reporting a poll conducted by FOM-Ukraine.

The poll shows that there will be a run-off ballot between Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko.  More importantly it confirms that incumbent president, Viktor Yushchenko, is set to fall off the political tree even though Yuschenko himself thinks he is ripe and fit to make an Orange vodka cocktail but vote-rigging will prevent him from being elected.

Yuschenko's support was so low it did not even register in the published list. It would have to be the biggest vote fraud in history if he thinks he can bounce back from less then 3%.

Will not vote
Against All


The poll of 1,000 with an estimated error rate of 3.5% was conducted between December 17 and December 22.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Three weeks left to Ukraine's Carnivale before the big audition

Another week and little change expectations.  The deadline withdrawal from the ballot has expired and ballot papers are being printed in prepared for the big event.

January 2 is the last day for public opinion polls to be published. As the campaign moves into it's last phase. The tent will be set-up and the side show of attraction to the man on the street opens its doors.

It is a bitter cold winter The Orthodox Christmas is on January 7 and the old New year 7 days following on January 14. and the election day audition three days after that.

Viktor Yushchenko is trying to  oust Yatseniuk from running in a desperate attempt to bolster his fledgling support, even thou Yatseniuk has better chance of being elected then  Yushchenko who remains the most despised President in Ukraine's modern history.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Four Weeks remaining in Ukraine's latest cold war

Ukraine has four weeks remaining in the first round Presidential campaign.

The polls have shown little change in voters support with Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko remaining favorites to progress to the second round run-off ballot.

There is concern that the election may still falter as the government has not yet transferred money to the Central Election authority to pay for the election estimated to cost over 100 million dollars with a total campaign cost of over one billion dollars.

Viktor Yushchenko has threatened to veto the 2010 budget giving rise to further possible disruption to the elections process.

Traditionally Ukraine's Presidential elections are held in October but Viktor Yushchenko was desperate to cling on to office for a long as he could and he forced Ukraine into holding the election in the midst of winter.

Ukraine is facing one the coldest winters in recent history with temperatures dropping to blow minus 20 degrees which might see a lower then expected turnout on election day if the cold spell continues into the new year and beyond January.

In 28 days time Yushchenko will face the moment of truth and judgement by the people of Ukraine with most commentators holding the view that Yushchenko's presidency is about to come to an abrupt end. .

Any last minute upset or attempt by Yushchenko to cancel the election will trigger a chain of events that Ukraine and the world might yet live to regret.


Yatseniuk under pressure to withdraw from race to bolster Yushchenko's support

Yushchenko is applying the pressure to have Yatseniuk pull out of the presidential race. Even though Yatseniuk has better chances of surviving the election then Yushchenko.

Yushchenko yesterday called on the Ukrainian "Democrats" to support a single candidate for president.

The Forum of Ukrainian Nationalists has addressed to presidential candidates Oleh Tiahnybok, Yuriy Kostenko and Arseniy Yatseniuk to withdraw their candidates in favor Viktor Yuschenko.

Yesterday Yatseniuk stated that he would not withdraw from the race. Nor should he. Yushchenko has a lower support rating then Yatseniuk
All the polls say that Yushchenko is not able to win a contest against Yanukovych. Ukrainians no longer trust or respect him. It would make more sense if Yushchenko resigned and offered his support to Yatseniuk.

Meanwhile Yulia Tymoshenko is thinking on similar lines "All our democratic candidates, who will participate in the first round if they are so eager to do this… In the second round, I am sure that Yanukovych will be there, I would ask all them to unite and support a single candidate from the democratic sector, to oppose the looming evil, which is already hanging over Ukraine," she said.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yushchenko's Exit Plan: Jump before being pushed

Not to be outdone by Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's embattled president, Viktor Yushchenko, has indicated that Ukrainian "Democrats" may consider nomination of a single presidential candidate.

Exactly who Yushchenko considers to be part of the "Ukrainian democrats"  is not clear let alone what process they will take in deciding to nominate only one candidate.

It is a bit late to decide this issue now.  The deadline for nomination withdrawals is December 21.  If candidates withdraw before that date they can get their deposit back after that date they forfeit their 2.5 million deposit.

Yushchenko's support rating has slumped to a low 3.5% and a recent survey conducted by U.S.-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems and financed by the United States Agency for International Development lists Yushchenko with the highest negative rating (83%) of all candidates.

The report in the media gives rise that Yushchenko, with only 4 weeks remaining, may be seeking an exit plan, a way to pull out of the election before he faces total embarrassment and humiliation by losing in the first round of the election.


Friday, December 18, 2009

State of the nation - The Yushchenko years.

Voters unhappy with choices, want jobs

Source: Kyiv post
As the first presidential election in five years approaches on Jan. 17, pollsters and experts warn that voters will be bombarded by a sea of skewed sociological survey results intended to sway their choices. Often, such bogus polls seek to persuade voters that their preferred candidate has no chance of making it into a second-round runoff on Feb. 7, thereby encouraging votes for one of the front-runners. With such spin doctoring at play, Ukrainians need reliable surveys. The graphs and tables show polls conducted on Nov. 21-29 by trusted sources. The surveys were conducted by U.S.-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems and financed by the United States Agency for International Development. The data are representative of the national population of Ukraine and have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent. All the interviews were conducted in Ukrainian and Russian by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS).


Poll: Liittle movement 30 days before election

Research and Branding have published their December poll.

This survey was a sample rate of 3,083 respondents with an estimated margin for error of 1.8%

Monthly Swing
V. Yanukovich
Y. Timoshenko
A. Yatsenyuk
V. Litvin
V. Yuschenko
P. Simonenko

Against All


Will not vote


Run-Off Ballot

V. Yanukovich
Y. Timoshenko
Against All
Will not vote


Voter Participation

Will certainly vote
Will most likely vote
Have not decided yet
Will most unlikely vote
Will certainly not vote

This poll indicates a consolidation of votes (as expected) with the number of undecided decreasing. The participation rate of 87.8% if relatively high. With less then 30 days to go until the first ballot little change is expected in the outcome of the election.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blogging the revolution: Truth or fiction

There are a group of people, primarily based in the US, that are seeking to silence critics and debate about the events of 2004 and the so called orange revolution.

They are the same small group of Yushchenko supporters that are renowned for ganging up on anyone who opposes their political point of view. At first they attacked anyone that questioned the events supporting 2004 but of late they have been out to attack those who were previously considered part of the "gang" comrades in arms. The battle lines have been redrawn and the Yushchenko supporters have turned on supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko in what is shaping up to be a night of the long knives with each group seeking revenge for betrayal and deceit.

