Wednesday, November 24, 2004
A new Russian empire?
Ralph Peters on the importance of the outcome of the Ukrainian elections:
This is the biggest test for democracy on Europe's frontier since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia always seemed fated for a hybrid government — part elections, part strongman rule — but Ukraine could go either way. Especially in the country's west and center, Ukrainians have struggled for freedom for centuries.
But Russia regards Ukraine as its inalienable possession, stolen away as the U.S.S.R. collapsed.
Fatefully, the ties were never severed between the successors of the KGB in Moscow and Kiev. Now the grandchildren of the Russian thugs who mercilessly put down Nestor Makhno's Ukrainian revolt against the Bolsheviks, who slaughtered Ukraine's prosperous peasantry and murdered Ukraine's intelligentsia are back at work.
This election may have been Ukraine's last chance.
Disgracefully, the international community appears ready to give Putin a free hand in subverting the freedom of a sovereign, democratic state. President Bush values his relationship with Putin, although Putin hasn't hesitated to undermine Washington's policies.
While constructive cooperation makes sense, there are times when the United States must draw a line — unless we intend to make a mockery of our support for freedom and democracy.
This is one of those times. President Bush should not let a bunch of gangsters in Kiev and the sons of the KGB in Moscow destroy the hopes of a major European state. Ukraine isn't Russia's to steal.
Anne Applebaum on the The New Iron Curtain:
In the Sumy region, they record, a member of the electoral commission was beaten up by unidentified thugs. At one polling station, "criminals" disrupted the voting and destroyed the ballot boxes with clubs. In Cherkassy, a polling site inspector was found dead. More "criminals" broke polling station windows and destroyed ballot boxes. In the Zaporozhye region and in Kharkov, observers saw buses transporting voters from one polling station to the next.
It can't be a coincidence that if the Ukrainian election is settled in Moscow's favor, it will mark the third such dubious vote in Russia's "sphere of influence" in the past two months, following the polls in Belarus and the separatist province of Abkhazia, not counting the irregularities that were belatedly uncovered in the election of Putin himself.