Show A Little Class

KIEV, Ukraine -- Kyiv swore in a new mayor on April 4, businessman and parliamentarian Leonid Chernovetsky, who beat out incumbent Oleksandr Omelchenko by a long shot, getting almost 50 percent more votes.

Leonid Chernovetsky (L) and Oleksandr Omelchenko (R)

Omelchenko has run the city for 10 years, winning two popular elections and successfully resisting attempts to retire him when he turned 65.

During a meeting with foreign ambassadors on April 19, Chernovetsky referred to himself as a “good” and “principled” man who believes in God with all his heart.

Omelchenko had said several days earlier that he planned to continue litigation to keep his job, although at least two Kyiv courts have said he doesn’t have the right to.

The same day he was sworn in, Chernovetsky officially fired Omelchenko, his staff and the head of a local television station, who has since checked into hospital, presumably to hold on to his job, too.

Omelchenko has called the dismissals illegal and accused the Interior Ministry of conniving with Chernovetsky to have his office seized by police, even raising concerns that they might try to plant drugs or weapons there.

To anyone familiar with Ukrainian power politics, none of this is unusual during transfers of authority. Winner takes all, and losers cling to their offices from hospital beds or until paramilitary units in flak jackets drag them out on to the street.

As for courts, they reverse each other’s decisions with such regularity, that one wonders if they are subject to the same laws.

The country’s democratic record has improved greatly since Ukraine gained independence, especially following the Orange Revolution, and it would be nice to think that what has followed Kyiv’s mayoral elections, not to mention the turmoil that has beset post-electoral parliament, is a painful transition.

But the ridiculous recriminations and selfish antics displayed by Ukrainian politicians at all levels reveal as much about the personalities involved as they do about faults in the system they belong to.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitaliy Klitschko lost in his bid for the parliament as well as the mayor’s seat, although he took second place in the latter race.

Nevertheless, whatever position he may later take on the Kyiv City Council, Klitschko warmly congratulated Chernovetsky on his victory at a press conference the day after voting, before all the ballots had been counted.

This is surely an example to Ukraine’s so-called political elite from a newcomer who has acted equally gentlemanly in real fights.

Politicians around the world survive on cunning and public drama, but maybe it’s time that Ukraine’s showed just a little more class.

Source: Kyiv Post