Yanukovych Victory In Ukraine Still A Question Mark

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s Central Election Commission certified Viktor Yanukovych as the winner in last week’s presidential runoff election (7 February), and Parliament has set his inauguration for 25 February.

Bilboards of Ukraine's Prime Minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko with the words, "Defend Ukraine," left, and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych with the words "For Yanukovich," right, in Kiev.

However, his rival – Yulia Tymoshenko, the current Prime Minister – is challenging the election results in court, claiming that fraud on the part of the Yanukovych camp has robbed her of more than a million votes. On Wednesday, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled to put the election results on hold, pending a review of Ms. Tymoshenko’s appeal.

Economic and Political Woes

The Ukrainian economy is in shambles while the two leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution – President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Tymoshenko – have engaged in political bickering.

It’s a situation that helped pave the way for Mr. Yanukovych’s comeback in a tight election that centered on domestic concerns. Foreign affairs and issues such as the rivalry between Russia and the West took a back seat, according to Eurasia expert Paul Goble.

“I think the first thing to understand is that he’s not going to succeed at all unless he is able to unite Ukraine,” Goble said. And that means reaching out both to those people who look east to Russia and to those people who look west, he explained.

Regarding Ukraine’s economic problems, the new president will need to look to Russia, Goble said. “I think one of the big questions is whether Moscow will offer concessionary prices and payment programs on oil and gas that might allow him to jumpstart the Ukrainian economy.”

Democratic Development

Many analysts say last week’s election demonstrated that Ukraine is still a functioning democracy, although the 2004 Orange Revolution and its leaders were widely discredited. “Compared with other countries in the region, like Belarus to the north or Russia to the east, when there is an election, we don’t necessarily know who is going to win,” Goble observed.

Prime Minister Tymoshenko has challenged the results of the election in court, despite the fact that European election monitors described the voting as honest and fair. But independent Ukrainian journalist Yevhen Hlibovitsky in Kiev says he thinks Ms. Tymoshenko is unlikely to prevail in her challenge of the elections results and sooner or later she will be forced out of the Prime Minister’s seat.

“Something that is quite revealing about her latest actions is that the value of democracy, which was at the core of the Orange Revolution, seems to be diminishing when she loses, so it’s actually a question as to whether she believes in the choice of the voters when she loses,” Hlibovitsky observed.

“Many Ukrainians are quite disappointed in the election process, even those who were voting for Yanukovych,” he said. “But at the same time, this is a functioning democracy.”

Russian journalist Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center agrees. “Even though Yulia Tymoshenko tried to challenge the results, she will do so in the court, not in the streets,” Lipman said.

Daunting Job Ahead

Just after the election, Mr. Yanukovych was quoted in the Russian media as saying that his government would need to convince people that it could improve their lives. Now he is likely to have that chance, Lipman said. “The economy is in terrible shape. The poor performance of the government, torn by all sorts of disputes, led to a terrible crisis in Ukraine. And Ukraine is hit by this world crisis worse than most countries,” she observed.

Furthermore, Mr. Yanukovych won the election with only a small margin, about 3.5 percentage points, Lipman noted. “And he already made it clear that he doesn’t want Yulia Tymoshenko to be his prime minister, but it’s not clear what is worse – to have her as a very tough political opponent or to have her as a nominal ally if she stays as prime minister – but an ally who wants to take your job,” Lipman said.

Balancing Act between Russia and Europe

With Mr. Yanukovych likely to withstand Ms. Tymoshenko’s court challenge, Hlibovitsky suggests, he will have to perform a delicate balancing act between Russia and Europe. “But the clear loser in this situation is the United States because it will have decreasing influence in the area.”

Ukraine will remain a leader among the post-Soviet states, Hlibovitsky said. “It has the best democracy, if we exclude the Baltics, and for the first time it showed that the scenario is really unpredictable. Ukraine is basically providing an alternative that is quite inspiring for the former Soviet republics,” he added.

Many analysts suggest that a Yanukovych presidency would signal a movement away from the West and towards Moscow. But Lipman says that view is a bit simplistic. “If we take Yushchenko as a point of reference, anybody would look pro-Moscow.

Yushchenko was a terrible irritant for Moscow. And his victory back in the days of the Orange Revolution was associated with the utter humiliation of Russia and of Vladimir Putin in particular.”

President Yushchenko’s policies were totally unacceptable to Russia, especially his determination that Ukraine would become a member of NATO, Lipman emphasized. “This being said, I don’t think there is a chance for Moscow to have at the top of the Ukrainian administration somebody who is totally pro-Moscow and not pro-Europe.

The very situation of Ukraine – geographic, political, economic, cultural, and historical – puts it in between these two poles, Russia on the one hand and Europe on the other hand.” According to Lipman, there is “no way” for any President of Ukraine to pick one and not the other.

