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Foreign Media Reaction

January 4, 2005

UKRAINE:  YUSHCHENKO 'TRIUMPHS,' BUT MUST REPAIR 'NATIONAL DIVIDE'

 

KEY FINDINGS

 

**  Yushchenko's victory shows "the freedom train is moving in the right direction."

**  "Orange revolution" holds regional promise, while Yushchenko faces "deeply divided" land.

**  Putin is the "great loser" but Ukraine, Russia will be interdependent.

**  The West should "pull out all the stops" to help Yushchenko.

 

MAJOR THEMES

 

'A historic moment'--  European papers termed Viktor Yushchenko's victory in Ukraine's presidential re-vote "a major achievement" for Ukraine's "young democracy," sounding a "requiem" for its "anti-democratic, abusive and super-centralized" government.  Writers saw his win as a rejection of "corruption and arbitrariness" and applauded Ukrainians for standing up to "those who would use democracy's trappings for their own undemocratic ends."  Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung argued the poll "was about nothing less than democracy" and concluded the "last Sunday in 2004 could find its place in history books." 

  

'Orange means hope'--  Many outlets hoped the "orange revolution" might spill over to other former Soviet states like Belarus.  "People feel encouraged by the revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia" and realize that "believing in democracy and a fair future can move mountains."  Italy's pro-business Il Sole-24 Ore commended the poll's "positive jolt" that could see democracy "spread to...Mother Russia, where the Kremlin is trying to re-establish old power order."  Dailies agreed that Yushchenko faced the "difficult job of uniting a country deeply divided between old allegiances to Russia and the pull of the West."  He needs to fight "widespread" corruption, "powerful oligarchs" and poverty while launching political and economic reforms.

 

'Czar Putin' suffers 'a harsh blow'--  The outcome represented a "defeat" for Russian President Putin, editorialists claimed.  Though the Kremlin chief "has comes to terms" with the result, observers contended that Moscow retains "dozens of ways" to influence Ukraine.  As Hungary's left-of-center Nepszava noted, whether Kiev and Moscow "like it or not, for historical, economic and...geographical reasons, the two countries will still be dependent on one another for a long time to come."  Yushchenko "must position Ukraine between the West and Russia--he must reach out to Europe without turning his back to Russia."     

 

West's support is 'critical'--Writers opined that the West should "lend support to Yushchenko" and that Ukraine's new leadership "deserves a generous response from" the EU.  To Sweden's liberal tabloid Expressen, the "most important measure that the EU can take now is to quickly offer Ukraine EU membership negotiations," but an Italian outlet predicted Brussels would impose "reforms and conditions that would make those imposed on Turkey pale in comparison."  While a Danish editorial counseled that "a humiliated Putin is not a nice person," concluding "the West must work towards ensuring cooperation" between Moscow and Kiev, a conservative British daily rejoined that the U.S. and EU must "make clear...the price" of any post-election interference by Russia in Ukraine.

 

Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state.gov

 

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 42 reports from 19 countries December 27, 2004-January 4, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.

 

EUROPE

 

BRITAIN:  "Waiting For Democracy"

 

The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (12/30):  "Despite the substantial lead gained by Mr. Yushchenko in a poll deemed a marked improvement on the previous two rounds, the prime minister and president are still maneuvering to undermine the front-runner....  The influence of Russia could be decisive.  Manipulating the support it enjoys among Mr. Yushchenko's opponents in the Donbass basin and Crimea, it could further destabilize Ukraine.  America and the European Union, which have played a key role in the reversal of November's rigged poll, must make clear that the price of such interference would be the freezing of their ties with the Kremlin."

 

GERMANY:  "Bad Loser"

 

Tomas Urban editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/3):  "Finally, Victor Yanukovych stepped down from his post as Ukraine's premier....  It is self-evident that Yanukovych also refuses to congratulate Yushchenko on his victory.  He turns out to be a bad loser.  But it cannot be ruled out that he believes in the fairy tale that he became the victim of a malicious campaign.  Yanukovych is a man with a limited intellect, and he obviously prefers to resolve problems by using force.  A close Yushchenko aide said a monument should be set up for Yanukovych and his mentor Putin, since both considerably contributed to awakening the Ukrainian patriotism of the Russian-speaking intelligentsia in the country.  But we must fear that the majority of the Russian-speaking Ukrainians will believe in Yanukovych's fairy tale--and that the country will not come to a rest for a long time to come."

