BRAMA, Dec 2, 2004, 2:00 pm ET|
News Roundup, December 2, 2004
Ukraine's President Kuchma flew off to Moscow this morning in the middle of a crisis in his country. It is unknown whether he went to meet with Russia's President Putin for instructions or asylum.
News reports from the press conference at a Moscow airport are coming in:
1. Russian President Putin gave a long speech (obviously prepared) about importance of a Ukraine that is whole and peaceful. He thanked Kuchma for keeping it all together and said "Thank God the situation is not worse." (In his role as KGB chief, Putin's references to God had other implications).
2. Kuchma said the revolutionaries are tearing apart the country and have taken to blocking the government and this is causing an economic downturn.
3. Kuchma says repeat voting has never been seen in the world. Putin concurs and says he's afraid it will fail. Therefore, go for a new election.
The Kuchma fly-by to a Moscow airport to meet with Putin may simply be a staged press opportunity to get the Kuchma-Putin or Putin-Kuchma message out since in Kiev. They have been boxed in by international mediators, a suddenly free and hostile local press corps as well as the international press corps. Kuchma sends the message of new elections with Putin's blessing as a seemingly logical and even-handed approach - no hint was made of the desperate Putin-Kuchma effort to get rid of Yanukovych and get someone on the ballot who might cut into Yushchenko's growing lead in the opinion polls.
Major themes as stated by Viktor Yushchenko last night:
1. The election process has not ended. The Supreme Court is reviewing the second round and until that is complete there can be no talk about new elections. Yushchenko is confident there will be a revote of the second round. But, he emphasized the need to wait for the court. Once a decision has been made, amendments need to be made to the election law (which are already drafted) and will be voted on and signed by the President. "We will not enter into any discussions about new elections."
2. Yushchenko said there were elements of the constitutional reform package that have merit and should be adopted. He said his team will continue to work constructively toward this end.
3. The Parliament voted, and the negotiating sides (Yushchenko, Yanukovych, Kuchma) agreed that a new government must be put into place immediately. Yushchenko said he awaits Kuchma's moves to see whether or not he lives up to his end of the deal.
Opinions diverge in Germany: Schroeder wants a whole new election, but German Foreign Minister Fischer has come out in favor of a second round re-run.
Of great media interest was Yushchenko's agreement to have protesters unblock passage to government buildings. That is, his supporters will not block entrance into buildings, but they continue to exercise the right to be on the streets to protest. The Kuchma-Yanukovych team interprets the protests as "pressure" and wants it to discontinue. Even peaceful, democratic protest is undesirable. Nevertheless, Yushchenko's supporters will remain on the streets.
Yushchenko acknowledged that without the presence of international mediators, the sides could not have made any progress.
Yushchenko made no reference to Kuchma dragging the process out as long as possible, or that Yanukovych is ousted and, therefore, no longer a realistic subject for the talks.
Behind the scenes the administration is grooming Tyhypko (Yanukovych's former campaign chief) for a new election. As they gear up, the hope is that Yushchenko's supporters will loose steam.
The administration is also working to stimulate division in the country, to feed old fears and suspicions in Eastern oblasts, and to undermine the will of the people of Ukraine.
Just for fun
In a TV broadcast, Viktor Yanukovych's wife, Ludmyla, declared that American felt boots and oranges injected with narcotics were being distributed to the protesters at Maidan Nezalezhnist (Independence Square), calling it an "orange orgy". No comment.