Ukraine Race Tips Against Premier
It has been a while in coming but the official vote tally on the Ukrainian election has finally come out. The Moscow Times is reporting that the final vote tally has Yuschenko in the lead with 39.87 percent of the vote. That is about .5 percent ahead of Yanukovych. Yuschenko supporters are calling it a moral victory and are still concerned, as they should be, with what the paper called "voting irregularities." These voting irregularities included about 150,000 votes from the Kirovograd "region where voting was tarnished by numerous reports of violations including men storming polling stations and seizing ballot boxes." Looks like a whole lot more extreme than "irregularities" would suggest. (Maybe they see this as the moral equivalent of dangling chads? The Moscow Times is editorially opposed--"hostile" is a better word-- to President Bush. Some American expats are on the board.)
This means nothing in the end because of the runoff on November 21. The winner of that election will be president. Anything else is irrelevant although it does give something to jockey for position in public about.
A lot of money has been spent on this election--some estimates are $1 billion, the amount spent on the US election which has 6 times the population--and there will be much more spent on it. (There are allegations that the Kremlin men that came in to help Yanukovych had a war chest of $300 million.) The stakes are high for a lot of powerful people who have had their way for a decade or more, who have never backed down to anyone or anything below them--and enjoy privileges and advantages that very few people in the world even enjoy. A Yuschenko victory is still not in their interests.