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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, Nov 22, 2004, 5:00 pm ET

    Op-Ed

    Ukraine's Election - NOW WHAT?
    By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

    Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

    Russophiles and Russified Ukrainians in the West are likely to be indifferent or somewhat satisfied by the official report that Putin-backed candidate Viktor Yanukovich defied all odds and won Sunday's presidential election. Independent exit polls, however, pointed to a comfortable win by patriot Viktor Yushchenko who campaigned, in part, on reawakening Ukrainian national consciousness. Although most Ukrainians in the Diaspora wanted a Yushchenko victory, no one seems surprised that Russia has asserted an imperialistic influence on the outcome giving new meaning to campaign shenanigans.

    In the last four years, United States foreign policy has been lacking in Ukraine. There's little doubt that isolating outgoing president Leonid Kuchma merely pushed the ethically challenged bully further into the orbit of Moscow. So far Washington has not made a credible response to the widespread voter fraud that tilted the election in Yanukovich's favor. Keep in mind that President George W. Bush has just met with his "friend" (his word, not mine) Vladimir Putin at a summit in Chile. It's not likely that Bush expressed concern about Russia's involvement in the election of a sovereign nation.

    What's next? Ukrainians, especially in the greater Washington D.C. area, many of whom work in law, politics, and government, need to take a leading role in pressing the State Department and the National Security Adviser on this issue. Not working with Moscow-friend Yanukovich, should he become president through fraudulent means, only pushes the country further into Moscow's shadow. That's already happened in the last four years with a very harmful impact on liberty, free press and freedom of speech.

    ... he who crucified
    Unfortunate Ukraine
    ... she who finished off
    Whatever yet remained.
    Oh, butchers! Butchers! Cannibals!
    And did you gorge and loot
    Enough when live?
    ... A heavy weight pressed on my heart.
    It was as though engraved
    Upon that granite I could read
    The story of Ukraine.

    – Taras Shevchenko

    Fulfilling a threat to deny officials from Kyiv visas, as the Bush Administration has done to promote a fair election, is comical. Imagine if officials in Saddam Hussein's Iraq were denied visas? The Bush Administration has yet to outline a coherent, comprehensive policy to further freedom in Europe's second largest country.

    Condolezza Rice has been nominated to be the next Secretary of State. She must be pressed during U.S. Senate confirmation hearings as to why the United States did not actively work with Ukraine to help it become an integrated part of the European family. More important, she needs to be aggressively questioned about Ukraine's future if Yushchenko is denied his presidential win. More specific to the current situation and before the confirmation hearing even takes places, she must be asked how the United States will intervene, if at all, to see that Yushchenko be inaugurated president having garnered a majority of votes. If the U.S. can play such a key role in a free election in Iraq – why not Europe's second largest and potentially wealthiest country?

    I fear that Washington will do painfully little to assist Yushchenko in taking office other than to increase the political rhetoric. Rice is a student of Russian history and Soviet politics. Hopefully, she does not subscribe to the notion that Ukraine is nothing more than the "Little Russia" of the empire better suited to be under Moscow's fraternal arm.

    One thing is clear. There must be a more strategic approach by Diaspora Ukrainians in getting the Bush Administration to be more responsive to what is left of Ukraine's democracy both in the midst of street protests now occurring and for whatever the future holds. Putin may be President Bush's friend, but he has never been one to Ukraine or Ukrainian national consciousness.

    The Rt. Rev. Paul Peter Jesep is an auxiliary Bishop in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church-Sobornopravna. He is a lawyer and political scientist by training and once served on the staff of U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The views expressed here are strictly personal. His Grace may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter (at) aol.com.



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