Seems probable in the Ukrainian elections – there seems to be a whole lot of trouble brewing over there. While people over here are have delusional fantasies concerning electronic voting machines, this is the real thing.
Here’s the White House statement on the Ukranian election trouble:
Statement on Ukrainian Elections
The United States is deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of Ukraine to respect the will of the Ukrainian people, and we urge all Ukrainians to resolve the situation through peaceful means. The Government bears a special responsibility not to use or incite violence, and to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in this difficult time.
Here’s a report from former Congressman Bob Schaeffer, who is in the Ukraine as an election observer:
Live reports from Ukraine
By The Denver Post
Editor’s note: former Colorado Congressman Bob Schaffer is in Ukraine as an election observer with the U.S./Ukraine Foundation and the Former Members of Congress Association. He is sending The Denver Post live reports from Kiev as the opposition party, led by Viktor Yushchenko, protests election results and claims the presidency.
The excerpts below are edited for grammar and spelling, and posted in order with the most recent e-mail at the top.
10:50 p.m. MST
Just after leaving my hotel at 5:45 a.m. for the airport, we drove past an assembling crowd of pro-Yanukovich demonstrators. Then we drove past about 30 busses parked near the downtown area to make it convenient for the demonstrators.
This was interesting after the great efforts taken by the government to stop buses, cars and trains of pro-Yushchenko demonstrators just the day before.
On the way to the airport I noticed sand trucks and other utility vehicles staging to block inbound traffic again, and lots of police checking vans and buses. We got pulled over, had our documents checked, then were free to go.
Got to the airport. Flight canceled!
Looks like I’ll get to spend time in at least five airports before I get home, and will feel lucky to make Thanksgiving dinner at the Schaffer house – where my wife and kids are preparing to host a very nice immigrant family we met this year.
Oh, they’re Ukrainians!
6:19 p.m. MST
I’m back in the middle of the demonstration. The appointed hour of the rumored confrontation of the crowd by government force has come and gone. No sign of police, military, internal army, etc.
The crowd is around 100,000 or so. Many restaurants are full at this hour feeding, hydrating and warming people.
Traffic along the east side of the demonstration (where my hotel is) is blaring horns to the distinctive three-blast cadence of the crowd shouting “Yush-chen-ko, Yush-chen-ko!”
Now at 2:20 a.m., some are leaving but others are replacing them. Many are wearing orange plastic garbage bags over their parkas.
The demonstrators have dubbed this the “Orange Revolution.” They’re confident they’re making world history in the democracy movement.
About 20 staff of the Ukrainian foreign ministry appeared on TV 45 minutes ago, holding a press conference at Yushchenko HQ. They say they are professionals and want to work for an honest president, though they neglected to say who is and who isn’t.
However, they were at the Yushchenko HQ so maybe they didn’t need to.
Also noteworthy was an announcement by several workers of the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, D.C. They announced support for Yushchenko earlier yesterday.
Now, 2:30, I just talked to a young couple who say they and their friends are tired of living under a corrupt government. They said they’ll do whatever it takes to support the new president Yushchenko. They both said they’re prepared to die on these streets if it comes to that.
My ride to the airport arrives in just three-and-a-half hours. I’ll head back to the hotel.
4:45 p.m. MST
Kuchma issues statement saying Yushchenko’s oath of office is a farce. He wants to gather all parties for a meeting in the morning.
I’m going back to the demonstration now.
4 p.m. MST
It appears opposition parliamentarians have all exited the presidential admin. bldg.
Kuchma was not in there. MP Julia Tymoshenko confirmed that many of the guards are indeed Russians dressed in Ukrainian militia uniforms. They’re bedecked in riot gear – helmets, face shields, 3’ riot shields, black uniforms, etc.
An Assistant Secretary of State (U.S.) told the Russians the U.S. is upset Putin prematurely congratulated Yanukovich. The Russians responded with a statement the U.S. is out of line in objecting.
The presence of Russian troops here is a very serious international incident. This causes great tension between the U.S. and Russia.
There is simply no way these soldiers should be deployed here.
There is now being constructed a second tent city in front of the guard line at the presidential admin. bldg.
Post / file
Former Congressman Bob Schaffer
The guards are now being called the “internal army.” There are Ukrainians and Russians in the ranks. The Ukrainian soldiers seem sympathetic to the crowd, but the Russians who comprise the third row and others behind, look ready to fight.
3:30 p.m. MST
Yushchenko is now inside the administration building. If he gets into the presidential suite, this episode should be a complete, successful peaceful revolution.
