Good News

Looks like the good guys are actually going to pull things out in Ukraine. Now we just have to see if Yanukovich takes his defeat like a man.

In other news, apologies for the, well, non-existent updates the past couple of days. I've been home again for X-Mas, dealing with a dial-up, and attempting to switch over to a new laptop. More updates to come.


Stadium Secured/Ukraine Rumors

I'm a bit late on this (gimmie a break, I'm 7 time zones ahead and was asleep when it happened), but it looks like DC is getting a stadium and a team after all. That's nice and all, but you can't help but wonder at what cost all these shenanigans came. Thomas Boswell, as usual, sums it up nicely:

Part of the [international] attention has come in the form of laughter and even mockery that Williams and his council can't stay on the same page or even in the same book on a huge deal. In major negotiations, who speaks for Washington? For now, the answer is, "You never know."

In Ukraine news, things remain relatively quiet. Was at a Christmas Party hosted at the Ambassador's last night and most of the conversation was centered around the election. Swapped rumors such as thugs in Donetsk being armed courtesey of the Black Sea Fleet and assassination attempts on Yushenko and Tymoshenko. Hopefully this is all just talk. Posted by Hello


Still Seeing Communist Symbols

One of the things I get a kick out of walking around Kiev is seeing all the small signs of Communism that are all around. 13 some years and 1 and 3/4 revolutions and there's still communist symbols all around. The above picture is of a window on the top floor of a building I walk by whenever I'm headed towards St. Sophia. Although this is just one example, there's stuff like this everywhere. Posted by Hello

'Meddling' In Ukraine

Nice write up in the Post today that completely refutes the notion peddled by Pat Buchanan, morons at The Nation, and others that the Orange Revolution was a U.S. creation. It also does a nice job of showing exactly what political NGOs are doing over here.

Long Overdue Sidenote: "Orange" definitely won out as the default name for the political upheaval over here. It was a bit of a dark horse contender originally, I thought "Chestnut" Revolution had the best chance of making it. Carnation Revolution was mentioned once or twice, but never really went anywhere.

McSweeny's Hilarity

This piece from McSweeney's is probably the funniest thing I've read on their site since their Journal of a New COBRA Recruit.

Update: This Guide to Ukrainian Dining will elicit similar laffs.

House Cleaning

OK, couple things on the agenda today:

1) Just as a general note, I cleaned up and reorganized my links over there to your right. I realize no one really gives a fig about this, but I'm telling you anyway.

2) A Presidential debate was held in Kiev last night. For a rough transcript in English of what was said, I highly recommend checking out Windowglass, who took the time to transcribe everything. I really don't have much to add to either posting I linked to. Although, I did find Yanukovich's line that "I am not struggling for power -- I am struggling against bloodshed." to be hilarious given the reports I had read that stated he had been urging Kuchma to bring out the troops against the protestors. If you were to ask the opinion of someone who received a degree in International Politics (with a minor in E. European Area Studies) from a premier institution of higher learning what Yanukovich was trying to do in the next week or so, he'd tell you that he's written off the west and the center, sees he has no chance of winning the election overall since throwing it won't be as easy as it was last time, and is instead blatantly pandering to his base in the east and trying to position himself to be able to run what will become the opposition in Parliament.

Of course, I could be wrong. And given the fact that everyone I talk to that understands everything Yanukovich is saying tells me he's an idiot; he could just be saying stupid things because he is stupid and has no clue what he's doing.

3) It looks like last night Cropp and Williams reached some sort of deal regarding financing for the Nats stadium. The Council will still have to pass the agreement that was reached and MLB will still have to sign off on things before the sabotage that occured last Tuesday is overcome. But things are looking better for the Nats coming to town. Whether or not things are looking better for the reputation of the city, however, remains to be seen.

I'd been leaving my mark all over some bloggers that have been following on-field and off-field events in the world of the Nats by linking back to my site in their comments section so I thought it only fair to give them all a shout out on the right there.


Poisoning Story

The The New York Times > International > Europe > NY Times has a great write up this morning of the background, theories, and current investigations into the Yushenko poisioning. Registration might be required to read, but it's worth it.