No doubts once the Presidential election is out of the way disclosure of events past will be pouring out as each team begins a purge from within.

The "Orange revolution was a well executed and well planned media campaign event. Sure there were those who stood up for the principle of democracy, truth and righteousness. If you were told that the election was stolen and the only option was to protest, I too would be in the streets seeking justice. But the lynch mob approach is not always based on fact or truth.

The 2004 presidential election was always going to be close. The Parliamentary elections that followed demonstrated the extent of the divide and reflected the same results as the 2004 Presidential elections.

Yushchenko has been in office for five years yet he has failed to unite Ukraine and has failed to address a number of issues and allegations that were paramount to the Orange protest movement. Could it be the reason he has not pursued this issue is that close examination and the evidence does not support the extent of the allegations?

If the evidence exist supporting allegations of vote rigging and election fraud then it needs to be spelt out in detail and those responsible brought to account? Equally if the evidence can not be substantiated then questions must be asked as to those making the allegations.

It's been five years since Yushchenko was elected and his term of office has only served to undermine democracy, rule of law and stability in Ukraine.

The Truth is out there.

Andrew Gavin Marshall has written an interesting article published by Global Research Canada.

- Extract below-

The [Orange] revolution is portrayed in the western media as popular democratic revolutions, in which the people of these respective nations demand democratic accountability and governance from their despotic leaders and archaic political systems. However, the reality is far from what this Utopian imagery suggests. Western NGOs and media heavily finance and organize opposition groups and protest movements, and in the midst of an election, create a public perception of vote fraud in order to mobilize the mass protest movements to demand “their” candidate be put into power. It just so happens that “their” candidate is always the Western US-favoured candidate, whose campaign is often heavily financed by Washington; and who proposes US-friendly policies and neoliberal economic conditions. In the end, it is the people who lose out, as their genuine hope for change and accountability is denied by the influence the US wields over their political leaders.


In 2004, Ukraine went through its “Orange Revolution,” in which opposition and pro-Western leader Viktor Yushchenko became President, defeating Viktor Yanukovych. As the Guardian revealed in 2004, that following the disputed elections (as happens in every “colour revolution”), “the democracy guerrillas of the Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory - whatever the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev,” however, “the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.”

The author, Ian Traynor, explained that, “Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.” Further, “The Democratic party's National Democratic Institute, the Republican party's International Republican Institute, the US state department and USAid are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO” and the same billionaire financier involved in Georgia’s Rose Revolution. In implementing the regime-change strategy, “The usually fractious oppositions have to be united behind a single candidate if there is to be any chance of unseating the regime. That leader is selected on pragmatic and objective grounds, even if he or she is anti-American.”

Traynor continues:

Freedom House and the Democratic party's NDI helped fund and organise the "largest civil regional election monitoring effort" in Ukraine, involving more than 1,000 trained observers. They also organised exit polls. On Sunday night those polls gave Mr Yushchenko an 11-point lead and set the agenda for much of what has followed.

The exit polls are seen as critical because they seize the initiative in the propaganda battle with the regime, invariably appearing first, receiving wide media coverage and putting the onus on the authorities to respond.

The final stage in the US template concerns how to react when the incumbent tries to steal a lost election.

[. . . ] In Belgrade, Tbilisi, and now Kiev, where the authorities initially tried to cling to power, the advice was to stay cool but determined and to organise mass displays of civil disobedience, which must remain peaceful but risk provoking the regime into violent suppression.[5]

As an article in the Guardian by Jonathan Steele explained, the opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, who disputed the election results, “served as prime minister under the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, and some of his backers are also linked to the brutal industrial clans who manipulated Ukraine's post-Soviet privatization.” He further explained that election rigging is mainly irrelevant, as “The decision to protest appears to depend mainly on realpolitik and whether the challengers or the incumbent are considered more ‘pro-western’ or ‘pro-market’.” In other words, those who support a neoliberal economic agenda will have the support of the US-NATO, as neoliberalism is their established international economic order and advances their interests in the region.

Moreover, “In Ukraine, Yushchenko got the western nod, and floods of money poured in to groups which support him, ranging from the youth organisation, Pora, to various opposition websites. More provocatively, the US and other western embassies paid for exit polls.” This is emblematic of the strategic importance of the Ukraine to the United States, “which refuses to abandon its cold war policy of encircling Russia and seeking to pull every former Soviet republic to its side.”[6]

One Guardian commentator pointed out the hypocrisy of western media coverage: “Two million anti-war demonstrators can stream though the streets of London and be politically ignored, but a few tens of thousands in central Kiev are proclaimed to be ‘the people’, while the Ukrainian police, courts and governmental institutions are discounted as instruments of oppression.” It was also explained that, “Enormous rallies have been held in Kiev in support of the prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich, but they are not shown on our TV screens: if their existence is admitted, Yanukovich supporters are denigrated as having been ‘bussed in’. The demonstrations in favour of Viktor Yushchenko have laser lights, plasma screens, sophisticated sound systems, rock concerts, tents to camp in and huge quantities of orange clothing; yet we happily dupe ourselves that they are spontaneous.”[7]

In 2004, the Associated Press reported that, “The Bush administration has spent more than $65 million in the past two years to aid political organizations in Ukraine, paying to bring opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to meet U.S. leaders and helping to underwrite an exit poll indicating he won last month's disputed runoff election.” The money, they state, “was funneled through organizations such as the Eurasia Foundation or through groups aligned with Republicans and Democrats that organized election training, with human rights forums or with independent news outlets.” However, even government officials “acknowledge that some of the money helped train groups and individuals opposed to the Russian-backed government candidate.”

The report stated that some major international foundations funded the exit polls, which according to the incumbent leader were “skewed.” These foundations included “The National Endowment for Democracy, which receives its money directly from Congress; the Eurasia Foundation, which receives money from the State Department, and the Renaissance Foundation,” which receives money from the same billionaire financier as well as the US State Department. Since the State Department is involved, that implies that this funding is quite directly enmeshed in US foreign policy strategy. “Other countries involved included Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.” Also involved in funding certain groups and activities in the Ukraine was the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which was chaired by former Secretary of States Madeline Albright at the time.[8]

Mark Almond wrote for the Guardian in 2004 of the advent of “People Power,” describing it in relation to the situation that was then breaking in the Ukraine, and stated that, “The upheaval in Ukraine is presented as a battle between the people and Soviet-era power structures. The role of western cold war-era agencies is taboo. Poke your nose into the funding of the lavish carnival in Kiev, and the shrieks of rage show that you have touched a neuralgic point of the New World Order.”