The Special Forces protecting the building are estimated to be 1,000 strong standing 20 deep. They are in formation and seem at ease.
Interesting thing, the crowd is decorating the riot shields of the officers in the front line with orange ribbons, orange carnations and little Yushchenko flags. The officers are not removing the decorations.
Parliamentarians are now coming and going through the front door.
President Kuchma does not appear to be inside. The opposition intends to wait all night and see if he returns. Again, rumors indicate he’s in St. Petersberg but this is not confirmed.
The Ukrainian agency equivalent to our FCC tried to revoke the broadcasting liscense of the independent TV station (channel 5) covering the revolution because the news “was one sided and favored Yushchenko.”
The station had the good sense to shoot footage of the exchange and broadcast it on the news for all to see.
Some parliamentarians appear to be leaving the presidential administration building. They say they are getting some sleep, and will pick it up in the morning.
Yushchenko is still believed to be inside along with a few key allies.
A second TV station is now covering the revolution. They may have been for a few hours, since we last checked.
The demonstrators in the tent city are bedding down now (sub-zero temperatures) but there’s still lots of activity with about 100,000 people there to support.
People are bringing food to those demonstrating through the night. Out-of-town demonstrators are going home with perfect strangers in Kyiv for the night. I met a guy who told me he’s hosting seven guys in his two-bedroom apartment – and these city dwellings are NOT usually roomy.
2 p.m. MST
Ukrainian militia officers are pledging support for Yushchenko and are now trying to persuade the Russian special forces to do the same.
Twenty buses have been holding near the Central Election Commission. They’ve been training there, too. They’re now on the move. Where?
Back at the center of the demonstration, organizers urged people to go home, eat, get rest, but for about 100,000 to remain to protect the tent-city dwellers. They will be on civil strike again tomorrow, reassemble at 8 a.m. and get instructions on establishing the new Yushchenko government.
Whether and how to declare marshall law is being discussed.
The crowd started chanting “Svobodu ne spynyty” (Freedom will not be stopped) and “Nas bohato en nas ne poldelateh” (There’s a lot of us and we can’t be stopped)
Other notes: It’s still snowing and getting colder – I mean Ukrainian cold (pretty darn).
The tallest flag pole in the center of Independence Square has a Ukrainian flag (two bars – blue over yellow) flying over an orange Yushchenko banner. It towers over the area. You can’t miss it. CNN is covering this revolution from Moscow. BBC and other international news is several hours old.
Women have been observed out on the highways with brooms sweeping off the star-shaped road spikes placed by the militia to stop inbound travelers to Kyiv. Keep in mind, it’s darn cold downtown.
It must feel 10 degrees colder at the outskirts of town. Plus it’s 11 p.m.!
1:40 p.m. MST
(Russian President Vladimir) Putin just issued a statement somewhat reversing his position.
After backing Yanukovich for months and devoting personnel, resources and persoanl capital to help his campaign, Putin was first to phone Yanukovich yesterday to congratulate him on his “victory.”
Minutes ago, he issued a statement admitting he called Yanukovich and congratulated him based only on preliminary data. He now says he supports the will of the people.
He says Russia has nothing to teach Ukraine about domocracy, as Ukraine is a big country with its own traditions and determination. He’s wiping egg off his face.
Poland’s President Aleksander Kwasniewski just issued a statement that the election results in Ukraine were unsatisfactory.
The Crimean parliament just issued a resolution backing Yanukovich.
1:15 p.m., MST
Top parliamentarians supporting Yushchenko, MPs Yulia Tymoshenko, Zinchenko and Bilozir are now in the presidential admin. bldg.
The Russian special forces (Spetsnats) are in the building, too. Supposedly, they are negotiating with the parliamentarians.
The Kyiv militia/police are not in the vicinity of the admin. bldg. They are taking orders from Mayor Olmechinko.
There is a fear the Russians will soon begin firing on the people. Word of this possibility is spreading through the crowd but they’re standing their ground.
Students at 10 Ukraine universities have now announced they are on strike in support of Yushchenko.
Statements by various foreign governments continue being issued denouncing the unfair elections.
The Kyiv Dynamo soccer team started tonight’s scheduled match. No one wearing orange is permitted to enter. The stadium attendance is way down. The team is owned by Ukraine’s prominent oligarch Grigory Sirkus, also an MP.
The state-owned TV station is running the soccer game live instead of covering the revolution taking place just outside the stadium. The event is broadcast nationwide.