I Guess this is Good News

At least they're talking. Peter Gammons is reporting in ESPN.com that Cropp is sitting down with MLB to try to work something out. As anyone hoping that DC will be taken seriously, you also have to love the following sentence appearing in any national publication:

"A source told Gammons on Saturday that the clock is ticking on negotiations to re-open the stadium deal. Dec. 31 has been set as the drop-dead date because Marion Berry takes office at the first of the year and will kill any park." Oy...

The next paragraph is also great:

"The source told Gammons that if the deal does not get renegotiated, commissioner Bug Selig will refuse to let the team play at RFK Stadium, home to the NFL's Washington Redskins, and could instead make the team play two seasons in Norfolk, Va. The situation is embarrassing, the source said, but baseball has no one to blame because it announced the team would move before having a deal in place with the politicians, a deal in place with Orioles owner Peter Angelos and a deal in place for their media."

Ummm...RFK stadium was home to the Redskins up until about 7 years ago. And if you think that's the ONLY reason this situation is embarrasing oh unnamed source you need to do more than read up on your NFL stadium info.

This article sent to me by another Connard tops the chart of the Unintentional Comedy Scale. I'm sure anyone following the stadium issue saw the link on Drudge to the bit about anti-stadium forces being funded by the sex industry. I think I've officially seen it all. You now have a city government actually preventing local development in order to keep three gay bars (two of which feature nude dancing), a video "arcade," and a burlesque theater open. If there is such a thing as the anti-Guiliani, I think we've just found it.

“We have to take the steps necessary to protect these businesses to the maximum extent” Councilman Jim Graham was quoted as saying.

Ponder that statement for a minute.

I've got nothing against strip clubs, gay, straight, or whatever. I've frequented my fair share. But I don't think that I would seriously consider opposition to a neighborhood improvement that would bring in much needed tax dollars from residents of other states and help better my city on the whole if it meant having to close down the Nexus Gold Club.

Then again, I guess that's why I'm not on the D.C. City Council.


Good News...Bad News

The Good news is that there is a movie theater a 15 minute walk from my apartment that has started showing English language movies.

The Bad news is that the current movie showing is this:

Posted by Hello

Dopplar Kiev (and Cropp sucks)

Oh yeah, it snowed today. And it's supposed to snow tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that, etc...etc...etc...Shockingly enough, I haven't seen a mass run on gastronoms and produktyi for bread, milk, and toilet paper. I also haven't seen non-stop coverage of the snow on television, Channel 1+1 hasn't changed their name to "StormCenter" 1+1, people don't seem to be driving like assholes (more so than usual anyway), schools aren't going to be closed, and the government isn't going to be shut down (because of the weather, anyway). Amazing.

How is a city in the second world (at best) country able to manage through snow, but the capital of the Western World can't?

Oh, and Linda Cropp still sucks. What the hell is this "Can we please have more time" bullshit? What was that I said about people ever taking D.C. seriously ever again? Can you imagine? She should pack up and move over here, because that's the kind of mickey-mouse horseshit I expect living in a country that has been rated the third most corrupt in the world not from the capital of the U.S. If you conducted negotiations with someone, you reached an agreement, and they were present and signed off on everything you negotiated about; then they come back to you four months after you reach that agreement and two weeks before the deadline for completion of the agreement and say "Well, actually I changed my mind I don't agree with what I signed off on before and, by the way, can you please give me six more months to get my shit together?" What would you do? D.C. is run by morons.

Oh, and while I've got snow on the mind I have a question for D.C. residents opposing the stadium. How happy are you that there's going to be $600 million available to plow your streets the next time it snows so you're not immobile for a week and a half this winter? Oh, you're not happy because that money doesn't exist as stadium money was never coming from the general fund and all your city services, including snow removal, still suck largely because of a small and difficult to enlarge tax base (we'll leave shitty management for later)? Well, keep voting corrupt, grandstanding, mental midgets into office like you do in every City election. They'll figure it out some time, I'm sure. Home rule now!!! Posted by Hello

A Very Blowhard Christmas

You know what I think of when I look at pictures of Prime Minister and (disgraced) Presidential Candidate, Viktor Yanukovich (picture above blatantly stolen from today's Washington Post)? He looks like a sterotypical obnoxious great-uncle you might see in a typically mediocre Christmas Movie...probably from somewhere in the Rust-Belt, like Youngstown, Akron, Erie, or Rochester. And he shows up at the protaganist's house (usually with an equally obnoxious wife) much to everyone's chagrin, and provides some comic relief in the movie with the patently absurd things that come out of his mouth.

