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    At least in the context of the US Presidential elections according to this nifty quiz. Here are my detailed results for perusal for anyone interested. PS. Mitt Romney's VP pick was a good one. Paulites however are (rightly) not convinced and I for one still favor Obama if with no particular enthusiasm. PPS. The real...
  • @Mr. X
    An Obama 2nd term is still gonna be hostile toward Russia or at least go full bore into Syria in 13'. Romney might do the same but there might be enough of a Congressional backlash among Paulians and DeMint types questioning why the hell the U.S. is taking the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood to embarass Romney enough that he won't go in. Obama like Honey Badger don't care about Congress.

    Hell, I think the leaks that the Israelis blamed on the Obama Admin in which Foreign Policy breathlessly reported the Israelis had bought an aircraft carrier called Azerbaijan were basically scuppering IAF contigency plans to refuel their jets there for more tempo strikes on Iran, if it ever came to that (I still remain skeptical Iran gets hit due to the economic restraints, not political or military ones). In other words, the Obama Admin was leaking to try to ruin a quiet understanding Israel had reached with Russia that the Russians would denounce a strike on Iran all the way to the bank with instant $140-$150 a barrel oil lasting for several weeks until the chaos settled down.

    There is of course, no way in hell the IAF could transit Azeri airspace without Russian military connivance thanks to the big X-band radar at Gabala which Putin offered Bush the use of back in 07' to no avail. Of course if the IAF did transit Azerbaijan it would be the long way over northern Iraq via Jordan skirting Turkish air space -- not a direct shot like flying over Saudi Arabia and the Gulf would be.

    I know this is blasphemy to neocons and a conspiracy theory to the Russophobes (some of whom overlap with the neocon crowd), but there it is. I also know many members of the Russian general staff have said a strike on Iran could lead to WW3 but oil profits trump that.

    I think Romney’s saving grace is that he apparently has no strong convictions. This will make it easy for people who do have convictions to push him around. That could be good or bad, depending.

    I doubt he really gives a fig about Russia or anywhere else.

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  • @Glossy
    I got Romney at 77%, Ron Paul at 66%, Virgil Goode at 61%, Obama at 59%. I will actually be voting for Romney. Like Anatoly, I disagree with his foreign policy, but I don't see the difference between him and Obama as very large. The results exaggerated my estimate of the Romney/Obama difference by a lot.

    Ryan seems like a nice guy and his desire to seriously deal with the budget deficit is admirable. Do I think that anything will be done on that front if Romney wins? No.

    An Obama 2nd term is still gonna be hostile toward Russia or at least go full bore into Syria in 13′. Romney might do the same but there might be enough of a Congressional backlash among Paulians and DeMint types questioning why the hell the U.S. is taking the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood to embarass Romney enough that he won’t go in. Obama like Honey Badger don’t care about Congress.

    Hell, I think the leaks that the Israelis blamed on the Obama Admin in which Foreign Policy breathlessly reported the Israelis had bought an aircraft carrier called Azerbaijan were basically scuppering IAF contigency plans to refuel their jets there for more tempo strikes on Iran, if it ever came to that (I still remain skeptical Iran gets hit due to the economic restraints, not political or military ones). In other words, the Obama Admin was leaking to try to ruin a quiet understanding Israel had reached with Russia that the Russians would denounce a strike on Iran all the way to the bank with instant $140-$150 a barrel oil lasting for several weeks until the chaos settled down.

    There is of course, no way in hell the IAF could transit Azeri airspace without Russian military connivance thanks to the big X-band radar at Gabala which Putin offered Bush the use of back in 07′ to no avail. Of course if the IAF did transit Azerbaijan it would be the long way over northern Iraq via Jordan skirting Turkish air space — not a direct shot like flying over Saudi Arabia and the Gulf would be.

    I know this is blasphemy to neocons and a conspiracy theory to the Russophobes (some of whom overlap with the neocon crowd), but there it is. I also know many members of the Russian general staff have said a strike on Iran could lead to WW3 but oil profits trump that.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Scowspi
    I think Romney's saving grace is that he apparently has no strong convictions. This will make it easy for people who do have convictions to push him around. That could be good or bad, depending.

    I doubt he really gives a fig about Russia or anywhere else.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I got Romney at 77%, Ron Paul at 66%, Virgil Goode at 61%, Obama at 59%. I will actually be voting for Romney. Like Anatoly, I disagree with his foreign policy, but I don’t see the difference between him and Obama as very large. The results exaggerated my estimate of the Romney/Obama difference by a lot.

    Ryan seems like a nice guy and his desire to seriously deal with the budget deficit is admirable. Do I think that anything will be done on that front if Romney wins? No.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mr. X
    An Obama 2nd term is still gonna be hostile toward Russia or at least go full bore into Syria in 13'. Romney might do the same but there might be enough of a Congressional backlash among Paulians and DeMint types questioning why the hell the U.S. is taking the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood to embarass Romney enough that he won't go in. Obama like Honey Badger don't care about Congress.

    Hell, I think the leaks that the Israelis blamed on the Obama Admin in which Foreign Policy breathlessly reported the Israelis had bought an aircraft carrier called Azerbaijan were basically scuppering IAF contigency plans to refuel their jets there for more tempo strikes on Iran, if it ever came to that (I still remain skeptical Iran gets hit due to the economic restraints, not political or military ones). In other words, the Obama Admin was leaking to try to ruin a quiet understanding Israel had reached with Russia that the Russians would denounce a strike on Iran all the way to the bank with instant $140-$150 a barrel oil lasting for several weeks until the chaos settled down.

    There is of course, no way in hell the IAF could transit Azeri airspace without Russian military connivance thanks to the big X-band radar at Gabala which Putin offered Bush the use of back in 07' to no avail. Of course if the IAF did transit Azerbaijan it would be the long way over northern Iraq via Jordan skirting Turkish air space -- not a direct shot like flying over Saudi Arabia and the Gulf would be.

    I know this is blasphemy to neocons and a conspiracy theory to the Russophobes (some of whom overlap with the neocon crowd), but there it is. I also know many members of the Russian general staff have said a strike on Iran could lead to WW3 but oil profits trump that.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    It seems we are politically remarkably alike, down to our mutual liking for libertarian candidates in tandem with a skepticism towards the actual ideology.

    That said, I also did pretty well with Jill Stein (Green), at 74%. I think the Libertarians scored high with me mainly for foreign policy reasons, which I weighted as more important. I really don’t give a crap about “social issues” which suck up so much oxygen, and was indifferent to some of the questions about economics and domestic policy.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Scowspi
    I just took the nifty quiz. My top 3 were Gary Johnson (a stunning 89%), Ron Paul (86%), and Jimmy McMillan (77%). I’d never heard of McMillan, maybe I should check him out.

    In the “real world” I scored 64% for Obama and 59% for Romney. I refuse to vote for either of them. So I guess Johnson should get my vote, even though I’m not a Libertarian. In fact I consider libertarianism a naïve and unworkable ideology. Oh the irony…

    It seems we are politically remarkably alike, down to our mutual liking for libertarian candidates in tandem with a skepticism towards the actual ideology.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Scowspi
    That said, I also did pretty well with Jill Stein (Green), at 74%. I think the Libertarians scored high with me mainly for foreign policy reasons, which I weighted as more important. I really don't give a crap about "social issues" which suck up so much oxygen, and was indifferent to some of the questions about economics and domestic policy.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I just took the nifty quiz. My top 3 were Gary Johnson (a stunning 89%), Ron Paul (86%), and Jimmy McMillan (77%). I’d never heard of McMillan, maybe I should check him out.

    In the “real world” I scored 64% for Obama and 59% for Romney. I refuse to vote for either of them. So I guess Johnson should get my vote, even though I’m not a Libertarian. In fact I consider libertarianism a naïve and unworkable ideology. Oh the irony…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    It seems we are politically remarkably alike, down to our mutual liking for libertarian candidates in tandem with a skepticism towards the actual ideology.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • It's been a great year! To recap, in rough chronological order, 2011 saw: The most popular post (with 562 comments and counting; granted, most of them consisting of Indians and Pakistanis flaming each other); Visualizing the Kremlin Clans (joint project with Kevin Rothrock of A Good Treaty); my National Comparisons between life in Russia, Britain,...
  • Here is a link to a very interesting article in the Independent that says that secret discussions are underway between the leading oil producers including the Gulf States, the BRICS countries (lead here by China) and ominously Japan and Brazil to replace the dollar by a basket of currencies in the international oil trade. This basket will include both the renminbi and the rouble. Apparently the long term objective is to conduct the oil trade in an entirely new currency.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/the-demise-of-the-dollar-1798175.html

    If this is true (and the article seems very well informed) and if it does indeed happen then the dollar’s days as the world’s reserve currency are well and truly numbered with all the colossal geopolitical and economic implications that go with that.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Jen
    I was surprised at hearing the evening news on SBS TV that Croatia has indeed voted to join the EU in 2013. Results were that two-thirds voted for membership and one-third voted against in the referendum but the voter turnout was low.

    There were protests on the day before the referendum took place (22 January 2012) and a poll done very recently showed that 40% of Croatians weren't in favour of joining the EU. That's quite a big minority.

    Nearly all political parties if not all of them were in favour of joining the EU which might suggest that they don't see any other alternative to joining which won't involve being pressured by Germany to yield their resources to German companies or buy German arms. And bear in mind also that Germany was the first country to recognise Croatia as an independent state when it broke away from Yugoslavia back in 1991.

    Horvat, are you Croatian and if so, are you able to find out if Croatia has demanded an opt-out option regarding the adoption of the euro? My understanding is that when Croatia becomes a full member on 1 July 2013, it doesn't have to accept the euro then but the country should demand the option not to join the eurozone as Denmark and the UK have.

    I personally don't think that joining the EU is a good move for Croatia as the country is in bad economic condition and has been receiving about 150 million euros in assistance every year since 2007. Corruption is bad with former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader charged with two counts of corruption,. His trial was supposed to have started last November after a rescheduling because of "health issues". Some things never change! Croatians see what's been happening in Hungary (that country may default on its debts) and in Romania (under pressure from the EU to cut back on the already meagre social services the country offers, plus women and girls are trafficked as prostitutes to EU countries) and are afraid they'll go down a similar path.

    Recent polls show the ‘Yes’ vote hovering around around the 52-53% mark. Here are the official results

    Yes – 66%

    No – 33%

    Turnout 43%

    99% of votes counted

    http://www.izbori.hr/2012Referendum/rez … ltati.html

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anonymous
    Croatia is about to join the EU is this a bad move for the country?

    I was surprised at hearing the evening news on SBS TV that Croatia has indeed voted to join the EU in 2013. Results were that two-thirds voted for membership and one-third voted against in the referendum but the voter turnout was low.

    There were protests on the day before the referendum took place (22 January 2012) and a poll done very recently showed that 40% of Croatians weren’t in favour of joining the EU. That’s quite a big minority.

    Nearly all political parties if not all of them were in favour of joining the EU which might suggest that they don’t see any other alternative to joining which won’t involve being pressured by Germany to yield their resources to German companies or buy German arms. And bear in mind also that Germany was the first country to recognise Croatia as an independent state when it broke away from Yugoslavia back in 1991.

    Horvat, are you Croatian and if so, are you able to find out if Croatia has demanded an opt-out option regarding the adoption of the euro? My understanding is that when Croatia becomes a full member on 1 July 2013, it doesn’t have to accept the euro then but the country should demand the option not to join the eurozone as Denmark and the UK have.

    I personally don’t think that joining the EU is a good move for Croatia as the country is in bad economic condition and has been receiving about 150 million euros in assistance every year since 2007. Corruption is bad with former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader charged with two counts of corruption,. His trial was supposed to have started last November after a rescheduling because of “health issues”. Some things never change! Croatians see what’s been happening in Hungary (that country may default on its debts) and in Romania (under pressure from the EU to cut back on the already meagre social services the country offers, plus women and girls are trafficked as prostitutes to EU countries) and are afraid they’ll go down a similar path.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Recent polls show the 'Yes' vote hovering around around the 52-53% mark. Here are the official results

    Yes - 66%

    No - 33%

    Turnout 43%

    99% of votes counted

    http://www.izbori.hr/2012Referendum/rez ... ltati.html

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Croatia is about to join the EU is this a bad move for the country?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jen
    I was surprised at hearing the evening news on SBS TV that Croatia has indeed voted to join the EU in 2013. Results were that two-thirds voted for membership and one-third voted against in the referendum but the voter turnout was low.

    There were protests on the day before the referendum took place (22 January 2012) and a poll done very recently showed that 40% of Croatians weren't in favour of joining the EU. That's quite a big minority.

    Nearly all political parties if not all of them were in favour of joining the EU which might suggest that they don't see any other alternative to joining which won't involve being pressured by Germany to yield their resources to German companies or buy German arms. And bear in mind also that Germany was the first country to recognise Croatia as an independent state when it broke away from Yugoslavia back in 1991.

    Horvat, are you Croatian and if so, are you able to find out if Croatia has demanded an opt-out option regarding the adoption of the euro? My understanding is that when Croatia becomes a full member on 1 July 2013, it doesn't have to accept the euro then but the country should demand the option not to join the eurozone as Denmark and the UK have.

    I personally don't think that joining the EU is a good move for Croatia as the country is in bad economic condition and has been receiving about 150 million euros in assistance every year since 2007. Corruption is bad with former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader charged with two counts of corruption,. His trial was supposed to have started last November after a rescheduling because of "health issues". Some things never change! Croatians see what's been happening in Hungary (that country may default on its debts) and in Romania (under pressure from the EU to cut back on the already meagre social services the country offers, plus women and girls are trafficked as prostitutes to EU countries) and are afraid they'll go down a similar path.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    I think that some people forget that culture, history and nationalism are more important factors in terms of voter choice, than economics or party/class ideology and identification. This is why the workers of the world, rather than uniting in 1914, slaughtered each other.

    The US South is its own particular culture, much more different from the US North than the North is different from Canada. Gingrich crafted a campaign that appealed to southern US nationalism. As brillliantly described by Anatol Lieven in his book about US nationalism, much of the US South was settled by protestant peasants, Scotch-Irish followers of Oliver Cromwell. They hated the British monarchy (beheading the king), aristocracy and elites in general, who were seen as decadent and exploitative. This hatred, on American soil, became a hatred for the coastal cosmpolitan elite and the wealthy. The Scotch-Irish also had a proud tradition of fighting enemies, be they Irish Catholics (originally), Indians in the New World, Germans, Commies, or Muslims in order to carve out and preserve or safeguard their homeland.

    Just as they have preserved some old Scottish folk songs that have disappeared in Scotland itself, Lieven notes that they have also preserved a pre-Enlightened 17th century worldview with respect to religion, war, etc.

    Gingrich crafted his SC campaign to appeal to these people's anti-elitist nationalist sentiments. Using democratic language about evil corporations was completely logical when it was used by Gingrich as a weapon against the evil exploitative elite Romney, portrayed as a rapacious Yankee northeasterner invading Southern factories and shutting them down. His flipflops on abortion, an affront to simple peasant Protestant morality. Gingrich's coded racism (Obama the food stamp president) and the supportof Tea Party people fearful of Obama the closet Muslim appealed to their traditional xenophobia.

    This approach won't work outside the South. Florida's Republicans are mostly either Cuban (who apparently support Romney) and many retirees from pro-Romney Michigan or the Northeast. Romney should double Gingrich's delegates in that state alone. His Mormon faith will help him win the mouintain West and California, and he'll take the Northeast. IMO Romney will be the nominee without winning any of the southern states.

    I'm not sure about the general election. If the economy improves, Obama will probably win. If not - the southerners will still take Romney over Barak Hussein Obama. Romney will put the Northeast and Michigan in play...so he'll have a good chance of winning. Picking a popular northern Repubican such as Christie as running-mate might help him. This tax thing probably came up early enough that he will have a chance to diffuse it by the time of the general election.

    Minor correction: Romney will probably win Virginia, by default, because Gingrich isn’t on the ballot there. So he will not lose the entire South.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I agree with all of this.

    Thanks. I consider that a compliment!

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    I think that some people forget that culture, history and nationalism are more important factors in terms of voter choice, than economics or party/class ideology and identification. This is why the workers of the world, rather than uniting in 1914, slaughtered each other.

    The US South is its own particular culture, much more different from the US North than the North is different from Canada. Gingrich crafted a campaign that appealed to southern US nationalism. As brillliantly described by Anatol Lieven in his book about US nationalism, much of the US South was settled by protestant peasants, Scotch-Irish followers of Oliver Cromwell. They hated the British monarchy (beheading the king), aristocracy and elites in general, who were seen as decadent and exploitative. This hatred, on American soil, became a hatred for the coastal cosmpolitan elite and the wealthy. The Scotch-Irish also had a proud tradition of fighting enemies, be they Irish Catholics (originally), Indians in the New World, Germans, Commies, or Muslims in order to carve out and preserve or safeguard their homeland.

    Just as they have preserved some old Scottish folk songs that have disappeared in Scotland itself, Lieven notes that they have also preserved a pre-Enlightened 17th century worldview with respect to religion, war, etc.

    Gingrich crafted his SC campaign to appeal to these people's anti-elitist nationalist sentiments. Using democratic language about evil corporations was completely logical when it was used by Gingrich as a weapon against the evil exploitative elite Romney, portrayed as a rapacious Yankee northeasterner invading Southern factories and shutting them down. His flipflops on abortion, an affront to simple peasant Protestant morality. Gingrich's coded racism (Obama the food stamp president) and the supportof Tea Party people fearful of Obama the closet Muslim appealed to their traditional xenophobia.

    This approach won't work outside the South. Florida's Republicans are mostly either Cuban (who apparently support Romney) and many retirees from pro-Romney Michigan or the Northeast. Romney should double Gingrich's delegates in that state alone. His Mormon faith will help him win the mouintain West and California, and he'll take the Northeast. IMO Romney will be the nominee without winning any of the southern states.

    I'm not sure about the general election. If the economy improves, Obama will probably win. If not - the southerners will still take Romney over Barak Hussein Obama. Romney will put the Northeast and Michigan in play...so he'll have a good chance of winning. Picking a popular northern Repubican such as Christie as running-mate might help him. This tax thing probably came up early enough that he will have a chance to diffuse it by the time of the general election.

    Dear AP,

    I agree with all of this.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Thanks. I consider that a compliment!
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @yalensis
    Based on the results of the South Carolina Republican Primary election last night, I would like to officially retract my prediction that Mitt Romney will the next Prez of USA. When I made this prediction, Romney seemed like a shoe-in for Republican nomination, just based on the simple fact that there was nobody else; and from there it seemed like he would probably beat Obama, based on the poor U.S. economy and Obama’s record of incompetence. However, what I did not take into account, and could not have known, is there there is some kind of problem with Romney’s taxes. He has refused to release his tax returns, and this badly hurt him with the primary voters, thus giving the victory to Gingrich.
    You have to wonder about a guy who has planned for the last 10 years to run for President, but did not take into account that he needed to have clean tax returns in order to qualify.
    Speculations include the following: (1) Mitt never paid any taxes over the past few years, or (2) He paid some taxes, but not enough, or (3) Voters would be turned off to discover that Mitt pays 10% of all his earnings to Mormon Church, or, more sinisterly, and my personal favorite (4) Mormon church establishment will discover that Mitt has been skeeving THEM as well as U.S. treasury! That could be a terrible catastrophe for Romney, because he would have to either pay up or risk ex-communication.

