http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,1373721,00.htmlRewriting the transition to democracy
Wednesday December 15, 2004
A number of recent articles in British newspapers have presented the "orange" revolution in Ukraine as an element of some sort of American bid for world domination. Instead of an authentic revolution we have a stage-managed coup, designed to weaken Russia and gain access to new markets. Politics is reduced to an interplay between world powers, and history to a story of corruption. This ignores one essential element: the Ukrainian people.
Mark Almond (The price of people power, December 7) rewrites the history of the last quarter century in central Europe to more forcibly elucidate the horrors awaiting Ukraine if it chooses the pro-European path of its western neighbours.
What actually happened in central Europe? Our societies rejected communist dictatorships and embarked on the project of building democratic systems of freedom and the rule of law. The breakthrough in 1989 followed efforts of those who refused the yoke of oppression - members of Poland's Solidarity, of Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, and Hungarian dissidents.
Almond sees that "springtime of nations" quite differently. He paints a grotesque picture of US-funded dissidents acquiring personal fortunes while putting their nations in economic slavery. I was often accused by the communist regime of being a mercenary and an American spy. I am staggered to encounter similar accusations today.
I am equally astounded by what Almond writes about Adam Michnik: "His Agora media empire grew out of the underground publishing world of Solidarity, funded by the CIA in the 1980s. His newspapers now back the war in Iraq, despite its huge unpopularity among Poles."
Almond fails to mention that Michnik spent six years as a political prisoner. He also omits to note that Michnik is not the owner of Agora, and that when the company gave shares to its founders and employees, Michnik refused to take any. And that the Iraq war is the subject of fierce debate in Gazeta Wyborcza.
Fortunately, neither the opinions of western commentators nor any designs of US politicians will determine Ukraine's future. It will be decided by the Ukrainians.
Prof Bronislaw Geremek
Former Solidarity adviser and Polish foreign minister