Almond elaborated:

"Throughout the 1980s, in the build-up to 1989's velvet revolutions, a small army of volunteers - and, let's be frank, spies - co-operated to promote what became People Power. A network of interlocking foundations and charities mushroomed to organise the logistics of transferring millions of dollars to dissidents. The money came overwhelmingly from NATO states and covert allies such as "neutral" Sweden.

[ ...] The hangover from People Power is shock therapy. Each successive crowd is sold a multimedia vision of Euro-Atlantic prosperity by western-funded "independent" media to get them on the streets. No one dwells on the mass unemployment, rampant insider dealing, growth of organised crime, prostitution and soaring death rates in successful People Power states.

As Almond delicately put it, “People Power is, it turns out, more about closing things than creating an open society. It shuts factories but, worse still, minds. Its advocates demand a free market in everything - except opinion. The current ideology of New World Order ideologues, many of whom are renegade communists, is Market-Leninism - that combination of a dogmatic economic model with Machiavellian methods to grasp the levers of power.”[9]

As Mark MacKinnon reported for the Globe and Mail, Canada, too, supported the efforts of the youth activist group, Pora, in the Ukraine, providing funding for the “people power democracy” movement. As MacKinnon noted, “The Bush administration was particularly keen to see a pro-Western figure as president to ensure control over a key pipeline running from Odessa on the Black Sea to Brody on the Polish border.” However, “The outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, had recently reversed the flow so the pipeline carried Russian crude south instead of helping U.S. producers in the Caspian Sea region ship their product to Europe.” As MacKinnon analyzes, the initial funding from western nations came from Canada, although this was eventually far surpassed in amount by the United States.

Andrew Robinson, Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine at the time, in 2004, “began to organize secret monthly meetings of Western ambassadors, presiding over what he called "donor co-ordination" sessions among 28 countries interested in seeing Mr. Yushchenko succeed. Eventually, he acted as the group's spokesman and became a prominent critic of the Kuchma government's heavy-handed media control.” Canada further “invested in a controversial exit poll, carried out on election day by Ukraine's Razumkov Centre and other groups, that contradicted the official results showing Mr. Yanukovich had won.” Once the new, pro-Western government was in, it “announced its intention to reverse the flow of the Odessa-Brody pipeline.”[10]

Again, this follows the example of Georgia, where several US and NATO interests are met through the success of the “colour revolution”; simultaneously preventing Russian expansion and influence from spreading in the region as well as advancing US and NATO control and influence over the major resources and transport corridors of the region.

Daniel Wolf wrote for the Guardian that, “For most of the people gathered in Kiev's Independence Square, the demonstration felt spontaneous. They had every reason to want to stop the government candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, from coming to power, and they took the chance that was offered to them. But walking through the encampment last December, it was hard to ignore the evidence of meticulous preparation - the soup kitchens and tents for the demonstrators, the slickness of the concert, the professionalism of the TV coverage, the proliferation of the sickly orange logo wherever you looked.” He elaborated, writing, “the events in the square were the result of careful, secret planning by Yushchenko's inner circle over a period of years. The true story of the orange revolution is far more interesting than the fable that has been widely accepted.”

Roman Bessmertny, Yushchenko's campaign manager, two years prior to the 2004 elections, “put as many as 150,000 people through training courses, seminars, practical tuition conducted by legal and media specialists. Some attending these courses were members of election committees at local, regional and national level; others were election monitors, who were not only taught what to watch out for but given camcorders to record it on video. More than 10,000 cameras were distributed, with the aim of recording events at every third polling station.” Ultimately, it was an intricately well-planned public relations media-savvy campaign, orchestrated through heavy financing. Hardly the sporadic “people power” notion applied to the “peaceful coup” in the western media.[11]

The Times further reported that:

"American money helps finance civil society centers around the country where activists and citizens can meet, receive training, read independent newspapers and even watch CNN or surf the Internet in some. The N.D.I. [National Democratic Institute] alone operates 20 centers that provide news summaries in Russian, Kyrgyz and Uzbek.

The United States sponsors the American University in Kyrgyzstan, whose stated mission is, in part, to promote the development of civil society, and pays for exchange programs that send students and non-governmental organization leaders to the United States. Kyrgyzstan's new prime minister, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was one.

All of that money and manpower gave the coalescing Kyrgyz opposition financing and moral support in recent years, as well as the infrastructure that allowed it to communicate its ideas to the Kyrgyz people."

As for those “who did not read Russian or have access to the newspaper listened to summaries of its articles on Kyrgyz-language Radio Azattyk, the local United States-government financed franchise of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.” Other “independent” media was paid for courtesy of the US State Department.[12]

As the Wall Street Journal revealed prior to the elections, opposition groups, NGOs and “independent” media in Kyrgyzstan were getting financial assistance from Freedom House in the US, as well as the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Journal reported that, “To avoid provoking Russia and violating diplomatic norms, the U.S. can't directly back opposition political parties. But it underwrites a web of influential NGOs whose support of press freedom, the rule of law and clean elections almost inevitably pits them against the entrenched interests of the old autocratic regimes.”

As the Journal further reported, Kyrgyzstan “occupies a strategic location. The U.S. and Russia both have military bases here. The country's five million citizens, mostly Muslim, are sandwiched in a tumultuous neighborhood among oil-rich Kazakhstan, whose regime tolerates little political dissent; dictatorial Uzbekistan, which has clamped down on foreign aid groups and destitute Tajikistan.”

In the country, a main opposition NGO, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Rights, gets its funding “from the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a Washington-based nonprofit funded by the U.S. government, and from USAID.” Other agencies reported to be involved, either through funding or ideological-technical promotion (see: propaganda), are the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Albert Einstein Institute, Freedom House, and the US State Department.[13]

President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan had referred to a “third force” gaining power in his country. The term was borrowed from one of the most prominent US think tanks, as “third force” is:

"... which details how western-backed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can promote regime and policy change all over the world. The formulaic repetition of a third "people power" revolution in the former Soviet Union in just over one year - after the similar events in Georgia in November 2003 and in Ukraine last Christmas - means that the post-Soviet space now resembles Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, when a series of US-backed coups consolidated that country's control over the western hemisphere."

As the Guardian reported:

"Many of the same US government operatives in Latin America have plied their trade in eastern Europe under George Bush, most notably Michael Kozak, former US ambassador to Belarus, who boasted in these pages in 2001 that he was doing in Belarus exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua: "supporting democracy".


