Thursday, November 25, 2004

The commission speaks

The Central Election Commission yesterday came out with the official results. There was no surprise. According to the commission, Yanukovych received 49.61% of the vote to Yuschenko’s 46.61%. Four of the commissioners, however, refused to sign the protocol certifying the election. This was the merest of bumps in the road. It didn’t even slow the proceedings down.

Prior to the start, a Yuschenko supporter got a hold of a microphone and said that he had been beaten and not allowed to come in. (He must have forced his way in someway.) The head commissioner dismissed this and told someone to turn off this guy’s mike. He continued to speak for a few minutes but the head commissioner just talked over him.

They presented the election results by region. When some regions were announced, the one’s mostly where Yanukovych received something like 96 or 97% of the vote, there were shouts of “not true!” and “lies!” This also did not matter. The head commissioner simply spoke louder. Nothing that happened mattered. The commission was going to announce the results and nothing else was going to be allowed to interfere.

When the commission announced the new president of the country, most of those in the audience cheered. They were Yanukovych supporters of course. One though who was chanting “Yan-U-Ko-Vych!” had both hands in the air, two fingers of one he had crossed over two fingers of the other forming what the iron bars of a prison cell tend to form. This was a symbolic reference to Yanukovych’s prison time. (He served time for robbery and something else I can’t remember right now.) Not many noticed I am sure.

It seems to me that this was a point in this whole course of events where pressure could have been diffused to some extent. It seems that there are points like these in any uprising or the run-up to any. This was one of those points and an important one. The commission could have addressed the concerns of some in the crowd. They could have gone into their procedures for verifying the votes and for securing the vote count. This they could have done at least. In other words, they could have made their case. But they may have had no case to make.

And they could have at least addressed the fact that this man may have been beaten outside of their chambers and prevented by force from entering. This just seems to me to have been something that could have served to alleviate some of the pressure there. What would they have lost, for example, by saying that they would investigate this incident? How could that have possibly diminished them at all? In doing this they would have shown themselves to be concerned about some basic principles of fairness and for the opposition. It would have been at least some basic humanity. Instead it was “turn off the mike” sit down and shut up. No concern about it at all.

Instead of doing any of these things, the commission just went ahead as if nothing of any significance had happened or was happening. None of these concerns were of any interest to the commission, none at all. This astounds me. These people are looking into the face of a civil war if the worst case comes to pass, a completely unacceptable result. If this happens, they will not be able to control the outcome. Life for them and for everyone else will become wholly unpredictable. But, for the members of the commission, this wasn’t an issue. It was business as usual and a business which was conducted in the most dismissive, bureaucratic manner that Ukrainian functionaries are capable of. This is an astounding thing. Do they think that they will be protected if the worst comes to past? Maybe they do. They must have some powerful patrons who will protect them from any consequences, so they think. That must be the reason for the smugness. But this arrogance may have made them blind.

This reminds me of the poem "The Man with the Hoe." It ends

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings--
With those who shaped him to the thing he is--
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world,
After the silence of the centuries?

13 comments:

Scott said...

A fascinating story, and probably a signature one.
Please post as much as you can the next few days as this shakes out.
You're living in the center of the political world right now.

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