    I think that some people forget that culture, history and nationalism are more important factors in terms of voter choice, than economics or party/class ideology and identification. This is why the workers of the world, rather than uniting in 1914, slaughtered each other.

    The US South is its own particular culture, much more different from the US North than the North is different from Canada. Gingrich crafted a campaign that appealed to southern US nationalism. As brillliantly described by Anatol Lieven in his book about US nationalism, much of the US South was settled by protestant peasants, Scotch-Irish followers of Oliver Cromwell. They hated the British monarchy (beheading the king), aristocracy and elites in general, who were seen as decadent and exploitative. This hatred, on American soil, became a hatred for the coastal cosmpolitan elite and the wealthy. The Scotch-Irish also had a proud tradition of fighting enemies, be they Irish Catholics (originally), Indians in the New World, Germans, Commies, or Muslims in order to carve out and preserve or safeguard their homeland.

    Just as they have preserved some old Scottish folk songs that have disappeared in Scotland itself, Lieven notes that they have also preserved a pre-Enlightened 17th century worldview with respect to religion, war, etc.

    Gingrich crafted his SC campaign to appeal to these people’s anti-elitist nationalist sentiments. Using democratic language about evil corporations was completely logical when it was used by Gingrich as a weapon against the evil exploitative elite Romney, portrayed as a rapacious Yankee northeasterner invading Southern factories and shutting them down. His flipflops on abortion, an affront to simple peasant Protestant morality. Gingrich’s coded racism (Obama the food stamp president) and the supportof Tea Party people fearful of Obama the closet Muslim appealed to their traditional xenophobia.

    This approach won’t work outside the South. Florida’s Republicans are mostly either Cuban (who apparently support Romney) and many retirees from pro-Romney Michigan or the Northeast. Romney should double Gingrich’s delegates in that state alone. His Mormon faith will help him win the mouintain West and California, and he’ll take the Northeast. IMO Romney will be the nominee without winning any of the southern states.

    I’m not sure about the general election. If the economy improves, Obama will probably win. If not – the southerners will still take Romney over Barak Hussein Obama. Romney will put the Northeast and Michigan in play…so he’ll have a good chance of winning. Picking a popular northern Repubican such as Christie as running-mate might help him. This tax thing probably came up early enough that he will have a chance to diffuse it by the time of the general election.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I agree with all of this.

    , @AP
    Minor correction: Romney will probably win Virginia, by default, because Gingrich isn't on the ballot there. So he will not lose the entire South.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @yalensis
    Based on the results of the South Carolina Republican Primary election last night, I would like to officially retract my prediction that Mitt Romney will the next Prez of USA. When I made this prediction, Romney seemed like a shoe-in for Republican nomination, just based on the simple fact that there was nobody else; and from there it seemed like he would probably beat Obama, based on the poor U.S. economy and Obama’s record of incompetence. However, what I did not take into account, and could not have known, is there there is some kind of problem with Romney’s taxes. He has refused to release his tax returns, and this badly hurt him with the primary voters, thus giving the victory to Gingrich.
    You have to wonder about a guy who has planned for the last 10 years to run for President, but did not take into account that he needed to have clean tax returns in order to qualify.
    Speculations include the following: (1) Mitt never paid any taxes over the past few years, or (2) He paid some taxes, but not enough, or (3) Voters would be turned off to discover that Mitt pays 10% of all his earnings to Mormon Church, or, more sinisterly, and my personal favorite (4) Mormon church establishment will discover that Mitt has been skeeving THEM as well as U.S. treasury! That could be a terrible catastrophe for Romney, because he would have to either pay up or risk ex-communication.

    Dear Yalensis,

    This truly is turning into a dismal election.

    Obama has disappointed and disillusioned his supporters and is obviously vulnerable. A strong Republican candidate should be in a good position to finish him off. Yet the Republican party it seems cannot find anybody it can enthusiastically unite behind.

    I still think Romney is the most likely contender to emerge as the Republican candidate. He is certain to win the primary in Massachusetts were he was governor and I suspect that this will give him the momentum he needs. South Carolina is one of the most conservative states and not very typical. Having said this there is no enthusiasm for him. How can there be given that he is a multi millionaire financier who made his money in the same financial services sector that is widely blamed for the current crisis (not to mention also the way he avoids paying tax)?

    I think in a straight contest Romney could beat Obama but this is not an election I can easily predict because the Republican field is so weak. I suspect a lot will depend on how the economy turns out between now and the election.

    One prediction I do make is that if the eventual Republican candidate is Romney he will choose a very right wing running mate (Rick Santorum?).

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Based on the results of the South Carolina Republican Primary election last night, I would like to officially retract my prediction that Mitt Romney will the next Prez of USA. When I made this prediction, Romney seemed like a shoe-in for Republican nomination, just based on the simple fact that there was nobody else; and from there it seemed like he would probably beat Obama, based on the poor U.S. economy and Obama’s record of incompetence. However, what I did not take into account, and could not have known, is there there is some kind of problem with Romney’s taxes. He has refused to release his tax returns, and this badly hurt him with the primary voters, thus giving the victory to Gingrich.
    You have to wonder about a guy who has planned for the last 10 years to run for President, but did not take into account that he needed to have clean tax returns in order to qualify.
    Speculations include the following: (1) Mitt never paid any taxes over the past few years, or (2) He paid some taxes, but not enough, or (3) Voters would be turned off to discover that Mitt pays 10% of all his earnings to Mormon Church, or, more sinisterly, and my personal favorite (4) Mormon church establishment will discover that Mitt has been skeeving THEM as well as U.S. treasury! That could be a terrible catastrophe for Romney, because he would have to either pay up or risk ex-communication.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Yalensis,

    This truly is turning into a dismal election.

    Obama has disappointed and disillusioned his supporters and is obviously vulnerable. A strong Republican candidate should be in a good position to finish him off. Yet the Republican party it seems cannot find anybody it can enthusiastically unite behind.

    I still think Romney is the most likely contender to emerge as the Republican candidate. He is certain to win the primary in Massachusetts were he was governor and I suspect that this will give him the momentum he needs. South Carolina is one of the most conservative states and not very typical. Having said this there is no enthusiasm for him. How can there be given that he is a multi millionaire financier who made his money in the same financial services sector that is widely blamed for the current crisis (not to mention also the way he avoids paying tax)?

    I think in a straight contest Romney could beat Obama but this is not an election I can easily predict because the Republican field is so weak. I suspect a lot will depend on how the economy turns out between now and the election.

    One prediction I do make is that if the eventual Republican candidate is Romney he will choose a very right wing running mate (Rick Santorum?).

    , @AP
    I think that some people forget that culture, history and nationalism are more important factors in terms of voter choice, than economics or party/class ideology and identification. This is why the workers of the world, rather than uniting in 1914, slaughtered each other.

    The US South is its own particular culture, much more different from the US North than the North is different from Canada. Gingrich crafted a campaign that appealed to southern US nationalism. As brillliantly described by Anatol Lieven in his book about US nationalism, much of the US South was settled by protestant peasants, Scotch-Irish followers of Oliver Cromwell. They hated the British monarchy (beheading the king), aristocracy and elites in general, who were seen as decadent and exploitative. This hatred, on American soil, became a hatred for the coastal cosmpolitan elite and the wealthy. The Scotch-Irish also had a proud tradition of fighting enemies, be they Irish Catholics (originally), Indians in the New World, Germans, Commies, or Muslims in order to carve out and preserve or safeguard their homeland.

    Just as they have preserved some old Scottish folk songs that have disappeared in Scotland itself, Lieven notes that they have also preserved a pre-Enlightened 17th century worldview with respect to religion, war, etc.

    Gingrich crafted his SC campaign to appeal to these people's anti-elitist nationalist sentiments. Using democratic language about evil corporations was completely logical when it was used by Gingrich as a weapon against the evil exploitative elite Romney, portrayed as a rapacious Yankee northeasterner invading Southern factories and shutting them down. His flipflops on abortion, an affront to simple peasant Protestant morality. Gingrich's coded racism (Obama the food stamp president) and the supportof Tea Party people fearful of Obama the closet Muslim appealed to their traditional xenophobia.

    This approach won't work outside the South. Florida's Republicans are mostly either Cuban (who apparently support Romney) and many retirees from pro-Romney Michigan or the Northeast. Romney should double Gingrich's delegates in that state alone. His Mormon faith will help him win the mouintain West and California, and he'll take the Northeast. IMO Romney will be the nominee without winning any of the southern states.

    I'm not sure about the general election. If the economy improves, Obama will probably win. If not - the southerners will still take Romney over Barak Hussein Obama. Romney will put the Northeast and Michigan in play...so he'll have a good chance of winning. Picking a popular northern Repubican such as Christie as running-mate might help him. This tax thing probably came up early enough that he will have a chance to diffuse it by the time of the general election.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I see a new article on Putin featured on the popular http://www.aldaily.com/ :
    “Putin and the Uses of History”
    by Fiona Hill, Clifford G. Gaddy

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/putin-the-uses-history-6276?page=show

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    AP you wrote:

    “Hunter,

    Sorry, my post was directed towards Alexander, not towards you. That was clear when I started my post, “Alexander.” If he chooses to put your ideas in his posts I will address them.”

    Oh please, at no point in Alexander’s post did he explicitly mention Rwanda, but you did. Alexander referred generally to my examples and then talked about Jim Crow. Since you had said good bye and good luck to me, why are you bothering to address issues raised between Alexander and myself? If you can address a section of Alexander’s post that started out as “” (note it didn’t say “”) why is that you are now using the defence that your post started out as “Alexander”? Doesn’t that strike you as hypocritical? You are allowed to address a section of the post that was not directed towards you, but others cannot address a post of yours that was not explicitly directed towards them? Or is it that you genuinely believe you are allowed to do some things while others should not?

    “It’s unfortunate that despite by disengagemrnt you decided to keep up the swiftboating, though. Multiple false accusations,”

    You’ve yet to deny my stated observations and just above you seem to have proven at least one of them (hypocrisy).

    “and the gem here, actually comparing Yushchenko’s disbanding of parliament in order to call new free and fair elections, to Southern states’ denials of black rights!”

    I was only using your own words as it applied to another situation. If you don’t like the comparison why make justifications for Yushchenko breaking the law in order to satisfy the will of the majority? In so doing by the way he denied the minority (those who did not vote for the Orange parties) their right to have their own will respected for the life of the parliament. But apparently minority considerations don’t factor into what you consider democracy hence, observing laws (which are one of the ways in which minority rights are expected and if violated can be redressed) is considered separate by you from democracy.

    “I only quoted wikipedia about ochlocracy to show that you were seemingly confused about the meaning of the term. An ochlocracy is a democracy. A bad, spoiled form of democracy, but still a democracy. Rule by the people.”

    Sure you did. So now you are saying that ochlocracy is democracy in the same way that grape juice and wine are the same. So now wine is just grape juice right? Just a bad, spoiled form of grape juice. Since nobody ever uses wine as a synonym for grape juice or vice versa unless they are playing around then you must be playing around with the terms ochlocracy and democracy.

    “Now what the mob (or, at least, 60% of the population according to opinion polls) wanted in Ukrane was free and fair elections, not racist laws. And this is what Yushchenko gave them, even though doing so was unconstitutional. Free and fair elections. A point worth remembering.”

    Nice way to sidestep the uncomfortable comparison I was able to make using your own words to show that in theory nothing was wrong with Jim Crow according to your own logic. You are basically implying that the “mob” wanted the trappings of elections more than it did the rule of law. Hence they wanted ochlocracy.

    “Anyways, I’d really rather not take this further with someone like you who does not seem to be capable of honesty or civility with those who have an opinion different from your own. I write this with the understanding that you will probably try to provoke another response, which is what trolls do.”

    Given that you have apparently demonstrated your own hypocrisy this can’t mean much coming from you. I note that you are still unable to account for how the November 2005 Razmukov Cenrte poll Razumkov Centre poll (reproduced below) fits into your hypothesis even though you seem willing to address other points which I raise. Is it that it is inconvenient and therefore ignored? Or that you didn’t see it?

    Anyway here is the poll and election results four months later:

    Ramzukov Centre poll conducted between November 3-13, 2005:

    PoR – 17.5%
    BYuT – 12.4%
    OU – 13.5%

    Final election result four months later:

    PoR – 32.4%
    BYuT – 22.3%
    OU – 14%

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  • Ladies and gentlemen, I give you American presidential candidate Ron Paul: Wrong about a lot of things, but right about Libya:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrRIpx8cKqA&feature=youtu.be

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    A brief addition. Alexander, you mentioned the British Liberal Democrats. I’m not familiar with British politics, but AFAIK the Liberal Democrats did not have an explicitly anti-Conservative platform (also9, I suspect, British society is not as polarized as is Ukrainian society). So their joining the Conservatives is not really that comparable to the Socialists joining the Party of Regions.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Alexander,

    Thank you for clarifying further. We seem to agree on the facts (including constitutionality and legality of the events under discussion, etc.) but differ on the label of some events. You prefer the legalistic definition of democracy/democratic (based on laws) – and in such terms you are probably correct – whereas I use that word in its standard or perhaps colloquial form (defined as power to the people, laws not necessary), in which case I am correct.

    An important point I’ll repeat here is that a vote does not exist in a vacuum. That is, people do vote based on assumptions and expectations. They do not just vote for X, they vote for X specifically because they expect X to do something. If X gets voted in based on the assumption that he will do that thing, and then does the complete opposite (essentially, committing fraud), then X’s presence is clearly not the will of the people. Their vote was basically stolen, even if nothing illegal occurred. In Ukraine’s case, X were of course the Socialists.

    So this was Yushchenko’s dilemna. He was faced with a parliament that (legally) reflected the opposite of what the people wanted, and which (legally) would act against the interests of the people for four years. He chose the interests of the people – I will call it democracy, you may call it something else – above the Law. He returned the power to the people in the form of free and fair elections, and erased the theft fo their vote and their voice using illegal means.

    The issue here, to emphasize, is more than merely popularity of the Socialists. It is more of fraud. The people did not vote for a prty, and then change their mind or started to dislike it, as has happened with respect to the US congress. They voted for a party expecting one thing and then discovering that they were completely tricked and got the oppositie of what they had voted for. They voted for the Socialists because the Socialists were an ORange party whose platform was very much anti-oligarch, and soon after they got into the parliament based on their Orange status and anti-oligarch position, they completely joined the Blue/oligarch coalition. It was fraud.

    An analogy to the US would seem utterly fantastical: the US elects a democratic congress which promises to underdo Republican policies, then soon after the elections the democrats all change their party affiliation to Republican and state they will take orders from Boehner and/or Gingrich. Something completely bizarre in an American context, but reality in the Ukrainian one.

    In terms of dissolution of parliament and subsequent elections – it is not only that the latter follow from the first, but the first was done for the sole purpose of having the latter. The people wanted new elections, and Yushchenko dissolved the unpopular parliament specifically in order to have them and for no other purpose. It was one event.

    Anyways, best wishes. An interesting conversation.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    I thought I had answered your questions. Apologies if I was not clear. Let me have one last go:

    1. It is democratic for parties in a democratically elected parliament to form coalitions if this is done in a constitutional way. Individual actions may be criticised on political grounds but that does not make them undemocratic. That applies to what the Socialists did in 2006;

    2. It is undemocratic to dissolve a democratically parliament unconstitutionally. The fact that one of the parties elected to that parliament has gone into an unexpected coalition with another party does not make that unconstitutional act democratic for the reasons I have discussed previously and for the reason I touched on in 1.

    3. No one can say when dissolving unconstitutionally a democratically elected parliament that one is acting in accordance with the will of the people since what is being dissolved is a parliament the people have themselves elected freely and democraticatically in accordance with their constitution and their laws.

    4. It is not democratic to dissolve illegally and unconstitutionally a parliament that has become unpopular. Many parliaments including at the moment the US Congress are unpopular but that is not grounds for illlegally dissolving them. As I have previously said it is possible for something to be both popular and undemocratic and there are many historical examples of this.

    I do insist that the dissolution of the parliament and the subsequent elections are separate events even if the second follows from the first. I do not accept that because the elections were democratic that made the dissolution of the parliament or the attack on the independence of the Constitutional Court democratic.

    There, I am done!

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Alexander,

    Thank you again for the civil discussion. We are obviously far apart on some issues but not others. We seem to agree that what Yushchenko did was illegal, and wrong, though the issue of whether it was democratic divides us. Specifically, whether it should be labeled democratic. I don’t think you doubt that what he did expressed the will of the majority of the people of Ukraine, as confirmed by an opinion poll giving 60% support for disbanding parliament. We seem to differ on the label of that action.

    I wish you would have directly answered the questions I asked, but it is of course your right not to do so.

    I will address your specific points later, when I am less busy.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Hunter,

    Sorry, my post was directed towards Alexander, not towards you. That was clear when I started my post, “Alexander.” If he chooses to put your ideas in his posts I will address them.

    It’s unfortunate that despite by disengagemrnt you decided to keep up the swiftboating, though. Multiple false accusations, and the gem here, actually comparing Yushchenko’s disbanding of parliament in order to call new free and fair elections, to Southern states’ denials of black rights!

    I only quoted wikipedia about ochlocracy to show that you were seemingly confused about the meaning of the term. An ochlocracy is a democracy. A bad, spoiled form of democracy, but still a democracy. Rule by the people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochlocracy

    Ochlocracy (“rule of the general populace”) is democracy (“rule of the people”) spoiled by demagoguery, “tyranny of the majority” and the rule of passion over reason.

    Now what the mob (or, at least, 60% of the population according to opinion polls) wanted in Ukrane was free and fair elections, not racist laws. And this is what Yushchenko gave them, even though doing so was unconstitutional. Free and fair elections. A point worth remembering.

    Anyways, I’d really rather not take this further with someone like you who does not seem to be capable of honesty or civility with those who have an opinion different from your own. I write this with the understanding that you will probably try to provoke another response, which is what trolls do.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    We are going over the same ground so rather than repeat myself I will limit myself as far as I can to answering your questions:

    1. It is possible to have the rule of law without democracy. Some argue that the USSR under Brezhnev was such a case though this is disputed. All agree that Nineteenth Century Britain had the rule of law but was not a democracy.

    2. It is impossible to have democracy without the rule of law. I have pointed out to you that your attempts to separate democracy from law are hopeless. Any definition of democracy that excludes law is wrong.

    4. I think where many of your problems start is that you refuse to recognise that the Socialists were free agents and were fully entitled to do what they did. I also feel that you have a tendency that I remarked on before to attach labels and because you obviously disapprove of what the Socialists did you attach to their actions the label “anti democratic”

    5. The Socialists’s voters elected them to the parliament which was democratically elected by the Ukrainian people for a four year term. Once elected the Socialists as they were entitled to do chose to go into coalition with Yanukovitch. One may condemn this act politically and one is fully entitled to point out that before they were elected the Socialists had given every indication that they would go into coalition with the Orange parties. However because you condemn an act on political grounds that does not entitle you to call it undemocratic. The Socialists always remained ultimately accountable to their voters who would have had a right to pass judgement on what they did at the parliamentary elections that would have happened at the end of parliament’s term. Their action was therefore both legal and accountable so it cannot have been undemocratic.

    5. I have to take issue by the way with your comment that the Socialists going into coalition with the Orange parties was contrary to the will of the Ukrainian people. All we are entitled to say is that the Ukrainian people elected for a four year term a parliament that included the Socialists. It is not for us or for Yushchenko to say what beyond this the will of the Ukrainian people was since neither we nor Yushchenko have the right to speak for the Ukrainian people.

