Friday, December 3, 2004

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It's up to Putin now

The Ukrainian Supreme Court has now declared the presidential runoff election results invalid -- and has ordered that a repeat of the runoff be re-staged throughout the entire country on December 26. The Ukrainian parliament speaker has already urged the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling.

All of this comes less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the idea of holding a runoff election. (click on this San Jose Mercury News timeline for the backstory.] After President Bush made a rhetorical push-back, Putin responded today by muttering dark warnings about the unipolar world:

"Attempts to rebuild the multifaceted and diverse modern civilization, created by God, in line with the barrack room principles of a unipolar world appear to be extremely dangerous," Putin said in a speech at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in New Delhi.

"The more persistently and effectively the authors and followers of this idea act the more often mankind will come up against dangerous disproportions in economic and social development and against global threats of international terrorism, organized crime, and drug traffic," he said.

What's becoming clear is that the correlation of forces within Ukraine are tilting in favor of a runoff election that would presumably lift Viktor Yushchenko to power. The emerging question is whether the correlation of forces outside Ukraine will permit this to happen. Will Putin tolerate the blow to his reputation that would come with a Yushchenko victory (remember, he and his administration campaigned hard for Yanukovich)?

Still developing....

posted by Dan on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM


What if certain "domestic unrest" prevents some voters (less than 20 percent) from voting, and the election flips? Why wouldn't Putin do that? (Not snark).

posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Accepting Tim's comments above, let's roll with the dangerous disproportions. What would Salma Hayek do?

posted by: gaw3 on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Salma seems the type of girl who's up for anything as long as you pay enough.

posted by: szw on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]


Seems to me is, would he survive long enough to make any difference? I've seen several blogs make reference to the concept that he was poisoned, by Dioxin, of all things. First, will he survive that poisoning attempt... and for how long, remains an issue. Second, even assuming he does manage to get past the Dioxin, who says an opponant bold enough to try dioxin, wouldn't try a simple street assasination, should he actually make it to power?

posted by: Bithead on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Maybe we should be paying closer attention to who his vice president is. Where does he sit on the Putin fence?

posted by: Ernie Oporto on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

"I've seen several blogs make reference to the concept that he was poisoned, by Dioxin, of all things."

Since dioxin is not an acute poison (its harmful effects are long term), this seems, to say the least, inefficient.

(What harmful long term effect dioxin has on humans is a matter of controversy on which I take no position. The fact that it does not kill or even incapacitate humans in the short term does not seem to be a matter of controversy.)

posted by: David Margolies on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Dont panic, i've seen this movie before. At the end Val Kilmer will helf Liz Shoe invent cold Fusion and everything will be cool.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Yulia Tymoshenko would likely be the "VP" if something were to prevent Yushchenko from leading the government. I doubt Russia would like Tymoshenko any more than they would like Yushchenko, but Yulia is endowed with all the right talents for the emerging Ukraine.

But as the case with Yushchenko, the people would need to cast their ballots for Tymoshenko to ultimately lead a legitamate government. The tent city is not inhabited by voiceless campers.

posted by: Brennan Stout on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

A world dominated by democracy is not unipolar - it is terapolar.

posted by: Charles on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

'A world dominated by democracy is not unipolar - it is terapolar'

possibly. nonetheless, unipolar correctly describes the current situation.

if you were an american and had seen the 2000 election assigned to the republicans by a republican-majority supreme court against both the popular and electoral college votes, you might be a little more healthily sceptical

posted by: billy on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Still crying about Florida? Good lord let it go.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

It looks to me as if Putin is insisting on raising a losing hand, over and over. I understand why he is doing it; the Russian dominance of Ukraine he is trying to restore is something Russia has had most of his life, and of all the former Soviet republics outside Russia Ukraine is by far the most important.

But it is hard to see how he can get what he wants without paying an astronomical price for it. And while some moneyed interests favored by the Kremlin may be hurt if the Orange side wins the runoff and forms a government, Russia will inevitably still have substantial influence in Ukraine. Putin would have been better off folding at least a week ago. The way things are going now he is courting a humiliation that for a Russian President would be worse than Chechnya.

posted by: Zathras on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Zathras has a point: Putin may be trying to keep his oar in as far as Russian influence on the Ukraine goes; and it IS good to remember that "Russia", however constituted, has looked on the Ukraine as a significant component of its polity for centuries - the concept of "Ukraine" as an [truly] independent country is less than two decades old.
However, short of updating and resurrecting the good old Brezhnev Doctrine, there seems to me to be quite little that Vlad can do about affairs in the Ukraine except to speechify and bluster: the days when a Russian ruler could just mobilize a couple of armored divisions to keep the "provinces" in line are long past.
We've read some about the "separatist" sentiments in the Eastern Ukraine, but how likely is it that these can be manipulated from Moscow?

posted by: Jay C on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

Putin has already done more than speechify and bluster. Tymoshenko and Zinchenko reported Russian Special Forces guarding the Ukrainian presidential administration ( Not to mention the money he's poured into Yanukovych's campaign. And the poisoning of Yuschenko was doubtlessly done with a coctail from Moscow's arsenal.

posted by: AC on 12.03.04 at 01:02 PM [permalink]

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