Well our man Viktor has certainly been doing his best lately to come up with patently absurd things to say. How about this(pulled from the Ukrainian News Agency, quoted in the Action Ukraine Report)?

Presidential candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has said that entrepreneurs in East Ukraine are more civilized than those doing business in the western parts of the country. "You are not afraid of Donetsk entrepreneurs, you are afraid of those in Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk. Those guys from glens are hungry...and unlawfulness is larger than in the east."

Way to try to win over the opposition Vik! Call them corrupt, the oligarchs you protect (and are a member of) in the quasi-fascist East legitimate, and toss is a back country reference by referring to half of the country as "The Glens."

Or we have this beaut from today's Post: "If this legal nihilism continues, I will not be able to stop people...It's impossible to agree with this great injustice, this discrimination. And if it (Yushenko) is indeed the face of the future authorities, I will never be on their side. Today in these regions, there are civil organizations that are being established, that are making lists of volunteers, and they will be making some decisions."

Uh-huh...civil organizations...protests being organized...right. This from the same people who, when protests numbering in the hundreds of thousands were going on not only two weeks ago, the best they could muster was sending in a couple of busloads of paid drunks to try to stir up some trouble. A couple of paid drunks who acutally ended up getting taken in by and cared for the same people they were supposed to be roughing up. Or maybe he means the 15 or so people I saw waving flags by the pensioners last weekend.

In all seriousness, these veiled threats to stir up civil unrest should he likely lose an election conducted freely and fairly are not a good thing. Dude needs to just take his lumps and move on. He did say one sensible thing in that Post article: "From a political point of view . . . it [Putin's campaign visits] didn't raise me up. It's rather worked against me." So maybe he can realize what the best interests of his country would be and shut the hell up.
Posted by Hello


Bush League

This blog is a Ukrainian focused one. However, while Kiev may have managed to sort of become my adopted city, I remain a Washingtonian at heart. Well, I guess a Northern Virginian if I really wanted to get specific, but that's neither here nor there...when I meet people and they ask where I'm from, I tell them Washington. And as a Washingtonian, the whole fiasco that has developed involving the proposed move of the Expos to D.C. really sickens me. Well, sickens is too strong of a word. The poisoning of a presidential candidate? That sickens me. This baseball thing just really disappoints me.

It's not because I'm a huge baseball fan either. In all honesty I find baseball to be kind of boring. When I was living in the states I would usually watch the playoffs but that's about it. I think I can count the number of actual games I've attended on one hand. But watch a regular season game on TV? Are you kidding me? No way. But I'll admit that I got a excited when it was first announced that after 33 years, there was finally going to be a baseball team in Washington. Actually going to a ball game is fun activity in the summer. The main reason that I've been to so few games is because I've never lived anywhere where just picking up and going to a game was an option. It's also tough to have a civic or regional interest in a team from a city you don't live in or have a connection to. As Seinfeld said, you're basically rooting for laundry anyway. If I'm rooting for laundry, I want it to be laundry that I'm tied to somehow. It finally looked like actually going to a game and rooting for my laundry was going to be a possibility (whenever I moved back to DC).

It also seemed like a pretty good deal for the City itself. The neighborhood where they were looking to put the stadium is, to be charitable, a dump and could stand to have some development and revitalising. And this is a dump that is about 5 blocks south of the freaking U.S. Capitol Building. When I first moved to Washington back in the early nineties Anacostia was the center of what was actually called "The Crack Wars." Mayor Marion Barry had just been arrested for smoking crack himself. You could buy T-Shirts that said "Goddamn Bitch Set Me Up" just like he did on the FBI surveillance tape! Now, fifteen years after the Crack Wars that neighborhood is on the verge of getting cleaned up, just like Downtown and Chinatown were after the MCI Center was built. From certain vantage points in the city you can actually see the wave of construction and gentrification moving towards the Southwest waterfront. To put a baseball stadium down there would jumpstart the whole process and permanently turn around a neighborhood that is otherwise a blight. It happened in Denver, it happened in San Francsico, it happened in Cleveland, hell it happened up the road in Baltimore. And it could have happened in the District.