 

"Democracy Without Democrats"

 

Christoph von Marschall judged in an editorial in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (1/3):  "New President Victor Yushchenko must turn the vast empire upside down--without having a reliable team of true democrats and without resorting to the brutal methods of his predecessor.  There is a vast need for reforms, but how much change can Ukraine tolerate?...  The lack of elites is probably the greatest burden for Ukraine's future.  Even Julia Timoshenko, even Yushchenko gained influence as profiteers of the old system.  This can also be said for the environment in which they have to work.  We can only hope that their personal changes are permanent changes and that they are as democratic today as were Vaclav Havel in the Czech Republic in 1989 and Lech Walesa in Poland, who never got involved with dictatorships."

 

"No Time For Revenge"

 

Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf noted (1/3):  "Victor Yushchenko is faced with difficult tasks.  He must keep Europe's largest state together and offer the Russian minority a future perspective.  It is not the time to take revenge on the representatives of the ones who ruled before and who are loyal to Moscow.  Now it is the time to rebuild the country.  The economic upswing, which was almost strangled during the election campaign, must be sped up.  The able cadres of the former Yanukovych government should also take part in it, for the 'orange revolution' had a loud, demanding slogan:  'We are the people.'  And these people do not want to be ruled by new clans but by a competent government that is free from cliques, and which represents all sectors of society.  This includes the making of compromises, which must point the way to a balance between East and West [Ukraine].  Despite all interference attempts by the Kremlin, Kiev must work on friendly, neighborly relations with Russia, and it must turn into a predictable partner for Europe.  But by then, many tough reforms must be implemented in politics and trade and industry.  And in this situation relaxed relations with neighbor Russia won't do any harm."

 

"Kiev Vacuum"

 

Jasper von Altenbockum commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/30):  "Since the beginning of its resistance against the Kuchma gang, the opposition in Ukraine was at risk of losing executive power in the battle over the president's office.  This was the strategy of Kuchma, who rejected firing PM Yanukovych despite the parliament's decision to oust him.  He suspended him to be able to use him to push through a constitutional reform, which weakens the role of the president and strengthens that of the prime minister.  This was the way Kuchma could be convinced to agree on the revote.  Since Yushchenko's victory, the constitutional dispute has broken out again.  Yanukovych acts as if nothing happened and reconstructs the remains of his authority.  Yushchenko had no problem disturbing Yanukovych's efforts, letting his orange supporters obstruct the government's meeting.  But all colors of democracy will not be sufficient to fill the Kiev vacuum."

 

"Test Orange"

 

Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin editorialized (12/30):  "Looking at Belarus, the remaining dictatorship in Europe, one could believe that democracy is transmittable.  For weeks, dissidents have been gathering in Minsk to protest the regime in orange.  The first demonstrations began peacefully and without repressions shortly after the first protests in the street of Kiev.  But the Moscow leaning dictator is getting nervous and has arrested several protesters for causing public commotion.  They wore orange New Year's Eve costumes....  There is hope, because people feel encouraged by the revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia and take to the streets.  They have realized that believing in democracy and a fair future can move mountains.  Putin has promised his friend Chancellor Schroeder not to intervene in Ukraine, but Europe will only be completely free when he also releases Belarus."

 

"Orange Means Hope"

 

Arno Widmann noted in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (12/30):  "Yesterday's greatest news came from the Belarusan Minsk and not from Ukrainian Kiev.  People have taken to the streets there as well.  They demonstrated in orange New Year's Eve costumes and protested their dictator Lukashenko.  He is one of the most evil post-Soviet rulers, who had expressed his congratulations to his congenial brother Yanukovych for the fraudulent election victory.  Let's hope the orange bacillus will spread.  If it continues to be peaceful it might soon cross Russia's border."       

 

"It's About Democracy"

 

Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich editorialized (12/27):  "If fairness was respected, the Central Election Commission in Kiev would announce on Monday that the liberal opposition leader, Yushchenko, has won the presidential elections in Ukraine....  One month ago, no one would have believed that the Orange Revolution would prevail.  The election commission at the time wanted to declare Yanukovych as winner--despite the numerous reports of election fraud.  The head of the Kremlin, Putin, had expressed his congratulation three times, but when hundreds of thousands took the streets across the country protesting against the vast fraud, he nebulously spoke of an intervention of foreign money in the internal affairs of Ukraine.  Putin overlooked that there was no fight between East and West in Kiev; no repetition of the Cold War.  The demonstrators had simply had enough of the post-communist system, where the individual has barely any rights against the state and where corruption and arbitrariness thrive.  This was about nothing less than democracy with its freedom of the press, respect for human rights, and independent courts--all the things Ukraine and Russia lack.  The last Sunday in 2004 could find its place in history books as the day when democracy was celebrated."

