Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Donbass

3 more points from Timothy Garton Ash's article last Wednesday ( see).
Miners from the Donbass region are reportedly being bussed in to sort out these pansy urban liberals. (Something very similar happened to keep Ceausescu's successors in power in Romania.) 
Ah, the miners from the Donbass. We haven't heard about them since the days when Peter Franks of Essex University was C4 News tame expert on the collapse of the Soviet Union. The miners in Romania, however,  and the country is set to join the EU in a few years.
Yet until Tuesday, many west Europeans probably did not even know that there was a presidential election going on in Ukraine.
Even if we knew there was an election going on, we probably thought that people would acquiesce in a rigged result, as in Belarus or Russia itself. Nobody anticipated the public's level of opposition to that. 
What's at stake is not just the future of Ukraine: whether it turns to Europe, the west and liberal democracy, or back to authoritarianism and Putin's Russia. It's also the future of Russia itself, and therewith of the whole of Eurasia. A Russia that wins back Ukraine, as well as Belarus, will again be an imperial Russia, as Putin wishes. 
It cannot be overstated how disastrous the Yukos affair will be for Russia : to add to Putin's near monopoly of the media, which means that elections can hardly be fair, you then have the use of the legal system to persecute opponents.

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