"The case of Freedom House is particularly arresting. Chaired by the former CIA director James Woolsey, Freedom House was a major sponsor of the orange revolution in Ukraine. It set up a printing press in Bishkek in November 2003, which prints 60 opposition journals. Although it is described as an "independent" press, the body that officially owns it is chaired by the bellicose Republican senator John McCain, while the former national security adviser Anthony Lake sits on the board. The US also supports opposition radio and TV."[14]

So again, the same formula was followed in the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union. This US foreign-policy strategy of promoting “soft revolution” is managed through a network of American and international NGOs and think tanks. It advances NATO and, in particular, US interests in the region.


The soft revolutions or “colour revolutions” are a key stratagem in the New World Order; advancing, through deceptions and manipulation, the key strategy of containing Russia and controlling key resources. This strategy is critical to understanding the imperialistic nature of the New World Order, especially when it comes to identifying when this strategy is repeated; specifically in relation to the Iranian elections of 2009.

This essay outlined the US-NATO imperial strategy for entering the New World Order, following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The primary aim was focused on encircling Russia and China and preventing the rise of a new superpower. The US was to act as the imperial hegemon, serving international financial interests in imposing the New World Order. Part 2 outlined the US imperial strategy of using “colour revolutions” to advance its interests in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, following along the overall policy outlined in Part 1, of containing Russia and China from expanding influence and gaining access to key natural resources.


[1] Michael Dobbs, U.S. Advice Guided Milosevic Opposition. The Washington Post: December 11, 2000: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A18395-2000Dec3?language=printer

[2] Roger Cohen, Who Really Brought Down Milosevic? The New York Times: November 26, 2000: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/26/magazine/who-really-brought-down-milosevic.html?sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

[3] Mark MacKinnon, Georgia revolt carried mark of Soros. The Globe and Mail: November 23, 2003: http://www.markmackinnon.ca/dispatches_georgia3.html

[4] Mark MacKinnon, Politics, pipelines converge in Georgia. The Globe and Mail: November 24, 2003: http://www.markmackinnon.ca/dispatches_georgia2.html

[5] Ian Traynor, US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev. The Guardian: November 26, 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/nov/26/ukraine.usa

[6] Jonathan Steele, Ukraine's postmodern coup d'etat. The Guardian: November 26, 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/nov/26/ukraine.comment

[7] John Laughland, The revolution televised. The Guardian: November 27, 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/nov/27/pressandpublishing.comment

[8] Matt Kelley, U.S. money has helped opposition in Ukraine. Associated Press: December 11, 2004: http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20041211/news_1n11usaid.html

[9] Mark Almond, The price of People Power. The Guardian: December 7, 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/dec/07/ukraine.comment

[10] Mark MacKinnon, Agent orange: Our secret role in Ukraine. The Globe and Mail: April 14, 2007: http://www.markmackinnon.ca/dispatches_ukraine4.html

[11] Daniel Wolf, A 21st century revolt. The Guardian: May 13, 2005: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/may/13/ukraine.features11

[12] Craig S. Smith, U.S. Helped to Prepare the Way for Kyrgyzstan's Uprising. The New York Times: March 30, 2005: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9806E4D9123FF933A05750C0A9639C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

[13] Philip Shishkin, In Putin's Backyard, Democracy Stirs -- With U.S. Help. The Wall Street Journal: February 25, 2005: http://www.iri.org/newsarchive/2005/2005-02-25-News-WSJ.asp

[14] John Laughland, The mythology of people power. The Guardian: April 1, 2005: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/apr/01/usa.russia

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is currently studying Political Economy and History at Simon Fraser University.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Poll: One month remaining no change in expected outcome

A recent public opinion poll by the Social Perspective Center for Public and Information technologies one month out from the first round of the election shows little change

The only difference in this poll is the lower participation rate estimated at around 60%

Both Vivtor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymochenko are expected to progress to the second round ballot with the nearest competitor Sergey Tigipko 14 percentage points behind Tymoshenko

The poll was conducted in all regions of Ukraine, Crimea and in the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol on December 1-10, 2009. A total of 2,100 respondents participated in the survey. The poll's margin of error does not exceed 2.3%.Of this intending to cast a vote

V. Yanukovich
Y. Timoshenko
S. Tigipko
A. Yatseniuk
V. Litvin
P. Simonenko
V. Yuschenko
Against All


The second round run-off between Yanukovych is estimated at 50.3% and Tymoshenko 38.2%


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Standing at the edge - waiting to jump

Ukraine's presidential election is not a contest but will determine Ukraine's future direction.
In 2004 Ukraine made an important step forward when it adopted amendments to it's constitution.  In doing so it took an important step towards democracy and European integration.
A strong head of state does not equate or necessitate a return to a soviet style presidential system
The proposals put forward by Viktor Yushchenko and supported by the likes of Viktor Medvedchuk would see Ukraine revert back to a Soviet style Presidential autocracy and in doing so would prevent Ukraine from becoming anything other then an associate member of the European Union.
Ukraine needs a head of state who truly values democracy and understand the need and long term benefits of Ukraine embracing a European parliamentary system of governance.
25 out of 27 EU states are governed by a parliamentary system. France and Cyprus being the only two that are not.  France is an established parliamentary-presidential system. It has protocols, conventions and limitations to presidential authority.  Cyprus is in need of serious reform.
If Ukraine reverts back to a presidential system then Europe should make it clear that in doing so it runs the risk of forsaking any hope of ever becoming anything other then an associate member state.
Ukraine has not known anything other then how to be dominated by autocratic figures. It has never been and will never be an independent democratic state under a presidential authority.
If Ukraine wants to become an independent European state then it must embrace self governance and take collective responsibility for its own destiny. It must become a  full parliamentary democracy.
The European Council - Venice Commission should be requested to draft a model constitution and encourage member states to consider adopting its provisions.  Any prospective member state should be assessed on the basis of the model.  The model should outline basic human rights provisions and guarantee the rights of fair democratic representation based in the principle of one vote one value.


Friday, December 11, 2009

President greases poll results

Ukrainian Presidential think tank the "National Institute for Strategic Studies" (NISS) has been accused of rigging public opinion polls to favor their boss incumbent president, Viktor Yushchenko

In a recent poll undertaken by the NISS the president's agency has claimed that Yushchenko is sitting on 9.5% of the vote which is more than twice what all other polls have been reporting.

The total vote allocated to the Yuschhenko's Party "Our Ukraine" candidates is 21.3%  (7% above what the President's party normally achieve).