Except for the fact that no matter what progress had been made the city is still bush league (no international readers, I'm not talking about the president). And as a Washingtonian, it kind of hurts me to say that. But it's true. Let's look at the facts here. Mayor Williams and MLB agreed to a deal to move the Expos here. That deal was (and I'm summarizing here) that the city would fully fund the construction of a ballpark in Anacostia and in return Baseball would move a team to the city. The funding for the construction of the ballpark would not come from Washington's general fund (i.e. the money they collect in taxes every year). It would come from bonds, rent payments by the future owners of the team, taxes on stadium tickets and concessions, and on some of the largest businesses in the city. This isn't money that was going to be stolen from schools, hospitals, or public transport. If there's no stadium, there's no money. Period. Anyone who tells you otherwise is flat out lying.

That is the agreement that was made between the City and MLB. And when the annoucment was made, there was no shortage of screaming, cheering, DC Goverment employees and council members wearing red Nationals hats and applauding what they had done. Three months later, what happened? First the city council, led by grandstanding Chairwoman Linda Cropp (who was up there in a red hat screaming with everyone else), starts trying to renegotiate all the terms of the deal. She changed her demands countless times, changing the site of the stadium, changing financing options, changing ancillary demands, and timeframes. She delayed votes. She canceled votes. She gave her public assurance that votes would have her support. Then that support was denied.

Even more baffling than the change of support for the stadium are the unstated motives behind opposition to the stadium. Take this quote from Cropp; "My phone has been ringing off the hook with howls of outrage about her sabotage of the deal. But most of the calls have come from the 301 and 703 area codes. It's the suburban area, people from Maryland and Virginia who do not have to pay for the stadium."

So wait a minute here...the public financing of the studium was going to be paid for largely by taxes on stadium tickets and concessions. Pepole from Maryland and Virginia are pissed that there isn't going to be a stadium built where they can spend their out-of-district money on tickets and concessions. And of course they weren't going to spend that same money at bars and restaurants in the neighborhood before and after the game...bars and restaurants where the taxes on their money would go into the coffers of the city's general fund. No, not at all. But somehow all of this is going to cost citizens of DC money. Ah, right, gotcha.

I'll tell you what this is (outside of complete stupidity). This is a self defeating backlash against gentrification and development. This is cutting of your nose to spite your face. Marc Fisher puts it best in the post today: "All the parties in this deal lost control when all of you allowed baseball to become a symbol for this city's divisive debate about gentrification, class and the return of whites to a city from which they fled when the Washington Senators were here."

Stadium opponents in the DC citizenry and Government can talk all they want about funding schools, improving resident services, and bettering overall quality of life instead of building a stadium. But the cold hard fact remains that the government and many of the citizens of D.C. would prefer the city remain underpopulated, would prefer the tax base remain low, and would prefer to have neighborhoods in D.C. that resemble Beirut rather than the Capital of the Free World to making an investment (basically with other peoples money) towards actually improving the City and (shock!) trying to attract people to move there.

D.C. Council and stadium opponents, do you think this is purely a local issue something with no bearing outside the confines of your Federal District? Think again. Waking up in Kiev to the BBC on freaking SHORTWAVE RADIO, what did I hear? A story about how the D.C. City Council failed to live up to a deal that they had struck with a large American business interest. What's this I read in the NY Times? An article about how D.C. government pulled "one of the great bait-and-switch moves in history." What did (inter)national sports channel ESPN call what has happened? "Arguably the biggest humiliation in sports-franchise relocation history." So let me pose this question to you, D.C. council, after this fiasco what do you think the reaction of decision makers will be the next time you propose to host a world-class event, oh something like hosting the Olympics in Washington, or the Super Bowl? What do you think American and International business leaders will think the next time you negotiate a deal to try toget them to move their business to our incorporate in Washington? What do you think any sane person is going to think the next time you start complaining about the lack of D.C. Statehood?

Oh, and that crack smoking Mayor booted out of office in the 90s? He's going to be on the City Council next year.

As I said, really disappointing and above all else, bush-league.

The Washington Post is, as expected, all over this story. Read all about it here, here, here, here, here, and here. And read Thomas Boswell too. I can't wait to read what George Solomon (who was wise enough to publish one of my letters before) has to say about all this on Sunday either.

Other Bloggers (both pro and con) following and writing about this probably more than I will are the always amusing whyihatedc, ballwonk, dcist, and capitol punishment.


