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Expectations from Ukraine’s Presidential elections

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 10
The preliminary, but most probably accurate, results of the Ukrainian elections are in. Everything went as predicted: Yanukovich has gained a very small victory over Tymoshenko and the country has been practically split in two. The results make clear that 50% of Ukraine’s population is Western oriented and 50% Russian oriented, with neither side being able to convince the other of its position.

Speculation about future developments in the Ukraine and the area as a whole has begun. Five years ago the Orange Revolution gave Ukraine a clear pro-Western orientation but now pro- Russian forces have a slight but demonstrable lead. This is a further demonstration that there has been a clear decline in pro-Western sympathy in the former Soviet republics as a whole. Ukraine is a big example but in Georgia also a northern orientation has become quite evident in certain segments of society and politics. We think that this is the consequence of the inconsistent, unprincipled, careless, impractical and short sighted policy of the West towards its Eastern neighbours. One manifestation of this policy is that the new OSCE Chair country is Kazakhstan, which has a transparently autocratic political system, regime and President. Europe is mocking the very standards it says it is based on, and this hypocrisy is seen and understood as what it is by those in the east who want to see those standards in their countries.

The double-headed eagle of the Russian Empire still flies unchallenged over the post-Soviet area. It moves towards its goal of becoming a leading superpower by bribing the West, providing Europe's natural gas and oil and allowing the US to use its territory to transport goods and equipment for the Afghanistan operation. The West swallows all this and watches the enfant terrible grow with something approaching alacrity, as its chief victims are too far away, as yet, to trouble the West sufficiently. .

Yanukovich has taken advantage of a general frustration with the West, and the hope of coming closer to NATO and the EU, which has been largely of the West own making. There is still hope however that at least half of Ukraine’s population still hopes that the West will wake up and Yanukovich will have to take this into account.

Yanukovich has to improve relations with Moscow, of course, to protect the country’s interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity. But The Kremlin wants a Ukraine destabilised and full of confrontations and problems and will do its utmost to achieve this. Ukraine has become Georgia's most important strategic partner, and any destabilisation or northward orientation there will adversely affect Georgia. This is why Georgia was so interested in the Ukrainian elections, and why it has damaged its own interests so much by its clumsy and short-sighted behaviour. More than 2,000 unqualified ‘observers’ were sent to Ukraine for the first round of elections, but almost all of them returned in shame with a scandal hanging over their heads. Kviris Palitra comments that this step was either a big mistake or a planned provocation masterminded by Russian agents in the Georgian leadership. The Georgian administration made the late but still wise decision not to send any Georgian observers to the second round, but maybe the damage has been done.

The Georgian leadership will now have to establish new relations with Yanukovich, with whom it has had very cold if not antagonistic relations as it supported the rival candidate. Since the outcome of the election became known the Georgian authorities have tried to be neutral and friendly, but again it is unclear if everything will be forgiven and forgotten.

While meeting the Parliamentary majority Saakashvili highlighted his vision concerning Ukraine and its current situation. But whatever the political or economic consequences of the Ukrainian elections are one thing is clear. That country has taken a huge step towards democracy. Its outgoing President Yushchenko has done nothing to manipulate the results: he did not violate the law, use administrative resources for his own purposes, or mobilise law enforcement bodies to secure his own victory. He has led the country to democracy, and lost as a result, but its elections were conducted democratically and its people have freely chosen their next President. Let us hope that Georgia will follow the same democratic road and allow its own people to make a similarly democratic choice.