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Best Week In Ukrainian History (long version)

03.12.2004 11:34
Ukraine has just had the luckiest week in its history, a week where everything went right, and the educational process was so intense, so logical, so marvelously thought through that Ukraine went through a hundred years of evolution in one week and is now, by right, a part of Europe, a part of the Western cultural tradition, a true democracy. Not just a week in life of one country, but an entire page in the history of the world.

It started unpromising: the presidential elections. The alternatives were usual:
on one hand, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, with a much smarter and more sinister person, Viktor Medvedchuk (with Kuchma’s son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk in tow), lurking behind;
on the other hand, former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, with a much smarter and more sinister person, Viktor, sorry, I mean Yulia, Timoshenko, lurking behind.

Both Yanukovich and Yushchenko were appointed by one and the same President Kuchma, whose first name, amazingly, is Leonid. Both Medvedchuk and Timoshenko proved that they know how to turn their government connection into enormous personal wealth. I could tell the difference between these two teams no better than I could tell Coke from Pepsi.

There was another divide: Ukraine speaks Ukrainian and Russian, it has Western and Eastern part, it can join NATO or ally itself with Russia. Yanukovich is from the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine, speaks bad Ukrainian, and so his campaign was getting its grivnya by exchanging the roubles it had. Yanukovich’s campaign tone was thuggish, unmistakably betraying presence of Russian political consultants.

Yushchenko’s power base was in Western Ukraine, its tone was uncharacteristically sleek, it tended to mention democracy, and it was not hurting for dollars and euros.

Since I wanted Ukrainian people to actually have a better life, I had no preference between the two. But I strongly felt that using a thuggish tone was a better electoral tactic as that was something the Ukrainians could relate to. My money was on Yanukovich, and I thought I was smart.

And then an amazing thing happened: people appeared to deeply resent Yanukovich talking down to them, while actually appreciating Yushchenko’s respectful and meaningful messages. This sentence may appear strange to some westerners, so let me explain it. When you are lost in Harlem and say, “Excuse me, sir, do you happen to know where is the 138th street?”, you will immediately get robbed, but should you say, “Hey, motherfucka, where the fuck is the 138th street?”, you will be politely shown the way. So Yanukovich thought he was doing the right thing, but he failed to notice that the ‘hood had underwent a certain amount of gentrification. It was like using the ghetto slang to talk to President Clinton who has an office in Harlem.

Yanukovich’s billboards, with wonderful, in a certain way, ultimate, slogans “Just because!” and “That’s the way it should be!” were everywhere, while Yushchenko’s slogan “Yes!” (with a horseshoe as a symbol of luck), were nowhere to be seen. In Ukraine, it is called “using the administrative resource”: after all, Yanukovich is a current Prime Minister while Yushchenko is just an opposition leader. Ukraine is a democracy, and everyone can sell advertising space to Yushchenko if they wish to have all their documents for the last five years audited by someone extremely unfriendly and their permits and licenses withdrawn. And of course there could not be any fair description of Yushchenko on any state-owned media.

And then, in the middle of the campaign, Yushchenko had a little problem: in one day, his entire face got covered with horrific acne-like inflammation, his nose swelled to twice its former size, so that he started to look like a Hollywood movie monster. Since nobody in the world has ever had such a disease, especially one that developed so quickly and in such an inopportune time, people suspected that Yanukovich may have poisoned Yushchenko. Personally, I think that the reason why Yushchenko’s symptoms are so rare is because modern chemical weapons have never before been used.

There is no direct evidence that Yanukovich was involved. But if you look like a thug, talk like a thug, and behave like a thug, people tend to suspect that you are a thug. It does not help matters if you come from a mafia-controlled Donetsk region of Ukraine, have a long history of association with the murderous mafioso who controls the region, and having had two criminal convictions, did time in jail. In a word, Yanukovich got stereotyped.

Yushchenko got stereotyped as well: people assumed that since he had suffered horrible disfigurement for talking about the truth and democracy he must have really meant it. You have the stigmata - you must be Jesus Christ. And as a result, two things happened: Yushchenko became infallible; for Ukrainians, he became the focus of all their dreams and aspirations, and (pay close attention!) truth and democracy became important because Yushchenko was talking about them. As far as poisoning, believers duly noted that mortal poison did Yushchenko no lasting harm.