Backing the Wrong Horse

Across from the "Our Children" people was this small group of demonstrators. My guess is that they were Russian Orthodox. They were also definitely backing Yanukovich. No Yushenko types were there confronting them or counter demonstrating. The group was mainly comprised of pensioners, so I doubt anyone gave a fig. Posted by Hello

Our Children

On Saturday, this wackadoo was out on the square in front of St. Sophias. He had a bunch of people with him that were handing out white armbands. Their whole deal was that they weren't for the orange of Yushenko or the blue of Yanukovich. They were just for "our children." I didn't stick around to ask what that meant. But they did give me a white arm-band and a comic book. Posted by Hello

Window View

I've been light on posting the pictures lately so here are a few. This is the view from my window. The dome you see in the background is a Radisson that's being built. We're guessing that completion and opening is going to coincide with Eurovision 2005. That's being held in Kiev in the Spring thanks to Ruslana winning the competition last year. Posted by Hello


I freaking KNEW it! How inept is DC city government? Pretty inept I suppose. Especially if Linda Cropp is involved. Well, so much for baseball in D.C. While being hopeful before I always said I wouldn't believe it until after the 3rd or 4th game had been played in the District. I guess that was with good reason.


m. kiev

So Richard Holbrooke apparently has a new regular column with the post and has decided to write his first one about Ukraine and potential NATO membership following a presumed Yushenko win on the 26th.

His opening paragraph amused me:

KYIV, Ukraine -- The world still knows this city as Kiev, its name in Russian, but let this dateline and this column call the capital of Ukraine by its rightful name.

Look, Dick (and everyone else caught up in this Ukrainising of city names specifically Kiev), I'm not a fluent Russian or Ukrainian spaker by any means. But I do live in "Kyiv" and I can tell you that at least 80% of this city speaks Russian. I'm not saying that they're just capable of speaking Russian, I mean that 80% of the people in this city speak Russian at home, to each other, and to me. If anything, when I hear Ukrainian spoken in this city, I think it's kind of odd.

Granted, Russian is spoken here with a bit of a Ukrainian accent, but it's spoken here nonetheless. This in spite of the fact that every street sign, every billboard, and about 90% of TV programming is in Ukrainian (which makes it real fun to try to immerse yourself in Russian while learning it). Which leads me into a whole other meme that needs to be dispelled regarding the "orange revolution." I can't count the number of stories I've read that have portrayed the internal divisions in this country as the Ukrainian speaking west backing Yushenko vs. the Russian speaking east backing Yanukovich. Well, yes, that's partially true, except that it leaves out the predominantly Russian speaking center of the country that overwhelmingly backed Yushenko and also was the center of all the election fraud protests.



I think my favorite thing from this short article I saw on Drudge has to be the following quote from Yanukovich.

"I've never used any help from any politicians but Ukrainian ones."

Although perhaps it's this one: "The United States' meddling into Ukraine's internal affairs is obvious,"

I really wonder how people can say shit like this with a straight face. Maybe I should ask Kobe Bryant.

Dulles Sucks

I think I agree with pretty much everything this guy writes about how shitty Dulles airport is. Except for the part about it being worse than de Gaulle. Nothing is worse than de Gaulle.


Doctors: Yushchenko Poisoned With Dioxin

Just in case you missed it, Yushenko was poisoned.

Based on this passage: "It would be quite easy to administer this amount in a soup," I think that I'll be avoiding any borscht served to me by state organs...

Also, according to the article, Yushenko's disfigurement is a result of chloracne. The good news is that it can heal in about 2-3 years. He may look normal again.


Internal Security Divisions

The following is from a Jane's Intelligence Digest article that was emailed to me as part of the Action Ukraine Report. Very interesting stuff. And if you don't want to read it, there's pictures I took last night further down the page.

...Members of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) have long been working
secretly with supporters of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. Between
the first and second rounds of the poll, the SBU illicitly taped mobile
telephone conversations between key figures surrounding Prime Minister
Viktor Yanukovych. Recordings were passed to Yushchenko following the
second round of voting and have been submitted as evidence to the Supreme
Court, which was investigating election fraud...

...Ukraine's military is also predominantly pro-Yushchenko. Many officers
adopted a pro-Western position as a result of Ukraine's involvement in
NATO's Partnership for Peace programme during the last decade. Four days
after the second round of the election, the former SBU chairman and Defence
Minister Yevhen Marchuk defected to the Yushchenko camp...

