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Several reports from the Ukraine describe an escalation of the political crisis that resulted from the former Soviet republic's presidential election, with protestors now blockading government buildings and forcing the existing government to negotiate with the pro-Western challenger and former prime minister. The Guardian (UK) tells its readers that the five-day protest continues to grow in power and scope:
Thousands of Ukrainian opposition supporters today blockaded government buildings in protest at the outcome of the disputed presidential elections, as European envoys arrived in the ex-Soviet republic to seek a solution to the impasse. ...
Today, the protests intensified as demonstrators linked arms to prevent Mr Yanukovich and his staff from entering the cabinet building where he carries out his duties as prime minister. "The prime minister could not get into his office in the government building and so could not hold his planned meetings," a government official said.
The development came after Mr Yushchenko's deputy, Yulia Tymoshenko, called on supporters to surround government buildings and disrupt transport systems.
Protesters also blocked nearby streets with buses and vans draped in orange banners, representing Mr Yushchenko's party. Apart from a few traffic policemen wearing orange armbands, there were no police present in the immediate vicinity, but special forces had parked some 30 trucks and jeeps in an alley and police were packed into about 12 buses nearby.
Either the police have decided not to support the continued proclamations of the government that President Kuchma's hand-picked successor won the election, or they're afraid to confront the massive protests. Neither case bodes well for Kuchma and the announced winner of the election, Viktor Yanukovych. The erosion of government services will only escalate the protests as Ukrainians see that they are having an effect on Kuchma's willpower.
To that end, Kuchma has agreed to meet with Yuschenko in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement that will restore order to the Ukraine:
Ukraine's outgoing president will meet Friday with opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko in the presence of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and European envoys in a bid to solve a political crisis over the country's disputed election, a European Union official said. ...
"Any revolution must end in peace," Kuchma said in a televised statement. "The sooner this so-called revolution ends, the better it will be for the Ukrainian people."
The meeting will include European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, said Solana's spokeswoman, Christina Gallach.
So far, no reports have given any indication of an imminent threat of violence, but the longer the crisis lasts the more opportunity there will be for it to start. An outburst of violence might be all the excuse needed for Kuchma to request military assistance from Vladimir Putin, which could wind up tying the Ukraine more tightly into Russia's orbit than since its independence. Putin surely knows that his relationships with Western nations are already strained, but he probably couldn't resist the temptation if he received a public appeal for help from Kuchma.
The situation bears close watching. If you want to get some first-class analysis of the political issues of the Ukraine, keep checking at SCSU Scholars, where King Banaian has plenty of personal experience with the region and has a more comprehensive understanding of the players and the politics involved.Sphere It View blog reactions
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