 

"It Is Not Over"

 

Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg observed (12/27):  "The attempt to change power through massive election fraud and a system of oppression has failed.  Kuchma's lack of support for Yanukovych epitomized that he was burnt and absolutely discredited.  The dispute over parts of the recently approved election law will not change the results.  No suit can cast doubt on Yushchenko's legitimacy.  One battle will end with Yushchenko's inauguration--but a new one will begin, involving the new president as well as to the European Union.  The battle in the streets fought by the people and the opposition to establish more democracy will end.  The new fight is about the future of the country, in which the new president and his government face huge challenges, because Ukraine is deeply divided.  Yushchenko must bridge this divide and try to convince eastern Ukrainians of his reform policy.  First of all, he must fight corruption, which is widespread.  He must fight powerful oligarchs and poverty, launch reforms and liberalize the economy.  In foreign policy, Yushchenko must position Ukraine between the West and Russia--he must reach out to Europe without turning his back to Russia.  For the West, this means that we must not be self-satisfied that there is one more democracy in the world.  Brussels must make an offer to Kiev.  Above all, we must understand, following the discovery of Ukraine, that the problem of Ukraine has not been resolved but just begun."      

 

ITALY:  "The East's Attempts At Democracy"

 

Leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore observed (12/30):  "The Ukraine's desire for democracy resulted in the triumph of the pro-West Victor Yushchenko against his pro-Russian rival Viktor Yanukovych, thanks to grassroots protests regarding voter fraud.  This was a positive jolt that could spread to the Great Mother Russia, where the Kremlin is trying to re-establish old power order.  The East's march toward democracy...will not be easy....  But the freedom train is moving in the right direction."

 

"Czar Putin The Great, Defeated"

 

Franco Venturini wrote on the front page of centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/27):  Yushchenko's victory also marks the victory of the West and of its values.  It's a success for Europe that greatly contributed to the pre-electoral mediation process and that has expanded its area of influence....  It's an achievement for America that made a doctrine out of the spreading of democracy, which is currently being implemented in Ukraine without the bloodbath that is taking place in Iraq....  It would be a mistake to overlook the great loser:  Vladimir Putin....  The Kremlin made a series of mistakes in Ukraine.  First with Putin's repeated trips in support of Yanukovych and then with his premature congratulations for Yanukovych's victory amid reports of voter fraud....  Following Yushchenko's victory, the Kremlin most certainly has no intentions of 'losing' Ukraine, just as the EU has no intentions of 'acquiring' it without imposing reforms and conditions that would make those imposed on Turkey pale in comparison.  But for Putin it was a harsh blow.  It's not a mere coincidence that the Kremlin's leader recently spoke of the West's will to 'isolate' Russia, thereby reviving the ancestral fear of the Czars.  As always, Russia becomes frightening when it feels weak and surrounded.  For the good of everyone, Putin and Bush will have to address this issue when they meet in Slovakia in February."

 

"Washington Celebrates The Victory--'No One Must Cheat'"

 

Paolo Mastrolilli noted in centrist, influential La Stampa (12/27)  "The message is clear.  The U.S. knows that Yushchenko is the winner, but fears that someone could try to overturn the victory by manipulating the vote count or by resorting to violence.  Washington is not willing to accept this kind of solution and made it clear immediately after the polls closed.  The U.S. will officially comment on the elections once the final results are in, also due to its experience with the greatly erroneous exit polls in the November presidential elections.  But they are satisfied with projections and want to avoid an attempt on the part of the defeated Premier Viktor Yanukovych to tamper with the final figures....  Washington also wants to ward off violence that could lead to ethnic divisions between eastern Ukraine, which is tied to Moscow, and western Ukraine, which seeks European integration."

 

RUSSIA:  "Ukraine After The Elections"

 

Reformist Vedomosti observed (12/29):  "The new Ukrainian authorities can hardly count on the assistance of the country's neighbors.  In his electoral program, Yushchenko promised to bring Ukraine closer to the EU and NATO while not neglecting the relations with Russia.  So far, potential partners have confined themselves to verbal support....  If Moscow supports separatism in the Eastern regions which voted for Yanukovych, Yushchenko may step up Ukraine's efforts to join NATO.  But NATO, too, takes a guarded attitude to Ukrainians....  To join the Alliance, Ukraine has to bring its legislation and the state of its armed forces to NATO standards, which will take 7-10 years, writes a NATO expert from the London- based Royal Institute of International Affairs."

