I like others followed the election saga in the Ukraine, and the related discussion here on OC.net. The campaign raised a number of questions for me. How did the 'Orange' supporters fund and organise their extensive campaign and the sheer logistics that went with it? Why was the focus on the so-called independent observers so one-sided? What explained the seemingly impossibly high turn-outs in some districts?
Of course the story we were peddled in the western press was full of items on the 'fixing' of the election voting results by supporters of Viktor Yanukovich. The ugly poisoning of his pro-western rival, Viktor Yushschenko. And tbe malign influence of the Russian government of Vladimir Putin.
On OC.net post after post expressed outrage at the blatant interference of these malign influences and the 'right' of the people of the Ukraine to determine their own future without external interference. Some appeared to have very strong views which appeared related to their religious affilation, a sort of tribal cheer leading. Occasionally a lone voice expressed the view that the role of Bishops and clergy was not to be seen to be actively involved in party politics. Given that Christ made it clear that His kingdom was not of this world, I inclined to this view but remained out of the fray.
Today I found an article in a British conservative tabloid newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, which articulates for me my doubts and perhaps answers some of my questions. Some may quibble and say my country would never do that or that it supports democracy throughout the world. To those I suggest a little research and the ability to seperate your countries declared aims from the actions of its administrations, over years and up until the present day.
The arrticle is written by Mark Almond, a lecturer in Modern History at the prestigous Oriel College, Oxford, England
It is headlined: ANOTHER VICTORY FOR THE PRETTY GIRL IN THE ORANGE SCARF AND THE CIA - The Western governments are buying elections in Ukraine and elsewhere, according to an academic who fought to bring democracy to the East. And he ought to know - he once helped to deliver the money.......
".....Sadly, the images from Ukraine which spread so much Christmas cheer were just that, images. I have monitored previous polls in Ukraine and more than 70 others across the ex-Communist world, and I know that, on election day, the devil is in the details........
......Politics is about power everywhere, and people will do a lot to get hold of it. Ukraine's murky politics was made evident by the grotesque disfigurement of Mr Yushchenko, allegedly poisoned by his rivals. Yet to back up whatever sympathy Mr Yushchenko got for his ruined looks, the West poured in money by the sackful.
The Americans alone gave pro-Yushchenko groups at least -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº50 million. That is more than was spent in rich Britain on our General Election in 2001.
In Ukraine, people count themselves lucky to earn as much as -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº 150 a month. You don't have to be a bright kid with a calculator to work out how much influence mega-bucks can buy in poverty-stricken, post-Soviet societies or Third World countries that are just starting out on the road to democracy.
If Russia was pouring equivalent sums into elections in Ireland or Belgium, there would be an international outcry.....
In the run-up to to the collapse of Communism in 1989 and the first contested elections in Eastern Europe, I took money to the dissidents there who were about to become the new ruling class. Some of the money came from genuine charities trying to help dissidents. But that was peanuts compared with the amounts that the CIA and our own secret service funnelled into the region....
One academic who handed me a brick of $ 30,000 in April, 1989, at Heathrow Airport to smuggle through to East European dissidents was a big spokesman for Ukraine's Orange Revolution and pooh-poohed the idea of Western cash funding all those orange banners and free food........
Sometimes dubious results backing the Bad Guy are queried while similar problems in regions voting for the Western candidate are ignored. Hundreds of thousands of people have migrated from Western Ukraine to work in Western Europe, yet in two regions with the highest rate of emigration, 96 per cent of adults were supposed to have voted and more than 90 per cent of them for the man in the orange scarf.
Of the 38 polling stations where 100 per cent of people officially voted in the discredited November 21 vote, 37 went orange. But is was the lonely unanimous vote for the other guy that had our observers up in arms........"
The lengthy article continues quoting examples of western interference in Russia, and the author himself finding that he had apparently been registered and voted in an election in Azerbaijan. He writes that the observers too are part of the problem, and are chosen by the same western governments who clearly seek to influence the outcome by funnelling funds to their chosen prot+Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬g+Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬. While I cannot say with certainty whether or not the allegations made are factual I have wondered about the funding and organisation of the large-scale Orange operation in the Ukraine, given its' peoples incomes, etc., etc. The voting figures read like something from a rotten banana republic or a novel.
Of course most of us rely on the broadcast media and press for our information but even so the images shown raised as many questions as they answered.