    6. I would remind you that what the Socialists did is fairly commonplace in multi party democratic systems. Most people in Britain expected in 2010 that the Liberal Democrats in the event of an evenly divided government would go into coalition with Labour. They went into coalition with the Conservatives instead. Many people including many people who voted for the Liberal Democrats have condemned what they did but no one has called it undemocratic.

    Dear AP, I have never questioned the sincerity of your beliefs. All I have attempted to do is to draw your attention to the way in which they are wrong. I realised long ago that there was no chance that I would persuade you of this since it is clear to me that you are passionately committed to one side in this matter. This you are of course fully entitled to be and it is commendable in some ways that you are though frankly I do think that Yushchenko has in you in this instance a far better advocate than he deserves. I would however ask you to think carefully in future before bringing the question of democracy into a political argument. I realise that on this occasion you are too committed to back away but I would remind you of my previous comment about the concern I feel at the way in which democracy is misused in the post Soviet space often to justify actions that are its opposite. Needless to say that does not do either the cause of democracy or the political process any good.

    For the rest I want to apologise to the other commentators on this post for what must have seemed at times an obsessive discussion. I would say AP that unless you have some fundamentally new point to make or some entirely new question to ask me you check on my earlier comments for my answers to any questions you may have before expecting from me a reply.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    “Also, please no implied comparisons of Yushchenko to fascists, to Rwandan genocidists (!) or Jim Crow (!).”

    Interesting that you seem to go back on your own words….again. First you say that until I retract my statements on your obvious behaviour that it was “good bye and good luck” yet here you quoting me again. By the way, when someone who is versed in law says you are misrepresenting him, it really doesn’t look good on you and telling someone that they are confusing legality with democracy is further confirming that you don’t know the difference between ochlocracy and democracy (and yes I know you quoted wikipedia, but that actually serves to prove my point since I suspect you never encountered the word before I wrote it and had no clue what it meant, otherwise why quote a encyclopedic definition of a word instead of giving the definition in your own words?). In both ochlocracy (or in milder forms of majoritarianism) and democracy the “will of the (majority of the) people” is followed. Only in democracy however is law respected absolutely.

    Case in point; your own words:

    “All the guy did by breaking the law was to let the people vote for a parliament that reflected their wishes, and not have them sit with a parliament that worked against their wishes for four years as mandated by the Constitution. ”

    And here are your own words as applied to another situation with the actors changed:

    “All the [southern State governments] did by breaking the law [/Constitutional amendments and various Civil Rights Acts] was to let the people [have State laws] that reflected their wishes, and not have them sit with [federal laws] that worked against their wishes [] as mandated by the Constitution. ”

    The southern States made themselves to be above federal law in attempts to reflect the wishes of the majority in the South and Yushchenko made himself to be above the law in order to reflect the wishes of the those who voted for his party and its firm allies. What the South did was just as “democratic” as Yushchenko’s actions because they were reflecting the wishes of the majority (who voted in persons who promised to institute Jim Crow laws). Similarly the South had a very manipulated justice system which was just as non-democratic as the current manipulation by Yanukovych.

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  • @Mark
    Khodorkovsky is supposed to have financed local libraries and provided computers to some schools, that sort of thing. I could never find anything more than vague references to his philanthropic activities, but they seemed small and sporadic and purpose-driven considering his enormous wealth. Some (including Navalny) argue that although Khodorkovsky is doubtless guilty of some criminal activities which probably include tax evasion, he has already served his time for those; even less than some serve for murder. But just about everyone who wants to curry favour with the opposition pledges to release him if they are ever in a sufficiently powerful position to do so. Some even argue he should be compensated for his loss of power and prestige, and that they would be glad to see him form a political party.

    I don't understand how anyone in their right mind would sign up for another round of shock therapy and privatizations. I'll be surprised if Putin does not sail through by a landslide, because the oppositions' plans sound like they will serve the interests only of western agencies and some of their protest backers. Doubtless there will be some jiggery-pokery with the exit polls to make it look like the fix is in, but hopefully Russians will remember whose country it is. Russia will never win western approval. Stop trying. Do what's right for the country.

    I’ve met one of Zhuganov’s close relatives (we have mutual friends in Moscow) and have an interesting impression of that family. They are sincerely devout Orthodox Christians, and also rather materialistic.

    I suspect Zhuganov’s support for Khodorkovsky is basically opportunistic. At the the same time, if it really came down to a realistic potentially dangerous grab for power against the authoriteis I doubt he would have the guts to go for it. He already acquiesced to Yeltsin’s stolen election in 1996.

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  • AP says:
    @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Alexander,

    I’m afraid you persist in confusing legality with democracy, and the law with rule by the people. There is a nice English expression – to a hammer everything is a nail. I suppose for some lawyers, everything must be by the law for it to be “real.” So when the majority of people want something, and the president gives it to them – disbanding an unpopular parliament that no longer reflects the people’s wishes and replacing it with another parliament through a free and fair election! – this is not democracy to you, because it is illegal. Even though it meets the English-language definition of democracy – rule by the people, power to the people, etc.

    Indulge me please, by answering a couple questions. Do you believe that it is democracy if in parliament, the people’s will is directly negated through a completely legal maneuver by those whom the people elected but who after the election betrayed the will of the people for their own purposes? That as long as the rules are followed no matter what happens it is democracy? Do you believe it is democracy when the people who oppose and hate X vote for Y assuming that Y will oppose X, and that after getting voted in, Y turns around and joins X to the horror of most of those who elected Y?

    Secondly, do you believe that it is undemocratic to follow the people’s will by disbanding an unpopular parliament in order to call free and fair elections so the people have a chance to choose another one?

    Please do not try to artifically separate the two actions – disbanding the parliament and calling elections. I understand doing so may be convenient for your position but in the real world – Ukraine in 2007 – the two events were completely linked. Yushchenko disbanded the parliamenent precisely in order to have new elections, and new elections would have been impossible had he not disbanded that previous parliament. The delay between the disbanding of the parliament and the new elections was completely due to attempted obstruction by the Party of Regions.

    Also, please no implied comparisons of Yushchenko to fascists, to Rwandan genocidists (!) or Jim Crow (!). All the guy did by breaking the law was to let the people vote for a parliament that reflected their wishes, and not have them sit with a parliament that worked against their wishes for four years as mandated by the Constitution. The people didn’t want to kill minorities, they didn’t want to pursue apartheid, they didn’t want to lynch of to rape. All they wanted was new elections and new elections was why the law was broken. Not to kill Tutsis. Not to prevent blacks from sharing water fountains. Just to vote in free and fair elections.

    Because, I’m sorry, for me, a nonlawyer, it seems to be doublespeak to cry “democracy” in order to defend a parliament opposed by the majority of the people and to, also in the name of “democracy,” oppose an action that is supported by the majority of the people, *whose sole purpose is to bring in free and fair elections.*

    As for the socialists, you wrote:

    “The parliament was democratically elected by the Ukrainian people for a four year in accordance with the constitution. The Socialists as an independent party were elected to it. As an independent party they exercised their independence by going into coalition with Yanukovitch as they were fully entitled to do.”

    I agree with you. Legally they were entitled to do what they did. But here’s the key: “The Socialists as an independent party were elected to it.” Legally, they were indeed independent. But from the perspective of democracy, they were not independent of the people who voted for them. They were voted in based on certain assumptions by the people. The voters assumed that the Socialists were a left-wing, Orange party opposed to the Party of Regions (the Communists, in contrast, were the Party of Regions-allied left-wing party). The Socialists had been aligned with Tymoshenko since 2002, Socialist leader Moroz stood under the Orange flag during the 2004 crisis, alongside Tymoshenko and Yushchenko, and the Socialists were together with the other Orange parties prior to the 2006 elections. The Socialists were about as Orange as Tymoshenko and Yushchenko. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

    From a strictly legal perspective, the Socialists could do what they wanted after they were elected, including totally betray their voters. There was no legal mechanism for recall elections, after all. Legally the people were bound to be ruled by a parliament that directly contradicted their wishes for four years. To you this may be democracy, but logically according to democracy as understood by nonlawyers (reflected in the dictionary definition of that word) democracy is rule by the people, not against the people. Thus when the parliament ceased repesenting the people and began representing only themselves, it ceased being democratic. Perhaps at that point it became an oligarchy. A completely legal one.

    So, Yushchenko broke the law in order to remove the legal oligarchy from power and to hold free and fair elections, in order to restore democracy to Ukraine.

    Is what he did the right thing to do? I don’t think so. Because in 2007 Yushchenko broke the law for the sake of demcoracy, and in 2010 the Party of Regions broke the law for the sake of power opposed to democracy.

    But just because Yushcenko’s action was wrong does not mean his action wasn’t democratic. And just because I state the obvious truth that what he did was democratic does not mean that I defend him, as you have already falsely claimed a number of times.

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  • @yalensis
    Hi, Jennifer, thanks for reminding me of the egregious role played by CNN, BBC and Sky News as well in the Libyan conflict. These organizations, like Al Jazeera, cast aside all pretences to be journalists and acted as agents of their nations military intelligence agencies. The Rixos Hotel example shows how some Western “journalists” collaborated with NATO in targeting other (pro-Gaddafy) journalists for assassination.
    Like you, I have been finding recently that some sources I used to see on internet (mostly by pro-Gaddafy or neutral elements) have disappeared. While following Libya war I saved links of articles that interested me, figuring that I could cite them as sources when debating on blogs, but now when I try to return to some of those links I encounter a “page not found” error. I have also encountered some you-tube videos that used to exist but now say something like “Video removed due to copyright infringements at the request of …. [and then list some entertainment organizations].” I don’t want to get too paranoid, but I do get the impression somebody in Orwellian fashion is scouring the internet and cleaning up after the “fog of war”. There is probably more stuff intact in Arabic, but unfortunately I do not read Arabic. I am currently TRYING to learn to read Arabic, but it is slow going. (I am only halfway through the alphabet, have not even STARTED to learn the grammar; fortunately alphabet is fairly logical, not like English alphabet, I will get there eventually, but it is slow going…) BTW, as an Australian, you might be interested: Arabic pronunciation seems similar in many ways to Australian dialect of English, there is the glottal stop (like the way you Australians pronounce a word like “bottle”), and the main consonants (b, t, d, etc.) in Arabic are pronounced more like in English than their Russian counterparts.

    Hi Yalensis: You could try reading the Press TV reports in English as well as RT Today. Also if you go to Youtube.com and try typing names like Morris Herman and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in the search field, you may find several videos on the NATO invasion on Libya there still.

    There were reports of a 1996 prison massacre in Tripoli doing the rounds late last year which The Guardian was beating up a lot but they’ve died down once CNN sent some medical investigators to the scene of the “crime” and discovered the bones found there were animal bones.

    I don’t have much knowledge about the status of Arabic in Australia but most Arabic speakers here speak Lebanese Arabic. I don’t know how representative Lebanese Arabic is of Arabic generally. Probably the next biggest group of Arabic speakers in Australia is the Egyptian group and I do know Egyptian Arabic is very different from most other dialects of Arabic (eg Egyptians say “Gamal” and “gebel” whereas other speakers would say “Jamal” and “jebel”). Most Arab Australians are Muslim but a large minority is Christian (usually Coptic or Maronite).

    Australian English changes all the time as well and seems to be edging closer to British and New Zealand forms of English. It really depends on where you live and work. The glottal stop has become ancient history. People in poorer areas have a broader, flatter accent that sounds “typically” Australian. Also people seem to be swallowing their vowels more (in the manner of New Zealand English which uses the schwa sound more than Australian English does) so a word like “visit” ends up sounding like “vusut”.

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  • @yalensis
    Putin's "secret billions" is bullshit Western propaganda and character assassination. They (NATO countries) made same false claims against Muammar Gaddafy before physically assassinating him.
    Putin’s 3-point plan which he intends to implement if re-elected to Kremlin:

    Во-первых, объявление войны офшорам.
    Во-вторых, начало разбирательства по поводу дочерних компаний, облепивших, по плану Чубайса, российскую энергетику. Отправив «смотрящего по России» от Бильдербергского клуба в почетную ссылку, Путин замахнулся теперь на его детище: преступный плод приватизации РАО ЕЭС. Политическое значение этого факта невозможно переоценить: прецедент с большим, судьбоносным будущим.
    В-третьих, назначение Рогозина на ВПК. А по сути дела, назначение ВПК, как в старые добрые времена, локомотивом развития индустриальной и постиндустриальной России. Как это во всех нормальных странах исстари ведется.


    First, declaration of war against off-shores.
    Second, straightening out the “daughter companies” (Russian energy companies) system established by Chubais. Get rid of “Bilderberg Club” overseer. Putin has set his sights on the criminal fruit of the EES (Single Energy Company) privatization…
    Thirdly, appointment of Rogozin…

    Even if Putin were the most corrupt guy in the world (which he is not), his plan, if implemented, would go a long way to ending some of the most egregious oligarchic corruption and would be vastly popular among majority of Russian citizens.
    Hence, those oligarchic has-beens and financial interests who would be most harmed by Putin’s plan are responding with frenzied propaganda campaign accusing Putin of corruption. Their shills mindlessly repeating the “crooks and thieves” slogan does not make it true. If you want to get a good look at REAL crooks and thieves, then just glance at the podium of Orangeoid Opposition demonstrations!
    Reference:
    http://www.sevastianov.ru/novosti/revolyutsiya-sislibov-versus-natsionaljnaya-revolyutsiya.html

    “Even if Putin were the most corrupt guy in the world (which he is not), his plan, if implemented, would go a long way to ending some of the most egregious oligarchic corruption..”

    Yalensis, might this be one of the reasons why we are seeing an increased focus on attempts to de-legitimize and weaken Putin? After all if the Western MSM treats oligarchs like saints, it only follows that any plan which would disturb the oligarchs’ status quo in favour of rooting out their corrupt practices would incite a backlash from the oligarchs. Given that the oligarchs seem to have a lot of influence in the media then some parts of the media closest to the oligarchs would probably be encouraged to take the lead in “bad writing” (as opposed to “bad mouthing”) Putin and then of course the rest of the western MSM just follows along in their wake and perhaps tries to compete with them in writing articles denigrating Putin with little to no substantive evidence.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    I want to touch briefly on one other false proposition you persist in making. You persist in saying that when the Socialists went into coalition within Yanukovitch the parliament became “legal” but “undemocratic”.

    The proposition is absurd. The parliament was democratically elected by the Ukrainian people for a four year in accordance with the constitution. The Socialists as an independent party were elected to it. As an independent party they exercised their independence by going into coalition with Yanukovitch as they were fully entitled to do. They did this when they became fed up with Yushchenko’s and Tymoshenko’s failure to agree on a government. In doing so they went into coalition with what was the biggest party in the parliament. To say that this made the parliament “legal” but “undemocratic” is absurd just as it is absurd to argue that this somehow excused or justified the parliament’s illegal dissolution before the term the Ukrainian people had elected it for had ended.

    I have already responded to your comments about the irrelevance of popularity of Yushchenko’s decision and about the subsequent election to the question of whether what he did was or was not democratic and rather than repeat myself I would refer you to my earlier comments.

    As for your extraordinary comment that for “lawyers” a murderer is not “really” a murderer unless convicted this is another of those amazing comments you are given to making which quite literally leave me speechless.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    Just as democracy means the same in any language so it means the same in any time or place. If you do not like Aristotle because you think he is too old an authority then try Abraham Lincoln whom I have also referred you to and who says precisely the same thing unless of course you want to argue that Abraham Lincoln is also too old an authority in which case good luck to you.

    You complain about my references to law. This discussion however began as a discussion about the independence of the Ukrainian courts, which is a legal issue. You then introduced democracy into it giving definitions of democracy which you wilfully misunderstand and interpret wrongly in basic ways. All I have done is to try to correct your misunderstandings of your own definitions. However your response when these misunderstandings are pointed out to you is simply o repeat your original definitions leaving all your original misunderstandings unchanged.

    Not only do you wilfully misunderstand what democracy is but you misrepresent the actions of the Socialists in 2006 as undemocratic even after it has been repeatedly pointed out to you that the Socialists were elected to parliament in 2006 as an independent party and that their subsequent decision to go into coalition with Yanukovitch was in accordance with international practice and was in accordance with the constitution and the law and cannot therefore be undemocratic. Despite the fact that you admit that the Socialists are an independent party you insist that in 2006 they were somehow obliged to go into coalition with the Orange parties even whilst you admit that the Orange parties do not own the Socialists or their votes, which must be the case since if Socialist voters were Orange voters they would have voted for Orange parties.

    You then seek to excuse Yushchenko’s illegal and unconstitutional acts by reference both to your mistaken definitions of democracy and to the behaviour of the Socialists which you wilfully misrepresent and persist in doing so even after it has been explained to you that the behaviour of the Socialists was not in fact the reason for Yushchenko’s illegal acts.
    As for the argument that Yushchenko’s unconstitutional behaviour can somehow be excused by reference to the will of the people the argument that a political leader is unconstrained by law so long as he acts in accordance with what he takes to be the will of the people is not a democratic one but a fascist one as any historian or political or constitutional theorist will tell you.

    Lastly I have never said or implied that Yushchenko was a dictator. What I have said and what I continue to say is that for the many reasons I have given you his actions in 2007 were not democratic, which is what you persist in defiance of all evidence and logic in trying to say.

    ,

    You are of course absolutely right in what you say. None of the examples of behaviour that you have cited are or can be defined as democratic. No one in their right minds would for example call the Jim Crow laws democratic since they violate the fundamental democratic principle of equality. I have avoided making reference to these sort of practices in this discussion up to now in order to avoid inflaming it beyond the point it has become inflamed already.

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  • @yalensis
    Putin's "secret billions" is bullshit Western propaganda and character assassination. They (NATO countries) made same false claims against Muammar Gaddafy before physically assassinating him.
    Putin’s 3-point plan which he intends to implement if re-elected to Kremlin:

    Во-первых, объявление войны офшорам.
    Во-вторых, начало разбирательства по поводу дочерних компаний, облепивших, по плану Чубайса, российскую энергетику. Отправив «смотрящего по России» от Бильдербергского клуба в почетную ссылку, Путин замахнулся теперь на его детище: преступный плод приватизации РАО ЕЭС. Политическое значение этого факта невозможно переоценить: прецедент с большим, судьбоносным будущим.
    В-третьих, назначение Рогозина на ВПК. А по сути дела, назначение ВПК, как в старые добрые времена, локомотивом развития индустриальной и постиндустриальной России. Как это во всех нормальных странах исстари ведется.


    First, declaration of war against off-shores.
    Second, straightening out the “daughter companies” (Russian energy companies) system established by Chubais. Get rid of “Bilderberg Club” overseer. Putin has set his sights on the criminal fruit of the EES (Single Energy Company) privatization…
    Thirdly, appointment of Rogozin…

    Even if Putin were the most corrupt guy in the world (which he is not), his plan, if implemented, would go a long way to ending some of the most egregious oligarchic corruption and would be vastly popular among majority of Russian citizens.
    Hence, those oligarchic has-beens and financial interests who would be most harmed by Putin’s plan are responding with frenzied propaganda campaign accusing Putin of corruption. Their shills mindlessly repeating the “crooks and thieves” slogan does not make it true. If you want to get a good look at REAL crooks and thieves, then just glance at the podium of Orangeoid Opposition demonstrations!
    Reference:
    http://www.sevastianov.ru/novosti/revolyutsiya-sislibov-versus-natsionaljnaya-revolyutsiya.html

    Goebbels would be proud. Keep on repeating the mantra that Putin is corrupt and he becomes corrupt in the minds of the lemmings. This is just like the drivel about “Putin’s palace”, which is a refurbished government run former palace that is accessible to anyone (i.e. not belonging to Putin). If these jokers had any shred of dirt on Putin they would be screeching about it day and day out. So far they have not identified where Putin’s alleged billions are and where he got them.