 

"Pyrrhic Victory"

 

Ivanna Gorina and Vladimir Bogdanov wrote in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (12/27):  "All experts agree that whoever wins the election will win a Pyrrhic victory.  The loser will have enough resources to sabotage any of the winner's efforts.  Today, like never before, Ukraine needs new technologies to piece it together politically.  That means it needs a hybrid political regime, a compromise of sorts, among several elites.   But then, some politicians and a portion of the Ukrainian electorate are inclined to believe that the current vote may not be the last, with both sides planning to file suits in the Supreme and local courts."

 

"Russian PR Agents Botch Ukraine"

 

Boris Volkhonskiy commented in business-oriented Kommersant (12/27):  "The Ukraine election marks the death of Russian PR agents as professionals.  Compared to 1996, their work area has shrunk enormously.  Their services are in demand only where there is real competition among political forces.  While Russia is no longer among those countries, most of Central Asia is not yet among them.  As for the West (even if it is only the Baltics), Russian PR experts can't seriously view it as a potential customer.  That leaves Russian spin doctors with a handful of NIS member-states, 'winter pastures,' that can help them last until 2008 or 2012, when they hope to see competition in Russian politics again....  But they botched Ukraine.  It turns out that to be a success, money and administrative resources are not enough.  Besides those, you have to have brains and know how to use them."

 

"Russian PR Good For Russians Alone"

 

Georgiy Ilyichev wrote on the front page of reformist Izvestiya (12/27):  "Images of Yanukovych as 'one of our guys,' and of Yushchenko as an 'enemy on U.S. payroll,' as well as a contemptuous attitude toward the 'venal' and 'brainless' advocates of the latter are all accomplishments of Russian PR experts in Ukraine.  But they won no victories there....  Instead, they won the minds of their fellow countrymen."

 

DENMARK:  "Placating Putin"

 

Center-left Politiken judged (12/27):  "The situation in Ukraine has highlighted whether the EU and the U.S. can accept that Moscow controls former Soviet republics....  This said, a humiliated Putin is not a nice person and the West must work towards ensuring cooperation between Russia and the new Ukrainian government." 

 

HUNGARY:  "Ukraine Deserves More Attention"

 

Security policy expert Peter Deak opined in liberal-leaning Magyar Hirlap (12/28):  "The bridge role provides a double guarantee for Ukraine today, because, pushing out the entry zone to Russia, it provides a particular security guarantee for the newly acceded NATO member states.  It is not neutrality but rather a particular concern about independence on both sides; it might lead to the establishment of a trust-building zone on the border of NATO and NIS, in the two alliances' contact zone....  For this Ukraine--and primarily for its Western half--in the political model, in international position, in the level of the economy, and as a reception area for migration, Hungary, is in many respects, [the equivalent of] Austria of 1956.  It is especially important for us that this election not be followed by a domestic crisis, the state not fall apart, and passions subside.  The community of nations has not remained passive so far; it is important that the West not lose its interest in the near future, either, and that domestic relations be settled through compromises, without any harm to values and interests."

 

"Waiting For Yushchenko"

 

Liberal-leaning Magyar Hirlap editorialized (12/27):  "The world had been rooting for Kostunica, too, because he was the man who had a chance to beat Milosevic; however, as soon as its wish was granted the West suddenly sat back.  If they do the same with the Ukrainian opposition--if we do the same, because let's not forget about the low profile Hungary had kept in the Ukrainian issue--things in Kiev will not turn out differently from the way they did in Belgrade.  And in Minsk, they may not even start it.  Well, Ukraine is still at the beginning, but any kind of democratic pain and confusion is better than the Milosevics, Kuchmas and the Lukashenkos are.  That is why the victory of the Yushchenkos is a historical inevitability."

 

"Man Of The Day"

 

Foreign affairs writer Tamas Ronay warned in left-of-center Nepszava (12/27):  "Putin is concerned that, in the event that Yushchenko wins, Russia is going to lose its perhaps most important ally.  But whether the leaders in Kiev and Moscow like it or not, for historical, economic and, of course, geographical reasons, the two countries will still be dependent on one another for a long time to come."