Missing from the published results is the vote for communist party leader Petro Simonenko who normally polls around 4-5%.



Monday, December 07, 2009

Expanding EU Democracy: An open and shut case

by Andreas Umland Source OpEdNews:

The pro-Ukrainian Free Democratic Party of Germany is becoming a player in the EU's foreign affairs

The issue of an EU membership perspective for Ukraine is central to this young democracy's current foreign relations and future domestic development. At least, this is what many members of Kyiv's political and intellectual elite believe – arguably, for good reasons. The prospect of becoming a fully accepted “member of the European family” was, in the opinion of many in both the West and East, important for the political and economic development of Central European as well as Baltic countries in the 1990s. It was a driving force in the quick transition of these post-totalitarian states into more or less liberal democracies today.

Ukraine has been lacking this incentive for comprehensive democratization and effective state-building so far. The EU has adopted a position that, depending on who in Brussels and the Union's surrounding institutions or groups you talk too, is more or less vague. Some of the EU's political, intellectual and economic leaders say that, while there has been no official invitation so far, “the door remains open,” and that it depends on Ukraine whether it will receive a membership perspective or not. The current mainstream position seems to be something like “the door is neither open nor closed” – a purposefully imprecise postponement of the thorny issue of what do to with a basically democratic country that is fully located in Europe and sees itself as being part and parcel of many pan-European traditions. Finally, a few “realist” commentators think that the enlargement of the EU is now over – with possible future exceptions to be allowed concerning countries like Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, or, at most, the former Yugoslav republics. These European “pragmatists” may concede that Kyiv will receive a “privileged association” – a formula that could entail fairly close cooperation between Brussels and Kyiv. However, such is the dominant opinion within this influential camp of West European conservative economic and political elites, the status of Ukraine and various other countries, like Turkey, Moldova or Georgia, will always remain “below full membership.”

With the announcement of the composition of Germany's future cabinet in October this year, there has emerged a chance that the EU's approach may become both clearer and friendlier towards Ukraine. In the coming four years, the regular term of Germany's new government, Ukraine may be provided with an opportunity to improve its standing as a possible future candidate for EU membership. In a best-case scenario, we will see the emergence of a pro-Ukrainian coalition within the EU. Such an alliance could consist of Central European and Baltic states as well as of Great Britain plus Germany, and may be able to push through an affirmative specification of the EU's official position towards a future membership of Ukraine.

As had been expected since the announcement of the results of the Bundestag elections in late September 2009, the head of the economically right-wing and politically liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), Guido Westerwelle, was not only announced as the Federal Republic's future Vice-Chancellor. An internationally little-known, but domestically prolific leader of the German liberals, Westerwelle also received the post of the Foreign Minister. This particular fact is in so far relevant for EU-Ukrainian relations as the FDP is the only German party that has clearly stated, in the programs for both the European and German parliamentary elections last summer, that Ukraine may one day have the option to apply for EU membership. The respective passage in the European and German parliamentary election programs of the FDP says: “The states of the Western Balkans have a medium- to long-term perspective to join the EU – a position supported by the FDP. In the long run, this also applies to Ukraine.”

To be sure, other German politicians, for instance, the new Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schaeuble, have expressed similar sentiments, at one point or another, too. Also, the German left-liberal party, Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen (Union 90/The Greens), whose leader Joschka Fischer had been head of the German Foreign Service in 1998-2005, has an international policies program obviously implying a EU membership perspective for Ukraine and other European countries that are currently not in the pipeline for entering the Union. However, the FDP remains the only relevant party in Germany that, even if only very briefly, mentions specifically and affirmatively Ukraine in connection with the issue of possible future candidates for an entry into the EU.

It needs to be added, on the other hand, that, while Germany is an important European country, the FRG is only one of the 27 states formulating EU foreign policies. Moreover, with the creation of a Union foreign service, after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the influence of national ministries of international affairs, including Germany's Auswaertiges Amt, on pan-European politics will decline. Also, Germany's system of rule is a so-called “chancellor's democracy” meaning that the Federal Republic's chief of cabinet Angela Merkel determines the main directions in all areas, including foreign policy. Merkel represents Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that has been ambivalent on Ukraine's possible entry into the EU. Moreover, the position of the CDU's Bavarian sister party and third government coalition partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), can be said to be, in a certain sense, anti-Ukrainian: In spite of Munich's close relations with Kyiv, the CSU's political program implies that, among other countries, Ukraine has no EU membership perspective whatsoever. It also needs to be admitted that Ukraine is currently not a salient issue in either German or EU external affairs. Ukraine's future is not a critical issue for either the FDP or any other German political party. Finally, in Germany like in other countries, electoral party programs, as the FDP's, not always fully reflect what party functionaries do after gaining governmental positions.

It is thus not clear what the partial change of personnel and policy line in the German cabinet will mean, for Ukraine. Still, even a short line within a long political program, like the one sentence on Ukraine in the FDP's official agenda, is not a trivial phenomenon in as developed a democracy as Germany's. The status of the party program is above statements of individual preferences of – even, influential – party leaders. As the program has been collectively formulated and democratically approved by the FDP's elected organs, it has a weight (and could even develop a dynamic) of its own. Ukraine may be one of the least issues currently on Westerwelle's mind. However, both Ukrainian political leaders and pro-Ukrainian civic actors in the West, have now the opportunity to mention the respective sentence of the FDP's European and national electoral programs when discussing with Westerwelle Ukraine's future.

To this, for Ukraine's already fortunate situation, one might add that the FDP did, in Germany's new coalition government, not only receive the Foreign Service, but also the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development that administers most of the German foreign aid programs, including those related to Ukraine. Dirk Niebel, the FDP's General Secretary in 2005-2008, will be heading this ministry – a fact that came as a surprise to many observers as the liberals had been demanding the abolishment of that ministry. Whatever the particular circumstances of these decisions, Kyiv will now have two institutional partners in Germany's government who are headed by politicians, presumably, in favor of a long-term EU membership perspective for Ukraine.

Last but not least, Westerwelle may not always be as junior a figure in Germany's foreign relations as he will be for the next months or even couple of years to come. Certainly, Ukrainian leaders should keep in mind Merkel's standing in international politics, no the least, on the European arena, on the one side, and Westerwelle's current lack of foreign policy experience, on the other. This will constrain Westerwelle's influence on policy making for some time, and allow Merkel to exercise fully her so-called “directives competence” when determining how Germany should behave internationally. However, it is not only unclear how far Merkel's future Ostpolitik will be informed by skeptic positions towards Ukraine, such as those in the CSU – now that her former Foreign Minister and follower of Gerhard Schroeder's pro-Russian line in international affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is gone.