    But actually I would not mind if Putin got rewarded with billions. He deserves it for saving Russia from oblivion that was engineered under Yeltsin. Berezovsky made his billions by outright theft, yet he is living safe and sound in London without the bloody western media on his a**. The gas princess Timoshenko made her billions stealing Russian gas in the 90s, but at least she was put behind bars. Khodorkovsky looted billions too and is doing time, but is treated by the western media as some political prisoner (I did not realize that oligarch thievery was democracy.) Putin’s accusers, as you point out, are hypocrites and liars. They ignore the definition of corruption. Undoing the gangster paradise that was Russia under Yeltsin is the opposite of corruption.

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  • @Anonymous
    Thanks for that - Communist leader pledges to free Khodorkovsky if elected president -

    "the party of crooks and thieves"

    In a Mafia state run by KGB , Zyuganov know he have to work with uncorrupted businessman to win the election . The Putin -mafia control the media and the economic resources in Russia , but the people can not be manipulated in the future .


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8175406/WikiLeaks-Putins-secret-billions.html

    Putin’s “secret billions” is bullshit Western propaganda and character assassination. They (NATO countries) made same false claims against Muammar Gaddafy before physically assassinating him.
    Putin’s 3-point plan which he intends to implement if re-elected to Kremlin:

    Во-первых, объявление войны офшорам.
    Во-вторых, начало разбирательства по поводу дочерних компаний, облепивших, по плану Чубайса, российскую энергетику. Отправив «смотрящего по России» от Бильдербергского клуба в почетную ссылку, Путин замахнулся теперь на его детище: преступный плод приватизации РАО ЕЭС. Политическое значение этого факта невозможно переоценить: прецедент с большим, судьбоносным будущим.
    В-третьих, назначение Рогозина на ВПК. А по сути дела, назначение ВПК, как в старые добрые времена, локомотивом развития индустриальной и постиндустриальной России. Как это во всех нормальных странах исстари ведется.


    First, declaration of war against off-shores.
    Second, straightening out the “daughter companies” (Russian energy companies) system established by Chubais. Get rid of “Bilderberg Club” overseer. Putin has set his sights on the criminal fruit of the EES (Single Energy Company) privatization…
    Thirdly, appointment of Rogozin…

    Even if Putin were the most corrupt guy in the world (which he is not), his plan, if implemented, would go a long way to ending some of the most egregious oligarchic corruption and would be vastly popular among majority of Russian citizens.
    Hence, those oligarchic has-beens and financial interests who would be most harmed by Putin’s plan are responding with frenzied propaganda campaign accusing Putin of corruption. Their shills mindlessly repeating the “crooks and thieves” slogan does not make it true. If you want to get a good look at REAL crooks and thieves, then just glance at the podium of Orangeoid Opposition demonstrations!
    Reference:

    http://www.sevastianov.ru/novosti/revolyutsiya-sislibov-versus-natsionaljnaya-revolyutsiya.html

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    • Replies: @kirill
    Goebbels would be proud. Keep on repeating the mantra that Putin is corrupt and he becomes corrupt in the minds of the lemmings. This is just like the drivel about "Putin's palace", which is a refurbished government run former palace that is accessible to anyone (i.e. not belonging to Putin). If these jokers had any shred of dirt on Putin they would be screeching about it day and day out. So far they have not identified where Putin's alleged billions are and where he got them.

    But actually I would not mind if Putin got rewarded with billions. He deserves it for saving Russia from oblivion that was engineered under Yeltsin. Berezovsky made his billions by outright theft, yet he is living safe and sound in London without the bloody western media on his a**. The gas princess Timoshenko made her billions stealing Russian gas in the 90s, but at least she was put behind bars. Khodorkovsky looted billions too and is doing time, but is treated by the western media as some political prisoner (I did not realize that oligarch thievery was democracy.) Putin's accusers, as you point out, are hypocrites and liars. They ignore the definition of corruption. Undoing the gangster paradise that was Russia under Yeltsin is the opposite of corruption.

    , @Hunter
    "Even if Putin were the most corrupt guy in the world (which he is not), his plan, if implemented, would go a long way to ending some of the most egregious oligarchic corruption.."

    Yalensis, might this be one of the reasons why we are seeing an increased focus on attempts to de-legitimize and weaken Putin? After all if the Western MSM treats oligarchs like saints, it only follows that any plan which would disturb the oligarchs' status quo in favour of rooting out their corrupt practices would incite a backlash from the oligarchs. Given that the oligarchs seem to have a lot of influence in the media then some parts of the media closest to the oligarchs would probably be encouraged to take the lead in "bad writing" (as opposed to "bad mouthing") Putin and then of course the rest of the western MSM just follows along in their wake and perhaps tries to compete with them in writing articles denigrating Putin with little to no substantive evidence.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    “How can the people rule and how can the majority make and impose its decisions except by law?”

    Alexander, there is another way the majority can impose its decision (other than by law of course), but it’s not called democracy. The closest examples I can think of would have been the Jim Crow era in the United States and the 1990s in Rwanda where representatives of the majority population imposed it’s will on a minority population and the rest of the majority population went along with it or even supported it for a while. “Democracy” for some of course is no real democracy at all. Under those conditions of course, blatantly illegal acts (like lynching, rape, imprisonment on false charges (or sometimes no charges), disenfranchisement etc) were tolerated and sometimes even encouraged or officially sanctioned. Thank God that the world has generally moved on from that form of governance (though minorities (ethnic, religious and political) still face many obstacles in many nations unfortunately).

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Alexander,

    Spoken like a true patriot of your profession, and very well said. To the consitutuional lawyer, democracy cannot exist without law.

    But this is not a legal blog, and the English-language understanding of the word democracy is not dependent on the law. Indeed, the law is not even mentioned in the webster’s dictionary definition of democracy, which I remind you is:

    1.a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority

    2. b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

    No mention here of law or that democracy must be dependent on the law. Sorry. I’m not sure why you brought Aristotle into this. I am not arguing about Aristotle’s idea of democracy but the modern one as reflected in the definition of that word as currently used. Nor that of lawyers such as Abraham Lincoln.

    There are many cases where professional jargon does not match standard usage. For example, for criminal lawyers insanity has a different meaning than it does in standard usage. But I digress.

    You repeatedly claim that I am trying to justify Yushchenko’s action. I am not, and have stated so numerous times. The only thing I defend is accuracy and a proper label on his actions, which were quite democratic. That is, a government by the people and in which the power is in the hands of the people. Yushchenko did not become dictator after dissolving the parliament; nor did he create fake elections to give his party power against the wishes of the people. Instead, he disbanded a parliament that ceased representing the people’s will (an act supported by 60% of the population, according to polls) and oversaw free and fair elections in order to elect a parliament that reflected the people’s will, unlike the previous one which had after Socialiat leader Moroz’s switch no longer represented the people’s will (something that happeend very legally!).

    Your inability to be able to come to terms with the fact that law and democracy are not always the same thing prevent you from understanding the realtively simple fact that the law ceased being democratic when Moroz betrayed the people and switched sides, while Yushchenko’s illegal act was also very democratic. The parliament with Yanukovich as PM was *legal* but *not democratic*, because the people did not vote for a Blue majority; they voted for a Socialist party based on the reasonable assumption* that their vote was going to an ally of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. This is reflected in the fact that 60% of the Ukrainian people supported that the dissolution of that legal but nondemocratic parliment, and in the fact that in the next elections the now-Blue-allied Socialists didn’t make it into the parliament (its voters, were given the chance by the democratic Yushchenko to vote for parties that reflected their wishes). I understand that for some lawyers the law can be more important than reality – a murderer is not really a murderer if he is not convicted, and parliament that reflects the opposite of the people’s will is democratic as long as the uinpopular, unelected majority came to power through some completely legal trick. This is frankly doublespeak or the abuse of the word democracy – to refer to a parliament that the people oppose, and that came about through a deal opposed by those who elected it – as democratic merely because the maneuvers that led to the new majority were legal.

    Anyways, essentially, Yushchenko, who as president was supposed to defend the Constitution, chose instead to defend democracy at the expense of the Constitution, when the Constitution failed to safeguard against backroom deals by party bosses acting against the wishes of those who voted their party into parliament.

    In a situation where the law prevented the people from ruling and the law prevented people from making and imposing their decisions, Yushchenko acting as defender of democracy broke the law by dissolving the unpopular parliament, in order to call new elections in order to give power back to the people.

    As for the 2007 elections – they would not have happened if not for the dissolution of parliament. So whatever they were, they were clearly the fruit of an illegal act. They were Yushchenko’s.

    *a reasonable assumption because the Socialists and Tymoshenko had been allied since 2002, and Moroz was one of the figures prominant during the Orange Revolution.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    A minor point. If my recollection is correct then the parliamentary elections that eventually took place in 2007 did not take place as a result of Yushchenko’s original illegal dissolution decree but as a result of an agreement negotiated by Yushchenko and Yanukovitch and were therefore formally agreed to by the parliament. As a consequence of this agreement the elections did not take place on the date originally envisaged by Yushchenko but several months later.

    I do not wish to dwell on this because it is largely irrelevant to the point I am making. What was undemocratic was the attempted illegal dissolution of a democratically elected parliament and the steps taken to prevent the Constitutional Court from ruling on it not the calling of the elections.

    I note by the way with dismay that you persist in saying that the elections that happened in 2007 were illegal even though I have already pointed out to you that I have never said or implied such a thing and nor so far as I know has anyone else. What was illegal was Yushchenko’s attempt to dissolve a democratically elected parliament not the elections that followed later.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    Democracy means the same thing in any language, be it English, Greek, Russian, Tibetan or Swahili. The only reason I pointed out to you that it is originally a Greek word is because of your frankly reckless attempt to enlist the English language to support your argument. Nor did I use jargon unless you are accusing Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and the authors of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of using jargon. Nor are we arguing on different plains.

    The problem is that in your anxiety to defend Yushchenko’s you have hit on what you appear to think is a clinching argument that his actions were “democratic” and in order to sustain this argument you have to interpret democracy in a particular way. The result is that you do not think through the implications of many of the things that you say. For example you say that in plain English democracy is “rule of the people” and “rule by the majority” but you refuse to consider what these statements mean or how they contradict your own argument. How can the people rule and how can the majority make and impose its decisions except by law? What value do those decisions have if they do not have the force of law?

    If you stand back and think about it you will see that in reality statements about democracy being “rule by the people” and “rule by the majority” contain within themselves the very point I have been trying to make to you and which you seem determined to resist, which is that democracy is a system of government based on law and that lawless acts cannot ever be democratic.
    What happened in 2007 was that Yushchenko decided to dissolve a democratically elected lawfully constituted parliament in a manner that the constitution did not permit and then prevented the Constitutional Court from performing its function by ruling on his decision. The previous decision of the Socialists to go into coalition with Yanukovitch did not justify these illegal acts since as you admit yourself what the Socialists did was allowed by the Constitution and was perfectly legal and was not therefore undemocratic. Nor did the fact that the political crisis in the end was resolved by an election or that Yushchenko sought to justify his actions by saying that he wanted to call an election make his actions democratic since according to the Ukraine’s constitution calling an election was not Yushchenko’s decision to make. Nor does the fact that the decision might have been popular make it democratic. Dictators often make decisions that are popular but that does not make those decisions democratic any more than it makes the dictators who make them democrats. Nor does the fact that the Socialists lost support in a bitterly contested election in which Ukrainian society was further polarised by Yushchenko’s illegal and unconstitutional behaviour justify that behaviour. As to whether Yushchenko acted in a democratic way on other occasions that is wholly irrelevant to this discussion, which is about what he did in the political crisis of 2007.

    One of the most upsetting features of politics in the former Soviet political space is the way in which democracy is repeatedly reduced to a slogan and used as a political football to justify the most atrocious acts. Treating democracy in this way is disastrous and is one reason why politics in places like the Ukraine have become so dysfunctional. The English writer Samuel Johnson once said that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. If one substitutes the word “democracy” for “patriotism” this is all too often true of the former Soviet space. Do not try to grant Yushchenko this refuge.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks for that – Communist leader pledges to free Khodorkovsky if elected president -

    “the party of crooks and thieves”

    In a Mafia state run by KGB , Zyuganov know he have to work with uncorrupted businessman to win the election . The Putin -mafia control the media and the economic resources in Russia , but the people can not be manipulated in the future .

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8175406/WikiLeaks-Putins-secret-billions.html

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    Putin's "secret billions" is bullshit Western propaganda and character assassination. They (NATO countries) made same false claims against Muammar Gaddafy before physically assassinating him.
    Putin’s 3-point plan which he intends to implement if re-elected to Kremlin:

    Во-первых, объявление войны офшорам.
    Во-вторых, начало разбирательства по поводу дочерних компаний, облепивших, по плану Чубайса, российскую энергетику. Отправив «смотрящего по России» от Бильдербергского клуба в почетную ссылку, Путин замахнулся теперь на его детище: преступный плод приватизации РАО ЕЭС. Политическое значение этого факта невозможно переоценить: прецедент с большим, судьбоносным будущим.
    В-третьих, назначение Рогозина на ВПК. А по сути дела, назначение ВПК, как в старые добрые времена, локомотивом развития индустриальной и постиндустриальной России. Как это во всех нормальных странах исстари ведется.


    First, declaration of war against off-shores.
    Second, straightening out the “daughter companies” (Russian energy companies) system established by Chubais. Get rid of “Bilderberg Club” overseer. Putin has set his sights on the criminal fruit of the EES (Single Energy Company) privatization…
    Thirdly, appointment of Rogozin…

    Even if Putin were the most corrupt guy in the world (which he is not), his plan, if implemented, would go a long way to ending some of the most egregious oligarchic corruption and would be vastly popular among majority of Russian citizens.
    Hence, those oligarchic has-beens and financial interests who would be most harmed by Putin’s plan are responding with frenzied propaganda campaign accusing Putin of corruption. Their shills mindlessly repeating the “crooks and thieves” slogan does not make it true. If you want to get a good look at REAL crooks and thieves, then just glance at the podium of Orangeoid Opposition demonstrations!
    Reference:
    http://www.sevastianov.ru/novosti/revolyutsiya-sislibov-versus-natsionaljnaya-revolyutsiya.html
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  • “I can’t say I have any clue as to how Syria will turn out. Things seem strange there: Russia and Israel are ostensibly unlikely, but actually logical, allies of Assad, while the US, France, the UK, and the Gulf monarchies are trying their best to topple him. These wars are waged in the shadows.”

    And things have gotten even stranger:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16561493

    Qatar’s Sheikh has now said that Arab nations should send troops to Syria to stop the killing….

    Not sure if this would even make its way to the UN Security Council as the only Arab representative there is Morocco. Not sure if Morocco would end up sponsoring a resolution. It may not even gain traction in the Arab League given what happened in Libya……but then Qatar’s Sheikh didn’t say that Arab League troops should intervene, just troops from Arab nations (unless BBC mistranslated or misquoted him).

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  • AK,

    The BBC has done a story on Hungary’s Orban. On the surface it seems almost fairly balanced:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16549259

    I noticed though that they mention 30,000 protesters in Hungary only once (and Hungary has a population many times smaller than Russia) but you would never have know about the protests otherwise as it was barely reported on the BBC (certainly not as extensively as the protests in Russia).

    Orban does indeed seem to be making a managed democracy. I’m rather surprised that he hadn’t been compared to Putin even once in the article.

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  • @Hunter
    "I’m saying that preelection polls and actual election results should not be lumped together to provide a single “range”,because they reflect related but different/distinct phenomena"

    That's not what have actually been saying. As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections.

    "If I test a drug that is 50% effective after one month of treatment and 80% effective after four months treatment, do I lump those figures together and conclude that the drug’s effectiveness ranges from 50%-80%? No, I do not,"

    Well of course you don't. But it is interesting that you conveniently ignore the stats I provided which showed Orange party support fluctuating between 30-50% in elections and the fact that an opinion poll showing 35% support with a + or - 5% error could mean 40% support before an election where the parties might get 45% (and therefore only a 5% difference). Instead you come up with an example where the range is greater (80-50 does not give you the same range as 50-35 or even 50-30) and where you don't have to account for the fact that polling statistical error could mean that previous poll results were actually closer to the final election results than would at first appear to be the case. But if you think that a 30% difference is the same as a difference which could be only 5% when polling error is taken into account then carry on.

    "Similarly, opinion polls before elections are different from actual election results. The current polls give the Orange parties 45% support. This is 10% higher than in the parallel condition – other prelection polls."

    And here we see your internal contradiction in action again. So "opinion polls before elections are different from actual elections results", yet in the very next sentence you are talking about these same opinion polls (both current and former even though you say I shouldn't use the former) in relation to an upcoming actual election. You can continue on the hypocritical track if you want as it seems to be the only way you can make your argument. But the holes in your theory are many.

    For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then? If your theory on the opinion polls v elections holds then doesn't that mean either for the 2006 election we should have seen the Orange parties get less support than the pre-election polls would suggest OR that for the 2002 election we should have seen the Orange parties get more support than the pre-election polls suggested? If you are going to come up with the excuse that "the Orange parties weren't in power and therefore elections weren't free" how then would that bear on 2012 when the Orange parties (like in 2002) are not in power either in the parliament of in the presidency? If the excuse is going to be that "the situation was different", how then is the situation in 2012 even remotely comparable to 2006? In 2006 and 2002 both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were still around, whereas in 2012 neither is going to play a major part (one because he committed political suicide and the other because she is in prison) so on that level alone the situation is vastly different and if we can't use other polls (except in specific ways to support of your theory) as the situation was "different" how then can we use the 2006 pre-election polls and the 2006 election to make any sort of estimation about the 2012 election from 2011 polls?

    “As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections.”

    “It is not hypocritical to state that pre-election polls ought to compared to pre-election polls and final election results to final election results.”

    Yet here you are still using pre-election polls with final election results to make a case that because Orange parties got more of the undecided from the 2006 polls in the 2006 election then the same would apply for 2011/2012. You are being hypocritical.

    You wrote: “For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then?”

    “Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and the Socialists (they were allies in 2002) collectively won 37.2% of the vote in 2002.”

    The Socialists were never a true Orange party anymore than the Communists were and even the Communists were allies with Yushchenko and Tymoshenko in 2002…….

    “I suspect that the Orange parties were screwed a little in 2002, as they likely will be 2012.”

    Ah and here’s that excuse I figured you would offer….

    “However, given that we now know that the prelection poll is 10% higher for the 2012 election than they were in BOTH 2006 and 2002,”

    Hmmm….but only when you take into account a party whose alliance with the Orange parties was more an alliance of convenience than principle and whose electoral base has been wiped out due to disfavour and as voter apathy has been increasing (both 2002 and 2006 had voter turnouts of over 65%, 2012 is very unlikely to have that). Yeah, this is surely a logical thought process. Again you seem to be comparing periods which are different while telling others that we can’t use other opinion polls because the situations were different and/or that opinion polls can’t be used with actual election results.

    “2002 prelection poll: 34% -> 37% final result

    2006 prelection polls 35% -> 42% final result

    2012 prelection polls 45% -> x final result.

    What do you guess x will be?”

