Friday, November 26, 2004

Stand with the Ukrainian People

In today's Globe & Mail there is an article written by Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and co-chair of the political opposition to Viktor Yanukovitch, who continues to cling to power after running a fraudulent election. In her article Ms. Tymoshenko writes that Russian soldiers have entered Ukraine wearing Ukrainian military uniforms. Similarily, last night on CBC radio, we heard a similar report asserting that the presidential compound was being guarded by Russian special operations troops.

This is a very ominous development and one which deserves further exploration by the main stream media and Western governments. If it can be authenticated that Russia is directly involved in this electoral fraud, then Western nations must stand with the opposition and demand recognition of Vickor Yushchenko as president. At the very least we must insist on a new and fair election.

The Globe also has an editorial today in which it applauds Yushchenko for asserting his rights through the courts, while claiming that any attempt by the opposition to seize power through popular action of the people would be "dangerous" because the country is so divided. The Globe is right that a judicial decision overturning the election fraud would be preferable to direct action by the people in the streets. One wonders, however, whether the Globe editorial writers are suggesting that, in the end, the people accept a possible adverse ruling from a tainted judiciary in order to buy peace.

Do the people of the Ukraine not have a right to defend their democratic rights, through force, if necessary? Yes it is a dangerous option. But Ukranians have as much right to free and fair elections as do we here in Canada. We are only 15 days removed from our Remembrance Day services, in which we revere the memory of those Canadians and allies who gave their lives so that we may live free. Those men and women knew the meaning and value of freedom.

The Ukraine is on the cusp of civil war, but the responsibility for that lies squarely on the shoulders of Vicktor Yanukovitch, Vladmir Putin and others of that ilk. Ukrainian citizens have a choice. They stand up now for their rights, or they watch evil men strangle their civil rights.

The Russian people have much at stake here as well. Putin is steadily returning his own people to the dark days of autocratic rule. He recognizes the danger in allowing democracy to flourish next door while he moves away from it at home. A free Ukraine, a likely future member of the European Union, would be a constant public rebuke to his domestic political designs.

Ms. Tymoshenko is eloquent when she notes that:

Ukrainians have endured the worst that man can do to his fellow man:
Stalin's orchestrated famines of the 1930's and the Nazi slaughterhouse of
the Second World War. So do not doubt our ability to endure and stand firm.

She begs us to stand with her people and for freedom. We must do no less.


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