Saturday, December 04, 2004
the orange revolution
No, this is not a post on the latest Salvadorian fashion craze (though orange is definitely it). This is a little digression across both the Atlantic and the equator to the Ukraine, where really interesting things are happening. I've been following this story with interest for a couple weeks so I thought I'd just put up some links in case there were people who didn't know about it.
Basically here's the deal. The Ukraine is a relatively new democracy, and has yet to emerge from the shadow of Russia, which, under Putin, has recently had a rather striking anti-democratic lapse. An extremely popular pro-EU pro-Westernizing candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, stood in the recent election, but "lost" only due to gross electoral fraud on the part of the incumbents. In response, large segments of the population, led primarily by college students, have taken to the streets in mass demonstrations. They've established tent cities, put out the popular hip-hop tune "Razom nas Bahato", which I just downloaded for iTunes, and generally raised a (peaceful) ruckus. They have earned the name "orange revolution," after Yushchenko's campaign color. In response the nation's supreme court and parliament, traditionally under the thumb of the executive branch, have begun to flex their checks-and-balances muscle by declaring the election invalid and calling for a new one. However, everything is still in flux, and it is entirely unclear if the people will manage to elect their candidate. Read more about everything here.
As if all this excitement wasn't enough, there is also some old-style K.G.B. scary shit going on. The opposition candidate, Yushchenko, has been suffering for the last months from a mysterous ailment that has defied all diagnosis, but which has disfigured his face and caused myriad other physical problems. There is very high suspicion that he was poisoned by his opponents, but no one knows with what. The change is so shocking it brings to mind stories of curses and black magic. Even if he does become president, there is no guarantee he'll survive the ordeal. All in all this is an interesting situation. If it goes well, the Ukraine will have established itself as more than just a nominal democracy. If it goes poorly, then it will remain a Russian protectorate and the will of the majority will have been thwarted. And that's bad, or so they tell me.
UPDATE: it was dioxin.