It is also worth noting that Westerwelle may, in the coming months, receive advice not only from the FDP's previous Foreign Service head Klaus Kinkel. He will also benefit from behind-the-scenes guidance by Germany's legendary former Vice-Chancellor as well as past Minister of Domestic and Foreign Affairs Hans-Dietrich Genscher – one of Europe's most experienced elder statesmen. Genscher, himself a former head of the FDP, was one of Westerwelle's sponsors during his rise to party leadership, and may, to one degree or another, be playing the role of an advisor on Germany's foreign policy making for the next months. At least, Westerwelle will seemingly have the opportunity to consult Genscher should he encounter a salient, difficult foreign policy issue calling for well-informed advice.

That Westerwelle does not expect his political line to become succumbed under the Christian Democract's foreign agenda was demonstrated when, at a press conference in November, he was asked why it is that his FDP colleague Niebel became the minister responsible for foreign technical assistance. Westerwelle replied: “It is important for us [i.e. for the FDP] that no auxiliary foreign policy will be happening within the development aid ministry.” By “auxiliary foreign policy,” the leader of Germany's liberal party clearly meant possible international preferences of his conservative coalition partners. Should this statement preview the FDP's future behavior within Germany's foreign policy making community, we may see more changes in German and European foreign relations, including those with Ukraine, than one would otherwise expect.



Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Poll: Analysis - Negatives, Positives and Recognition trends 50 days out

Research and Branding have published the detailed survey results of their 50 days to go poll.  It shows some very interesting data.  Most notably was the candidate's negative rating poll.  Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine;s incumbent President, top the list with 74.6% of respondents rating him negatively. Next came Yulia Tymoshenko at 50.1% Petro Symonenko at 53.7% , Arseniy Yatseniuk at 49.9% and Yanukovych on 41.8%

Lytvyn and Yanukovych were the two highest polling candidates in the positive scale. 4.9% said they did not know Tigipko and 1% did not know Yatseniuk.

The six month trend graph showed Yanukovych and Tigipko overall picking up support whilst every other candidate remained flat or in decline.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Sour Gapes. Candidate's cry wolf

Various statements by marginal presidential candidates about the likely electoral fraud are aimed to create a background for their post-election information campaigns and lawsuits, the leader of the Yedyny Tsentr Viktor Baloha said Nov. 24. Source zik.com.ua 

Alarming declarations about the likely vote rigging directly point to organizational weaknesses of some candidates as the law allows for reliable barriers against any electoral fraud. For instance, any presidential candidate can send his 2 representatives to sit on local and regional electoral commissions, appoint observers to keep an eye on voting and counting of ballots. Proxies of candidates who have wide authority can also supervise the course of the voting.

“These representative must have absolute trust of their patron. Everything depends on the correct choice of a candidate and professional level of his team,” Baloha summed up.

Other effective barriers to electoral fraud are the Central Election Commission [whose members are appointed by major parliamentary parties on a quota principle] and numerous international observers. Mass media and NGOs, notably, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, will also be effective in helping to curb fraud.

Of great importance for establishing the final tally are also exit polls run by respected polling companies.

“There are more than enough supervisory tools, as you see, and they will all be used during the campaign. All the more so that there are 18 presidential candidates, some having considerable weight. That is why any declarations about the likely fraud are just attempts to justify a defeat of those who make them. Note that those candidates who are selling themselves as strong-willed and tough are most given to such declarations. In fact, such declarations expose them as would-be losers and outsiders,” Baloha added. 


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yushchenko to abandon ship having sailed Arc Orange on to the rocks

Ukraine's embattled and disgraced President, Viktor Yushchenko, having caused the collapse of the orange revolution, and betrayed all those who supported his election, has stated for the first time that he will bow out of politics following the next presidential election.

Yushchenko's support rating is less then 4 percent and he is set to lose office in the first round of the election.

Many commentators believe he should have bowed out long ago and should not have re-nominated. By standing for a second term he is denying opportunity for those who support his candidacy to transfer their support to another candidate.  Those who will vote for Yushchenko in January will be throwing their vote away, they would be better off staying at home and not voting at all or voting "against all".

In 2005 Yushchenko enjoyed the support of 52% of Ukraine and was even nominated for a Nobel prize.  His fall from grace could not be more dramatic. Where once he was the toast of the "free world" today the US President, Barack Obama, would not even meet with him during his visit to the United States.  The president of Russia has singled him out as the main cause for division and dissension in the region and the deteriorating relations between Russia and Ukraine. Four members of his own political party are running against him.

In losing the election Yushchenko will not only bring himself into disrepute but also the office of President.

History will record him as a failed president who betrayed Ukraine and democracy itself.  His term of office has been a complete disaster. What positives that may have existed have been overshadowed by his betrayal and deceit. Instead of supporting democracy Yushchenko sought to destroy it.  He betrayed his oath and all those around him by denying Ukraine the right to democratic governance.


Poll: Yanukovych set to win in second round

50 days to go and Yanukovych is set to win the second round of voting with over 50% of the vote

According to the lastest Research and Branding electoral poll also published on KyivPost

Under Ukraine's flawed first-past-the-post voting system only the two highest polling candidates progress to the second round of voting. Yushchenko still remains the biggest loser stuck on 3.5% Lytvyn is holding ground doubling his last months rating. Yatseniuk is dropping by the week but still remains in third place ten percentage points below Tymoshenko.

On a  two candidate preferred basis Yanukovych is on 47.4% to Tymoshenko 28.1%   - adjusted for the expected turn out (87%) Yanukovych wins over 50% of the vote

V. Yanukovich
Y. Timoshenko
A. Yatsenyuk
V. Litvin
S. Tigipko
P. Simonenko
V. Yuschenko

At a cost of over 1 billion dollars Ukraine would have been much better off if the parliament had elected the next head of state.  Another failure of Yushchenko.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Carrousel of clowns: Fresh Parliamentary elections to follow Presidential contest

In what has been a full on news day for Ukraine it has become obvious that Ukraine will face another fresh round of Parliamentary elections in the new year.

Party of Regions, Viktor Yanukovych has indicated that they aim to secure both the presidency and the prime-ministership once the Presidential election is over. Effort will be made to form a new coalition to appoint a new government. If that fails the newly elected president will seek ways to dismiss the parliament and hold fresh elections.

Any possibility of meaningful long term constitutional reform will fall by the wayside as Ukraine becomes a one party state.

