Kuchma is arguably one of the world's most corrupt politicians, with ties to illegal arms smuggling to Saddam-era Iraq, the murder of opposition leaders, the government control of the media, and the systematic repression of opposition journalists. A series of protests has finally convinced Kuchma to step down and support free elections, but he has done most everything he can possibly do in order to support his hand-picked successor, Viktor Yanukovich. What's more, the Russian government has apparently gotten involved in the race, with widespread accusations of them directly funding Yanukovich and attempting to sway the vote in his favor.
On the day of the election, numerous exit polls indicated an overwhelming win for Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-western candidate. Despite that, official results from the government show a solid win for Yanukovich.
Last night in Kiev, over 100,000 people camped outside in the snow-covered heart of the city, protesting the results of the election, refusing to honor the results. Their cause was buoyed by election observers, who issued numerous statements stating that the government failed to meet the accepted standards for fair elections, and accusing the government of numerous acts of intimidation, vote fraud, and misconduct. Given that the option may be civil war, what the Ukraine needs now is widespread awareness of their situation and international support for fair elections.
Tommorow in San Francisco, there will be a protest in front of the Ukranian Consulate from 10am - 12pm, where anyone can show their support for democracy and fair elections in the Ukraine. The consulate is located at 530 Bush Street, between Grant and Stockton.
If you can make it, you may want to wear orange, the color of the pro-democracy faction in the Ukrainian elections. I'm adding an orange ribbon to this post as a symbol of support for fair and democratic elections in their country. I will be monitoring the numerous Ukranian journals on LiveJournal, and hope to pass on some of the stories, pictures, and maybe a bit of the struggle of Ukranians for a free, democratic government.
For a good taste of what is going on, you may appreciate kurzik's movies ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) of what is going on over there. My best wishes for them and for a free Ukraine.