(Analysis and Opinion) Naysayers aside, this was perhaps one of the most important and free elections in Ukraine in a long time. That is saying a lot against the backdrop of the pro-Russian separatists who kept polling stations closed in many parts of Eastern Ukraine.
We understand that there are those who believe the outcome to have been predetermined; the most oft-repeated mantra is that the US State Department arranged the result of this past weekend’s voting. This blog has never been a big fan of the US State Department, or of any US department for that matter, but we do have sufficient intelligence to see past the anti-Ukrainian fog generated in certain corners.
Generally those are the same propaganda driven folk who say that Russia has not meddled in Ukrainian affairs–an idea good for late night comedy but not very realistic.
The Moscow Times reports that the election for a new Ukrainian president generated a record turnout outside of Ukraine in places where Ukrainians were allowed to vote. Traditionally it has been possible for Ukrainian citizens to cast votes in places like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, just as in past Russian elections it was possible for Russian citizens to cast votes in designated Ukrainian cities, but turnout was very low this time. Ukrainian electoral commission staffers at the Moscow Embassy told reporters that the estimated number of Ukrainians voting in Moscow was under 700 persons pending a final count.
Meanwhile turnout was high in places like Toronto and Washington where lines of registered Ukrainian voters waited patiently for their turn to cast ballots.
In areas of Ukraine where pro-Russian armed bandits were prevented from disrupting the vote, lines were long but voters seemed eager to send a dual message to their own Parliament that they wanted a capable person to lead the country, but there was the unmistakable message sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin that they wanted him to get out and stay out of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian people now at least have the opportunity for a fresh start, an open door to put the days of Maidan violence behind and to set Ukraine on a path of their own choosing.
Chocolate king Petro Poroshenko appears to have won the election in the first round and that is a good thing for Ukraine as well. The ballot had 21 candidates, and many thought a runoff would be needed for any candidate push over the 50% limit needed to win outright.
Vladimir Putin wasn’t on the ballot but he might as well have been. The clear sentiment in this election was anti-Russian, and very much anti-Putin, and we can only hope that over time these two countries with a shared history and culture can come to reconciliation. The Mendeleyev Journal remains committed to the idea that Ukraine and Russia should have close relations and we deplore the idea of NATO in Ukraine, for example.
The other loser was Yulia Timoshenko, the former Orange Revolution figure who at one time held great sway over many Ukrainian voters. We are glad that she has been released from prison as it was clearly a political decision to hold her behind bars. However, Yulia’s days as Ukraine’s shining light appear to be over, and voters have tired of politicians out to enrich themselves while pretending to serve the common Ukrainian struggling for a better life.
We were raked over the coals recently in the Conservative News Service for insisting the obvious: Ukraine is a country with a one-word name and there is no need to attach a “the” in front of the name. We’re going to continue to fight this battle because it is a matter of decency and respect. In 1993 the Ukrainian Parliament asked the world via the United Nations that the world respect the name of their country. They did not wish to be considered just a region of a greater Russian Empire, as “the Ukraine” implies. Instead they are a separate country, translated as borderland in Russian but more likely as homeland in Ukrainian, and not matter how it is translated, this is a country with a name, one name: Ukraine.
Diplomatically the world has honoured that 1993 request. Journalists as a whole however have been outright discourteous, and perhaps out of ignorance, but that is no excuse and we’re going to come after them for that ignorance. If they can understand the principle rule in journalism that a local populace has the right to determine how their name is pronounced, then why the slothfulness and ignorance in regards to Ukraine? Every reporter worth his/her salt knows the difference between Lima in Peru and Lima in Ohio, for example, so why is such ignorance and disrespect allowed to continue regarding Ukraine?
What Ukrainians hope for:
It seems that Ukrainians yearn for some semblance of Western style institutions of law and order, of fairness and non-tolerance of corruption. That is a difficult task when corruption has deep roots in your own country; a value shared by the bigger neighbor next door. Both Ukraine and Russia possess thin veneers of judicial fairness over massive layers of judicial incompetence and political corruption. It is difficult to clean up your own yard when you live in such a neighborhood.
The Mendeleyev Journal hopes that Ukrainians aren’t confusing the EU with prosperity and independence. That would be a very big mistake. The EU doesn’t need nor want another impoverished Bulgaria draining their resources so we can rest easy that EU membership won’t be on the table. However we don’t put it past the EU politicians to continue dangling that carrot to use Ukraine as a way to beat up on Russia. That would be cruel as Ukrainians deserve better.
Oh, but the reality:
The international bankers are going to win at least in the short and medium term. Were the world an intelligent place we’d line them all up for an old-style execution and be done with the bastards. That isn’t going to happen however and so Ukrainians will need to get used to austerity measures while the IMF and their minions rape and pillage for awhile.
We also believe that other than reliable trading partners, the USA needs to stay out of Ukraine’s decision making processes. There is no need for another Cold War and both the USA and Russia must be held accountable. The USA must understand that Ukraine is to Russia as Canada is to the USA and if Canada and her bigger neighbor can get along without outside influence, then Ukraine must be allowed to make the same kind of independent decisions.
We hope that over time Ukraine will find her footing and grow into a prosperous nation that honours her citizens with equal opportunity and adopts fair courts, free elections, and rids herself of corrupt politicians.
No one says it will be easy and for the newly elected Petro Poroshenko and the citizens of Ukraine, the hard work is just beginning. We wish you well.