This is what’s at risk the most. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yanukovych may soon forsake the ideal of Ukraine adopting a European Parliamentary system in favor of short-term power and control.

Yulia Tymoshenko has conceded as much. Parliamentary elections should not allowed to proceed without first addressing the fundamental issue of constitutional reform and the completion of Ukraine's transition to a full European parliamentary model of governance.

As long as Ukraine remains subservient to the whim and will of the president wit will continue to falter as politicians sercombe to temptation and power. This all makes the current Presidential election look more and more like a revolving carrousel of clowns.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yushchenko outlines his threats to democratic reform in his bid for a second term

Ukraine's embattled President Viktor Yushchenko, has launched his bid for a second term of office promising a host of things he cannot deliver, He claims he will secure Ukraine the right to visa free travel within Europe and will dismiss Ukraine's parliament if they do not conform to his demands and adopt his proposed new constitution which would see the President invested in absolute power and control.

His platform for a second term was presented to a less then packed audience of members of his staff and the remnants of his party Our Ukraine who have remained loyal and supportive of the president.

Yushchenko's statements and reports in the media have demonstrated why he should not and will not be re-elected to a second term.

Yushchenko's demands that the parliament must adopt his proposed constitutional reforms or face dismissal shows a complete lack of understanding of Ukraine's laws and democratic values. Yushchenko attempts to force a referendum to impose constitutional change would be rejected by the courts as it is breach of constitutional order. This is not the first time Yushchenko has acted to usurp power unconstitutionally by seeking to impose his will over Ukraine's democratically elected parliamentary representatives. Ukraine's constitution cannot be amended by a simple majority voting at a referendum. It can only be amended with the support of two thirds of Ukraine's parliament. Any proposal to try and force constitutional reform will be rejected by the Courts and the international community throwing Ukraine back into ongoing civil conflict

Yushchenko's rhetoric is just that. Even if his attempts to turn the clock back and reinstate a presidential autocracy were presented to a referendum without wide support it would fail. His proposed reforms are undemocratic and unrepresentative. Under Yushchenko's model the President would hold absolute control and power over all arms of government including the executive, the judiciary and the parliament. Ukraine would no longer be a democratic state with proper checks and balances but subject to arbitrary will of the president.

The fact is Yushchenko cannot and will not be able to deliver any of his "promises". He has had five years in office and has failed to deliver stability or democracy. His actions have undermined Ukraine's interests and in the process set back democratic reform and development in Ukraine by 10 to 15 years. The key to European integration is political stability. Yushchenko's policies provides neither. With less than 4% support and with 83% of Ukrainians indicating that they will not vote for him Yushchenko will not be re-elected to a second term of office.


Monday, November 23, 2009

54 Days and counting

With less then eight weeks left before the next presidential election little has changed in terms of expected results.

Ukraine's embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, will launch his bid for a second term today, a bid that will surely fail.  Whilst the first set of official opinion polls are yet to be published there is little change expected in the overall outcome.

The two highest polling candidates remain Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko.  Yasteniuk comes in a distant third - 10 percentage pointed behind Yulia Tymoshenko with the rest of the flotilla lagging even further behind. With little prospect of any significant change occurring in the next 8 weeks.

Yushchenko's party Our Ukraine is floating four candidates in this election with each candidate competing against each other dividing their share of the overall vote.

With Yushchenko expected to lose outright in the first round his Party Our Ukraine will soon after dissolve and split into two with one section seeking sanction and support from Yulia Tymochenko and the remnants hoping to be taken under Yanukovych's wing.  This in itself will cause some concern as to the constitutionality of a parliamentary faction that is no longer a united. Withy the demise of Our Ukraine will come the consolidation of the two main factions.  A number of commentators expect that Our Ukraine supporters will transfer there support to Yulia Tymosehnko and give cause for a possible close finish in the final round.

The odds are still in Yanukovychs favor. But his support rating does not appear to be rising as fast as one would expect.

The period between now and December 21st will be crucial.  Candidates have until December 21 to decide if they will see the election out. If they pull out before then they have a chance of getting their deposit back, if not 16 will sure enough lose 2.5 Million hrivinias.

In a rather cynical and blatant statement Sergei Tigipko has suggested that he might trade his support for a spot on the parliamentary front bench and he has pitched to both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko his bid to become Prime Minister.  I guess it is similar to the US primaries where the various players seek to secure a favorable position in turn for delivering what could be a decisive and significant number of voters.

One commentator has suggested he might receive up to seven percent of the vote.  This assessment is a bit high and the seven percent would have to come from somewhere.  One  poll had him level pegging Yushchenko on around 3.5%. Certainly not in a winning position. Tigipko's support is unlikely to increase much beyond that level. 

Those supporters who are disappointed at Yushchenko's standing in the polls have suggested that Ukraine might vote for the stooge candidate  Vasyl Protyvsikh.  This is laughable as a vote for Portyvish will only entrench the positions held by Tymoshenko and Yanukovych. A vote for Protyvish would be a wasted vote, they would be better off not voting at all.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Living and dying in America: MoTown on the decline

Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despair

by Tim Reid in Detroit 
The abandoned corpses, in white body bags with number tags tied to each toe, lie one above the other on steel racks inside a giant freezer in Detroit’s central mortuary, like discarded shoes in the back of a wardrobe.
Some have lain here for years, but in recent months the number of unclaimed bodies has reached a record high. For in this city that once symbolised the American Dream many cannot even afford to bury their dead.
“I have not seen this many unclaimed bodies in 13 years on the job,” said Albert Samuels, chief investigator at the mortuary. “It started happening when the economy went south last year. I have never seen this many people struggling to give people their last resting place.”
Unburied bodies piling up in the city mortuary — it reached 70 earlier this year — is the latest and perhaps most appalling indignity to be heaped on the people of Detroit. The motor city that once boasted the highest median income and home ownership rate in the US is today in the midst of a long and agonising death spiral.

The murder rate is soaring. The school system is in receivership. The city treasury is $300 million (£182m) short of the funds needed to provide the most basic services such as rubbish collection. In its postwar heyday, when Detroit helped the US to dominate the world’s car market, it had 1.85 million people. Today, just over 900,000 remain. It was once America’s fourth-largest city. Today, it ranks eleventh, and will continue to fall.

Thousands of houses are abandoned, roofs ripped off, windows smashed. Block after block of shopping districts lie boarded up. Former manufacturing plants, such as the giant Fisher body plant that made Buicks and Cadillacs, but which was abandoned in 1991, are rotting.