Let me say it again, since this is very important. Jesus was the guy who could perform a miracle here and there. People did not have, nor could they understand, the moral code that Jesus was proposing. But since Jesus could do miracles, people accepted his moral code as their own.

Same here. Make no mistake, truth and democracy meant nothing for Ukrainians. Ukrainian students cheated and waited for the time when they become businessmen so they could start stealing. Kiev’s Mercedes-riding bureaucrats were the very epitome of graft, and now they are walking after Yushchenko with the strange smile on their faces, inviting students who demonstrated in the cold to spend the night in their palaces: obviously, there was more to them than graft.

Ukrainians did not accept the theoretical notion that somewhere there could be a government that actually served the people, respected them, and told them the truth. It has all changed now in Ukraine, probably forever, just because Yushchenko said that it should.

And then there was the first round of voting. It is now clear that Yushchenko got more than 50% of the vote. But God had mercy on Ukraine and prevented Yushchenko’s win in the first round. God has firmly decided to make Ukraine free and democratic once and for all, and for that Ukraine needed to go through some suffering so as to earn its freedom. There was serious fraud in favor of Yanukovich, with the result that both Yushchenko and Yanukovich got about 45% each, with Yushchenko getting marginally more votes. The total is less than 100% because there were 22 other candidates.

Now, that was something. Never in the post-Soviet space did the opposition presidential candidate get more votes than the candidate of power. In fact, many people thought that voting against Yanukovich was quite useless. Other people thought that voting for Yanukovich was quite useless, but Yanukovich did much to disabuse them of this notion. Regional officials of the regions where Yanukovich would not win, knew they would be immediately fired (and they were). So, a lot of little tricks were used. Voting in Ukraine is voluntary, and students who wanted to get a failing grade on their next exam could abstain from voting. For the rest, the procedure was as follows: a student would obtain a ballot, choose any candidate he or she wanted as long as it was Yanukovich, show the ballot to the person quietly standing by the ballot box, probably their Civics or Ethics professor, drop the ballot into the ballot box, and be assured of a passing grade on their next Chemistry examination. For the older generation, there was another trick. Fail to vote for Yanukovich, and see your heat and water turned right off. A note for readers in Florida: it snows in Ukraine in winter, like in Aspen when you are up high.

And yet, with all these tricks, Yanukovich only obtained 45% of the vote. It meant that his true level support could not have been greater than 30%. This level of support was achieved by telling the voters that Yushchenko had a Ukrainian-American wife (which was true) and twenty other things about Yushchenko, none of which were true. To that, Yushchenko could not respond as he had virtually no access to the media.

And yet, Yanukovich HAD to win the second round, had to get at least 20% more. Why could not Yanukovich lose? Because there is a lot of stolen property at stake, and when property is stolen, there is no receipt to prove ownership. That means that a new government could take the property away. Whatever you could say about the famous Khodorkovsky case, it is no longer advisable for the oligarchs to have property for which they have absolutely no legal title. And here, just so you would not think that Yanukovich’s life is all milk and honey, I will remind you that Yanukovich works for Mr. Medvedchuk, current head of Kuchma’s Presidential Administration.

Since I am a resident of Kyiv, as is Mr. Medvedchuk, it is not easy for me to decide to describe him. But I will risk it anyway. Medvedchuk is an attractive and a very smart person, an excellent lawyer and administrator, with a beautiful young wife. Medvedchuk is also, apparently, not superstitious, as he owns many businesses whose previous owners either died violently or suddenly abandoned their businesses in favor of Mr. Medvedchuk. He likes to participate in strangely uncontested auctions, where he is also the one who determines the starting price. He is a patron of arts who exercises regularly to keep himself in shape, he has a nice smile, and a beautiful young wife, whom I already mentioned. My point is that Yanukovich needed to win so as to avoid getting a very unpleasant phone call from his handler.