 

IRELAND:  "Welcome Result From Ukraine"

 

The center-left Irish Times editorialized (12/28):  "There can be little doubting the outcome of Ukraine's rerun presidential election....  Given the creative compromises reached when the rerun was declared earlier this month, there is a good prospect that Ukraine can weather this political crisis and emerge more strongly from it.  That would be a major achievement for this young democracy of 48 million people....  Mr. Yushchenko is pledged to seek closer relations with the EU, and deserves a generous response from Brussels.  He would be well advised to be more cautious in developing closer relations with NATO, given the provocative response to any such prospect from Russia.  European leaders and citizens have gone through a rapid learning process about Ukraine.  This political crisis clearly exposes the geopolitical stakes involved--for the EU, Russia and the United States as well as for its own people.  So far it has been handled with considerable sensitivity given the interests at stake, preserving Ukraine's political sovereignty and national integrity.  The country's new leadership is entitled to continuing goodwill as it comes to terms with this welcome result."

 

POLAND:  "What Next For The Orange Revolution?"

 

Slawomir Popowski opined in centrist Rzeczpospolita (12/27):  "Apparently, the Kremlin has come to terms with the defeat of its favorite, Victor Yanukovych.  In the reprise of the run-off, it refrained from giving him any demonstrable support.  That said, the Kremlin has not given up Ukraine at all.  If Yushchenko turns out not to be submissive enough, Moscow has dozens of ways--both political and economic--to try to convince the Ukrainian people that they should support Russia.  And this is the greatest challenge for a new president of Ukraine now.  The West can be his only support in this uneven battle and we should pull out all the stops to help him." 

 

ROMANIA:  "Let's Hope Our Liberation Is Irreversible"

 

Political analyst Constantin Balaceanu-Stolnici commented in independent Ziua (12/29):  "Requiems for the anti-democratic, abusive and super-centralized governments have resounded in Romania and Ukraine.  These governments brought about an anachronistic leftist state system, crushing their citizens under disastrous fiscal policies, violated too many human rights, and promoted a post-communist nomenklatura that blocked reforms, burdened the middle class, and hampered a functional free market, in order to gather huge amounts of wealth through the mechanisms of high-level corruption.  Let's hope that our liberation is irreversible."

 

SWEDEN:  "Victory Of Freedom" 

 

Independent, liberal tabloid Expressen editorialized (12/27):  "The importance of the Ukraine revolution in the fall of 2004 can hardly be overrated.  It will be another milestone in Europe's history, and will, just like the year 1989, symbolize the victory of freedom and democracy on a continent, which recently had seemed to have slid back once again into being divided into a free Western bloc and an authoritarian Eastern one....  The U.S. has for a long time been the only active party in former Soviet countries....  Hopefully the EU now will increase its presence there and use its political weight....  But the most important measure that the EU can take now is to quickly offer Ukraine EU membership negotiations.  Nothing else will give the Ukrainans a better receipt that they are welcome in the club of independent Europeans.  Likewise, NATO membership should be a matter of course the very day Ukraine wants to join the Alliance."

 

"Don't Let Ukraine Down" 

 

Social Democratic tabloid Aftonbladet opined (12/27):  "The result (of the Ukraine elections) is a great victory for the orange revolution.  Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators put a stop to the election fraud and forced through a re-election.  This popular engagement also gives hopes for changes in Belarus and Russia....  The fact that the crisis so far has been solved peacefully is a success for the EU...(although) Russia will have a decisive role for future developments.  Does Vladimir Putin mean what he says when talking about cooperation with the victor, his earlier opponent Viktor Yushchenko?...  The EU can influence developments by quickly opening its door to Ukraine.  Signals of more cooperation within the EU 'neighborhood initiative' framework will not be enough.  (EU) membership in the long run must be a pronounced possibility.  This EU strategy has been successful in the Balkans.  It must also apply to Ukraine, which, at last, may become a true democracy."

 

TURKEY:  "The Winds Of Separation In Ukraine"

 

Fikret Ertan wrote in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (1/4):  "The election victory of Yushchenko brought back the long-standing issue of separatism in Ukraine.  The possibility of a newly emerging state remains a question.  Along with Crimean separatism, which seeks reunification with Russia, there are separatist movements both in the south and the east....  Yushchenko will likely face strong opposition in his new term on a series of important political and economic issues.  The strong winds of separatism, particularly the push toward reuniting Crimea with Russia, may gradually diminish, but a stronger autonomy for certain regions in Ukraine remains a distinct possibility.  Crimea will most likely benefit from such an autonomous arrangement."

