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Viktor Yushchenko has declared victory in the Ukrainian presidential run-off today, leading current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych by 16 points with 63% of all precincts reporting. The leader of the spontaneous and peaceful Orange Revolution will apparently complete the triumph of people power in Ukraine:
"For 14 years we have been independent, but now we are free. This is a victory for the Ukrainian people, for the Ukrainian nation," the 50-year-old opposition leader and former prime minister said as his audience broke into applause and chants of "Yu-shchenk-ko! Yu-shchen-ko!"
Yushchenko appeared in public as the central election commission reported that he held a 16-point lead over his pro-Russian opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, with more than 63 percent of the country's precincts reporting results.
The commission credited Yushchenko with 55.98 percent of the vote, compared to 40.2 percent for Yanukovich. Three independent exit polls published at the close of voting Sunday gave Yushchenko at least a 15-point lead over his rival.
It looks like Ukraine has successfully shaken off the shackles of Russian domination and will move necessarily towards the West, EU, and NATO. Ukraine's push from her former Soviet master, Putin, will create a movement of former satellites, some towards the West, and possibly some towards Islam. While the West justifiably celebrates the freedom of Ukraine, the effect of the Orange Revolution may yet have consequences along the southern border of the former Russian empire that we will find much less palatable.
UPDATE: People wonder what I meant by the above warning. What Yushchenko's victory demonstrates to the former Soviet republics is that Putin's influence has its limits -- and more specifically, that the West will not allow Putin to act overtly against independent-minded movements along his border. The EU and the US both forced Putin to cut ties to Ukraine to which the Russians believe they are entitled. That works well in Ukraine, where the people have a long history of Judeo-Christian society. That may work less well in the 'stans, where the tradition goes more along Islamic lines.
Having just shown Putin to be more or less a paper tiger in a region that the Russians consider to be of key strategic importance, what lesson do you think Islamists in those southern states will learn? I'm very happy that democracy prevailed in Ukraine, and I firmly believe that the West took the principled and correct approach. We had better keep our eyes open for the consequences of our actions, however.
UPDATE II: It's as official as it will get, for now -- Yushchenko has won the election by over 3 million votes, ironically about the same amount that the Kuchma government manufactured in the last election to defeat Yushchenko.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Tempered Joy Over The Ukraine Election from The Colossus
Captain Ed has some tempered joy over Yushchenko's apparent victory in the Ukraine. My view is similar to his -- weakening Russia's hold over the Ukraine is a victory for the west, but we do have to worry about weakening Russia to the point where the I... [Read More]
Tracked on December 27, 2004 7:01 AM
» Daily Dish from The Cool Blue Blog
Democracy wins again. In a redo of an election rife with blatant fraud, challenger Victor Yushchenko wins easily over incumbant (and Russian pick) Viktor Yanukovych in the Ukraine. And the US has been on the right side of this despite [Read More]
Tracked on December 27, 2004 10:13 AM
» Yushchenko Looks Like The Winner from Secure Liberty
This is tremendous news for many reasons. KIEV, Ukraine. Dec. 27 -- Nearly complete official returns showed opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko taking a commanding lead over Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine's repeat presidential runoff e... [Read More]
Tracked on December 27, 2004 10:55 AM
» Yushchenko Is Victorious from Abstract Musings
Yushchenko's victory seems to be official. However, his opponent, taking a page from the Democratic Party playbook, has refused to concede and has indicated that he will contest the result in court. Even if, as seems likely, the result withstands a cou... [Read More]
Tracked on December 27, 2004 5:11 PM
» The Wider Impact of the Ukrainian Vote from rightpundit.com
Obviously the election of Viktor Yushchenko in the Ukrainian presidential election after mass peaceful protests following the fraudulent election in November will have a profound impact on Ukrainian politics. However, the impact goes well beyond the U... [Read More]
Tracked on December 28, 2004 12:00 AM
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