    I would guess x to be about 48-49% if Yanukovych’s disenchanted supporters don’t stay away or vote en masse for Orange parties in protest. The more likely scenario is that they don’t bother to vote (in which case the Orange parties could get over 55% of the voter easily). After that I would imagine the next likeliest scenario to be that they hold their noses and vote for PoR despite their disenchantment and after that the next likeliest scenario would be that they vote for alternatives to the PoR and the Orange parties and then after that they would probably vote for the Orange parties.

    By the way, how does the following opinion poll fit into your theory?

    http://www.ukrweekly.com/old/archive/2005/480507.shtml

    Razumkov Centre poll conducted between November 3-13, 2005:

    PoR – 17.5%
    BYuT – 12.4%
    OU – 13.5%

    Final election result four months later:

    PoR – 32.4%
    BYuT – 22.3%
    OU – 14%

    How do you account for the PoR and BYuT both getting a swing of 10% (or more) support? And why is it that the something similar could not happen in 2012 with an election that is nine months away? What excuse will you come up with to say that the November 2005 poll isn’t any good?

    And how do you account for the fact that not every PoR supporter actually opposed EU integration according to the Razumkov Centre as shown in the link below? (the relevant section has been quoted for you)

    http://www.razumkov.org.ua/eng/files/category_journal/NSD73_eng.pdf

    “The highest share of adherents of European integration is reported among the voters of “Nasha Ukraina” (73.5%) and Yuliya Tymoshenko’s Bloc (61.6%); its opponents are in a majority among the voters of the Party of Regions (62.3%), Nataliya Vitrenko’s Bloc (58.9%) and CPU (52.4%). ”

    If the PoR gets between 32-48% support in elections generally from 2006-2010 but only 62% of those are actually opposed to EU integration then what of the other 12-18% in total (32% – (62% of 32%) and 48% – (62% of 48%)) who didn’t oppose EU integration? Is it not possible that some of them actually want EU integration as well as close relations with Russia? And isn’t it very coincidental that the PoR now has support in the region of 12-18% and 12-18% of the electorate which would support the PoR is not opposed to EU integration and the PoR had been pursuing EU integration in government?

    “In another post you claimed about me: I don’t “know the difference between democracy and ochlocracy.” ”

    It’s obvious that you don’t. You even had to quote wikipedia for it. An ochlocracy is also referred to as “mob rule” and you know what happens in mob rule? The mob makes the rules as they go along and they can break the rules on a whim i.e. no rule of law. Since you seem to quaintly believe that one can have democracy without the rule of law, then what it is that you believe in is ochlocracy and not democracy. In an ochlocracy you have the tyranny of the majority. In a democracy you have the majority deciding the course of action of the polity but not at the expense of minorities, whose rights are protected under laws that everyone (including the majority of course) respect – i.e. rule of law.

    “The quote above also contradicts your slander against me that I was, in your words, “saying that the rule of law doesn’t matter as long as the will of the majority is maintained.” ”

    Which is funny because quite often you’ve used terms like “at least Yushchenko’s actions were democratic” which alone implies that you don’t believe the rule of law has anything to do with being democratic (otherwise how could you make such a statement?). From that statement alone it is easy to infer to you view the two as separate (plus there was the cute little episode when you were trying to argue that the dictionary definition of “democracy” and it’s Greek origins says nothing about the rule of law). It’s also easy to infer which you view as more important given your warped logic regarding Yushchenko’s actions and the rule of law (and I quote): “So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko’s dismissal of parliament was legal.”

    “But I guess that when you’re wrong you have to resort to slander and personal attacks.”

    Again, says the person who had been trying to infer that Alexander was biased towards Yanukovych. Sorry, but when you can learn not to be hypocritical I’ll withdraw those statements. Til then I call as I see it.

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  • @Hunter
    Excellent! Examples. So we have Tymoshenko (arrested, tried and imprisoned), Lutsenko (in jail), Korniychuk (arrested), Makarenko (arrested) and Didenko (arrested). Alongside Kuchma (who was also arrested but in 2004 painted as a Yanukovych ally) and from an earlier time Kolesnikov and Kushnaryov (both Yanukovyvh allies arrested under the Orange government). Besides Yankovych's own prison-stint this just seems to confirm that as I said, a lot of Ukrainian politicians are corrupt. Or at least they seem to get themselves involved in activities that authorities seem eager to arrest them. But then I guess judicial independence doesn't really mean anything when the presiding Supreme Court judge (Onopenko) can be described in some western newspapers as a "Tymoshenko ally".

    As I said earlier, the EU isn't going to encourage judiciary independence in Ukraine by pressuring Yanukovych to meddle (or continue meddling) with the courts. The best thing the EU could have done would have been to appeal to the courts directly to not be swayed by any political interference and to not let political allegiances (whether to Yankuovych or Tymoshenko) get in the way of a fair judgement (whether it be conviction or acquittal).

    Remember that two wrongs don't make a right and even if Yanukovych is interfering in the courts (as seems to be the case on the evidence you have presented), encouraging further wrongs isn't the way to go about making Ukraine into a proper EU candidate as it sends the wrong message. Rather than sending the message to the judiciary to be independent it sends the message that it is okay for government control or interference in the courts as long as the outcome doesn't meet the displeasure of the EU.

    “How unfortunate that you have to resort to personal attacks, Hunter. Good luck, then.”

    Says the person who kept trying to infer that Alexander was pro-Yanukovych without the slightest evidence (which is an attempt at slander despite your denials) and who puts words into Alexander’s mouth. I think you should look in a mirror before you make pronouncements like this.

    You MUST have a reading or comprehension problem or you are deliberating misinterpreting what is written if you can say that Alexander said “holding free and fair elections was not democratic”.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    A further thought about Yushchenko. That he has operated against the law seems clear. In so doing he contributed to the lawlessness and legal nihilism that characterise Ukraine today. For that he can only be condemned. However he has also been consistently democratic. When the parliament switched due to Socialist party boss Moroz’s deal, one which contradicted the will of the people who had voted for the Socialists, Yushchenko ultimately illegaly disbanded the parliament, an act supported by the Ukrainian people. According to this poll, 60% of Ukrainians supported what Yushchenko did:

    http://en.for-ua.com/news/2007/04/16/135558.html

    “According to the poll, 60 per cent of the respondents consider that by issuing the decree, Yushchenko wanted to ensure the observance of human rights and put an end to the usurpation of power.”

    Yushchenko then called new elections. to give the power to the people rather than to the political bosses, and the elections he supervised were free and fair. Similarly, the presidential elections that Yushchenko lost were free and fair, and Yushchenko in accordance with the will of the people handed power over to Yanukovich.

    I am not proposing that he is a saint of democracy; probably he preferred Yanukovich to Tymoshenko, so his adherence to the democratic process was convenient. But Yushchenko was a bit of a complex political figure.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Alexander,

    Thank you for the polite reply, and the interesting information in your reply. It seems that the crux of our problem is that we have been debating on two different levels. When I use the terms democracy and democratic I use them in the sense of normal English-language usage, not in the sense of legal terminology/jargon. Sometimes (I see this in the medical field) professional understanding of terms does not correspond to standard usage of those terms. Moreover, as you undoubtedly know, words frequently have different meanings in different languages. In the standard English language, democracy and democratic refers to rule by the people. This is the way I use the term, according to the dictionary definition. Not according to constitutional lawyers’ professional jargon.

    By calling new elections, Yushchenko committed an illegal act for which he deserves condemnation, because he went against the constitution; however, what he did was also demcoratic, in that he gave the power of choosing the parliament into the hands of the people expressed through free and fair elections. That power was legally taken away from them when the party boss Moroz switched sides to gain more power and attain for himself the position of speaker of parliament.

    So let’s clarify something. It seems that within the field of constitutional law, something that is unconstitutional cannot be democratic, because democracy depends on law. Is that a correct understanding?

    Now – the free and fair Ukrainian elections were conducted because of an illegal act – the disolution of the previous parliament. That parliament was illegally disbanded in order to have new elections. Therefore, according to a purely legal undertanding, were those free and fair elections not democratic because they were illegal?

    Finally, I am arguing English language words, not Greek ones. I do not presume to tell you what democracy means in the Greek language today or 2300 years ago. I am using the English word “democracy.” And I am not arguing constitutional law (indeed, we seem to agree that what Yushchenko did was unconstitutional) but again, normal English language understanding of the situation and whether or not it was democratic.

    Just because I am not a fan of Yushchenko does not mean that I ought to cease being objective about him.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    2. The trouble is that you are not “drawing logical conclusions from the facts”. As I have pointed out to you previously since you concede the possibility that Tymoshenko might be guilty you should logically concede the possibility that she might have had a fair trial and has been properly convicted.

    What you are actually doing is not making any “logical conclusions” but drawing what may turn out to be mistaken inferences from incomplete facts. That is exactly the mistake many people made in the first Khodorkovsky case when the final judgment proved them wrong. Why not give the matter a rest, let the law take its course and wait for the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights?

    3. In trying to separate democracy from law you are fighting a hopeless cause. I do not know by the way where you got your definitions of democracy from but forgive me if I say that they look to me a little like dictionary definitions in which case they are of little use in any discussion of constitutional theory. Let us start instead with the earliest known definition of democracy by a constitutional theorist, in this case Aristotle:

    “A democracy is a state where the free men and the poor, being in the majority, are invested with the power of the state….The most pure democracy is that which is so called principally from that EQUALITY which prevails in it; for this is what the LAW in that state directs; that the poor shall be in no greater subjection than the rich; nor that the supreme power shall be lodged in either of these, but that both shall share it. For if LIBERTY and EQUALITY as some persons suppose, are chiefly to be found in a democracy, it must be so by every department of government being alike open to all; but as the people are the majority, and what they vote is LAW, it follows that such a state must be a democracy” (Politics, book iv, ch.4, 1290b 1291b).

    Here we have all the elements of democracy namely

    1. Equality of rights enforced by law;
    2. Equal access to all levels and bodies of power enforced by law;
    3. Law as the expression of the people’s will expressed through the vote of the majority.

    Aristotle was writing at a time of direct democracy before the development of representative institutions in the light of which 3 has been modified. The best expression of this is Article 6 of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1791:

    “Law is the overt expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to participate in legislation, either in person or through their representatives.”

    The fact that in a democracy the people are the ultimate source of law and that law is the expression of their will and that this is how in a democracy the people exercise their power and control the government also finds its way into the US Declaration of Independence

    “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted amongst Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter and to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”

    Consequent upon this Declaration and general democratic principles the preamble to the US Constitution is careful to confirm that it is the people that has established the Constitution and through the Constitution ultimately the laws of the United States:

    “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”

    Accordingly since for there to be a democracy there must be equality of citizens before the law and enforced by law it follows that any state official who sets himself up as above the law, as Yushchenko did in 2007, cannot be acting democratically. Also since in a democracy the law and the constitution are the expression of the people’s will it must also follow that any state official who deliberately violates the law and who breaks his oath by violating the constitution is going against the people’s will and is also not acting democratically.

    If you want a further fuller discussion of the supremacy of law in a democracy and of the vital importance of state officials adhering to the law and of the danger to democracy when they don’t even in such cases as when the law is wrong or bad I would refer you to Abraham Lincoln’s 1838 lecture to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, which is too lengthy to set out here.

    I would conclude by saying that democracy is a Greek not an English word and much as I admire your courage in arguing definitions of Greek words with a Greek and constitutional theory with an admittedly long since retired constitutional lawyer you really are taking on a battle that in the end you simply cannot win. Given that as I understand it you do not even like Yushchenko or approve of what he did in 2007 I am somewhat baffled why you should even try.

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  • @Hunter
    "I’m saying that preelection polls and actual election results should not be lumped together to provide a single “range”,because they reflect related but different/distinct phenomena"

    That's not what have actually been saying. As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections.

    "If I test a drug that is 50% effective after one month of treatment and 80% effective after four months treatment, do I lump those figures together and conclude that the drug’s effectiveness ranges from 50%-80%? No, I do not,"

    Well of course you don't. But it is interesting that you conveniently ignore the stats I provided which showed Orange party support fluctuating between 30-50% in elections and the fact that an opinion poll showing 35% support with a + or - 5% error could mean 40% support before an election where the parties might get 45% (and therefore only a 5% difference). Instead you come up with an example where the range is greater (80-50 does not give you the same range as 50-35 or even 50-30) and where you don't have to account for the fact that polling statistical error could mean that previous poll results were actually closer to the final election results than would at first appear to be the case. But if you think that a 30% difference is the same as a difference which could be only 5% when polling error is taken into account then carry on.

    "Similarly, opinion polls before elections are different from actual election results. The current polls give the Orange parties 45% support. This is 10% higher than in the parallel condition – other prelection polls."

    And here we see your internal contradiction in action again. So "opinion polls before elections are different from actual elections results", yet in the very next sentence you are talking about these same opinion polls (both current and former even though you say I shouldn't use the former) in relation to an upcoming actual election. You can continue on the hypocritical track if you want as it seems to be the only way you can make your argument. But the holes in your theory are many.

    For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then? If your theory on the opinion polls v elections holds then doesn't that mean either for the 2006 election we should have seen the Orange parties get less support than the pre-election polls would suggest OR that for the 2002 election we should have seen the Orange parties get more support than the pre-election polls suggested? If you are going to come up with the excuse that "the Orange parties weren't in power and therefore elections weren't free" how then would that bear on 2012 when the Orange parties (like in 2002) are not in power either in the parliament of in the presidency? If the excuse is going to be that "the situation was different", how then is the situation in 2012 even remotely comparable to 2006? In 2006 and 2002 both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were still around, whereas in 2012 neither is going to play a major part (one because he committed political suicide and the other because she is in prison) so on that level alone the situation is vastly different and if we can't use other polls (except in specific ways to support of your theory) as the situation was "different" how then can we use the 2006 pre-election polls and the 2006 election to make any sort of estimation about the 2012 election from 2011 polls?

    “As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections.”

    It is not hypocritical to state that pre-election polls ought to compared to pre-election polls and final election results to final election results.

    Perhaps this will be easier to understand:

    35% 2006 prelection poll = 42% 2006 election result (and 54% of the seats in parliament)

    45% 2011 preelection poll = x 2012 election result

    We are trying to predict x. If in 2006 a prelection poll of 35% resulted in a result of 42%, a prelection poll of 45% will probably result in an election result of 52%.

    You wrote: “For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then?”

    Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and the Socialists (they were allies in 2002) collectively won 37.2% of the vote in 2002. The only opinion poll I saw, on the BBC website, didn’t include the Socialist Party in its results and gave a range of 32% to 35% for Our Ukraine and Tymoshenko combined – less than the total Orange result. Moreover, those polls seem to have been conducted by the parties themselves AFAIK, not by an outside source. See:

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2002/OB91.pdf

    I suspect that the Orange parties were screwed a little in 2002, as they likely will be 2012. However, given that we now know that the prelection poll is 10% higher for the 2012 election than they were in BOTH 2006 and 2002, this suggests that the actual votes for the Orange parties will be much higher in 2012 than they were in either 2002 or 2006. Making falsification much less effective. So to add to what I posted in the beginning of this message:

    2002 prelection poll: 34% -> 37% final result

    2006 prelection polls 35% -> 42% final result

    2012 prelection polls 45% -> x final result.

    What do you guess x will be? I’m guessing 52%, which would translate into about 60% of the parliamentary seats. The only factor that may change this would be cheating by the authorities. Do you disagree?
    —————
    In another post you claimed about me: I don’t “know the difference between democracy and ochlocracy.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochlocracy

    Ochlocracy (“rule of the general populace”) is democracy (“rule of the people”) spoiled by demagoguery, “tyranny of the majority” and the rule of passion over reason, …Ochlocracy is synonymous in meaning and usage to the modern, informal term “Mobocracy,” which emerged from a much more recent colloquial etymology.

    That’s funny, because on January 9th I wrote here: “Clearly, Yushchenko’s action was wrong because it was illegal, and illegal democratic actions are similar to mob rule.”

    The quote above also contradicts your slander against me that I was, in your words, “saying that the rule of law doesn’t matter as long as the will of the majority is maintained.”

    But I guess that when you’re wrong you have to resort to slander and personal attacks. Sorry, I’m not interested in that.

    Until you retract your slander against me, good bye and good luck to you.

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  • @Hunter
    Excellent! Examples. So we have Tymoshenko (arrested, tried and imprisoned), Lutsenko (in jail), Korniychuk (arrested), Makarenko (arrested) and Didenko (arrested). Alongside Kuchma (who was also arrested but in 2004 painted as a Yanukovych ally) and from an earlier time Kolesnikov and Kushnaryov (both Yanukovyvh allies arrested under the Orange government). Besides Yankovych's own prison-stint this just seems to confirm that as I said, a lot of Ukrainian politicians are corrupt. Or at least they seem to get themselves involved in activities that authorities seem eager to arrest them. But then I guess judicial independence doesn't really mean anything when the presiding Supreme Court judge (Onopenko) can be described in some western newspapers as a "Tymoshenko ally".

    As I said earlier, the EU isn't going to encourage judiciary independence in Ukraine by pressuring Yanukovych to meddle (or continue meddling) with the courts. The best thing the EU could have done would have been to appeal to the courts directly to not be swayed by any political interference and to not let political allegiances (whether to Yankuovych or Tymoshenko) get in the way of a fair judgement (whether it be conviction or acquittal).

    Remember that two wrongs don't make a right and even if Yanukovych is interfering in the courts (as seems to be the case on the evidence you have presented), encouraging further wrongs isn't the way to go about making Ukraine into a proper EU candidate as it sends the wrong message. Rather than sending the message to the judiciary to be independent it sends the message that it is okay for government control or interference in the courts as long as the outcome doesn't meet the displeasure of the EU.

    How unfortunate that you have to resort to personal attacks, Hunter. Good luck, then.

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  • @Hunter
    Excellent! Examples. So we have Tymoshenko (arrested, tried and imprisoned), Lutsenko (in jail), Korniychuk (arrested), Makarenko (arrested) and Didenko (arrested). Alongside Kuchma (who was also arrested but in 2004 painted as a Yanukovych ally) and from an earlier time Kolesnikov and Kushnaryov (both Yanukovyvh allies arrested under the Orange government). Besides Yankovych's own prison-stint this just seems to confirm that as I said, a lot of Ukrainian politicians are corrupt. Or at least they seem to get themselves involved in activities that authorities seem eager to arrest them. But then I guess judicial independence doesn't really mean anything when the presiding Supreme Court judge (Onopenko) can be described in some western newspapers as a "Tymoshenko ally".

    As I said earlier, the EU isn't going to encourage judiciary independence in Ukraine by pressuring Yanukovych to meddle (or continue meddling) with the courts. The best thing the EU could have done would have been to appeal to the courts directly to not be swayed by any political interference and to not let political allegiances (whether to Yankuovych or Tymoshenko) get in the way of a fair judgement (whether it be conviction or acquittal).

    Remember that two wrongs don't make a right and even if Yanukovych is interfering in the courts (as seems to be the case on the evidence you have presented), encouraging further wrongs isn't the way to go about making Ukraine into a proper EU candidate as it sends the wrong message. Rather than sending the message to the judiciary to be independent it sends the message that it is okay for government control or interference in the courts as long as the outcome doesn't meet the displeasure of the EU.

    Alexander, I don’t see any point in continuing in this case as it is clear that AP either:

    1. has a reading and comprehension problem.