 

"The Ukraine Challenge For The World"

 

Yilmaz Oztuna wrote in conservative Turkiye (12/30):  "The crisis in Ukraine is not over.  In fact, it is just beginning.  Moreover, the Ukraine crisis is starting to become a global issue.  Following the victory of Yushchenko, the pro-U.S. and pro-EU figure, Russia announced a joint military exercise with China.  Putin is also trying to take India into this alliance.  In any case, it is certain that Putin is preparing a declaration of strategic alliance with China.  It will be interesting to see to what extent China will be able to establish a military alliance with Russia.  India is not likely to change its non-aligned stance, but the fact is that there is a strong effort underway by the Russians to show their strength against the U.S. and the EU." 

 

"Victor's Victory"

 

Sami Kohen stated in the mass-appeal Milliyet (12/30):  "Two Victors ran in the Ukrainian elections, and Yushchenko was given a significant victory.  Yet the other Victor is not conceding.  Interestingly, there was a similar situation during the previous elections in November.  At that time, however, the cheating was real and was well documented....  Yanukovych cannot resist forever, and it is very unlikely that he will be able to persuade people that he and his supporters have been cheated.  The political atmosphere in Ukraine should be returning to normal soon.  A major shift in Ukraine's foreign policy should not be expected in the short run.  Yushchenko wants Ukraine to move closer to NATO and the EU, but he has also signaled a balanced policy line as he prepares to make his first official trip abroad--to Moscow."

 

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

 

JAPAN:  "New Leader To Face Challenges"

 

Top-circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri editorialized (12/30):  "Ukraine President-elect Yushchenko must tackle a number of immediate challenges, including repairing the national divide caused by Ukraine's presidential revote.  Most people in northwest Ukraine appeared to support the pro-EU Yushchenko, while voters in the southeast seemed to opt for Prime Minister Yanukovych.  A failure by Yushchenko to reduce domestic tension could spell trouble for his ruling party.  The president-elect must also address corruption and other issue of concern.  On the diplomatic front, Yushchenko must also improve ties with Russia....  Smooth relations with Moscow are imperative for Kiev, because of its heavy dependence on Russian energy supplies."

 

INDONESIA:  "Election Outcomes Rejected, Ukraine Political Crisis Worsening"

 

Leading independent Kompas commented (12/29):  "Political uncertainty looms in Ukraine after Premier Viktor Yanukovych rejected the outcome of the repeat election on December 26 that his rival Viktor Yushchenko won....  As if to retaliate the petition filed by the opposition against the last election, Yanukovych plans to do likewise by filing a petition with the Supreme Court....  Should the Supreme Court annul it again, it is worrisome that the Ukrainians will no longer trust the election mechanism.  Under such a very vulnerable political situation, Yanukovych is expected to accept the election results open-heartedly.  If the Supreme Court rejects his petition, Yanukovych should accept it for the larger nation's interests.  Without an open heart, chaos would easily spread."

 

SOUTH KOREA:  "Orange Revolution Without Bread"

 

Moscow Correspondent Kim Ki-hyun wrote in the independent Dong-a Ilbo (1/4):  "With Yushchenko's victory at the second election in Ukraine, there is anticipation that the fever of democratization will spread into neighboring countries, just as the civilian revolution in Georgia led to this Orange Revolution in Ukraine.  However, when the excitement and passion die down, the cold reality of the Ukrainian per capita income of slightly over 1,000 dollars is waiting.  Once democratization is accomplished, it is economic problems that are most urgent to people.  In addition, during the election, Ukraine witnessed extreme conflicts and confrontations such as that between ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians, the regional confrontation between the agricultural area in the west and the industrial area in the east, and the conflict between conservatives and progressives.  Furthermore, Russia and some Western countries became involved in the Ukrainian situation and waged war by proxy.  It is now up to the democratic Yushchenko administration to resolve all of these confrontations and conflicts.  Although the Ukrainian people established a democratic government on their own, the Orange Revolution will remain unfinished until the nation becomes united again and economic development is achieved to increase the people's quality of life."            