So, in the second round Yanukovich went further. But before we go into that, let me describe another important first: there was a debate between Yanukovich and Yushchenko. Again, Yanukovich is a current Prime Minister, an anointed successor, while Yushchenko is simply a leader of an opposition faction in Parliament. Yet, never before in the post-Soviet space, has there been a moment when people in power were criticized in a face-to-face exchange. You can write a critical article, give a critical speech (when a person you are criticizing is not present), but you cannot stand in front of Putin, Lukashenko, or Turkmenbashi, criticizing them directly and having them respond. That was the first, and, even though reading the text of the debate would suggest it ended in a draw, it was a disaster for Yanukovich because he lost the aura of power with its infallibility and lack of accountability. How can a person whose electoral slogan is “Just because” be mumbling something about whether or not he misused the budget?

And that meant that after the debate Yanukovich’s support could only go down. Radical measures were needed, and Yanukovich used them all. In the Donetsk region, Yanukovich’s power base (and a region where he is feared and hated the most because people there actually know him well), Yanukovich got 98% percent of the vote, a post-Soviet record, while Yushchenko got less than two percent. How was that done? Ukraine voted by putting small paper ballots in large see-though plastic ballot boxes. There is a funny video of ballots being counted. When the ballot box is overturned and all paper ballots fall on the table, the electoral commission sees a stack of about thirty ballots neatly folded in two. Think about it. No one person can put thirty ballots in a ballot box, as it is “one person - one ballot”. The head of this commission is startled for a second, and so he takes the stack, unfolds it, and starts reading out: Yanukovich, Yanukovich, Yanukovich, Yanukovich. There is laughter and shouts, he realizes that something is very wrong, and then he tries to mix the ballots from the stack in with the other ballots, but they are still there on the table, partially unfolded in exactly the same way.

Another trick is to organize the ballots in stacks of five hundred, so that it would be easier to arrive at the total. You take 499 ballots for Yushchenko, put a Yanukovich ballot on top, and count the stack as 500 votes for Yanukovich. It is simply a human error. Here it should be noted that in many districts Yushchenko’s observers were thrown out (and sometimes beaten) so that they were not present when the actual counting took place.

But there are electoral districts where, as you know from the first round, great majority of votes will be for Yushchenko. Here, you find one Yanukovich voter, and make him vote just before the balloting is to be over. In the privacy of the booth, he drops a narrow, specially made vial of acid into the ballot box. That starts a chemical fire, all ballots are destroyed, and, you guessed it, now is the time when the voting must end. Regrets for this innocent prank.

When that does not work, there is another trick, and I am sure you will like it. A voter in the booth must check the box next to the name of one of the two candidates. For that, a ball point pen is provided. But the ink is such that the mark disappears in twenty minutes, and empty ballots are not valid. These pens were used in several districts where on the first round 80% of people voted for Yushchenko. On the second rounds, their ballots were judged invalid as they were “unmarked”.

But this is not all. In some regions, 30% of all people “chose” to vote at home, and 90% of people in these regions ended up “voting” for Yanukovich, though they only learned about that voted when the Central Electoral Commission announced the election results. In other words, all unused ballots were marked for Yanukovich. In some instances, such as in the military, soldiers were given ballots pre-marked for Yanukovich, so that they could go in front of international observers and freely drop their ballots in.

Finally, there was a huge number of absentee ballots and a great number of trains filled with drunken thugs, going from town to town, voting at every stop with packets of absentee ballots.

This was how Yanukovich channeled his 20% of support into 49% needed for his “victory”. With this kind of balloting, you can elect Hitler as Prime Minister of Israel, and then appeal to protesting crowds to “obey the law” and “accept the results of the poll”.

How can it seriously be suggested that a person who, as a current Prime Minister, organized all that could be legally elected President? There is only one legal definition of these activities, and this is an attempted coup d’etat, a capital offense.

People of Ukraine are no strangers to thuggish power or fraud, and they could have submitted to it easily, with barely a sigh. But now they had a lightning rod of Yushchenko, a highly moral person they imagined him to be. Again, I have no opinion as to who Yushchenko actually is, but it is now irrelevant: what matters is that people appointed him as a personification of all the best that is in them, a focal point of all their hopes. From now on, a stub at Yushchenko was a stub in their heart.

