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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, Dec 1, 2004, 1:00 am ET

    Op-Ed

    Cage the Russian Circus Bear
    By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

    Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

    The Russian circus bear has suffered a setback. According to the Associated Press, "The Unian news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko as saying Friday that Moscow regarded a potential revote favorably, an apparent significant retreat from its earlier insistence that the Nov. 21 elections were fair and valid." This reversal could not have happened without the bravery of protesters in Kyiv and the important Diaspora voices raised in support of them.

    There is much work ahead in maintaining pressure on the world's democracies to remain actively involved in Europe's second largest nation. So far democracies are not acting because they believe it is the right thing to do. They are engaged because they fear the turmoil and instability if there is a civil war or if Russia is able to exploit one of Europe's potentially richest nations. Do not be lulled into believing that they have Ukraine's best interests at heart. A Russian dominated Ukraine places their security at risk. They should always be reminded of this reality.

    If there is another election, President George W. Bush, leader of the free world, must advise his "friend" President Putin, a former KGB official, not to electioneer in Ukraine. This should include a warning that media reporting is to be without the influence of Moscow. Reporting must be fair and balanced. A democracy cannot thrive without a free, open press.

    Previously, much of the media had offered a biased Russian perspective on the election. Americans of Ukrainian heritage must continue to call, write, and email the White House with that message as well as members of Congress. Similarly, citizens of Canada, Australia, and other democratic nations around the world need to urge their leaders to do the same regarding Putin.

    This is especially important as rumors circulate that Russian Special Forces may be sent to destroy Ukrainian liberty. And in light of the growing speculation that portions of Eastern Ukraine will join Russia, western democracies must be vigilant in their opposition to the country's breakup.

    On November 26, 2004, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal observed: "The incoming Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is a Russian expert and an architect of Mr. Bush's pro-Putin tilt. It's entirely possible that the U.S. unwillingness to say much about the Russian's increasingly autocratic behavior has only encouraged him and his Ukrainian allies to believe they could get away with their election theft. Ms. Rice and the President have to make clear to their friends in the Kremlin, as much as to the Ukrainian people, that a slide back to dictatorship is unacceptable."

    Oh wicked tsar, accurst!
    Oh crafty, evil, grasping tsar,
    Oh viper poison-fanged!

    – Taras Shevchenko

    One of the most conservative newspapers alluded to what this writer wrote more directly in an earlier editorial: the Bush Administration has ignored Ukraine and left it to deal with Russian expansionism on its own. Freedom cannot absorb any more needless missteps. Incidentally, let's be honest. The Bush Administration followed Europe, Canada, and Australia's lead that the last Ukrainian presidential election was a fraud. America did not show the leadership needed at the early stage of this crisis. The United States, however, is now in a unique position to play a key role in containing Russian imperialism and furthering democracy.

    According to Paul Quinn-Judge and Yuri Zarakhovich writing for the December 6th issue of Time Magazine, "Bush was willing to give Putin a free hand in what Russia calls the 'near abroad,' the states that spun off from the broken Soviet Union. At the same time, Bush has made encouraging democracy around the world a central pillar of his presidency. In Ukraine, those two policies clash mightily. Washington spent much of Ukraine's bitterly fought presidential campaign studiously avoiding confrontation with Putin, and stuck to that line in the early days after the vote."

    Hopefully, President Bush has learned his lesson. Political pressure must be maintained. Ukraine is in a crisis because of the pro-Putin relationship America had with Russia. It is politically naive to think that Bush will do the right thing because his democratic principles call him to do it. Bush-democracy is a selective application.

    The spotlight on Russian imperialism must be brighter if there is to be the slightest chance that truth, fairness, and justice is to prevail in Europe's second largest nation. The democratic world must treat Russia for what it is, an unwanted oppressive dancing bear pushing its nose under the Ukrainian liberty tent.

    Diaspora Ukrainians must continue to support the efforts of the patriots in Kyiv with pressure on elected officials in their respective countries. Although there is a growing expectation of another election, it will be for naught if the world's democracies do not have on sight monitoring and involvement.

    The Rt. Rev. Paul Peter Jesep is an auxiliary Bishop in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of North and South America Sobornopravna. He is a lawyer and political scientist by training and once worked for U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). His Grace has studied at Bangor Theological Seminary (bts.org), the third oldest such school in the United States. The views expressed here are strictly personal. Bishop Jesep may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter(at)aol.com.

    * * * * *

    Related:

  • Apr 22 12 - Op-ed: Aiding and Abetting the Moscow Patriarchate
  • Mar 23 12 - Friends of Ukraine Take Action
  • Feb 24 12 - Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
  • Jan 23 12 - Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • Dec 30 11 - Ukrainian World – Praise for Major Archbishop Shevchuk
  • Dec 21 11 - Lessons from Muscovy
  • Aug 10 11 - Russian Truth
  • Apr 14 11 - President Yanukovych's Chance to Show Leadership
  • Mar 14 11 - An Open Letter to Viktor Yanukovych
  • Aug 27 10 - Independent Ukraine 2010
  • Jan 31 10 - Remembering Ukraine's Jews
  • Jan 15 10 - Orange Forever!
  • Aug 27 09 - UAOC Mourns the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
  • Jan 14 08 - UAOC Bishop Condemns United Fatherland and Union of Orthodox Citizens
  • Oct 25 07 - Bishop calls for Annual Holocaust Memorial Day
  • May 28 07 - Priests try to end anti-Semitism
  • Feb 12 07 - Statement on Anti-Semitism
  • Feb 5 07 - Kyiv Patriarchate Appoints U.S. Director of Public Affairs
  • Nov 23 05 - Archbishop Husar's Orange Revolution of Faith
  • Sep 12 05 - Yushchenko showed leadership
  • Sep 7 05 - Metropolitan Mefodiy of Kyiv to visit America
  • Sep 2 05 - UAOC issues strong condemnation of anti-semitism
  • Apr 28 05 - Yushchenko at the Kennedy Library
  • Apr 1 05 - Diaspora rebirth begins in dialogue
  • Mar 11 05 - The Politics of Orthodoxy
  • Feb 11 05 - The Diaspora's Future
  • Jan 21 05 - Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Greek Prelate
  • Dec 22 04 - Has the Diaspora failed? Can more be done?
  • Dec 22 04 - Russia will not leave Ukraine alone
  • Dec 14 04 - God, Faith and the Orange Revolution
  • Dec 8 04 - Ukraine must run the extra mile
  • Dec 1 04 - Cage the Russian Circus Bear
  • Nov 24 04 - Support liberty - Practical things you can do
  • Nov 22 04 - Ukraine's Election - NOW WHAT?
  • Oct 11 04 - Catholic Patriarchate in Kyiv
  • Sep 29 04 - Kuchma and the American presidential election
  • Aug 13 04 - Op-ed: Foreign churches cannot dictate a unilateral non-Ukrainian spirituality in Ukraine (Patriarch Filaret and Ukrainian Spirituality)
  • Jul 26 04 - Op-ed: Viktor Yushchenko and Ukraine's future (Ukraine needs a patriot as its next leader)
  • Mar 18 04 - Ukrainian influence in the 2004 American presidential election

    Email: VladykaPaulPeter(at)aol.com.

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