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

 

KAZAKHSTAN:  "Orange Party Overcomes"

 

Bogatoz Saidokhmetova and Sergey Aparin wrote in pro-government Novoye Pokoleniye (12/30):  "The second round was a joke on the world community faithfully following the course of Ukraine's elections.  However, the phrase 'faithfully followed' is too mocking a formulation for  the real interest of the West and Russia in Ukraine.  Embarrassed and with long political phrases they now try to cover up the really dirty fight between Russian and American spin-doctors, plus united Europe.  And not for the first time Moscow's vaunted spin-doctors have suffered a crushing defeat."

 

Yushchenko Ukrainian President"

 

Amirkhan Mendeke had this to say in progressive Kazakh-language Zhas Alash (12/28):  "Ukraine's people proved that they are not slaves of the authorities, but sons and daughters of their nation.  They demonstrated high intellectual abilities, pride and responsibility.  This nation will never lose its way.  Nobody will be able to violate such a nation."

 

NEPAL:  "Ukrainians' Power"

 

The centrist Kathmandu Post editorialized (12/30):  "Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko won Ukraine's long drawn-out and decisive presidential  election the other day....  Although the Kremlin-backed candidate defied the apparent victory, he surely cannot reverse the people's verdict as it has  happened in most of the former Soviet-breakaway countries.  The very fact is that the re-vote that took place on Tuesday was victory for civil society....  Most countries, which were part of the former Soviet Union, have no opposition leaders in parliament because of the strongly regimented autocratic  practices.  In fact, leaders in the Soviet Union breakaway countries ignore the issues that cause public discontent such as corruption and bad governance.  Now  Ukraine sits at one of the crossroads between Russia and the West.  Russia  continues to suppress the basic freedom while the West tolerates discontent....   It was the people, who ousted the feudal oligarch-backed candidate to bring about socio-economic changes in that country....  The feudal oligarchs also cannot control Nepal.  Nor can the Maoists think of replacing democracy with an authoritarian communist regime.  The people hold the final verdict on any regime.  And they will defeat any force--be it a regressive, communist or oligarchic force as it happened in Ukraine and  Georgia last year."

 

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

 

CANADA:  "West Must Back Ukraine Winner"

 

The liberal Toronto Star opined (12/30): "Unfortunately, Yanukovych has refused to concede defeat since Sunday's second election.  He is contesting the results after claiming he has heard nearly 5,000 complaints about how the vote was conducted.  He remains defiant despite reports from foreign monitors, including 500 Canadians, that the election was free of major problems.  In light of evidence that the most recent vote was conducted freely, fairly and transparently, the right path for Yanukovych would be to accept the results and make way for Yushchenko without delay.  Such a move is critical because Yushchenko must quickly begin the difficult job of uniting a country deeply divided between old allegiances to Russia and new pulls toward the West.  It will be no easy task.  Yushchenko drew most of his support from the mainly Ukrainian-speaking central and western parts of the country.  The largely Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine, where much of the country's industrial and economic strength is concentrated, voted heavily for Yanukovych.  After Sunday's election, Yushchenko took the first steps toward forging a new, more mature relationship with Russia by saying Moscow would be the first foreign capital he visits.  As Ukraine celebrates this important milestone toward full independence, it is critical that Canada and other Western nations lend support to Yushchenko.  Such backing will help ensure the duly and democratically elected leader is allowed to govern as his country has asked him to do."

 

"Unify Ukraine"

 

The conservative tabloid Edmonton Journal commented (12/29):  "Viktor Yushchenko's victory in Sunday's election is a historic moment in Ukraine, as the euphoria of many Ukrainians so aptly demonstrates.  The new leadership provides a long-awaited opportunity to move forward with economic and political reforms in this country of 48 million.  Even more important is the strengthening of the country's democratic institutions--a tremendous achievement and a tribute to the remarkable commitment and courage of the Ukrainian people determined to ensure democracy prevailed in this crucial election....  Yet there are also hopeful signs that opposition to the new regime may be weakening.  Threats of separation from politicians in the east are fading.  The Russian-speaking city of Donetsk, a Yanukovych stronghold, canceled a Jan. 9 referendum on autonomy, for instance.  It must be hoped Yanukovych himself comes to see the wisdom of this pragmatic and conciliatory approach in the next few days.  While this was a hard-won victory, Yushchenko knows full well delivering on his promises will also be a struggle.  While pursuing closer ties with Europe, he must also repair relations with Russia.  While pushing for economic reforms, he will have to reassure miners and steelworkers in the industrial eastern Ukraine about their jobs.  It's a monumental task.  But already the giant step has been taken.  As one protester put it:  Ukraine is no longer the same.  The whole world has seen us gain freedom and democracy.''