    2. Or he is so blinded that it manifests itself as a comprehension problem.

    3. Is attempting to slander you again.

    4. Understands what you wrote, but is intentionally pretending he doesn’t.

    Just take a look at the other issues he avoids and does backflips on: saying Germany isn’t as dominant in the EU as Russia would be in the Eurasian Union and then reversing that position; equating the Eurasian Union with a single nation state like the USSR; saying it’s okay to compare apples (election results) to oranges (opinion polls) so long as you do it in a specific way (the way he does it) and that the rest of us must compare apples and apples; implying that it’s okay for Yushchenko to dissolve parliament illegally because it’s democratic and that the will of the of nearly two-thirds of the people as expressed in a constitution didn’t matter anyway since the courts struck down the results and at the same time implying that Yushchenko’s actions were okay because a court never got to rule on the legality of it while the Socialists actions were not okay even though they were perfectly within their legal rights and would have been duly punished by the voters for their actions anyway when elections were due to held normally; saying that the rule of law doesn’t matter as long as the will of the majority is maintained (perhaps he doesn’t know the difference between democracy and ochlocracy…certainly Freedom House would disagree with him there as they definitely associate the rule of law with democracy and the maintenance of human rights); ignoring that Yanukovych’s government came to a 2010 agreement with the EU over an action plan for visa-free travel which kind puts a hole in the idea that nobody who supports closer relations with the EU could ever support Yanukovych and the PoR; whittling down individual voter complexity to the point where in that universe persons who could be described Blue Dog Democrats are impossible…..

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  • @Hunter
    So you are saying that 35% and 45% are not comparable even though both numbers can easily be described as a range (and even though with the margin of error in polls being 2-5% normally a 35% result in a poll could easily be 40% when error is taken into account)? I'm sure from the very start we established that the Orange parties (for lack of a better term) have consistently scored between 30-50% in parliamentary elections and polls. To say that we can't use pre-parliamentary polls to compare to parliamentary elections except in the one specific instance you've outlined just because one group moves from the 30s to the 40s between only one set of pre-parliamentary polls and a particular parliamentary election means that you are basically framing the debate to suit your needs instead of looking at all the available historical data (which if you did look would show that back in the early 2000s the Orange parties did indeed score about 30% combined - indeed for 2002 the original Orange party had been polling at 27-28% by itself in the poll and ended up with 23% in the actual result).

    Sure polls include a number of undecided, but you what? They also include people who will say one thing to the pollster and then do something else in the voting booth. Some people simply change their mind while others never gave a candid answer to begin with (for instance in the Shy Tory Factor or the Bradley effect). Others have already made up their mind but simply refuse to answer the pollster since they may feel that their views are private and their privacy should be respected. If you are going to throw out one set of opinion polls (except for the ones which you like to choose because they fit your thesis) because they have undecided then you really should throw out ALL opinion polls since all opinion polls (or almost all) have an undecided category. Even then you do not account for the fact that some of the undecided may actually be "against all" inclined and would either choose that option if available or spoil their ballot.

    “I’m saying that preelection polls and actual election results should not be lumped together to provide a single “range”,because they reflect related but different/distinct phenomena”

    That’s not what have actually been saying. As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections.

    “If I test a drug that is 50% effective after one month of treatment and 80% effective after four months treatment, do I lump those figures together and conclude that the drug’s effectiveness ranges from 50%-80%? No, I do not,”

    Well of course you don’t. But it is interesting that you conveniently ignore the stats I provided which showed Orange party support fluctuating between 30-50% in elections and the fact that an opinion poll showing 35% support with a + or – 5% error could mean 40% support before an election where the parties might get 45% (and therefore only a 5% difference). Instead you come up with an example where the range is greater (80-50 does not give you the same range as 50-35 or even 50-30) and where you don’t have to account for the fact that polling statistical error could mean that previous poll results were actually closer to the final election results than would at first appear to be the case. But if you think that a 30% difference is the same as a difference which could be only 5% when polling error is taken into account then carry on.

    “Similarly, opinion polls before elections are different from actual election results. The current polls give the Orange parties 45% support. This is 10% higher than in the parallel condition – other prelection polls.”

    And here we see your internal contradiction in action again. So “opinion polls before elections are different from actual elections results”, yet in the very next sentence you are talking about these same opinion polls (both current and former even though you say I shouldn’t use the former) in relation to an upcoming actual election. You can continue on the hypocritical track if you want as it seems to be the only way you can make your argument. But the holes in your theory are many.

    For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then? If your theory on the opinion polls v elections holds then doesn’t that mean either for the 2006 election we should have seen the Orange parties get less support than the pre-election polls would suggest OR that for the 2002 election we should have seen the Orange parties get more support than the pre-election polls suggested? If you are going to come up with the excuse that “the Orange parties weren’t in power and therefore elections weren’t free” how then would that bear on 2012 when the Orange parties (like in 2002) are not in power either in the parliament of in the presidency? If the excuse is going to be that “the situation was different”, how then is the situation in 2012 even remotely comparable to 2006? In 2006 and 2002 both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were still around, whereas in 2012 neither is going to play a major part (one because he committed political suicide and the other because she is in prison) so on that level alone the situation is vastly different and if we can’t use other polls (except in specific ways to support of your theory) as the situation was “different” how then can we use the 2006 pre-election polls and the 2006 election to make any sort of estimation about the 2012 election from 2011 polls?

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    • Replies: @AP
    "As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections."

    It is not hypocritical to state that pre-election polls ought to compared to pre-election polls and final election results to final election results.

    Perhaps this will be easier to understand:

    35% 2006 prelection poll = 42% 2006 election result (and 54% of the seats in parliament)

    45% 2011 preelection poll = x 2012 election result

    We are trying to predict x. If in 2006 a prelection poll of 35% resulted in a result of 42%, a prelection poll of 45% will probably result in an election result of 52%.

    You wrote: "For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then?"

    Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and the Socialists (they were allies in 2002) collectively won 37.2% of the vote in 2002. The only opinion poll I saw, on the BBC website, didn't include the Socialist Party in its results and gave a range of 32% to 35% for Our Ukraine and Tymoshenko combined - less than the total Orange result. Moreover, those polls seem to have been conducted by the parties themselves AFAIK, not by an outside source. See:

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2002/OB91.pdf

    I suspect that the Orange parties were screwed a little in 2002, as they likely will be 2012. However, given that we now know that the prelection poll is 10% higher for the 2012 election than they were in BOTH 2006 and 2002, this suggests that the actual votes for the Orange parties will be much higher in 2012 than they were in either 2002 or 2006. Making falsification much less effective. So to add to what I posted in the beginning of this message:

    2002 prelection poll: 34% -> 37% final result

    2006 prelection polls 35% -> 42% final result

    2012 prelection polls 45% -> x final result.

    What do you guess x will be? I'm guessing 52%, which would translate into about 60% of the parliamentary seats. The only factor that may change this would be cheating by the authorities. Do you disagree?
    ---------------
    In another post you claimed about me: I don't "know the difference between democracy and ochlocracy."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochlocracy

    Ochlocracy ("rule of the general populace") is democracy ("rule of the people") spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority" and the rule of passion over reason, ...Ochlocracy is synonymous in meaning and usage to the modern, informal term "Mobocracy," which emerged from a much more recent colloquial etymology.

    That's funny, because on January 9th I wrote here: "Clearly, Yushchenko’s action was wrong because it was illegal, and illegal democratic actions are similar to mob rule."

    The quote above also contradicts your slander against me that I was, in your words, "saying that the rule of law doesn’t matter as long as the will of the majority is maintained."

    But I guess that when you're wrong you have to resort to slander and personal attacks. Sorry, I'm not interested in that.

    Until you retract your slander against me, good bye and good luck to you.

    , @Hunter
    “As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections.”

    "It is not hypocritical to state that pre-election polls ought to compared to pre-election polls and final election results to final election results."

    Yet here you are still using pre-election polls with final election results to make a case that because Orange parties got more of the undecided from the 2006 polls in the 2006 election then the same would apply for 2011/2012. You are being hypocritical.


    You wrote: “For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then?”

    "Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and the Socialists (they were allies in 2002) collectively won 37.2% of the vote in 2002."

    The Socialists were never a true Orange party anymore than the Communists were and even the Communists were allies with Yushchenko and Tymoshenko in 2002.......


    "I suspect that the Orange parties were screwed a little in 2002, as they likely will be 2012."

    Ah and here's that excuse I figured you would offer....


    "However, given that we now know that the prelection poll is 10% higher for the 2012 election than they were in BOTH 2006 and 2002,"

    Hmmm....but only when you take into account a party whose alliance with the Orange parties was more an alliance of convenience than principle and whose electoral base has been wiped out due to disfavour and as voter apathy has been increasing (both 2002 and 2006 had voter turnouts of over 65%, 2012 is very unlikely to have that). Yeah, this is surely a logical thought process. Again you seem to be comparing periods which are different while telling others that we can't use other opinion polls because the situations were different and/or that opinion polls can't be used with actual election results.


    "2002 prelection poll: 34% -> 37% final result

    2006 prelection polls 35% -> 42% final result

    2012 prelection polls 45% -> x final result.

    What do you guess x will be?"

    I would guess x to be about 48-49% if Yanukovych's disenchanted supporters don't stay away or vote en masse for Orange parties in protest. The more likely scenario is that they don't bother to vote (in which case the Orange parties could get over 55% of the voter easily). After that I would imagine the next likeliest scenario to be that they hold their noses and vote for PoR despite their disenchantment and after that the next likeliest scenario would be that they vote for alternatives to the PoR and the Orange parties and then after that they would probably vote for the Orange parties.

    By the way, how does the following opinion poll fit into your theory?

    http://www.ukrweekly.com/old/archive/2005/480507.shtml

    Razumkov Centre poll conducted between November 3-13, 2005:

    PoR - 17.5%
    BYuT - 12.4%
    OU - 13.5%

    Final election result four months later:

    PoR - 32.4%
    BYuT - 22.3%
    OU - 14%

    How do you account for the PoR and BYuT both getting a swing of 10% (or more) support? And why is it that the something similar could not happen in 2012 with an election that is nine months away? What excuse will you come up with to say that the November 2005 poll isn't any good?

    And how do you account for the fact that not every PoR supporter actually opposed EU integration according to the Razumkov Centre as shown in the link below? (the relevant section has been quoted for you)

    http://www.razumkov.org.ua/eng/files/category_journal/NSD73_eng.pdf

    "The highest share of adherents of European integration is reported among the voters of “Nasha Ukraina” (73.5%) and Yuliya Tymoshenko’s Bloc (61.6%); its opponents are in a majority among the voters of the Party of Regions (62.3%), Nataliya Vitrenko’s Bloc (58.9%) and CPU (52.4%). "

    If the PoR gets between 32-48% support in elections generally from 2006-2010 but only 62% of those are actually opposed to EU integration then what of the other 12-18% in total (32% - (62% of 32%) and 48% - (62% of 48%)) who didn't oppose EU integration? Is it not possible that some of them actually want EU integration as well as close relations with Russia? And isn't it very coincidental that the PoR now has support in the region of 12-18% and 12-18% of the electorate which would support the PoR is not opposed to EU integration and the PoR had been pursuing EU integration in government?


    "In another post you claimed about me: I don’t “know the difference between democracy and ochlocracy.” "

    It's obvious that you don't. You even had to quote wikipedia for it. An ochlocracy is also referred to as "mob rule" and you know what happens in mob rule? The mob makes the rules as they go along and they can break the rules on a whim i.e. no rule of law. Since you seem to quaintly believe that one can have democracy without the rule of law, then what it is that you believe in is ochlocracy and not democracy. In an ochlocracy you have the tyranny of the majority. In a democracy you have the majority deciding the course of action of the polity but not at the expense of minorities, whose rights are protected under laws that everyone (including the majority of course) respect - i.e. rule of law.


    "The quote above also contradicts your slander against me that I was, in your words, “saying that the rule of law doesn’t matter as long as the will of the majority is maintained.” "


    Which is funny because quite often you've used terms like "at least Yushchenko's actions were democratic" which alone implies that you don't believe the rule of law has anything to do with being democratic (otherwise how could you make such a statement?). From that statement alone it is easy to infer to you view the two as separate (plus there was the cute little episode when you were trying to argue that the dictionary definition of "democracy" and it's Greek origins says nothing about the rule of law). It's also easy to infer which you view as more important given your warped logic regarding Yushchenko's actions and the rule of law (and I quote): "So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko’s dismissal of parliament was legal."

    "But I guess that when you’re wrong you have to resort to slander and personal attacks."

    Again, says the person who had been trying to infer that Alexander was biased towards Yanukovych. Sorry, but when you can learn not to be hypocritical I'll withdraw those statements. Til then I call as I see it.

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  • @Hunter
    So you are saying that 35% and 45% are not comparable even though both numbers can easily be described as a range (and even though with the margin of error in polls being 2-5% normally a 35% result in a poll could easily be 40% when error is taken into account)? I'm sure from the very start we established that the Orange parties (for lack of a better term) have consistently scored between 30-50% in parliamentary elections and polls. To say that we can't use pre-parliamentary polls to compare to parliamentary elections except in the one specific instance you've outlined just because one group moves from the 30s to the 40s between only one set of pre-parliamentary polls and a particular parliamentary election means that you are basically framing the debate to suit your needs instead of looking at all the available historical data (which if you did look would show that back in the early 2000s the Orange parties did indeed score about 30% combined - indeed for 2002 the original Orange party had been polling at 27-28% by itself in the poll and ended up with 23% in the actual result).

    Sure polls include a number of undecided, but you what? They also include people who will say one thing to the pollster and then do something else in the voting booth. Some people simply change their mind while others never gave a candid answer to begin with (for instance in the Shy Tory Factor or the Bradley effect). Others have already made up their mind but simply refuse to answer the pollster since they may feel that their views are private and their privacy should be respected. If you are going to throw out one set of opinion polls (except for the ones which you like to choose because they fit your thesis) because they have undecided then you really should throw out ALL opinion polls since all opinion polls (or almost all) have an undecided category. Even then you do not account for the fact that some of the undecided may actually be "against all" inclined and would either choose that option if available or spoil their ballot.

    I’m saying that preelection polls and actual election results should not be lumped together to provide a single “range”,because they reflect related but different/distinct phenomena (opinion before the election, and actual voting behavior). Opinion polls involve undecideds, and they involve the Shy Tory factor as you rightly point out, etc. Such factors distinguish opinion polls from actual election results. Polls can certainly predict election results but the raw numbers themselves are not comparable because they reflect different (even if related) things. So a range of numbers that includes two different phenomena is meaningless. If I test a drug that is 50% effective after one month of treatment and 80% effective after four months treatment, do I lump those figures together and conclude that the drug’s effectiveness ranges from 50%-80%? No, I do not, because one month of treatment is a different condition than is four months treatment. So if another drug comes along that is 80% effective after only one month, do I conclude that this drug is really the same as the previous one, because it falls within the range of 50%-80% of the previous drug? No, doing so would be absurd.

    Similarly, opinion polls before elections are different from actual election results. The current polls give the Orange parties 45% support. This is 10% higher than in the parallel condition – other prelection polls.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Alexander:

    2. And, as I have said, we have the right to look at facts and draw logical conclusions even before the European Court of Human Rights issues its decision.

    3. You wrote: “What I do say is undemocratic and what definitely is undemocratic is when in a democracy the President who is the guardian of the Constitution and of the law puts himself above the law. What you do not seem to want to accept or understand is that democracy is a system of government that is based on law. Take the law away and what you are left with is no longer a democracy.”

    The actual defintion of democratric is: “1. (Philosophy) (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) of, characterized by, derived from, or relating to the principles of democracy.”
    2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) upholding or favouring democracy or the interests of the common people

    The English-language definition of democracy is: 1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
    2. A political or social unit that has such a government.
    3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
    4. Majority rule.

    No mention of the words “law” here. There is mention of concepts such as “by the people”, “majority rule”, “common people as source of political power, (hmm, who are the common people, Socialist party leader Moroz or the voters of Ukrane?)” etc.

    Clearly Yushchenko’s illegal action was democratic, at least as the word democratic is understood in the English language (perhaps it has a different meaning in your native language?). He disbanded parliament that no longer reflected the opinion of the PEOPLE and called fair and free elections so that the people could choose their government. His actions insured that the common people, rather than party bosses cutting deals, were the “primary source of political power.” Quite democratic indeed. I hope this has been cleared up?

    As for accusations of partisanship – I am no fan of Yushchenko and as I’ve stated several times what he did was wrong because it was illegal. I’m just pointing out that what he did was democratic, even though illegal. I hope partisanship doesn’t play a role in your own confusion with respect to the idea of democracy.

    ————-

    Hunter: Tymoshenko was arrested the second time not for corruption per se but for “abuse of office” – essentially her crime was making a deal with Putin that Yushchenko didn’t like. That deal involved cutting out a middleman with ties to both Yushchenko and Yanukovich, costing him (and allegedly but has not been proven perhaps them too) a lot of money.

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  • @Hunter
    Excellent! Examples. So we have Tymoshenko (arrested, tried and imprisoned), Lutsenko (in jail), Korniychuk (arrested), Makarenko (arrested) and Didenko (arrested). Alongside Kuchma (who was also arrested but in 2004 painted as a Yanukovych ally) and from an earlier time Kolesnikov and Kushnaryov (both Yanukovyvh allies arrested under the Orange government). Besides Yankovych's own prison-stint this just seems to confirm that as I said, a lot of Ukrainian politicians are corrupt. Or at least they seem to get themselves involved in activities that authorities seem eager to arrest them. But then I guess judicial independence doesn't really mean anything when the presiding Supreme Court judge (Onopenko) can be described in some western newspapers as a "Tymoshenko ally".

    As I said earlier, the EU isn't going to encourage judiciary independence in Ukraine by pressuring Yanukovych to meddle (or continue meddling) with the courts. The best thing the EU could have done would have been to appeal to the courts directly to not be swayed by any political interference and to not let political allegiances (whether to Yankuovych or Tymoshenko) get in the way of a fair judgement (whether it be conviction or acquittal).

    Remember that two wrongs don't make a right and even if Yanukovych is interfering in the courts (as seems to be the case on the evidence you have presented), encouraging further wrongs isn't the way to go about making Ukraine into a proper EU candidate as it sends the wrong message. Rather than sending the message to the judiciary to be independent it sends the message that it is okay for government control or interference in the courts as long as the outcome doesn't meet the displeasure of the EU.

    Alexander:

    Yes, you already explained many times that according to you, holding free and fair elections was not democratic when Yushchenko did it in 2007.

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  • @Mark
    Khodorkovsky is supposed to have financed local libraries and provided computers to some schools, that sort of thing. I could never find anything more than vague references to his philanthropic activities, but they seemed small and sporadic and purpose-driven considering his enormous wealth. Some (including Navalny) argue that although Khodorkovsky is doubtless guilty of some criminal activities which probably include tax evasion, he has already served his time for those; even less than some serve for murder. But just about everyone who wants to curry favour with the opposition pledges to release him if they are ever in a sufficiently powerful position to do so. Some even argue he should be compensated for his loss of power and prestige, and that they would be glad to see him form a political party.

    I don't understand how anyone in their right mind would sign up for another round of shock therapy and privatizations. I'll be surprised if Putin does not sail through by a landslide, because the oppositions' plans sound like they will serve the interests only of western agencies and some of their protest backers. Doubtless there will be some jiggery-pokery with the exit polls to make it look like the fix is in, but hopefully Russians will remember whose country it is. Russia will never win western approval. Stop trying. Do what's right for the country.

    BTW, even Zyuganov recently promised to free Khodorkovsky if elected.