And that made Yushchenko much more than a President: he is now in the same league with Reagan or the Pope of Rome. And yet, by law, Yushchenko is just a losing candidate who would not concede, an organizer of a largest and longest rock concert in history that enters now into its 100th hour with about 500,000 people on average in attendance. For the fourth day running, about every fourth pedestrian in the entire city of Kiev, people of all ages and social standing, wears Yushchenko’s orange armband. There is a Woodstock atmosphere and these supposed losers look like the happiest people in the world. They have clearly found themselves, their inner freedom, and their strength.

Let us again return to what happened here, as it is unprecedented. There was the second round of voting, Yushchenko had about 70% of support, and if the elections were fair he would have by now be the President-elect. Would Ukraine be a democracy then? Absolutely not!!!

Ukraine would have gotten Yushchenko as President, and would have calmly gone back to cheating, stealing, hiding from authorities, and suffering as it always has.

Ladies and gentlemen, I demand your attention: Yushchenko already WAS a Prime Minister, and quite recently. And there was no enthusiasm, no support, no happiness, no tears of joy, and lousy economic results, worse than those demonstrated by Yanukovich.

If the elections were fair, it would have made no difference who won, Yushchenko or Yanukovich. Again. After all, Yanukovich is no worse than Kenneth Lay, may be no worse than Dick Cheney, just a tough, self-serving, and cynical kind of guy.

What happened? With great help from Yanukovich, and thanks to him, Yushchenko has lit the inner light in the souls of mortally insulted people, the light they did not know was there. Truth, democracy, justice, or heroism mean nothing unless they are sanctified. In one fell swoop, Yushchenko have sanctified them all, and faces of his followers have changed. What happened in Ukraine is that the truth and justice were lost and are now being defended as a newfound, cherished, and fundamental possession of every citizen.

If Yushchenko now represents God, his detractors are with the Devil. Some of them, to be sure, are hellish personalities, gangsters and murderers, such as the Head of the Donetsk Region or the Mayor of Odessa. But I am more interested in a momentary transformation. There is a woman I know who went on TV to defend Yanukovich. Her eyes looked dead, her hands were shaking, and she had made her worst hairdo. Across from her, there was a woman who defended Yushchenko, and that one grew ten years younger in four days, her back was straight and her eyes were shining. Was the debate about Yushchenko? Absolutely not. Actually both of these women used to be equally skeptical about him. But inside one woman a tiny flickering light was now almost extinguished, while the other had the light of her soul burning as brightly as it could, just like the bright orange she wore. It was the debate about human dignity, with Yushchenko as a starting point.

Yushchenko is a tall man with a robust face of a peasant. Women here consider him attractive. But after the second round of elections, horribly disfigured, he is now universally seen as beautiful. This adoration brings a real danger of Yushchenko not being able to live up to it, but this is the case right now.

And let me just mention the designer revolution that happened here: people that used to choose between gray and gray were now proudly wearing bright orange, and 99% of them are doing so for the very first time in their lives.

Sixty two years ago, many citizens of Kyiv were told to wear a yellow star on their sleeve as a mark of their despair and “shame”. And then, all of them were collected at executed at Babiy Yar. Now we see citizens of Kiev, of all nationalities and of all walks of life, wear orange armbands, and do so with such enormous pride, with such hope!

Ukrainian TV these last four days is beyond description. First, there was Channel 5, a pro-Yushchenko private channel beamed straight to the Independence Square where most of the demonstrations took place. This Channel kept showing the Independence Square, where about half a million people congregated around the clock on what turned out to be Kyiv’s coldest days, minus ten degrees Celsius. As these were the people of all ages, fifteen to seventy, this was the sight to behold. I have seen Ukrainian grandmothers in their gray woolen kerchiefs, black wool coats, felt boots, and bright orange armbands saying, “Youth will always win” dancing to rock music, screaming “Yu-shchen-ko! Yu-shchen-ko!”, and this is not something that I will forget.

