[Marxism] Ukraine -Be Careful of what you ask for!

acpollack2 at juno.com acpollack2 at juno.com
Fri Nov 26 13:28:04 MST 2004

Left my damned logon info on another computer, but here's the gist: two days ago the Wall Street Journal had an article which said in exactly these words that "everything is for sale" in Georgia. Now that the dust has settled after the ouster of Shevardnadze and proper bourgeois laws and norms are in place, the government is ready for 100% privatization.

The dispute in the Ukraine seems to be about who and how (and at what pace) the same will happen there.

-- "eugene plawiuk" <eugene at union.org.za> wrote:
Be Careful of what you ask for!
The following report will give another perspective on the
situation in the Ukraine. Deliberate underreporting from
Eastern Ukraine, where Viktor Yanukovich has his greatest
support, by western media belies the mass demonstrations
that have occured there in support of Viktor Yanukovich.
Be careful of what you ask for.
Behind the call for "democracy now" of the pro-Yushchenko
forces in Kiev is his agenda for privatization, pro market
reform and closer relations with the EU and NATO. The
following report discusses the situation and how it is
being manipulated by the media and Nationalists in the

eugene plawiuk

British Helsinki Human Rights Group report on Ukraine
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2004 16:09:25 -0800


This preliminary report of the BHHRG's observers on the
controversial second
round of the Ukrainian presidential elections challenges
widely-disseminated media image of government-sponsored
fraud at the expense
of an untainted opposition on the basis of first-hand

British Helsinki Human Rights Group 24th November 2004

Ukrainian Presidential Elections - 2nd Round Preliminary

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG) sent
observers to the second
round of the presidential election in Ukraine on 21st
November 2004. BHHRG
monitored the election in the city and district of Kiev,
Chernigov, and
Transcarpathia. Counts were observed in central Kiev and

Contrary to the condemnations issued by the team of
professional politicians
and diplomats deployed by the OSCE mainly from NATO and EU
states, the BHHRG
observers did not see evidence of government-organized
fraud nor of
suppression of opposition media. Improbably high votes for
Prime Minister,
Viktor Yanukovich, have been reported from south-eastern
Ukraine but less
attention has been given to the 90% pro-Yushchenko results
declared in
western Ukraine.

Although Western media widely claimed that in Ukraine the
opposition was, in
effect, excluded from the broadcast media, particularly in
western Ukraine
the opposite was the case. On the eve of the poll ? in
flagrant violation of
the law banning propaganda for candidates ? a series of
so-called ?social
information? advertisements showing well-known pop stars
like Eurovision
winner Ruslana wearing the orange symbols of Mr
Yushchenko?s candidacy and
urging people to vote appeared on state television!

Although BHHRG did not encounter blatant violations in
either the first or
second rounds, the Group?s observers were alarmed by a
palpable change in
the atmosphere inside the polling stations in central
Ukraine in particular.
In Round 1, a relaxed and orderly mood prevailed throughout
the day. In
Round 2 the situation had become slightly tense and
chaotic. In BHHRG?s
observation the change in Round 2 was attributable
primarily to an
overabundance of local observers, who exercised undue
influence over the
process and in some instances were an intimidating factor.
The vast majority
of observers in the polling stations visited were
representatives of Viktor

Transparent ballot boxes meant that these observers could
frequently see how
people had voted. This OSCE-approved innovation made
intimidation of voters
for the more unpopular candidate in any district easier
since few supporters
of the minority would wish it to be seen how they had

Ukraine?s election law allows only candidates and political
parties, not
non-governmental organizations, to deploy observers.
However, observers can
be deployed in the guise of journalists. For example, the
Committee of Voters of Ukraine (KVU) ? clearly sympathetic
to the opposition
? deployed observers throughout Ukraine as ?correspondents?
for the
organization?s newspaper, Tochka Zora. On 31st October,
BHHRG did not
encounter any representatives of this newspaper anywhere,
but on 21st
November such journalist-observers were highly visible in
central Ukraine.
In Chernigov 11/208, for example, all 6
journalist-observers represented
opposition newspapers and one, for Tochka Zora, stood very
close to the
ballot boxes and closely inspected how votes were cast.
Because ballot
papers in Round 2 were much smaller than in Round 1 and
were not placed in
envelopes before insertion into the transparent ballot
boxes, secrecy of the
ballot was compromised. In this case, the immediate
impression was that a
young Tochka Zora correspondent exercised more control over
the process than
the election commission chairman himself.