    Reward for his loyalty to the commie mafia? (Komsomol member, then financed KPRF in early 2000′s).

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  • @Hunter
    Excellent! Examples. So we have Tymoshenko (arrested, tried and imprisoned), Lutsenko (in jail), Korniychuk (arrested), Makarenko (arrested) and Didenko (arrested). Alongside Kuchma (who was also arrested but in 2004 painted as a Yanukovych ally) and from an earlier time Kolesnikov and Kushnaryov (both Yanukovyvh allies arrested under the Orange government). Besides Yankovych's own prison-stint this just seems to confirm that as I said, a lot of Ukrainian politicians are corrupt. Or at least they seem to get themselves involved in activities that authorities seem eager to arrest them. But then I guess judicial independence doesn't really mean anything when the presiding Supreme Court judge (Onopenko) can be described in some western newspapers as a "Tymoshenko ally".

    As I said earlier, the EU isn't going to encourage judiciary independence in Ukraine by pressuring Yanukovych to meddle (or continue meddling) with the courts. The best thing the EU could have done would have been to appeal to the courts directly to not be swayed by any political interference and to not let political allegiances (whether to Yankuovych or Tymoshenko) get in the way of a fair judgement (whether it be conviction or acquittal).

    Remember that two wrongs don't make a right and even if Yanukovych is interfering in the courts (as seems to be the case on the evidence you have presented), encouraging further wrongs isn't the way to go about making Ukraine into a proper EU candidate as it sends the wrong message. Rather than sending the message to the judiciary to be independent it sends the message that it is okay for government control or interference in the courts as long as the outcome doesn't meet the displeasure of the EU.

    Dear AP,

    Yushchenko’s actions in 2007 were not democratic and he was not standing up for the people’s will. He was pursuing his own political interests and using unconstitutional and illegal methods to do so.

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  • @Hunter
    Excellent! Examples. So we have Tymoshenko (arrested, tried and imprisoned), Lutsenko (in jail), Korniychuk (arrested), Makarenko (arrested) and Didenko (arrested). Alongside Kuchma (who was also arrested but in 2004 painted as a Yanukovych ally) and from an earlier time Kolesnikov and Kushnaryov (both Yanukovyvh allies arrested under the Orange government). Besides Yankovych's own prison-stint this just seems to confirm that as I said, a lot of Ukrainian politicians are corrupt. Or at least they seem to get themselves involved in activities that authorities seem eager to arrest them. But then I guess judicial independence doesn't really mean anything when the presiding Supreme Court judge (Onopenko) can be described in some western newspapers as a "Tymoshenko ally".

    As I said earlier, the EU isn't going to encourage judiciary independence in Ukraine by pressuring Yanukovych to meddle (or continue meddling) with the courts. The best thing the EU could have done would have been to appeal to the courts directly to not be swayed by any political interference and to not let political allegiances (whether to Yankuovych or Tymoshenko) get in the way of a fair judgement (whether it be conviction or acquittal).

    Remember that two wrongs don't make a right and even if Yanukovych is interfering in the courts (as seems to be the case on the evidence you have presented), encouraging further wrongs isn't the way to go about making Ukraine into a proper EU candidate as it sends the wrong message. Rather than sending the message to the judiciary to be independent it sends the message that it is okay for government control or interference in the courts as long as the outcome doesn't meet the displeasure of the EU.

    Hunter,

    The changes to the Constitution voted for in the referndum were all eliminated by the court (without another referendum). One of the important features of that Constitution was the prohibition of parliament members switching sides. Importsant because in Ukraine people do not vote for them, but for parties and thus they are in parliament for the sole purpose of representing the part the people voted for.

    This legal nihilism of course began with Yushchenko when he dismissed the parliament illegally. Even though Yushchenko’s action was democratic, in the sense that he was standing up for the people’s will (the people didn’t want a Yanukovich parliament that was gained with legal but nondemocratic maneuverinhg, and promply voted in an Orange one), its consequences in terms of the erosion of the rule of law were awful and include Yanukovich’s takeover of the legislature. So I generally agree with your condenmation of what Yushchenko did.

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  • @Moscow Exile
    Untoward does not mean too powerful or too forceful: it means improper or unseemly; it also means unruly, namely not amenable to discipline or control.

    I should think that Browne was perhaps being discreetly polite in writing that he felt that Khodorkovsky's business approach was untoward; he was also probably acting somewhat prudently in not stating outright that Khodorkovsky was admitting to criminality in his claiming that he could evade taxation by controlling members of the legislature.

    You are using the dictionary definition while i and probably you too think that he was using code for his real thoughts about the man. He was being discreetly polite in using untoward instead of criminal (your words)

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    “(by the way, the Tymoshenko case was initiated by that great upholder of the law, Yushchenko)”

    Hmm….if Tymoshenko was under investigation over corruption with a gas company from as far back as 2002 (under Kuchma) and fell under investigation again by Yushchenko (after 2002 but before 2010) and had the prosecution completed under Yanukovych (2010-2011) then she is either really corrupt or really targeted (it could well be both as either possibility is not mutually exclusive).

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Interestingly, this is not Tymoshenko’s first brush with the law. Here is what the BBC wrote about her in a 2002 article:

    “The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc is led by the eponymous Ms Tymoshenko, archcritic of the president and one of the most colourful and controversial Ukrainian politicians.
    Ms Tymoshenko headed the national gas company and was deputy premier under Viktor Yushchenko.

    She is standing on an anti-corruption ticket but is herself under prosecution for alleged embezzlement at the gas company, and was briefly jailed last year.

    She says the charges are politically motivated.”

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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  • @AP
    Pre-election polls (particularly when multiple parties are involved) include large numbers of undecideds who make their decision during the actual election. Thus pre-election numbers tend to underestimate the actual vote totals in the election. For example, in the parliamentay elections of 2006 the Orange parties consistantly polled 35% or so in the pre-election polls, and got into the 40's during the actual election. One can certainly predict likely results in the actual election based on the pre-election polls (otherwise pre-election polls would be useless) but the raw numbers themselves are not comparable.

    So you are saying that 35% and 45% are not comparable even though both numbers can easily be described as a range (and even though with the margin of error in polls being 2-5% normally a 35% result in a poll could easily be 40% when error is taken into account)? I’m sure from the very start we established that the Orange parties (for lack of a better term) have consistently scored between 30-50% in parliamentary elections and polls. To say that we can’t use pre-parliamentary polls to compare to parliamentary elections except in the one specific instance you’ve outlined just because one group moves from the 30s to the 40s between only one set of pre-parliamentary polls and a particular parliamentary election means that you are basically framing the debate to suit your needs instead of looking at all the available historical data (which if you did look would show that back in the early 2000s the Orange parties did indeed score about 30% combined – indeed for 2002 the original Orange party had been polling at 27-28% by itself in the poll and ended up with 23% in the actual result).

    Sure polls include a number of undecided, but you what? They also include people who will say one thing to the pollster and then do something else in the voting booth. Some people simply change their mind while others never gave a candid answer to begin with (for instance in the Shy Tory Factor or the Bradley effect). Others have already made up their mind but simply refuse to answer the pollster since they may feel that their views are private and their privacy should be respected. If you are going to throw out one set of opinion polls (except for the ones which you like to choose because they fit your thesis) because they have undecided then you really should throw out ALL opinion polls since all opinion polls (or almost all) have an undecided category. Even then you do not account for the fact that some of the undecided may actually be “against all” inclined and would either choose that option if available or spoil their ballot.

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    • Replies: @AP
    I'm saying that preelection polls and actual election results should not be lumped together to provide a single "range",because they reflect related but different/distinct phenomena (opinion before the election, and actual voting behavior). Opinion polls involve undecideds, and they involve the Shy Tory factor as you rightly point out, etc. Such factors distinguish opinion polls from actual election results. Polls can certainly predict election results but the raw numbers themselves are not comparable because they reflect different (even if related) things. So a range of numbers that includes two different phenomena is meaningless. If I test a drug that is 50% effective after one month of treatment and 80% effective after four months treatment, do I lump those figures together and conclude that the drug's effectiveness ranges from 50%-80%? No, I do not, because one month of treatment is a different condition than is four months treatment. So if another drug comes along that is 80% effective after only one month, do I conclude that this drug is really the same as the previous one, because it falls within the range of 50%-80% of the previous drug? No, doing so would be absurd.

    Similarly, opinion polls before elections are different from actual election results. The current polls give the Orange parties 45% support. This is 10% higher than in the parallel condition - other prelection polls.

    , @Hunter
    "I’m saying that preelection polls and actual election results should not be lumped together to provide a single “range”,because they reflect related but different/distinct phenomena"

    That's not what have actually been saying. As you are still using the pre-election 2006 polls and the 2006 elections to compare to the 2011 polls and make a case that the 2012 elections will go a certain way. If you can use 2006 polls, the 2006 election and the 2011 polls together to make an estimate for the 2012 elections then it is hypocritical (and highly hypocritical at that) to say that others cannot use other polls as well as other elections to make a different case about the 2012 elections.

    "If I test a drug that is 50% effective after one month of treatment and 80% effective after four months treatment, do I lump those figures together and conclude that the drug’s effectiveness ranges from 50%-80%? No, I do not,"

    Well of course you don't. But it is interesting that you conveniently ignore the stats I provided which showed Orange party support fluctuating between 30-50% in elections and the fact that an opinion poll showing 35% support with a + or - 5% error could mean 40% support before an election where the parties might get 45% (and therefore only a 5% difference). Instead you come up with an example where the range is greater (80-50 does not give you the same range as 50-35 or even 50-30) and where you don't have to account for the fact that polling statistical error could mean that previous poll results were actually closer to the final election results than would at first appear to be the case. But if you think that a 30% difference is the same as a difference which could be only 5% when polling error is taken into account then carry on.

    "Similarly, opinion polls before elections are different from actual election results. The current polls give the Orange parties 45% support. This is 10% higher than in the parallel condition – other prelection polls."

    And here we see your internal contradiction in action again. So "opinion polls before elections are different from actual elections results", yet in the very next sentence you are talking about these same opinion polls (both current and former even though you say I shouldn't use the former) in relation to an upcoming actual election. You can continue on the hypocritical track if you want as it seems to be the only way you can make your argument. But the holes in your theory are many.

    For instance you make the argument that the Orange parties usually pick up more of the undecided vote and that their actual electoral showing tends to be higher than their pre-election opinion poll showing, but then how do you account for the fact in 2002 the Orange parties were polling 33-35% before the election but received 30.9% in the actual election? How is that they lost support then? If your theory on the opinion polls v elections holds then doesn't that mean either for the 2006 election we should have seen the Orange parties get less support than the pre-election polls would suggest OR that for the 2002 election we should have seen the Orange parties get more support than the pre-election polls suggested? If you are going to come up with the excuse that "the Orange parties weren't in power and therefore elections weren't free" how then would that bear on 2012 when the Orange parties (like in 2002) are not in power either in the parliament of in the presidency? If the excuse is going to be that "the situation was different", how then is the situation in 2012 even remotely comparable to 2006? In 2006 and 2002 both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were still around, whereas in 2012 neither is going to play a major part (one because he committed political suicide and the other because she is in prison) so on that level alone the situation is vastly different and if we can't use other polls (except in specific ways to support of your theory) as the situation was "different" how then can we use the 2006 pre-election polls and the 2006 election to make any sort of estimation about the 2012 election from 2011 polls?

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  • @Moscow Exile
    Untoward does not mean too powerful or too forceful: it means improper or unseemly; it also means unruly, namely not amenable to discipline or control.

    I should think that Browne was perhaps being discreetly polite in writing that he felt that Khodorkovsky's business approach was untoward; he was also probably acting somewhat prudently in not stating outright that Khodorkovsky was admitting to criminality in his claiming that he could evade taxation by controlling members of the legislature.

    Khodorkovsky is supposed to have financed local libraries and provided computers to some schools, that sort of thing. I could never find anything more than vague references to his philanthropic activities, but they seemed small and sporadic and purpose-driven considering his enormous wealth. Some (including Navalny) argue that although Khodorkovsky is doubtless guilty of some criminal activities which probably include tax evasion, he has already served his time for those; even less than some serve for murder. But just about everyone who wants to curry favour with the opposition pledges to release him if they are ever in a sufficiently powerful position to do so. Some even argue he should be compensated for his loss of power and prestige, and that they would be glad to see him form a political party.

    I don’t understand how anyone in their right mind would sign up for another round of shock therapy and privatizations. I’ll be surprised if Putin does not sail through by a landslide, because the oppositions’ plans sound like they will serve the interests only of western agencies and some of their protest backers. Doubtless there will be some jiggery-pokery with the exit polls to make it look like the fix is in, but hopefully Russians will remember whose country it is. Russia will never win western approval. Stop trying. Do what’s right for the country.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    BTW, even Zyuganov recently promised to free Khodorkovsky if elected.

    Reward for his loyalty to the commie mafia? (Komsomol member, then financed KPRF in early 2000's).

    , @AP
    I've met one of Zhuganov's close relatives (we have mutual friends in Moscow) and have an interesting impression of that family. They are sincerely devout Orthodox Christians, and also rather materialistic.

    I suspect Zhuganov's support for Khodorkovsky is basically opportunistic. At the the same time, if it really came down to a realistic potentially dangerous grab for power against the authoriteis I doubt he would have the guts to go for it. He already acquiesced to Yeltsin's stolen election in 1996.

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  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    You truly are going round in circles now:

    2. Every point you are making will be considered by the European Court of Human Rights. As I have repeatedly said (I have lost count how often) if the European Court of Human Rights finds that Tymoshenko’s prosecution was politically motivated and concludes that she did not get a fair trial it will declare her conviction unsafe and order it quashed and will award her compensation. Why do you persist in trying to pre judge the decision of the European Court of Human Rights when the legal process is ongoing and incomplete?

    3. I am confusing nothing and again you are responding to an argument I have never made. I have never said or implied that it is undemocratic to call an election. What I do say is undemocratic and what definitely is undemocratic is when in a democracy the President who is the guardian of the Constitution and of the law puts himself above the law. What you do not seem to want to accept or understand is that democracy is a system of government that is based on law. Take the law away and what you are left with is no longer a democracy. If a country’s President puts himself above the law then he is putting democracy at risk and his actions can in no way be called democratic whatever excuses or justifications are made for him.

    4. The link you previously provided about the Consitutional Court Judgment does not tell me very much and the other link about the legal opinions is inaccessible to me since I cannot read Ukrainian.

    I do not want to fall into the trap that you have fallen into of trying to excuse behaviour that is inexcusable and probably illegal. What I would say is that on the face of it this all looks far less serious and far less dangerous than Yushchenko’s actions in 2007. A group of deputies appear to have gone over to Yanukovitch’s side, something which by the way would have been their decision not his even if he inspired it. That decision was challenged in the Constitutional Court which duly delivered its Judgment. That Judgment may be wrong, Court Judgments (including US Supreme Court Judgments) often are, but there is no suggestion here that anybody least of all Yanukovitch has put themselves above the law.

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  • @yalensis
    It is a law of nature: Stalinists ALWAYS enter into rotten popular fronts with the class enemy. Stalinists ALWAYS betray their constituents.
    English proverb: The apple does not fall far from the tree. Grrrrrrr!

    Just to say that I agree with all of the points made here about Khodorkovsky.

    As I recently said on Mark Chapman’s blog I recently had a bizarre experience when I watched for the first time the action thriller the Bourne Supremacy. The supervillain in the film is a young, bespectacled Russian oligarch who gains control of the Russian oil industry with help from rogue elements of the CIA and who uses hitmen to bump off his opponents. Not only does he look like Khodorkovsky but his company is callled “Pekos”, which is obviously intended to sound like Yukos. Giuseppe Flavio found that the fact that the supervillain in the Bourne Supremacy is based on Khodorkovsky is widely known and had been mentioned in a Wikipedia entry about the film that Wikipedia has since deleted. The film was released in 2004 so it would have been conceived and made before Khodorkovsky was arrested, transforming him instantly in western eyes from an oligarchic villain into a martyr and saint.

    A few more points:

    1. Zyuganov’s comments are remarkably stupid given that the revelation of the KPRF’s connections to Khodorkovsky caused them severe political damage back in 2004. Khodorkovsky’s doling out of money to all and sundry including to political parties of totally conflicting views should be seen for what it was, which was a massive system of organised bribery intended to buy up the political system.

    2. Khodorkovsky today publicly attacked the European Court of Human Rights alleging that it had been forced to make concessions to Russia. I was wondering how long it would be before that happened.

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  • @charly
    BP is one of the big oil companies. They operate partly above the law. Untoward probably means to powerfull/forcefull. If he can do that then why won't he steal the company from under our feet at a later point in time.

    Untoward does not mean too powerful or too forceful: it means improper or unseemly; it also means unruly, namely not amenable to discipline or control.

    I should think that Browne was perhaps being discreetly polite in writing that he felt that Khodorkovsky’s business approach was untoward; he was also probably acting somewhat prudently in not stating outright that Khodorkovsky was admitting to criminality in his claiming that he could evade taxation by controlling members of the legislature.

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    • Replies: @Mark
    Khodorkovsky is supposed to have financed local libraries and provided computers to some schools, that sort of thing. I could never find anything more than vague references to his philanthropic activities, but they seemed small and sporadic and purpose-driven considering his enormous wealth. Some (including Navalny) argue that although Khodorkovsky is doubtless guilty of some criminal activities which probably include tax evasion, he has already served his time for those; even less than some serve for murder. But just about everyone who wants to curry favour with the opposition pledges to release him if they are ever in a sufficiently powerful position to do so. Some even argue he should be compensated for his loss of power and prestige, and that they would be glad to see him form a political party.

    I don't understand how anyone in their right mind would sign up for another round of shock therapy and privatizations. I'll be surprised if Putin does not sail through by a landslide, because the oppositions' plans sound like they will serve the interests only of western agencies and some of their protest backers. Doubtless there will be some jiggery-pokery with the exit polls to make it look like the fix is in, but hopefully Russians will remember whose country it is. Russia will never win western approval. Stop trying. Do what's right for the country.

    , @charly
    You are using the dictionary definition while i and probably you too think that he was using code for his real thoughts about the man. He was being discreetly polite in using untoward instead of criminal (your words)
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  • @kirill
    So Zhuganov has outed himself as a comprador with his recent announcement that he would release Khodorkovsy, the living saint of Russian dissidents and political prisoners (sarc). I can see that a circus is being prepared for March. The Russian opposition is so desperate for power that they are willing to sell their country down the river.

    It is a law of nature: Stalinists ALWAYS enter into rotten popular fronts with the class enemy. Stalinists ALWAYS betray their constituents.
    English proverb: The apple does not fall far from the tree. Grrrrrrr!

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Just to say that I agree with all of the points made here about Khodorkovsky.

    As I recently said on Mark Chapman's blog I recently had a bizarre experience when I watched for the first time the action thriller the Bourne Supremacy. The supervillain in the film is a young, bespectacled Russian oligarch who gains control of the Russian oil industry with help from rogue elements of the CIA and who uses hitmen to bump off his opponents. Not only does he look like Khodorkovsky but his company is callled "Pekos", which is obviously intended to sound like Yukos. Giuseppe Flavio found that the fact that the supervillain in the Bourne Supremacy is based on Khodorkovsky is widely known and had been mentioned in a Wikipedia entry about the film that Wikipedia has since deleted. The film was released in 2004 so it would have been conceived and made before Khodorkovsky was arrested, transforming him instantly in western eyes from an oligarchic villain into a martyr and saint.