Channel 5 had a constant stream of interviews with intellectuals, artists, politicians, etc, all of them wearing something orange. Most of the times, the orange color looked attractive, stylish, appropriate for a successful, accomplished, strong-willed person that was being interviewed. But I remember a man in his seventies, in the cheapest brown suit and a pitiful tie. Around his thin wrinkled neck, he was wearing an bright orange woolen scarf they gave him in the studio, and this scarf looked horribly out of place on this frail, poor, sickly creature. Very uncomfortable in front of the camera, the man said, “I am a retired army major, a World War II veteran. I wish to address myself to the soldiers. My sons! Soldiers! I am kneeling before you! Do not shoot at people, the people have made their choice! I want to say: Soldiers: When I was young:” The old man was searching for words, panicking as he was being broadcasted live to a huge, country-wide audience. “Thank you very much!” said the anchorwoman in a bright and crisp professional voice, eager to end his suffering. The camera zoomed in for a goodbye. For the first time, the old man looked straight into the camera and said, “People just want to be free!” The orange scarf did not look out of place, and I could suddenly tell the guy really was a major. The guy was having his moment, even if a bit late in life. And this is important. God did not create Man to chew cud for seventy years and then die: God created Man for one, two, or three defining moments, and the old man was having his.

After I saw that, I could no longer watch TV, and I got dressed and went to the Square. As always, a huge party was going on. I asked a guy standing beside me where he was from. He was from a small, poverty-stricken Ukrainian city, one of almost 500,000 people who came to Kyiv by bus or by train to support Yushchenko. “Where do you guys live?” “In the National Philharmonic. I sleep right on the main stage,” he said. “And where do you eat?” “Right there. Violinists make sausage sandwiches, soup, and hot tea for us.” I needed some time to let the information sink in. But the guy wanted to talk some more. He turned to me and said, “By six pm, I must get my sleeping bag away from the main stage, as in the evening they give their performances. Violins are used to play music that some German composers wrote two hundred years ago.” To that, my body had a strange reaction: overwhelmed, I ran away from him.

I then when to the Ukrainian Trade Union building, but had hard time getting in as there was a sizable line of people, most of them holding bags. When I finally came in, the first thing I saw was a mountain of second hand woolen socks, and then the mountain of scarves and mittens. A woman that stood in line after me, opened her bag and put a pair of old socks on top of the mound, and then inquired, “Where do I donate the towels?” Her woolen socks were old and mended, but they were clean and neatly folded. The woman looked like she was living on a $40 a month pension. She wore a funny 30 year old hat. The orange ribbon was in her hair. Everybody was getting very stylish with their orange identifiers, but they were worn by everyone there, myself included, of course. One young woman I noticed was dressed entirely in black. But, boy, did she have bright orange shoelaces! There also was a huge makeshift canteen in the building, and everything there was free and unlimited. There were tables with large signs “Donate a car ride”, “Invite visitors to spend a night at your place”, etc. These tables were so well attended that I had trouble pushing through to read the signs. Everybody was extremely friendly and the organization was good, but there simply were too many people willing to help. The mountain of warm socks was a good symbol of that: the weather was cold, but still there were more of those willing to give than to take.

In western societies, there is a long tradition of volunteering and civil society: donating food and clothing for the needy, uniting for a cause, being an active citizen, working for what you believe in - all of these is nothing new for us. But I am describing Ukraine, and I have just described a miracle. Ukrainian society is backward, exhausted, and dysfunctional. People are convinced that they can change nothing, that their opinion, if any, must be hidden, that any civic initiative is dangerous and self-defeating. There is no tradition of volunteering, sharing, or getting together for civic action. Like a field mouse, you are supposed to sit in your own hole, shivering and hoping that an eagle would take someone else, waiting for a moment when you can venture out and steal some grain. And yet, what I am describing is absolutely different. It is a little bit like saying that illiterate and naked Yanomami people of the Amazon rain forest turned out to be very good as C++ programmers.