However, the position of the Interior Ministry (MVS) is very different. The
MVS has taken up many of the functions of the Soviet-era KGB and has
been active against the opposition. Nevertheless, during the recent
demonstrations, the MVS ranks split. Police and cadets defected to the
Yushchenko camp while most special forces units and MVS internal troops
have remained loyal to Kuchma. Only in western Ukraine did the MVS
Spetsnaz units declare their loyalty to Yushchenko.

Up to 500 members of Russian Spetsnaz forces from the Vityaz special forces
division in Bryansk are currently deployed at a Ukrainian Interior Ministry
(MVS) military base in Irpin, near Kiev. Two transports flew them into the
Gostomel aerodrome near Irpin between 1 and 3 am on 24 November, three
days after the hotly disputed second round of the presidential election on
21 November...The current deployment of Russian special forces on Ukrainian soil has
no legal basis. No agreement between Ukraine and Russia permits the
Ukrainian president to invite foreign troops into the country without
parliament's approval.

I guess PFP actually does some good after all...



I really got a kick out of this. Recently, Yanukovich's wife gave some speech wherein she said that everyone camped out on the street was wearing American felt boots and eating drugged oranges. In response I quite freqently saw felt boot linings like this with American things drawn on them with oranges stuck with syringes near by.

Oh, and just to keep you honest and not just looking at pictures, Slate has a link-rich roundup of the agreement that was reached and the ramifications of said agreement. Go read it. Posted by Hello

Razom Nas Bahato

Spirits were high as illustrated by this group, waving flags and dancing to some Ukrainian rap that recorded in honor of current events here. Posted by Hello

Going to the Chapel

And they even had a makeshift Orthodox chapel set up. Posted by Hello

Barricades (Revisited)

Their barricades (at one end anyway) were significantly improved over last time. Posted by Hello

Ain't Got Time to Bleed

Went back down to Kreshatik to see what was going on now that the large crowds have mainly dispersed. More of the same from the looks of it. These guys are dug in, in the words of the immortal Jesse Ventura, like an Alabama tick, and aren't going anywhere until their guy wins. Posted by Hello

More Not Getting It

Ok. You KNOW things are screwey when writers for The Nation are essentially agreeing with Pat Buchanan. My favorite line from this anti-democratic hatchet piece has to be this one:

"Putin has been clumsy, but to accuse Russia of imperialism because it shows close interest in adjoining states and the Russian-speaking minorities who live there is a wild exaggeration."

I don't know where to begin with this. I wonder what people in Moldova (that aren't in Trans-Dniestra), Georgia (that aren't in Abkhazia), anyone in Tajikistan, or ANY non-Russian from the Baltic States have to say about that statement.

I also have to wonder what this hacks opinion is of Germany militarizing the Rhineland, annexing Austria, and annexing the Sudentland in the 1930s. I mean, Hitler was a democratically elected leader just like Putin and all he was doing was protecting German speakers in the Rhine and Austria, and a German speaking minority in Czechoslovakia.

Oh, but that's right, according to these nut-jobs BUSH is Hitler.

Never mind that the opposition that the US is supposedly backing has announced that it's pulling out of Iraq. Never mind that the spread of democratic regimes has always been viewed as a good thing up untill November of 2000. If something good is happening internationally and people are either liberating themselves or being liberated while Bush is in office, it's evil U.S. meddling in others affairs. How dare we?

And, like the post-modern clog said yesterday, everytime you hear someone make a moral equivalence argument between Yushenko and the opposition and Yankovich and the government, first look at Yushenko's face and see what those in power did to him. Then do some reading on what happened to Gyorgi Gongadze's head. Look at the turnout results in Donestsk and Lugansk where over 100% of eligible voters turned out, and all of them voted for Yanukovich.

Sickening really.

Details of the Deal

The deal that passed Parliament seems, at a glance, to be a good one (Detailed Here). All the electoral reform deals seem like plain common sense to me.

Gotta love Yanukovich calling it a "soft coup d'etat."

Also looks like power is going to be decentralized which, given the Belarusian and Russian examples, also strikes me as a pretty good idea.

Yushenko's promise to prosecute people for political crimes has got to be making a lot of people really nervous right now as well.

But, given the half hour fireworks display that went on last night, I would imagine the opposition (at least) is quite happy.


Poisoning Confirmed

Doctor's are now confirming that Yushenko was poisoned. Post Modern Clog has a nice, succinct take on the confirmation of the obvious.

