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Friday, November 27, 2009

50 days: Bill Billovych Againstall

Againstall: For a life without "Me" and "You"
Ya = Yanukovych, Yu= Yulia, Yushchenko

“Jokers” have been part of Ukrainian politics since the communist monopoly on party politics was broken up 18 years ago. For the January 17, 2010 race, there is no shortage of comedic candidates and political humor in general. With politics the way it is in Ukraine, you got be able to laugh… Here’s a look at one of the Joker Candidates

In October Vasyl Vasylovych Humeniuk changed his surname to Protyvskih to run in these elections. The new name of the former communist party member and resort town mayor from Ivano-Frankivsk oblast means “against all” which is itself a standalone option on the unique Ukrainian ballot. Voters face a list of candidates and can choose ‘none of the above’ if they so wish.

None of the above” has done comparatively well in past elections, consistently scoring higher than two percent in parliamentary and presidential elections alike.

The highest “against all” ever scored in the presidential elections was 1999, when incumbent Leonid Kuchma beat commie Petro Symonenko in two rounds. Nearly one million voters said they don’t like either the red director or the red party boss for 3.4 percent of the popular vote.

During the 2002 parliamentary race, a groups of parties calling itself the “Against all” Electoral Bloc ran in a field of 33 parties and blocs. Then, “against all” was supported by nearly 30,000 voters, scoring point one of a percentage point (0.1%)

The last presidential race (2004) saw Ukrainians go to the polls three times in three months before a head of state was finally elected. Candidates Yushchenko and Yanukovych went three rounds before Viktor from Sumy beat Viktor from Donetsk to become victorious.

Five years ago, twenty six candidates ran for the presidency. “Against all” was the fifth most popular choice; more than half a million voters liked none of the candidates in the first round. Combined, “none of the above” beat 20 presidential hopefuls. “Against all” swelled to nearly seven hundred thousand when voters said they don’t like either Victor in the second and third rounds of 2004.

More than 600,000 voted “against all” in the 2006 regularly-scheduled and 2007 snap elections to the Rada, both times beating out over 15 parties and blocs.

For these coming elections (less than two months away), Vasyl Againstall is fighting fifteen other candidates for the right to lead Ukraine for the next five years. The 63-year-old's chances are slim. Yet he had no problem finding the required UAH 2.5 million hryvnia (around $300,000) to run in these elections. A pretty expensive joke, no?

Maybe he’s counting on people to mistake his name for the “Against all” option and inadvertently cast a vote for him. Or perhaps he hopes that Ukrainians are so fed up that they’ll choose him in protest against the constant political squabbling that borders on the absurd. Ukraine today has over 160 political parties! Democracy in the 19-year-old former Soviet republic is still very messy, but not bereft of humor.

Together with voter turnout numbers, the electoral fate of both Vasyl Againstall and “Against all” will be good indicators of what Ukrainians think about elections and, more importantly, about democracy in general: Are voters tired and fed up?

Voters should be encouraged to show up at polling stations on January 17, otherwise their uncast vote risks being cast on their behalf. At least they have the option of telling the lot: “I don’t like any of you!”

Follow Vasyl Vasylovych on Twitter:

"Against all candidates" website (Ukrainian):

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holodomor 2009: Yushch and Lukash Enkos

The best image from this year’s Holodomor commemorations thus far (for Holodomor Education Week is ongoing in Toronto, 83 Christie St., until Nov. 28) has to be the photo snapped back in the first week of November, when Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenka came to Kyiv on an official visit.

The man once called “last dictator of Europe” by the West joined his Ukrainian presidential counterpart Victor Yushchenko in honoring the victims of the Holodomor 1932-33. That’s something Russian Federation president Medvedev has refused despite repeated requests from Ukraine. Lukashenka did this despite warnings from Moscow to the Slavic leader of the brotherly republic to avoid committing “high treason.”

Lukashenka knows full well about what went on in Belarus and across the border in neighboring Ukraine in 1932-33 and his countrymen were not left unscathed by the soviet scythe of death in Stalin’s swinging arms. Declassified documents prove this. Lukashenka’s voice is the latest to join a choir of consensus emerging in the eastern Slavic and Orthodox worlds about the untold evils of soviet rule: They need to be told!

Yushchenko declassified all secret Soviet archives not only pertaining to the Holodomor, but all the way up to 1991. When they shook hands, maybe Yushchenko gave Luklashenka a bit of the “anti-Soviet” bug – a welcome “flu” that should spread to the dozen former Soviet republics from the Baltic to the Pacific still dealing with their communist past.

In Ukraine that consenus is shared by all of the countries churches - including the wealthy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchy. Since independence, all three of Ukraine's presidents have championed international recognition of the Holodomor as genocide.

Nobody is saying that Stalin did not commit genocidal crimes in what today is the Russia Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova (and in all the breakaway regions as well.) All the governments have to do is open up the Soviet archives to public scrutiny!

Twenty years may have passed since the fall of a German wall, but the true scale and nature of crimes of the USSR are only now coming to the surface. History is not being “rewritten” or “falsified” as the Kremlin charges: the true history of something that happened 75 years ago has yet to fully see the light of day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

55 days to E-Day: Rada rerun plays, Tymo joke about luck

They may be running for the presidency, but the two Victors talked about new Rada elections on Monday, November 23.

Some would argue that the current parliament, elected in a snap vote in 2007, should sit until 2012, according to constitutional changes hastily adopted during the Orange Revolution. Two years into the Victor Yushchenko presidency, voters elected a parliament to replace the one formed in 2002. But the 2006 vote was followed by political crisis and a snap poll in 2007 when Yushchenko dissolved parliament. He dissolved the Rada yet again in 2007 but his order lapsed when the government and parliament refused to release state funds to hold the poll. (

If elected Yushchenko will give parliament one hundred days to adopt a new Constitution or face new elections and a national referendum. But those 100 days will fall into what could very well be a “lameduck” period of his presidency if nothing like the Orange Revolution is repeated when Ukrainians go to the polls to elect the next president in two months’ time. So this is like Yushchenko saying “elect me, and I’ll solve this constitutional mess once and for all.” And messy it will be: snap polls, referendum debates. Better at the ballot box than on the battlefield.

Seeking revenge for his loss to Yushchenko five years ago, Victor Yanukovych said on national TV that he will dissolve parliament and hold snap elections if a majority coalition is not formed in the legislature once he becomes president. The opposition leader said that if the president, parliament and government are not working as a “state team” then the Rada will face the people for reelection. (

His main opponent in the polls race Yulia Tymoshenko, meanwhile, said that Ukrainians will never elect Yanukovych and joked about her opponent being “lucky.”
“You have to have a very rich imagination to call a person who sat in prison twice, who, out of fear, twice gave up the post of premier and once of president, lucky,” according to her Nov. 21 statement marking the fifth year since Ukrainians took to the streets in response to state-run electoral fraud. “This reminds me of an anekdot (joke). A sign says: Lost Dog. Features: one eye, limp back paw, one ear bitten, the other completely missing. With three stitches on his maw. Answers to the name ‘Lucky’.” (