Here, I should mention that I tried to work for Yushchenko, but found his staff too busy to listen to me. Since Yushchenko is now a Jesus-like figure, he is never available: probably some prostitute is washing his feet. And when you are trying to talk to a member of his staff, they say something like, “Here, talk to Judas; it sure beats talking to Lazarus, who is still dead.”

But, as an outside observer, I did notice several things. It may have been a spontaneous outpouring of human emotion and a desire for a better life, but the whole mega-event is well-organized and tightly controlled. It started with a large demonstration of the citizens of Kyiv, and all of them were immediately supplied with orange ribbons, T-shirts, banners, and scarves. Then the opposition TV channel started to issue warnings that “busloads and trainloads of gangsters from Donetsk are coming to Kyiv to support Yanukovich.” Indeed, about 5,000 fearsome looking thugs and downtrodden elderly pensioners wearing Yanukovich’s blue and white colors did arrive. But at the very same time, 500,000 (the figure comes from a Yushchenko’s staffer) Yushchenko supporters very quietly appeared in town as well. Their arrival went absolutely unheralded by the opposition TV channel, their cameras pointed to one lonely Donetsk bus, when buses and buses filled with Yushchenko supporters must have been streaming by. Faced with the overwhelming numerical and quantitative advantage, the Donetsk thugs (and they are thugs, with no one even approaching middle class background) quickly hid inside the soccer stadium and were not seen or heard from anymore. Amazingly, the “orange army” was always very friendly and there were no fistfights. One reason for that is the orange army’s composition. While every inhabitant of Kiev and indeed of Ukraine could wear an orange armband (there is no registration of any kind, and armbands are simply handed out on the street out of plastic bags), the composition of the visitors was different. Among them, there were quite a number of physically strong young men who did not look like those who would be particularly interested in democracy and freedom: they looked more like paratroopers in civilian clothes. Looking at them, I could not help thinking that certain apartments in Kyiv may well have a few thousand of machine guns in storage, and my guess was confirmed to me. It is the presence of these men that made it impossible for Yanukovich to start firing at the crowds.

Yanukovich’s supporters freely admitted to TV reporters that they were either workers, members of youth gangs, or petty criminals on parole. They were ordered to go to Kyiv on a very short notice to create a semblance of support for Yanukovich. Half of them were drunk. By contrast, I have not seen anyone wearing an orange armband drinking any alcohol.

Here is another amazing tidbit. Independence Square has always been a site for open air rock concerts. After the concerts, the square was always badly littered with hundreds and hundreds of beer bottles and candy wrappers. Imagine what happens on this square after 100 hours of continuous presence of 500,000 people or more? Imagined? That is right: in ten visits to the square in many different times of day and night I observed not one piece of litter with the exception of damaged and discarded plastic orange armbands.

Kyiv is a city with a serious housing shortage, virtually no hotel space, and no motels or hostels. And yet, all 500,000 people were housed, warmly clothed, and well-fed. This is amazing, to put it very mildly. There are continuous calls to invite visitors in for the night, but clearly it is just a cover that could not hide the existence or a well-executed plan. Also, in regular intervals, carloads of sausage sandwiches, oranges, and hot tea arrive at the Square. There is enough food for everyone, and it is free. Drivers open the trunks, and loudly proclaim what they got there. Ukraine is a poor country, and a salary of a Ukrainian Yuppy, a lawyer or an experienced travel agent, is no more than $500 a month. These people cannot afford a sausage sandwich for lunch and certainly do not buy oranges often. The organization and logistics that I saw on the Square and the scale of it all did not appear Ukrainian in origin. It was clear that thousands upon thousands of Ukrainians supported the Orange Revolution emotionally and financially in every way they could. I would not be surprised to learn that there were people who contributed all their savings to it. And yet, it would not cross the mind of a Ukrainian person to pass oranges to strangers out of the trunk of a car. Nor would it be possible for them to fill the entire trunk with oranges, give them all away without keeping count, and immediately drive away to bring the next load. To get my plastic armband that costs nothing at all, I had to stand in line for five minutes, and when I requested two of them I got a bad look. This was authentic: a Ukrainian distributing “scarce” resources. Soon after that, I was walking by, and someone screamed, “Hey, who wants oranges?” This approach was distinctly foreign.