Even Detroit’s NFL football team, the Lions, are one of the worst in the country. Last season they lost all 16 games. This year they have lost eight, and won just a single gane.

Michigan’s Central Station, designed by the same people who gave New York its Grand Central Station, was abandoned 20 years ago. One photographer who produced a series of images for Time magazine said that he often felt, as he moved around parts of Detroit, as though he was in a post-apocalyptic disaster.
Then in June, the $21,000 annual county budget to bury Detroit’s unclaimed bodies ran out. Until then, if a family confirmed that they could not afford to lay a loved one to rest, Wayne County — in which Detroit sits — would, for $700, bury the body in a rough pine casket at a nearby cemetery, under a marker.

Darrell Vickers had to identify his aunt at the mortuary in September but he could not afford to bury her as he was unemployed. When his grandmother recently died, Mr Vickers’s father paid for her cremation, but with a credit card at 21 per cent interest. He said at the time it was “devastating” to not be able to bury his aunt.
What has alarmed medical examiners at the mortuary is that most of the dead died of natural causes. It is evidence, they believe, of people who could not afford medical insurance and medicines and whose families can now not afford to bury them.

Yet in recent weeks there have been signs of hope for Mr Samuels that he can reduce the backlog of bodies. Local philanthropists have donated $8,000 to help to bury the dead. In the past month, Mr Samuels has been able to bury 11 people. The number of unburied is now down to 55.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

There is no contest. Ukraine is just throwing money away.

Eighteen candidates have been registered for Ukraine's next Presidential election scheduled for January 17, 2010.

 Sixteen out of the eighteen candidates will lose in the first ballot.

Whilst the election fuels the pages of the news and this blog the fact is there is no real contest.  

Baring a miracle, an act of god or assignation (god forbid) or unexpected withdrawal of candidates the final presidential race will be between Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko.

Under Ukraine's two round first past the post presidential voting system the only real contest in the first round of voting is between second and third place.

According to all the opinion polls the third placed candidate, Arseniy Yatseniuk, who is on 7.5%, is more then 10% behind the second place candidate Yulia Tymoshenko with 18% support.

Given this is the case then the question must be asked, "Why go to the expense of holding a second round when the same result can be achieved in one single round of voting?"

Ukraine should adopt a single round preferential voting system and ask voters to rank candidates in order of preference so that when the votes are counted they can decide who is elected in one round of voting and at half the cost required to hold two rounds.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

A case for pure democracy: Single transferable voting

Christy Clark: (Canada) "Vote for STV" 

Christy's arguments in support of STV Proportional representation applies equally to Ukraine and all nations.

The current first-past-the-post system serves the interest of the entrenched political parties.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Yushchenko's last gasp: a threat to public health

On November 11 in the lead-up to the 2010 election Viktor Yushchenko, a caretaker president, has vetoed Ukraine's proposed tax on cigarettes.

Yushchenko may have traded the health of Ukraine for a few cheap votes. Serious concern has been raised that Yushchenko has been paid off by the Tobacco lobby and may have been offered in return substantial financial support for his re-election campaign. It is estimated that one in three adults smoke in Ukraine.

Tobacco related products are the greatest cause of death and poor public health. It kills more people then the flu.  Governments world wide have acted to try and prevent the sale of tobacco and taxation is the best weapon against its spread.

Yushchenko in justifying his veto of the proposed taxation of tobacco products has falsely claimed that if the cost of cigarettes are increased Ukraine would be the target of illegal smuggling. This is far from the truth.

Ukraine is one of cheapest suppliers of tobacco products in Europe with millions of cigarettes being smuggled into Europe from Ukraine each year. Even with the modest increase in taxation Ukraine would still remain a source of cheap cigarettes. In Europe a pack of cigarettes costs 10 Euro In Ukraine less then one.

In vetoing the proposed tax Yushchenko has starved hospitals and governments of revenue whilst increasing the number of patients.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Vasyl Protyvsikh

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Born in Oleshkiv village in Ivano-Frankivsk, 63-year-old pensioner Protyvsikh (until Oct. 2 Humeniuk) completed a law degree at Lviv Ivan Franko University after serving in the Soviet army. He was the mayor of Yaremche before being ousted in 1991 and later headed the customs service in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. Currently, he is the president of the Ivano-Frankivsk Chamber of Trade and Industry.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Petro Symonenko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Symonenko, 58, joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1978, working his way up the leadership ladder as an apparatchik during the 1980s in Donetsk Oblast. He has headed Ukraine’s Communist party since 1993. He lost a second round presidential contest to Leonid Kuchma in 1999, getting 22 percent support. His party’s popularity has consistently waned during the past decade.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Oleksandr Pabat

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Hailing from Poltava Oblast, 35-year-old Pabat earned a dentistry degree in 1996 from Kyiv’s Bohomolets State Medical University. He later studied economics and law at Kyiv National Shevchenko University in Kyiv. From 2000-2005, Pabat served as deputy chairman of Kyiv’s Svyatoshinskiy district, founding an ecology-based organization and several youth clubs. In 2005, Pabat founded Citizens Activist Kyiv, a non-governmental civic activist organization. He co-founded the People’s Salvation Army in 2009. Pabat has served as a Kyiv city councilmember since 2002, and has in recent years been allied with the city’s controversial mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Sergiy Tigipko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Tigipko, 50, is a career banker and politician. In the early 1990s, the Moldovan native established Privatbank, one of the country’s largest banks. He exited the bank in the late 1990s upon launching his political career, first serving as economy minister (1997-1999), then as lawmaker and central bank chief. He chaired the election campaign in 2004 for presidential candidate Victor Yanukovych. After a humiliating defeat, Tigipko stepped out of Ukrainian politics to build up a bank which he sold to Swedbank group for nearly $1 billion. This year, he announced his return to Ukrainian politics.


Who is who in the Circus of clowns: Victor Yushchenko

Kyiv Post profile of performers

Propelled to Ukraine’s presidency by the Orange Revolution, Victor Yushchenko, 55, headed the central bank through much of the 1990s. He is Ukraine's third president and has staked out firmly pro-Western stances. He served as prime minister in 1999-2001. After being ousted, he formed his Our Ukraine political grouping, which mustered strong support in a 2002 parliament election. As prime minister in 1999-2001, his Cabinet was touted as Ukraine’s first reform-minded government. But his presidency has been marred by relentless bickering with opponents and Russia which have sidelined reforms. He lead his Our Ukraine political grouping in parliament and also served as prime minister under ex-President Leonid Kuchma. The Sumy Oblast native has been married twice. He has five children and two grandchildren.