And tomorrow was…
November 1, 2004.
Without any exaggeration, this election campaign was unprecedented in many respects. Ukraine has never witnessed so great a mass of information, political technologies, manipulations and social tension. This election can be somehow compared to those of 1991, when Soviet Empire collapsed. Today, as 13 years ago the point is whether Ukraine will set itself as an independent state. The elections’ typhoon broke all the mythical patterns, which existed in regard to Ukrainian society, revealed all its problems and showed it the way it is.
During the run of this election campaign, Ukrainian authorities crossed all real and imaginary borders of its own roughness. Total use of administrative resources, permanent violation of election law by representatives of authority, pressure on Mass Media and the whole groups of population – those working in the sphere of state administration and in law enforcement agencies – that was all used in the previous campaigns.
Further, famous Russian technologies, like struggle with opposition candidate in a way of exploitation of technical candidates, were implemented. Also, with the help of the mentioned technologies, “putting explosive” into the work of election commissions, which now depend on the presence of representatives of those technical candidates. The fate of the elections may depend on the will of the people, total support to whom makes less than 1 percent of Ukrainians. That was all expected from the authorities.
However, the 6th of September may be considered a crucial date of present elections. An attempt to poison an opposition candidate Victor Yushchenko put a dot on the civilized methods of political struggle. Moreover, the authorities cynically used the illness of Yushchenko for damaging his reputation in Mass Media, making a criminal out of victim.
After exercising forceful methods in the struggle against its main opponent the authorities went further, when exercising forceful methods against its own people.
Against common sense, the authorities made out mind to implement famous Russian technologies to frighten a nation with the threat of terrorism and even civil war.
The authorities started a war against students, labeling them as “terrorists”, while threatening them with skirmishing, chaos.
No less a serious crime is a wide use of the technology of speculation over “Splitting Ukraine” into East and West. If today someone believes it to be a gainful technology for them, in the future even those, who may happen to win at present, may suffer from it.
The paradox is that even exercising such destructive technologies for their personal survival, the authorities could not keep even their integrity.
Judicial branch also tries to realize its right to independence. Against frequent facts of judges’ dependence on executive power, now the courts make an effort to follow the law when considering political cases. Only during the last week before the elections, leader of the opposition Yushchenko managed to win the processes, which seemed hopeless, that gave him an access to TV channels and voters.
Actually the clear division of power took place that showed the priorities of each of them. If legislative and judiciary branches displayed an ability to act according to civilized norms, so those people, who used to take everything under their control, demonstrated that they cannot get along with a possibility of power transition.
For two people, who still keep most power levers, this campaign is not a struggle of power, but for self-survival.
And not all the scenarios by authorities are used. The scenario of elections breakdown, which is mostly advantageous for Kuchma and Medvedchuk, is still rather actual. Its implementation will allow them to keep power in their hands and work out plans, under which the loss of position will not mean losing levers of influence.
Law enforcement agencies, army
It is the first time on the elections in Ukraine when representatives of armed forces and law enforcement agencies became active participants in election processes. Again, beginning with Yushchenko’s poisoning, major personalities of special agencies became direct and interested participants of political processes.
It is known that control over major people of the discussed agencies is taken by the head of President’s Administration. And practically in all the present political technological schemes armed forces, law enforcement agencies are participants.
However, not all the people in the discussed agencies share plans and schemes of the authorities. Sabotage of generals’ orders can be seen even on the middle level, and in the atmosphere of those, who are put as privates against their own people, the mood is indeed critical.
Realizing this, the authorities try to reinsure it, when using regional representatives of law enforcement agencies, who are already in Kyiv.
Present election campaign is a star time for Ukrainian opposition. This campaign, actually, gave this opposition an opportunity to organize itself as a powerful social force.
One may estimate the beginning stage of opposition candidate’ s campaign in different ways, but to the end of the elections his headquarters managed to work out social doctrine, organize active team for reaction and maximally effectively manage agitation process. As for today’s situation, Yushchenko’s headquarters has its representatives and observers almost in every election district and it also worked out its own plan of actions on the day of election and during the night of counting votes.
The opposition managed to fix in social conscious an idea that present election is the struggle between authoritarianism and democracy. This is a winning tactics anyway, which can bring the results in a year and a half’ election to the Parliament.
One more result of the elections. Today the title of opposition is much more associated with right-wing politicians rather than with left-ring ones. This election campaign became a factual ending of post-communist age in Ukraine. Petro Symonenko and his party may be called the main losers of 2004.
Olexander Moroz didn’t win from his campaign much as well. The success for him may be counted if he gains the achievements of socialists of 2002.
In regard to the last events, there are all reasons to believe that immense changes in Ukrainian journalism begin to take place, which could be caused only by a super powerful volcano. Attempts to limit the only truthful TV channel – the Fifth Channel – caused some chain reaction in journalists’ environment.
Ukrainian journalists realized that after “putting on the knees the Fifth Channel” and after these elections the profession of journalist as such mat simply disappear.
Now the fact that the authorities try to make out of Mass Media openly manipulation machines is too obvious. Pro-authority Mass Media do not reflect the processes, which occur in the society. They create a special virtual reality, where the “white” turns into the “black”, and the “black” – into the “white”. In this reality, the authorities are peacemakers and defenders of people’s interests, while opposition is the main force, inclined to destabilize the situation.
Against the fact that activity of non-governmental organizations for the last years has significantly increased, non-governmental organizations turned to be somehow at a loss in the face of the methods of struggle, imposed by the authorities. Working according to the model of NGO, which act under the conditions of opened society, they could not always reply to the challenge of this closed and non-democratic campaign.
Still, finally it is the people who have to estimate the elections. Against the exercising of unprecedented administrative and Mass Media resources, the people did not accept technologies, which foreign “specialists in PR” tried to impose. Mass meetings in the support of the Fifth Channel and crowded rallies of the opposition proved that the authorities could not implement its main technology– frightening people – to the end.
And even if people are afraid of public answering to the questions of their choice, it does not mean that they will not be able to make their choice in the booths. And, finally, not only the outcome of this election, but this country’s prospects for many years will depend on this choice and on the ability to protect it.
Serhiy Taran, Victoria Siumar, IMI