Overwhelmed and tired, I went home. There, I turned on an official channel. And that was even better than the opposition TV. First, I saw a speech by President Kuchma. He stated that the only thing that could be achieved by street demonstrations is catching pneumonia. And then they went to the next subject. That report informed the public that “special riot police is always ready to defend the Constitution” and the camera proceeded to get a close-up of fearsome black police dog. And then I realized that President Kuchma, unwittingly, is a true father of the nation, a Martin Luther King of sorts.

Here is what I mean. There are things in the world, such as trees, oceans, and countries, whose existence depends on all people. And then there are things, such as love, truth, dignity, inspiration, that exist only because of you. If you are not ready to give your all to defend your love and your truth they cease to exist. Again: truth is something that depends solely and exclusively on you; if you fail to defend it, it dies. There simply is no way to transfer this responsibility on someone else’s shoulders. And from the bottom of my heart I thank God for the existence of President Kuchma, who showed guard dogs to thousands and thousands of Ukrainian students so that they would stand up, put away their Chemistry textbooks, attach their orange armbands and go to the Square. For truth cannot be defined as a statement that corresponds to reality: truth is what makes you unafraid of guard dogs. What happens on that Square is no rock concert, people are braving weapons - and hallelujah - a nation is born.

It is time for everyone to be a hero, and everyone is a hero in his or her own way. Ukrainian main government-owned TV Channel has its news translated for the deaf. Sign language is not widely known, and it did not become immediately apparent that while the regular news were reporting on Yanukovich’s electoral victory, the translator was telling the deaf about the election fraud, taking care of her people, and risking not just her job but her life. It could be that this woman lived for many years thinking whether or not her life was a success, considering that she was just a translator for the deaf. But when the moment came, she was ready, and now she is blessed.

After the Central Election Commission pronounced Yanukovich as a winner of election, Yushchenko appealed to Ukrainian Constitutional Court, and the Court announced that its decision will be rendered on Monday, November the 29th. Pending the decision, the Court expressly forbid Yanukovich to publish the resolution of the Central Election Commission in the official press. And yet, Yanukovich published it anyway, the printing run having been intercepted and destroyed by supporters of Yushchenko. Thus, Yanukovich demonstrated his willingness to openly break each and every Ukrainian law.

Kuchma and Yanukovich are not giving up, and I do not expect them to do so. Apparently, they have decided to go the way of Ceauseascu. One thing is clear: they have no hope of winning.

The Revolution is facing three exceptionally serious problems, though.

1. Because of information blockade and mafia pressure, eastern Ukraine did vote for Yanukovich and does support him. They do fear Yushchenko, because “should they speak Russian he will cut their tongues off”, and they happen not to know Ukrainian. If there were time and opportunity, this monstrous, criminal misinformation could have been easily dispelled. But there is no time, and there is a grave danger that Ukraine may split in two, or lose a part of itself to Russia. Eastern part of Ukraine is its industrial heart, whereas its Western part is not industrialized and suffers from unemployment. Without its Eastern part, the very viability of Ukraine may be in question.

2. It is important to preserve normal relations with Russia, as Putin has gone to amazing lengths to severely damage them. Ukraine needs Russian oil and gaz, and Russia needs Ukrainian industry which, unfortunately for Ukraine, is entirely located in its Eastern part.

3. Today, Yushchenko has attained a status of a national hero, and it would be difficult for him not to disappoint the people. People feel that the bad all times will never return, but once the Revolution is over, a lot of work would need to be done to move Ukraine forward, even if with an entirely new race of people that Ukraine now has.

It’s time for me to end and go to the Square. I am catching the last moments of this glorious and festive revolution, with only one person killed so far. My best prediction is that Yushchenko will win it all no later than Tuesday November 30th, the day after the Ukrainian Constitutional Court renders his decision about the legality of the elections.

As I am getting dressed, I hear Yanukovich say, “I hereby invite for talks this naughty Mickey Mouse, Yushchenko.”

Matthew Maly
http://matthew-maly.ru from Kyiv, the happiest and brightest city in the world today, and not just because it is entirely orange.

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