November 23rd, 2004


Voices from the Ukraine.

I have been in touch with some of the Ukranian LJers, and have additional information to pass along.

Protesters are still in the heart of Kiev, where a tense standoff exists. Soldiers and police forces appear to be split between both sides of the conflict, and some military units have taken position on the outskirts of the city. There are rumors of Russian troops inside Ukraine, located around key buildings, and of threatening Russian troop movements outside the Ukraine. Despite this news, a compromise may be in the works, and there are unsubstantiated rumors that power could be turned over to the opposition tomorrow.

In an atmosphere of government-imposed censorship of the media, the Internet and mobile technology has apparently been a big part of organizing the opposition. Those opposed to the current President are using email, SMS messaging, and the Internet to spread the news about what is going on and get protesters on the streets, even in the middle of a snowy winter.

olivanova says:
"My boss is in Kiev, out in the street and he's saying that everything is very peaceful and calm. Some of the police share the views of opposition and even wear orange bands. Two of the members of the central election committe are making statements about the fraud during elections and asking the rest of the committee not to sign the final document tomorrow. Ukrainian artists have shown amazing support to Yuschenko, spending all their time with the people, cheering them up and showing them the example of civil responsibility. A statement has been made by Yuschenko's partners that Kuchma is willing hand in the power, but will do it tomorrow. People are asked to come tomorrow, but a lot of them will stay for the whole night near the Presidents' Administration building. A lot of people say they should push it to this night, as there should be a reason behind Kuchma's will to postpone the process. I've heard that tomorrow there will be more people coming to support the current regime and it might get bloody...
People who live in Kiev give a lot of support to the Yuschenko's supporters that have come to Kiev - they are giving out food, bringing clothes and blankets, hosting people. A lot of businesses have closed their offices, stores and production to let people participate in protests...

taste_of says:
"There were literally hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of the ukrainian capital Kiev today. Tens of thousands will spend this night in tents erected right on the main street of the capital Kreschatik, on the Independence square and at the presidential palace. Many of the LJ users are there whole day or night with their digital cameras and from time to time post new pictures. Some of the people are on the streets with their mobile phones and their friends are posting their messages."

 He also directs people to view some excellent photos of what is going on, located in LJ's 2004_vybory_ua , which appears to be the major community for sharing information about the current Ukranian elections on LiveJournal. (Or, as LJ is affectionately called over there, ЖЖ, which translates into ZHZH, short for ZhivoiZhurnal.  (Sexy sweet acronym!)

ukihito says:
"Now most of the people are in front of the President HQ and on the main square. They demand to accept the real choice of the people of Ukraine. Kuchma said that he is willing to negotiate, but only in the morning (it's just after midnight now in Kiev). There is a danger of them to plan some kind of an action to break the force of people who are having their shift at the street camps on Kreschatik and the Square of Independace. Yuschenko supporters don't want to use the force, and are willing to wait until the next morning to start negotiations to let Kuchma hand in the power to Yuschenko. However, this is unlickly to happen as the Head Ballot Office (whatever it's called) has not counted the votes yet and has not signed the official results. The President can be proclaimed only after they do that. This is the situation. It's flying in the air now, I would say. Noone knows what is going to happen next."

vi_z recommends those who read English to check out , which is translating news (and rumors...) about what is happening on the fly, thanks to numerous volunteers.

shandor_kam recommends reading these comments on the BBC website for an indication of what Ukranians are thinking about the elections.

Oh... and emdrone says:
"You being a dishonest prick -- what is easy to conclude from your reaction to the Falluja shooting . . . All you wish to hear is new details along the lines of the official Western propaganda."

Believe it or not, he seems to think I'm *not critical enough* of US actions in Iraq, and that all I do is parrot pro-US propaganda. (He also accuses the BBC of censoring his comments, and of being "complete bullshit produced by probably the largest enemy propaganda machine.")

All I can say is my sincere thanks to the ZHZH Ukranians who found time in the midst of their impending civil war to contribute to this post... ;-)  And special thanks to emdrone!  Thanks to him, now I've been accused of being *both* a terrorist sympathizer *AND* a  US propagandist.. It almost feels like being a real journalist!