 

"A New Beginning For Democratic Ukraine"

 

The leading Globe and Mail opined (12/29):  "The triumph of reform candidate Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine's presidential election Sunday showed what people yearning for democracy can achieve when they stand up to those who would use democracy's trappings for their own undemocratic ends....  It was a heartening development in a post-Communist country without much of a democratic background or infrastructure, and one that bodes well for the future of other nations struggling to escape their autocratic past and build a democratic future through peaceful means.  Now, Mr. Yanukovych is alleging massive fraud and threatening to borrow a page from his rival by contesting the result in court, which his democratic prerogative....  Mr. Putin has said he would work with Mr. Yushchenko, which is the smart thing to do.  Why freeze out such an important ally, when Ukraine's only alternative would be to align itself more closely with the West?  Similarly, logic dictates that Mr. Yushchenko, who has shown himself to be a pragmatic and reasonable politician, will seek to keep the lines to Ukraine's most important trading partner open despite political differences. That, in turn, could help heal the rift between the Russianized southern and eastern Ukraine....  The former prime minister and central banker advocates liberalizing the economy, challenging the power of the oligarchs, democratizing politics and moving the country closer to the West by, among other things, applying for NATO membership.  He also vows to root out the corruption that pervades much of the country's government and business dealings and has hurt efforts to attract badly needed foreign investment.  These are serious issues, which are more likely to be resolved by a government that is truly representative and democratic than one that is authoritarian and in thrall to its former Russian master."

 

"Ukraine Replay Truly Unique"

 

Editor emeritus Peter Worthington observed in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (12/29):  "In some ways, the 're-election' in Ukraine may well be the most significant and unusual occurrence of our times....  The new election of the independent Ukraine has been answered in a way that cannot be disputed.  Finally, after breaking loose from decades of Russian influence (if not absolute control by the old Soviet Union), Ukraine is now free.... Right now, Putin is seen as something of a bad guy.  But an argument could be made that these times of international terrorism require a strong and decisive leadership.  Putin is no democrat.  But nor is he Stalin.  He's a product of his background and wants to leave as little as possible to chance.  He'll likely accept what Ukraine has done, live with it, while encouraging a more personable successor to Yanukovych." 

 

ARGENTINA:  "Expectations Over Ukraine"

 

Leading Clarín remarked (1/3):  "Closer to the presidency after his triumph in the election runoff, Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko represents hope and one of the New Year's several riddles....  The eyes of Russia, the U.S. and the European countries are placed on Ukraine because those powers have crossed strategic interests in the country....  The policy to be defined in Kiev will influence on the way those crucial issues will be dealt with.  But public international opinion also accompanies this opening to democracy in the hope that it could contribute to peacefully solving national divisions and transnational disputes in this overwhelmed region of the world."

 

BRAZIL:  "Change Of Course In Ukraine"

 

Liberal Folha de S. Paulo declared (12/29):  "Viktor Yushchenko's victory...means democracy has triumphed, but it also marks the beginning of a hard period for this country which has not decided yet if it is part of Europe...or part of Asia which gravitates around Russia....  Yushchenko can't simply turn his back on the Kremlin....  Ukraine's economy depends on Russia...and a policy of a closer relationship with the West would have to be gradually and carefully coordinated with the Russians.  The future president has announced his first trip after the election will be to Moscow, where he'll try to sweeten the bad taste left by his victory."

 

"Putin's Defeat"

 

Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo judged (12/29):  "The race between the two Viktors was a battle between Washington and Moscow.  Western groups financed Yushchenko....  Vladimir Putin went to Kiev twice to ask for votes for Yanukovych....  Putin was defeated because he did not understand that a big part of...Ukraine wants the country to benefit...from  whatever both East and West can provide."

 

"Unification" 

 

Rio's conservative O Globo opined (12/29):  "The complaints of defeated Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych must (fall on deaf ears).  Now, that is the best result that one could one want.  Despite the brazen manipulation that marred the runoff election, giving a false victory to Yanukovych...the popular will prevailed.  Can one ask more from elections in a democratic system?...  The main task of Yushchenko will be to close the deep wounds opened by the traumatic election.  There is no more doubt that post-Soviet Ukraine became practically divided in two....  It would be tragic if the efforts to achieve this noble objective (of modernizing the economy and strengthening institutions) put at risk the integrity of the country, which could happen if radicalization persists."

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