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Thursday, December 09, 2004

NYTimes on Ukraine

Some links to and excerpts from various articles and Op-eds about Ukraine that have appeared in the NYTimes over the past week:

Kristof's Dec 4 column has some pointed words directed at Bush and at Putin. The whole thing is worth reading:
Let My People Go
I came to Ukraine to participate with the people of my
father's homeland in a moment of bright orange democratic

Safire also wrote a column critical of Putin, which I have to give him credit for:

Putin's 'Chicken Kiev'
Vladimir Putin's response to the latest manifestation of
"people power" in Ukraine is that of a dictator gripped by

On the subject of Putin's role in all of this, see this article:

Putin Says He Will Accept the Will of the Ukrainian People
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said he would work
with whichever candidate wins the second runoff election.

After leading with the news that Putin will accept whichever candidate wins the second runoff later this month, the article goes on to present some fascinating quotes from Putin:

But beyond that tacit acknowledgement, Mr. Putin gave little ground. He openly grumbled about the new direction of Ukrainian political affairs. He suggested that the pro-democracy demonstrations and other events in Kiev, Ukraine's capital, which led to the Supreme Court's nullification on Dec. 3 of Mr. Yanukovich's victory, set a dangerous precedent and demonstrated the ills of a rambunctious democracy.

"If we permit in the post-Soviet space existing laws to be altered under any circumstance to fit one or another situation, this won't lead to stability, but will on the contrary destabilize this large region which is very important to the world," Mr. Putin said in televised remarks from Turkey, where he is on an official visit.

"This is what I regard as absolutely inadmissible and not constructive, and on the contrary counterproductive," he continued.

And further down in the article:

And on Monday, as he began to make conciliatory statements, he promptly shifted and ruminated about potential outcomes, using language reminiscent of moments in the cold war.

"I do not want us to divide Europe," he said, "into people for the West and people for the East, into people of first and second category."

Next, he worried aloud that the "people of the second category," a group with "figuratively speaking, dark-colored political skin," could be subject to punishment "with a bomb truncheon, as happened in Belgrade." That was a reference to the American-led war against Serbia that seemed to suggest that those who did not follow the West's preferred candidate might somehow risk attack.

The statement raised eyebrows in Russia and abroad. "When Putin is unplugged you can hear about anything, and I think we're hearing Putin unplugged," Dr. Stephen R. Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a telephone interview.

There was the very prominent remarks by Kuchma earlier this week, in which he seemed to withdraw his support for Yanukovich, reported in this article:
Ukraine Leader, Attacking Rival, Won't Halt Vote
Ukraine's president said that if he were Prime Minister
Viktor F. Yanukovich, he would not participate in a new

Numerous quotes from Kuchma are interesting; I'll just excerpt this passage:

Mr. Kuchma described the fight spawned by months of nasty campaigning, two rounds of voting - and now a third - as one not between East and West, as it has been widely portrayed, but as one over the reins of power in Ukraine. He referred to the country's historic rulers, the hetmans, warriors whose political might came to be represented by possession of an ornate mace.

"And this is what we are having today," he said, speaking in Russian during a relaxed, wide-ranging, two-hour interview in a stucco government guesthouse here outside Kiev, where he has been forced to work ever since protesters blockaded his presidential office.

"This is not a struggle for Ukraine," he said, "but a struggle for the mace."

There was this less prominent but equally fascinating interview with Kuchma's son-in-law, Viktor Pinchuk:

Power Behind the Scenes in Ukraine Crisis
December 2, 2004
Viktor M. Pinchuk is the president's son-in-law and one of
Ukraine's wealthiest men.

Looks like some more interesting stuff has appeared in the last couple days, but I'm only up to Tuesday's Times.

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