Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ukraine is not dull


On Friday someone said to me "there's going to be another revolution on Saturday". However, when Saturday came it was more of a political rally, or rather two political rallies. Pro-Russian prime minister Yanukovich had bussed in 80 busloads of 'protesters' from Eastern Ukraine. The pro-western opposition supporters gathered during the afternoon in the now infamous independence square. Bizarrely, it seemed that most of these people had in some way been paid to attend these events. You never know if this is true or just cynical sniping from the other side, although there was a fairly convincing story of a guy who came up from Donetsk and was promised 20 dollars for protesting and, as you can imagine, was then not paid. As a friend said to me "they'll vote for him anyway-they're like sheep!" The pro-Russian brigade have continued to protest throughout the week following President Yushchenko's decree that parliament be dissolved, on the grounds that Yanukovich is illegally strengthening his majority in parliament through defections. In Ukraine, under the constitution, MPs are not free to switch sides as they are in, say, the UK. This is almost certainly because MPs here can be easily 'bought' by various means. The President says he had no choice. On the one hand I thought he shouldn't be steamrollering a democratically-elected government just because it's one we don't like. On the other hand, when you look into it you pretty soon find gross distortion of a fragile and vulnerable system. If the President doesn't act soon, another chance might not come. So let's hope the constitutional court rules in his favour. New elections would take place at the end of May.

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