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In an unpleasant side effect of an otherwise delightful progression of open democracy in Ukraine, the newly-emboldened Rada demanded that the Kuchma government withdraw Ukraine's 1600-troop contingent from Iraq, an unwelcome development so close to the Iraqi elections:
Ukraine's parliament voted to demand the withdrawal of the 1,600 Ukrainian troops from Iraq, the Interfax news agency reported.
The lawmakers voted by 257 out of 397 present in the 450-member chamber to ask outgoing President Leonid Kuchma to pull out the Ukrainian contingent serving in the US-led coalition force in Iraq.
The demand mirrors opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko's campaign position on the war and demonstrates the level of support and courage the Orange Movement has gained in the assembly. As a vote of no-confidence for Kuchma, it's pretty convincing -- roughly a 5:3 ratio of those members in attendance and a 55% majority overall. It gives more evidence that the credibility of the Kuchma government has crumbled.
The vote may cause the ardor for a Yushchenko victory in the political crisis to dim in the White House a bit; it certainly provides an opportunity for Vladimir Putin to smirk an "I told you so" to George Bush. However, as I wrote before, Bush has remained steadfast in his policy of supporting democracy, wherever that road leads. The Ukrainians give the Iraq situation a doubly ironic twist, though, in that they stuck with the effort to democratize Iraq as long as democracy remained an illusion for the Ukrainians. The moment that they've grasped democracy in their hands and have a good chance of retaining it, they vote to abandon Iraq to terrorists and unreconstructed Saddam loyalists.
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