Deal Reached

Looks like Parliament here was able to reach a compromise deal to reform election laws and the constitution here before the new Presidential Vote on the 26th.

Oh, and on a mildly unrelated subject, you have to read this column by Pat Buchanan. What an asshole. You want to talk about just not "getting it," than read this. I find it amazine that this guy was once considered a serious candidate for President of the U.S.


Ukraine Stuff

So I just got back from a town hall meeting hosted by the U.S. Embassy. Heard some pretty interesting stuff there. Foremost was that there were apparently plans and people were moved into position to bust heads about nine days into the protests on Independence Square. The biggest thing that prevented heads from being busted was the fact that other government security organs let it be known that they would get in between the head-busters and the head-bustees.

As a bit of a follow on to this implicit protection, I found out that opposition members have been able to, ummmm, employ tactics against the government that the government had typically been able to employ against the opposition.

Also, in spite of Yanukovich's announcement yesterday that he still intended on running for president, he has 3 more days to withdraw his candidacy, which would turn the election into a plebiscite on Yushenko. Yushenko would then have to win 50% +1 of the vote in order to become president. It was the opinion of people in the know that, in spite of the massive turnout on the streets of Kiev, that he could quite conceivably have difficulty reaching that mark.

Planet of Sound

Anyway, the main point of the excursion was to see the Pixies in concert at the Tweeter Center. There they are above (minus Joey Santiago...he's off to the left). Excellent show. Chit chat was limited to when Frank Black (or I guess Black Francis in this instance) was having guitar problems. Otherwise it was just song after song after song. Opening act the Datsuns were really boring. As were the other opening act the Bennies, but at least they had a midget doing lead vocals. The Pixies set was quite long and comprehensive. Most of Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, Bossa Nova, and Trompe Le Monde was covered. They opened with Velouria, closed with Tame, and the encore was Gigantic. When I can find a set list posted on line, I'll link to it. Posted by Hello

Brotherly Love

OK, back in Kiev. Haven't made it down yet to Independence Square and Kreshatik. Jet Lag has been really brutal. I'll try to get down after the work day for an hour or so. In the meantime, here are some pics from my Philly excursion on Saturday. Above is the world famous Pat's King of Steaks. In the background in the equally world famous Geno's Steaks.

Shortly before I took this picture, a SUV rolled up to the line at Pat's. A guy leaned out of the window and said the following, in the thickest of Philly accents: "Yo, I was just talking to Pat (you know, they guy who's cheesesteak you're about to eat) and he said that if you're not from Philadelphia, then get the FUCK out!" He then drove away.

I love Philadelphia. Posted by Hello


12 Days in a Tent City

I'd imagine that these guys in the tent city are pleased that not only have they been so far successful, but that there is an end in sight to the amount of time they will have to spend outside in Kiev in December. Posted by Hello

Tent City Suburbs

From what my bride-to-be was saying, the tent city on Kreshatik spread pretty far down the street from where it was when I left. When I left town, the tents only made it down from Independence Sqaure to about where the Kiev City Rada was. Now it apparently makes it all the way down to TsUM and the area of Kreshatik down by Besserabski Market has been turned into a parking lot for buses and such. And yes, I'm aware that none of this means anything to you unless you're mildly familiar with downtown Kiev. Posted by Hello

Support from the Diaspora

According to this guy, the American city of Chicago is for Yushenko! Posted by Hello

Commerce Marches On

I dig the ballon vendors in this one. Posted by Hello

Carnival in Kiev

While I'm preparing to drive up to Philly to see a long anticipated Pixies show this evening and then return to Kiev on Sunday, my bride-to-be is already back in Ukraine and went down to Independence Square and Kreshatik earlier today to take some pictures of what is going on after the announcement yesterday by the Supreme Court that the results of the thrown second round of elections were to be tossed out and a new round was to be held in three weeks. She described the atmosphere on the street to me as "like a carnival" when I spoke to her earlier. I think these pictures she took illustrate that perfectly. Posted by Hello



Just saw a blurb on the NY Times front page posted 10 minutes before I wrote this that the Ukrainian Supreme Court has called for a new run-off vote. Details to come as I find them.


Good News?

Can't verify any of this information, but this guy has been doing an excellent job of tracking developments in Ukraine. Apparently an agreement has been reached and new elections are to be held.