Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Rada didn't pass the amendments

Some proposed amendments to the election laws were not passed today by the Rada. These amendments would have done away with some of the abuses of November 21st. They failed to pass because the opposition opposed legislation that would have transferred some of the powers of the presidency to Parliament. And they were accused of violating an agreement that had been reached on the legislation by doing this.

One deputy on TV this evening said that, after today's vote, many of the majority asked to be let out through an underground passage from the Rada building that opens out on another street. They wanted to avoid the people outside. He said they looked like fleeing rats.

This is not a success obviously. But not everything will be. Is it a major setback? Some might see it that way, but once it is accepted that an election is going to happen anyway and that Yanukovych and his group are not going to go away and are still just as much in charge of certain regions in the east as they were before, then they will have to gut it out, make sure that they are vigilant and get out the vote.

There are rumors that Yanukovych might quit the race ten days prior to the election. If this happens, Yuschenko will have to get 50% of the votes cast to win. Will Yanukovych do this? I don't know. My prediction success rate on this man is not very good. His spokeswoman says he will be in it to win and he hasn't had many setbacks until these past two weeks. The problem is that his powerful backers may be jumping ship on him. So who knows what he's going to do.

The point is that Yuschenko supporters are going to have to make sure that the votes are there by getting people out. It should be remembered that Yanukovych and his backers pulled out all the stops and had no qualms doing anything to get him elected. And they only won by just under 3%. So Yuschenko people need to get out the vote. They would have to do this anyway, amendments or not.

I suspect the Yanukovych support will be depressed this time around. I don't think they have the money they had to do what they did and I don't think they have the assets in the central government they had because Yanukovych doesn't have the power he had. So their "get out the vote" programs for cemeteries, public offices, factories, hospitals and other places will probably not be as effective.

It will be tough. This letter reflects this:

Jut (sic) after the Supreme Court decision's announcement, when Maidan Nezalezhnosti was still breaking out with applause and thousands shouted “Glory!” ' I’ve got phone calls from two Yuschenko campaign's activists from Lugansk region. The voice of a guy from Roven´ky was full of disappointment, while a woman from Lugansk was in despair. The pattern was the same: “Do you mean – elections again? With these bandits and their clubs at every our action and at every polling station? With police which acts together with them? With the authorities who organise all these – not even to say unlawful things – these crimes?”

I'll remind for those who’ve forgotten or simply don't know about what took place in Donbass during the whole pre-elections year, and reached its climax between the two voting rounds. Yuschenko´s people were simply beaten: at the protests and in the tents, on their way home and right inside their headquarters. Were beaten systematically and cruelly on police officers´ sight, - while after that regional police HQs´ public relations centres, as well as local TV, informed about “oppositionists attacking the passers-by”.

We’re celebrating the victory too early. I’m sure that one Supreme Court’s decision isn't enough. The adoption of Verkhovna Rada´s (parliamentary) decree about changes and amendments to the current Law on the elections of President, which theoretically could eliminate possibilities for falsifications, won’t be enough neither. What’s absolutely necessary is to create real conditions on the ground for citizens to choose freely there, where during the last elections and after them there was a reign of terror; first of all – in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Otherwise Donbass´ voter, scared and misinformed, will see that revolutions happen far away, - while in his/her region or city nothing changes, none of the officials was convicted or even took out of the office. At the end of the day s/he will vote accordingly to the orders of a boss at work, authorities or directed by them guys in leather jackets.

All may not be lost on the amendments front either. The Rada will be back in session on December 14. They can be brought up again I think. A lot can happen between now and then.

The problem is that the government and Kuchma are not powerless. Pressure is being put on these guys by Kuchma and it has been effective. And he is probably calling in some chits and who knows what else. (Secret files?)

Another problem that seems apparent is that someone is making deals which someone else is breaking. That someone might be Yuschenko. He made that deal with Kuchma and Yanukovych where he agreed to have his people stop their blockade and got nothing for it. That bothered a number of supporters or, to be more precise, made a number of them livid.

That someone else might be Tymoshenko. She is the hardliner in the campaign and seemed to be the one leading the fight in the Rada today. So what seems to be happening is Yuschenko makes the deal and Tymoshenko breaks it. I don't know this is the case but it seems a pretty good guess. They might need to keep Yuschenko away from any negotiations.