Monday, November 22, 2004

To a colleague on the election

I wrote the following to a colleague of mine in Europe about what is happening here after the election yesterday:

The exit polling from a firm not associated with either side here has Yuschenko with 54% and Yanukovych at 43%. Apparently this is close to the result from the parallel vote count by Yuschenko's people. (They counted 15% more votes for Yuschenko. They get a copy of either the ballot or something else that shows the vote--I can't find out which.)

There is a report going around that Yuschenko has gone to the election commission and told them he is the president of the country. This report says that Yuschenko told them that if the vote goes the other way at the commission he will call on the world to come and examine his evidence of the total. The commission is supposed to have said that they had only 70% of the precincts responding and that it was tending to Yanukovych. But Yuschenko seems to be having none of it. I haven't confirmed any of this, however.

Yuschenko called the US ambassador this morning looking for the US to back him as president., The ambassador refused for the obvious reason that it would taint the election in everyone's mind. But I have no doubt the US will recognize Yuschenko in the event he is put in by other means.

There are people camped out on Maidan Nezalezhnosty maintaining a presence downtown. We were there last night about 11 and there were around 20,000 people I could make out. There apparently had been more during the day. But the idea is to have people down there until the official results come out. The police are not stopping anyone there.

There have been reports on two news stations in the past couple of days that have been highly critical of the vote and Kuchma. This is surprising. These stations haven't done anything like this before at least to this extent. The one local station that has had their bank account seized and their license threatened with revocation. Either the pressure on these stations has come off or some sort of point has been reached so that they are doing it in the face of government pressure--they don't care anymore. That might be very good news. Maybe some sort of tipping point has been reached here in the country.

Army units are rumored to be ordered to Kiev but the rumor says that some have refused. But I haven't confirmed any of this either.

Things could get interesting here in the next little while. I'll keep you posted.

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