A Free Ukraine

Powerline has an interesting interview of an American investment banker in Kyiv on the recent situation in the Ukraine:

It has become clear to any observer that this crowd is bound to win. There is absolutely no way to stop this crowd without a massive blood bath, which is almost impossible to imagine to take place in the center of Europe, with all the world’s TV cameras [present]. Over the last 5 days, the opposition has been winning continuous victories every single day. The score for the first five rounds is clearly 5-0. The crowds are growing and demonstrations are now taking place all over the country. More and more famous athletes, actors, artists, high-ranking military and police officers are joining the opposition. When Ruslana, the most famous Ukrainian singer, and heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitchko joined Victor Yushchenko on the podium, the crowd went wild. The following day brought Lech Walensa, senior officers of SBU (former KGB) and Police, several formerly neutral “oligarchs” and finally a major breakthrough at the end of the day – the rebirth of free media in Ukraine.

Prior to that, only Channel 5 was broadcasting 24 hours a day directly from Maidan and giving complete coverage to all the events. And of course, our Volia Cable was proudly delivering its signal to some 1.5 million viewers in Kyiv despite all the pressure on them, including several horrible days in July when some of our key managers had to spend 10 days in jail.

All major channels had previously been completely ignoring the millions of people on the streets, never reporting it and instead showing cartoons, classical music concerts and exotic travel destinations. We knew that most journalists from the major channels had either been fired by then or had gone on strike because they refused to continue broadcasting lies. As a result, all news programs on National channels 1 and 2, Inter, 1+1, Noviy, and others simply ceased any and all operations. For 3 days in a row, most of Ukraine, which only has access to the major channels, had no TV news. Imagine that – the very day after a major election – no news for three days, no morning news, no evening news, no news at all! All these channels simply had no creative staff left to produce bogus news. All fired or on strike.

Thursday night it all changed. The management and owners of all of the major channels gave in to the demands of their striking journalists and allowed honest news reporting for the first time in the history of independent Ukraine. Some of the channels like National Channel 1 and 1+1 began their evening news broadcast on Thursday with a group shot of all journalists standing together and one of them reading a statement from the creative staff in which they swore to report honest news and honest news only! This was one of the most unbelievable sights I have ever seen. And then the miracle happened – they showed a direct feed of a million proud Ukrainians on Maidan in Kyiv to the whole country. If there are defining moments in the birth of a Nation, that was certainly one! I am so proud to be able to witness it with my own eyes, in spite of all the tears that covered them at that moment.

What is going on in the Ukraine is a major turning point, not just geopolitically, but also for the Ukrainian people. They have clearly and forecefully rejected the authoritarianism of the old guard and are embracing democracy, an unfettered media, and responsible and accountable governance. It is a sight that is both thrilling and heartening. What is happening in the Ukraine is as momentous for the Ukrainian people as the fall of the Berlin Wall was for the German people. It is nothing less than a peaceful democratic revolution, an event in history that will forever change the Ukraine. As King Banaian of SCSU Scholars astutely notes:

rote my book on Ukraine, I said that I went to Ukraine looking for the gravitational pull I thought would happen to move Ukraine from plan to market. I didn’t find it there. Ukraine didn’t really demand independence in 1991 in a meaningful way; it saw Moscow too weak to protect its claim on the USSR’s resources and decided to redirect the flows from Moscow to Kyiv. This was the history of Leonid Kravchuk’s, Ukraine’s first president, rise to power, and what motivated Kuchma as well. It appeared that countries making the move from a planned economy and a closed society could get stuck along the spectrum between plan and market, between kleptocracy and democracy, and it would need a kick to move it further along the path.

With the continued determination of the Ukrainian people, that is exactly what will happen. Their willingness to stand up and push for freedom in a non-violent and peaceful way has transformed Ukrainian politics already, and put the old guard on notice. The prospects for a more peaceful and prosperous Ukraine under democratic rule are high. A state with an accountable government is more likely to recieve economic investment from abroad and maintain healthy levels of economic growth. The Ukrainian people have clearly chosen sides, and fortunately for them and the rest of the world the side they have chosen is the side of freedom and democracy.

8 thoughts on “A Free Ukraine

  1. If only those of us on the losing end of the American elections had the resolve to rage against the machine the way the Ukranian minority (or perhaps plurality) does. Instead, blue state Americans are likely to continue to sit idly by as freeloading red staters who dominate our government tell us how to live our lives at the same time as they continue to pick our pockets for the highway funds and crop subsidies they depend on.

  2. Sure. I’m man enough to admit extreme bitterness towards my country after the devastating and cowardly attack that 60 million of my neighbors waged against themselves and future generations on 11-2. I admire the political minority in the Ukraine for fighting back against a corrupt and destructive majority government. I only wish this country’s political minority would respond with similar zeal to the 11-2 attacks here at home, and sooner rather than later.

  3. And I always thought that the capital of the Ukraine was Kiev. Now [a href=”http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/up.html”]these guys[/a] are telling me that it can also be spelled “Kyyiv”, but not Kyiv. Oh well, for what it’s worth.

  4. Wow. I think Mark deserves an award for that entry. He’s even more whiny and over the top than usual. I’d accuse him of giving his fellow liberals (including myself) a bad name, if it hadn’t already been done to death…

    So much for healing, I guess. ;P

  5. Nicholas, I would accuse “liberals” who give the thumbs-up to the prospect of a Treasury Secretary Phil Gramm as giving liberals a bad name. “Healing” is a cute buzzword that an empowered majority likes to use as code for “time to follow in our footsteps without question.” Unfortunately, it looks like the conservatives’ rudimentary strategic ploy for “healing” has made a believer out of at least one “liberal” on this board. Call me a whiner, but I’m glad that believer is not myself.

  6. No, I considered Phil Gramm the best of a group of bad options. He’s preferable in the way a kick in the shins is preferable to a gunshot wound to the groin. He’s no Bob Rubin (who is the main reason I voted for Kerry rather than a third-party candidate), but then again, who is?

    And no, I’m no “believer” in what the Bush Administration is doing. I can’t find much to like about him or his administration- but, alas, nearly 60 million voters did. I can whine, complain, threaten to move to Canada (unlikely, given that I find South Dakota too cold), wear t-shirts comparing Bush to Hitler, pour more money down Michael Moore’s gullet, and generally make an ass of myself- or I can move on, recognize that I’m part of the loyal opposition, and analyze what my fellow liberals did wrong and how to correct that next time. I find the latter a more fitting- and liberally-minded- option. Bush is still my President, right or wrong.

    Let’s face it- this wasn’t a curb-stomping, regardless of what an idiot like Adam Yoshida might say. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the fact that, in the words of The Onion, a boring placeholder like John Kerry can take 48% of the vote, running on nothing but opposition, articulating no coherent message, to be a sign of the great strength of American liberalism. Imagine if we had a charismatic candidate, message discipline, and a stirring vision for what America could be- then the GOP would see a real curb-stomping, and they’d be the ones with a mouthful of concrete. Adam Werbach, in his 11/3 “theses”, articulated this message to the party. This doesn’t mean apeing the GOP- this means presenting a face for our party as something other than a coalition of opposition. Clinton tried to do this, but the rest of his party, like the stubborn donkeys they are, didn’t want to go.

    The labor unions are all but dead as a political force, and the people who once got their political marching orders from union bosses now get them from pulpits. The days of rural “family farmer” populism are over. And, unless the current Democratic party becomes more than the “anti-” party, it’s going to die.

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