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November 23, 2004
Ukraine Convulses

The botched election in the Ukraine appears to have touched off a popular uprising, threatening the pro-Russian existing government with a pro-Western putsch. Both sides have appealed to the police and army to weigh in on their side in order to get their grip on power:

Ukraine's pro-western opposition leader called last night on army and police units to join his revolution as thousands of supporters braved sub-zero temperatures and driving snow to confront riot police outside the presidential palace.

In scenes reminiscent of the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, more than 200,000 anti-government demonstrators cheered on Viktor Yushchenko and called for his pro-Kremlin rival to accept electoral defeat. Many later broke away from the main protest in a sea of orange opposition flags to surround the presidential building in Kiev, the capital, where they were met by the police line.

The demonstrators chanted "Police, join the people!" but the security forces attempted to push back the crowds as they surged against the cordon around the building. Opposition deputies said they would not encourage the demonstrators to storm it.

It reminds me of the scenes outside the Duma when Boris Yeltsin managed to rescue freedom from an attempted coup by the Communists. Yeltsin may have had his faults, but that moment in history belonged to him. One wonders whether the Ukrainians will be fortunate enough to find someone of Yeltsin's stature to stand tall for democracy in the Ukraine now. Let's hope.

UPDATE: I'm remiss in failing to mention that fellow NARNian and my friend King Banaian at SCSU Scholars has posted extensively on the Ukraine. Keep checking back there, as King promises even more updates ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 23, 2004 8:55 PM

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