Source: Voice of America

Comments

wesley rodgers said…
I WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON THIS STORY WITH RELEVANCE TO VOTING RULE CHANGES WITHIN FOUR DAYS PRIOR TO THE RECENT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

WHETHER YULIA TYMOSHENKO LOST OR WON THE FACT IS-- CHANGING THE VOTING PROCEDURAL LAWS WITIN DAYS OF THE ELECTION WAS AN UN-ETHICAL AND UN-NEEDED DECISION!
...AND AS ONE OF THE ANALYSTS FOCUSED ON IN THIS STORY, IT DOES RAISE QUESTIONS WITH UKRAINE VOTERS WHO ARE REALLY HOPING THAT EVERYTHING WILL FINALLY BE HONEST AND AS WE SAY " STRAIGHT UP" HERE IN THE U.S.

AND THE IRONY IS THAT MISS TYMOSHENKOS FORMER PARTNER, PRESIDENT VICTOR YUSCHENKO PASSED THE REGIONS PARTY CHANGES INTO LAW....ALMOST AS IF TO SEE THAT IT COULD POSSIBLY NOT HELP HER--REVENGE...MAYBE BUT A BAD DECISION FOR AN OUTGOING PRESIDENT AND SAD TO SAY, BUT PRESIDENT YUSCHENKO MADE A FEW DECISIONS WHICH CAUSED THIS POPULAR MAN TO DEPART APPEARING AS A LEADER WHO TOOK THE LOW ROAD RATHER THAN IN THIS CASE JUST LEAVE THE LAWS AND REGULATIONS INTACT.
..IT MAY HAVE CHANGED THE OUTCOIME BUT IT WILL BE DISCUSSED FOR A LONG TIME AND ONCE AGAIN LEAVE A QUESTIONABLE DOUBT ABOUT MAJOR ELECTIONS IN THE UKRAINE...--THAT IS A SHAME!! AND I PERSONALLY FEEL THE VOTE WOULD HAVE BEEN CLOSER BUT PROBABLY YANUKOVICH WOULD HAVE WON IN A BARN BURNING VOTE AND TYMOSHENKO COULD THEN SAY CONGRATULATIONS AND REMAIN THE PRIME MINISTER AND BETTER RELATIONS . AND..AHHHHH HER DIGNITY WITH THE PEOPLE IN TACT!!

..AFTER All YUSCHENKO GAINED OFFICE IN A VERY CONTREVERSIAL
RUNOFF ELECTION IN THE ORANGE REVOLUTION WHEN THE SYSTEM GAVE THE VOTE A SECOND CHECK AND VOTERS RESPECT FOR THEIR VOTES.

THE CHANGE BASICALLY STATES THAT IN ANY PRECINCT THERE MUST AT LEAST BE A QUORUM TO OPEN AND IN THIS CASE THAT WAS CHANGED WHERE IF THERE WAS LESS THAN A QUORUM OF ELECTORATES , VOTERS COULD STILL VOTE THERE.
WE WILL PROBABLY NEVER REALLY KNOW HOW THIS CHANGE IMPACTED ON THE ELECTION BECAUSE IT COULD HAVE ACTUALLY HELPED EITHER CANDIDATE OR HURT EITHER OF THE CANDIDATES.

PERSONALLY, I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN TYMOSHENKO WIN FOR SOME OVERALL GOOD REASONS BUT NOT BECAUSE I AM A BIG FAN BUT SHE IS VERY TALENTED AND SMART AND IS A
TOUGH NEGOTIATOR AND FOR THE UKRAINE.,..BUT ALSO FOR HERSELF.....HERE IN THE U.S WE HAVE HAD SOME CONTREVERSIAL VOTES SUCH AS IN 2000 WHEN FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE RELLY GOT ROBBED AND THE PEOPLE OF A FAIR VOTE IN FLORIDA...WONDER WHY?..WHO WAS THE GOVERNOR...
.NOW I KNOW WHY DISNEYWORLD IS IN FLORIDA..THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE!..
...PERHAPS NOW I KNOW WHY SOME PEOPLE SAY THEY DONB'T LIKE POLITICS...I DO BUT MUST ADMIT I HOPE THE WORLD WILL START TO COME
FORTH AND BE MORE STRAIGHT..IT IS THE WORLD FOR THE PEOPLE...THANKS AND I JUST HOPE UKRAINE WILL BE OK NOW BECAUSE THEY ARE MAKING MAJOR CHANGES ONCE AGAIN AND I FEEL
GOING BACK IN SOME RESPECTS IS DEFINIERTLY GOING TO HURT IN THE LONG AND POSSIBLY EVEN SHORT RUN...RESPECTFULLY WES RODGERS JOURNALIST patriostv.com