In Chernigov (7/208), all 7 journalist-observers
represented opposition
newspapers, in some cases simply temporary campaign
publications such as the
pro-Yushchenko propaganda paper Tak ? his election slogan
?Yes.? In a scene
exemplary of the mood of voting on 21st November, BHHRG
watched a nervous
looking old woman emerge from a voting booth, approach the
three opposition
observers sitting directly behind the ballot boxes, and
ask: ?Have I filled
out the ballot correctly?? An observer inspected the
ballot, saw it was
filled in for Viktor Yushchenko, and replied: ?Yes.? The
woman?s unfolded
ballot was plainly visible in the transparent ballot box.

Such groups of opposition journalist/observers were not in
evidence in the
Transcarpathian region visited by BHHRG?s observers. Exit
pollsters in
Mukachevo admitted to being Yushchenko supporters and were
carrying out
their poll in a simplistic manner ? asking every twentieth
voter for their
choice without categorizing by age, class, etc. 40% of
voters refused to say
how they had voted, but 80% of the remainder said that they
had backed
Yushchenko. The exit polls were clearly not scientific ?
less so even than
the ones predicting Kerry trouncing George W. Bush in
Florida and Ohio!

In a polling station attached to Uzhgorod?s university a
group of young,
male Yushenko observers hung around the entrance to the
polling room and
next to the ballot box. OSCE guidelines condemn the
presence of such
un-authorised personnel. The commission chairman in this
polling station
stated that four members of the election commission had
prevented observers
for Mr. Yushenko from fulfilling their tasks leading to the
intervention of
lawyers. When this accusation was put to other members of
the commission
they appeared dumb-founded and said no such incident had
taken place. The
chairman appeared shocked that the BHHRG observers sought
to confirm his
detailed account of the misbehaviour of some of his
colleagues by asking
other witnesses, but no proper observation should accept


Whatever may have been the case in south-eastern Ukraine,
it was clear to
this Group?s observers in central Ukraine and western
Ukraine that the
opposition exercised near complete control. The broadcast
media showed bias
towards Mr. Yushchenko in these areas, particularly in
western Ukraine where
Mr Yanukovich was invisible ? not even being shown voting
on polling day. It
is naïve to think only the government had the facilities to
improper influence over the polls. From what BHHRG
observed, the opposition
exercised disproportionate control over the electoral
process in many
places, giving rise to concerns that the opposition ? not
only the
authorities ? may have committed violations and may have
even falsified the
vote in opposition-controlled areas. So-called
?administrative resources? in
places visited by BHHRG appeared to be in the hands of the
opposition, not
the government, and this may have frightened voters. After
all since Sunday,
police and security personnel in some western towns have
declared their
loyalty to ?president? Yushchenko.

The open bias of Western governments and their nominated
observers in the
OSCE delegation, some of whom have appeared on opposition
platforms, makes
it unreasonable to rely on its report.

In spite of concerns, BHHRG finds no reason to believe that
the final result
of the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine was not
representative of genuine popular will. The election
featured a genuine
choice of candidates, active pre-election campaigns, and
high voter
participation. It is clear that Ukrainian opinion was
highly polarized. That
meant many people backing a losing candidate would find it
difficult to
accept a defeat. Foreigners should not encourage civil
conflict because the
candidate on whom they have lavished expensive support
turned out to be a

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