The independent channel carrying news covers only 30% of the country.
Pro-Yushchenko demonstrations are now well underway in most of the medium- to larger-sized cities in the Western two-thirds of the country, and in a couple in the East.
Heavy guards are in front of the presidential admin. bldg. in riot gear. They’ve walled off the bldg. from the crowd.
The crowd is large and loud, but not aggressive, not challenging the riot police.
12:30 pm MST
The Russian special forces in Ukrainian uniforms stopped the marchers. No sign of violence.
It was announced on Ukraine TV5 that the (city council) of Kharkhiv, often assumed to be a Yanukovich stronghold, will adopt a resolution recognizing Yushchenko first thing tomorrow morning.
Rumors are now circulating that outgoing President Leonid Kuchma has fled his country and is now in St. Petersburg, Russia. These reports are being repeated on foreign news.
Ukraine’s top music entertainers have taken the stage at the demonstration. They’re performing pop tunes to keep the crowd motivated, but their mere presence sends a strong message of confirmation and reassurance to the people.
The TV news showed clips of military equipment, tanks and artillary, being unloaded off of railcars in Kyiv and boxes of ammunition. That has everyone nervous.
No news yet on the stand-off near the presidential admin. bldg. It’s a very, very tense moment here right now.
12:20 p.m. MST
A representative of the Greek Catholic Church (a man who appeared to be a priest – dressed as one) announced at the demonstration that he was speaking on behalf of the Greek Catholic Church, the Kyiv Patriarchiat and several Protestant denominations (Lutheran was the only specific one I heard but there were several others). He said this coalition of churches recognizes Yushchenko as president.
Yuschenko is now leading one million people from the square and surrounding streets to the administration headquarters of the Ukrainian government. He is in front of the column and many fear he is vulnerable to getting shot. They should be at the steps in 15 mins. Keep in mind, this is where the Russian special forces are stationed, dresses in Ukrainian garb.
If violence comes to define this revolution it will likely be within minutes.
NOTE: the following messages were sent in one e-mail this morning.
The crowd in Kyiv is growing. Yushchenko’s lieutenant just announced that factories throughout Ukraine are pledging their support for Yushchenko. So are regional political leaders and growing numbers of local jurisdictions. He said Yushchenko will be coming to the platform to take the oath of office in front of the crowd.
The crowd is chanting “nas bahato in nas ne pohdilatah” (There are a lot of us and we can’t be brought down).
Russian special forces dressed in Ukrainian Special forces uniforms are in Kyiv. Ukrainian militia have been instructed by the mayor to protect the people from the Russian troops. Ukrainian militia have established a hotline for Ukrainians to report any incidents with the Russians and pledged to protect Ukrainians.
These Russians flew into Ukraine this morning. They’re now surrounding the administration buildings they say "to protect Kuchma (the outgoing president and his PM Yanukovich). Following is a chain of email messages I’ve been sending by blackberry. Please pass along to others. Bob Schaffer
I’m safe for now. Demonstrators are reassembling in Kyiv. They’re coming back stronger than yesterday coming in from the rest of the country. The authorities are trying to stop them. Cars and busses are being stopped by police at the outskirts of the city. The authorities have scattered road spikes on inbound lanes to stop traffic/protesters. People are walking down the highways to protest. Trains into the city have been stopped.
The parliament is meeting now but without the president’s supporters or the Communists. After several speeches, they called Yushchenko to the podium to swear him in as the new president (escorted to the podium with guards). The Rada Speaker Litvin walked out. Then the TV station (only one station covers anything about the election and it only covers 30% of the country) went off then cut to news and footage from earlier in the day. This is similar to the revolution in Georgia.
It seems the opposition has now claimed control of the parliament and most likely named Yushchenko as the president. He walked to the podium with a Bible and a copy of the oath in his hand. 300,000 pro-Yushchenko supporters are in the city square and watched what I described above on a jumbo TV. They’re celebrating what they believe is their new president.
Provocateurs are infiltrating the crowd. Special forces are said to be moving in to disband the crowd. This is now a clearly declared revolutionary effort. A confrontation seems unavoidable now.
It’s very tense here. School has been canceled (again) for tomorrow. I’ll report more as I learn it.
Now we hear Yushchenko is headed to the city center to address the masses. His lieutenants will be giving instructions to the people outside the Rada building on “what to do.”
Telephones in the outlying towns have been shut off.
Now we hear there are Russians in Ukrainian special forces uniforms. I’ll report more as I learn it. May God bless and protect Ukraine and her people.