    A few more points:

    1. Zyuganov's comments are remarkably stupid given that the revelation of the KPRF's connections to Khodorkovsky caused them severe political damage back in 2004. Khodorkovsky's doling out of money to all and sundry including to political parties of totally conflicting views should be seen for what it was, which was a massive system of organised bribery intended to buy up the political system.

    2. Khodorkovsky today publicly attacked the European Court of Human Rights alleging that it had been forced to make concessions to Russia. I was wondering how long it would be before that happened.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Alexander,

    I am not saying thst because Tymoshenko is a famous politican she should go free; rather, that because she is a famous politician she ought not to be singled out for prosecution that the results of such prosecution ought to be rescinded. In America, AFAIK, if a search or other procedure is deemed unlawful any results of that procedure are thrown out (“fruit from the poisoned tree”). So if her prosecution was politically motivated (as indeed shown by the facts) then its results ought to be thrown out. If the prosecutor was randomly prosecuting powerful people in Ukraine, and Tymoshenko happened to be one of the targets of an investigation that hit people from all sides, this would be fair and just. Unfortunately, the prosecutions consist of simply taking out Yanukovich’s political rivals.

    (by the way, the Tymoshenko case was initiated by that great upholder of the law, Yushchenko)

    3. You wrote:
    “I have NEVER said that the parliamentary elections that took place in 2007 were undemocratic. What I have said is that when the President of a country acts in a deliberately unconstitutional way in violation of his oath and then abuses his power as President to prevent the country’s Constitutional Court from ruling on his actions going even so far as to try to change the composition of the Court whilst the case is underway then the President is putting himself above the law and his actions are not democratic but the opposite.”

    Yes, his actions were above the law but how can calling democratic elections be “the opposite” of democratic? This is simply an example of democracy contradicting the law. It’s not difficult to understand, if you do not confuse democracy and law.

    I agree with you that “The perfectly legal and constitutional actions of the Socialists in no way justify the entirely illegal and unconstitutional actions of the President.” I only point out that Yushchenko’s action was not only illegal and unconstitutional but also democratic. In contrast, Yanukovich’s actions have not only been illegal and unconstitutional, they have also been anti-democratic.

    I couldn’t find the court’s decision in my quick search but here is an article about it:

    http://www.razumkov.org.ua/eng/news.php?news_id=333

    Basically, the Court decided that each member of parliament is his own party and thus he may switch. Very convenient and creative interpretation of Article 81 of the Constitution which states: “The authority of a People’s Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:…6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction.”

    Clearly, according to the Constitution, if a member of parliament leaves his party he must resign. This is logical, because the people voted for parties not for individuals and the members of parliament have the specific job of representing the parties – not themselves. Nobody voted for them, after all.

    Here are some expert legal opinions:

    http://glavcom.ua/articles/480.html

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  • @Moscow Exile
    Yes, he was, and most every other party as well. This gives the lie to the Western claim that when he was "earning" his pile before his imprisonment, he was a philanthropic supporter of "freedom and democracy" in Russia: he had the full political spectrum of duma delegates on his payroll.

    Western propagandists also conveniently forget that one of their heroes, Gorbachev, stated in an interview with the London Times that Khodorkovsky evaded taxes to such an extent that he would have been sent down for far longer if he had been a US citizen. They again rather conveniently forget the opinion of former chairman of BP, Lord Browne, concerning Khodorkovsky's "business" approach, after the the oligarch had boasted to him during a meeting with a view to forging an alliance between BP and Yukos that he had the duma fixed up. As regards this meeting, Browne wrote in his memoirs:

    "Bespectacled, soft-spoken Khodorkovsky could at first glance be mistaken as unassuming. But as the conversation progressed, I felt increasingly nervous. He began to talk about getting people elected to the Duma, about how he could make sure oil companies did not pay much tax, and about how he had many influential people under his control. For me, he seemed too powerful. It is easy to say this with hindsight, but there was something untoward about his approach".

    See: http://www.aar.ru/es/press/articles/item/121-lord-browne-details-the-difficulties-of-doing-business-in-russia-during-tnk-bp-creation.html

    Browne wrote "untoward": he should have written "criminal".

    BP is one of the big oil companies. They operate partly above the law. Untoward probably means to powerfull/forcefull. If he can do that then why won’t he steal the company from under our feet at a later point in time.

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    • Replies: @Moscow Exile
    Untoward does not mean too powerful or too forceful: it means improper or unseemly; it also means unruly, namely not amenable to discipline or control.

    I should think that Browne was perhaps being discreetly polite in writing that he felt that Khodorkovsky's business approach was untoward; he was also probably acting somewhat prudently in not stating outright that Khodorkovsky was admitting to criminality in his claiming that he could evade taxation by controlling members of the legislature.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    “…if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, then Yushchenko’s dismissal of parliament was legal”

    This reasoning is so grotesque that when I first read it it left me speechless. Suffice to say that it is a classic though extreme example of a non sequitur drawing an obviously false conclusion that simply does not follow from the preceding fact.

    I would ask you to take a step back. It seems to me that you are letting your obviously very strong and sincerely held partisan feelings in this matter cloud your judgement causing you to make absurd propositions like this one which I am sure on reflection you would not want to make.

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  • @AP
    I may be wrong, but wasn't Khodorkovsky funding the Communists prior to his imprisonment?

    Yes, he was, and most every other party as well. This gives the lie to the Western claim that when he was “earning” his pile before his imprisonment, he was a philanthropic supporter of “freedom and democracy” in Russia: he had the full political spectrum of duma delegates on his payroll.

    Western propagandists also conveniently forget that one of their heroes, Gorbachev, stated in an interview with the London Times that Khodorkovsky evaded taxes to such an extent that he would have been sent down for far longer if he had been a US citizen. They again rather conveniently forget the opinion of former chairman of BP, Lord Browne, concerning Khodorkovsky’s “business” approach, after the the oligarch had boasted to him during a meeting with a view to forging an alliance between BP and Yukos that he had the duma fixed up. As regards this meeting, Browne wrote in his memoirs:

    “Bespectacled, soft-spoken Khodorkovsky could at first glance be mistaken as unassuming. But as the conversation progressed, I felt increasingly nervous. He began to talk about getting people elected to the Duma, about how he could make sure oil companies did not pay much tax, and about how he had many influential people under his control. For me, he seemed too powerful. It is easy to say this with hindsight, but there was something untoward about his approach”.

    See: http://www.aar.ru/es/press/articles/item/121-lord-browne-details-the-difficulties-of-doing-business-in-russia-during-tnk-bp-creation.html

    Browne wrote “untoward”: he should have written “criminal”.

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    • Replies: @charly
    BP is one of the big oil companies. They operate partly above the law. Untoward probably means to powerfull/forcefull. If he can do that then why won't he steal the company from under our feet at a later point in time.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @kirill
    So Zhuganov has outed himself as a comprador with his recent announcement that he would release Khodorkovsy, the living saint of Russian dissidents and political prisoners (sarc). I can see that a circus is being prepared for March. The Russian opposition is so desperate for power that they are willing to sell their country down the river.

    I may be wrong, but wasn’t Khodorkovsky funding the Communists prior to his imprisonment?

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    • Replies: @Moscow Exile
    Yes, he was, and most every other party as well. This gives the lie to the Western claim that when he was "earning" his pile before his imprisonment, he was a philanthropic supporter of "freedom and democracy" in Russia: he had the full political spectrum of duma delegates on his payroll.

    Western propagandists also conveniently forget that one of their heroes, Gorbachev, stated in an interview with the London Times that Khodorkovsky evaded taxes to such an extent that he would have been sent down for far longer if he had been a US citizen. They again rather conveniently forget the opinion of former chairman of BP, Lord Browne, concerning Khodorkovsky's "business" approach, after the the oligarch had boasted to him during a meeting with a view to forging an alliance between BP and Yukos that he had the duma fixed up. As regards this meeting, Browne wrote in his memoirs:

    "Bespectacled, soft-spoken Khodorkovsky could at first glance be mistaken as unassuming. But as the conversation progressed, I felt increasingly nervous. He began to talk about getting people elected to the Duma, about how he could make sure oil companies did not pay much tax, and about how he had many influential people under his control. For me, he seemed too powerful. It is easy to say this with hindsight, but there was something untoward about his approach".

    See: http://www.aar.ru/es/press/articles/item/121-lord-browne-details-the-difficulties-of-doing-business-in-russia-during-tnk-bp-creation.html

    Browne wrote "untoward": he should have written "criminal".

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    Dear AP,

    2. We are back to selectivity. The point has been argued at length and I do not want to go on repeating myself. Let me say it I hope for one last time: the fact that others might have committed crimes does not or should not confer immunity on Tymoshenko for any crimes she has committed. Similarly the fact that Tymoshenko is an important politician does not or should not confer immunity on her for any crimes she has committed. To argue otherwise on the basis that this somehow limits the Ukrainian people’s democratic choice is to put politicians above the law.

    I do not want to go on repeating myself. I would ask you however to consider what the effect is of what you saying. What you are saying is that because Tymoshenko is a prominent politician she should be allowed to go free and participate in the Ukraine’s political process even if she is a criminal and is guilty not just of the crimes for which she has been convicted but it seems of even worse crimes. If that doctrine is ever adopted then all I can say is poor Ukraine.

    Lastly I would ask you please to stop labelling people. Comments like “Yanukovitch judge” are totally unwarranted and pre judge the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. In this case you have even less cause to attach this label given that you concede the possibility that Tymoshenko might be guilty in which case logically you should also concede the possibility that she might have had a fair trial.

    3. Please do not attribute to me arguments I have never made. I have NEVER said that the parliamentary elections that took place in 2007 were undemocratic. What I have said is that when the President of a country acts in a deliberately unconstitutional way in violation of his oath and then abuses his power as President to prevent the country’s Constitutional Court from ruling on his actions going even so far as to try to change the composition of the Court whilst the case is underway then the President is putting himself above the law and his actions are not democratic but the opposite.

    Whether Yanukovitch was also putting pressure on the judges is totally irrelevant to this point whilst the reason the Constitutional Court never in the end made a decision is because Yushchenko’s actions prevented it from doing so.

    I am not going to get into another discussion about the Socialists. What they did is perfectly normal in parliamentary systems. The perfectly legal and constitutional actions of the Socialists in no way justify the entirely illegal and unconstitutional actions of the President and anyway I would repeat they were not the reason for Yushchenko’s dissolution decree.

    4. I would again repeat my comment about your habit of attaching labels in this case “Yanukovitch court”. Doing so only calls into question your own objectivity.

    I would very much like to see a copy of the relevant Court judgment if it exists in English. Do you know where I can get one? Alternatively if you can send me the Court Judgment in Ukrainian I might be able to get a translation even if only a machine translation.
    I say all this because I doubt that the position is quite as clearcut as you say though I want to make it very clear that I am not in the business of defending Yanukovitch and I never have been. As for the change to the Constitution that you mention that seems to me an entirely internal matter of the Ukraine, which on the face of it and based on the information you have provided has brought the Ukraine into line with other parliamentary systems.

    As to the comments of the judge of the Supreme Court I am not going to comment on them because I do not know the full facts and you have only provided me with his side of the story. The matter anyway is wholly irrelevant to what we have been discussing especially as I have never been in the business of defending Yanukovitch though I note with some concern an earlier comment of Hunter’s which said that this judge has been publicly identified as a Tymoshenko supporter.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I will follow our existing numbering:

    1. We are agreed about this.

    2. Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is the issue. If she is guilty and has been properly convicted according to law then her conviction should stand. As I have laboured to point out it is not a defence that others might be equally or more guilty of criminal offences. Taking that approach would mean that no politician in the Ukraine however corrupt could be convicted of anything. A more certain way to entrench corruption I cannot imagine. Let me say it again if the European Court of Human Rights decides that her prosecution is politically motivated (and the fact that other Orange politicians have been prosecuted or imprisoned may be evidence of that) then Tymoshenko conviction will be quashed and she will be be awarded substantial compensation.

    I do not agree by the way that Tymoshenko's imprisonment limits Ukrainians' political choices. You have argued at length that the three parties we shall call Orange parties are presently outpolling Yanukovitch's party and look set to win the parliamentary elections. This is happening with Tymoshenko in prison.

    3. It is not just a question of rules. Yushchenko's major transgression was not the dissolution decree but the actions he took to rig the Constitutional Court and to prevent it from ruling on his decree. By taking this step Yushchenko put himself above the law, which is not merely a bad precedent but a step to dictatorship given what any constitutional law jurist or theorist will tell you, which is that the prerequisite of democracy is the rule of law and that democracy cannot exist without it. The doctrine was set out centuries ago by Lord Justice Coke addressing the ministers of James I: "Howsoever high you stand the law is above you".

    I also have to take serious issue with your habit of putting "democrat" and "anti democrat" labels on Ukrainian politicians. I have already said why I think this leads you into error. As I have also said Yushchenko's actions cannot by any stretch be considered "democratic".

    As for the parliamentary coalition, the fact that it had disagreements with Yushchenko and was taking measures he didn't like does not make it "anti democratic". Nor does the fact that the Socialists were a part of that coalition render the coalition "anti democratic". The Socialist party was an independent party and the Orange parties didn't own it or own its votes and had no grounds to assume that it would enter into coalition with them no matter what they did. The Socialists were acting perfectly within their rights by going into coalition with Yanukovitch given that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko could not agree with each other and delayed the formation of a government for several weeks if not months.

    As I have said before (and as you appear to accept) such things happen pretty regularly in other countries. For example in Germany in the 1980s the Free Democrats switched sides between elections from the Social Democrats to the Christian Democrats. In Britain in the 1970s the Liberals midway through a parliamentary term in the 1970s entered into an informal coalition arrangement with Labour who they had opposed in the previous elections. Elsewhere in countries like Belgium this sort of thing goes on all the time.

    The fact that the Ukrainian Socialists paid a heavy political price for their decision to go into coalition with Yanukovitch does not make their action "anti democratic". Nor does it mean that they were not entitled to make it. As I have said already the Orange parties did not "own" the Socialist parties or "own" its votes. The fact that the Socialists would have had to put their decision to their voters at the subsequent parliamentary election whenever that took place means that their decision however strongly it may be criticised cannot be called "anti democratic".

    3. As I have said before I do not defend Yanukovitch. If I was advising the parties whose deputies have defected I would advise them to apply to the relevant Ukrainian court (presumably the Constitutional Court) for the defecting deputies' mandates to be withdrawn. The mandates could then be handed out to other members of the parties to whom the defecting deputies originally belonged.

    Has this happened? If so do you know where I might be able to find in English a copy of the Court's Judgment?

    4. I have already discussed the position of the Socialists at length and I don't want to repeat myself.

    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko’s guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90′s Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich’s judge’s decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko’s conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples’ choices – she is curently polling in first place, and so the people’s choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others – but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea’s justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists’ actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn’t like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof – they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko “owned” the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don’t disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters – did they? – then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn’t always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats’s actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn’t they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko’s dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko’s dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This “independent” court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court’s daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine’s former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter’s case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    2. We are back to selectivity. The point has been argued at length and I do not want to go on repeating myself. Let me say it I hope for one last time: the fact that others might have committed crimes does not or should not confer immunity on Tymoshenko for any crimes she has committed. Similarly the fact that Tymoshenko is an important politician does not or should not confer immunity on her for any crimes she has committed. To argue otherwise on the basis that this somehow limits the Ukrainian people's democratic choice is to put politicians above the law.

    I do not want to go on repeating myself. I would ask you however to consider what the effect is of what you saying. What you are saying is that because Tymoshenko is a prominent politician she should be allowed to go free and participate in the Ukraine's political process even if she is a criminal and is guilty not just of the crimes for which she has been convicted but it seems of even worse crimes. If that doctrine is ever adopted then all I can say is poor Ukraine.

    Lastly I would ask you please to stop labelling people. Comments like "Yanukovitch judge" are totally unwarranted and pre judge the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. In this case you have even less cause to attach this label given that you concede the possibility that Tymoshenko might be guilty in which case logically you should also concede the possibility that she might have had a fair trial.

    3. Please do not attribute to me arguments I have never made. I have NEVER said that the parliamentary elections that took place in 2007 were undemocratic. What I have said is that when the President of a country acts in a deliberately unconstitutional way in violation of his oath and then abuses his power as President to prevent the country's Constitutional Court from ruling on his actions going even so far as to try to change the composition of the Court whilst the case is underway then the President is putting himself above the law and his actions are not democratic but the opposite.

    Whether Yanukovitch was also putting pressure on the judges is totally irrelevant to this point whilst the reason the Constitutional Court never in the end made a decision is because Yushchenko's actions prevented it from doing so.

    I am not going to get into another discussion about the Socialists. What they did is perfectly normal in parliamentary systems. The perfectly legal and constitutional actions of the Socialists in no way justify the entirely illegal and unconstitutional actions of the President and anyway I would repeat they were not the reason for Yushchenko's dissolution decree.

    4. I would again repeat my comment about your habit of attaching labels in this case "Yanukovitch court". Doing so only calls into question your own objectivity.

    I would very much like to see a copy of the relevant Court judgment if it exists in English. Do you know where I can get one? Alternatively if you can send me the Court Judgment in Ukrainian I might be able to get a translation even if only a machine translation.
    I say all this because I doubt that the position is quite as clearcut as you say though I want to make it very clear that I am not in the business of defending Yanukovitch and I never have been. As for the change to the Constitution that you mention that seems to me an entirely internal matter of the Ukraine, which on the face of it and based on the information you have provided has brought the Ukraine into line with other parliamentary systems.

    As to the comments of the judge of the Supreme Court I am not going to comment on them because I do not know the full facts and you have only provided me with his side of the story. The matter anyway is wholly irrelevant to what we have been discussing especially as I have never been in the business of defending Yanukovitch though I note with some concern an earlier comment of Hunter's which said that this judge has been publicly identified as a Tymoshenko supporter.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    "...if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, then Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal"

    This reasoning is so grotesque that when I first read it it left me speechless. Suffice to say that it is a classic though extreme example of a non sequitur drawing an obviously false conclusion that simply does not follow from the preceding fact.

    I would ask you to take a step back. It seems to me that you are letting your obviously very strong and sincerely held partisan feelings in this matter cloud your judgement causing you to make absurd propositions like this one which I am sure on reflection you would not want to make.

    , @AP
    Alexander,

    I am not saying thst because Tymoshenko is a famous politican she should go free; rather, that because she is a famous politician she ought not to be singled out for prosecution that the results of such prosecution ought to be rescinded. In America, AFAIK, if a search or other procedure is deemed unlawful any results of that procedure are thrown out ("fruit from the poisoned tree"). So if her prosecution was politically motivated (as indeed shown by the facts) then its results ought to be thrown out. If the prosecutor was randomly prosecuting powerful people in Ukraine, and Tymoshenko happened to be one of the targets of an investigation that hit people from all sides, this would be fair and just. Unfortunately, the prosecutions consist of simply taking out Yanukovich's political rivals.

    (by the way, the Tymoshenko case was initiated by that great upholder of the law, Yushchenko)

    3. You wrote:
    "I have NEVER said that the parliamentary elections that took place in 2007 were undemocratic. What I have said is that when the President of a country acts in a deliberately unconstitutional way in violation of his oath and then abuses his power as President to prevent the country’s Constitutional Court from ruling on his actions going even so far as to try to change the composition of the Court whilst the case is underway then the President is putting himself above the law and his actions are not democratic but the opposite."

    Yes, his actions were above the law but how can calling democratic elections be "the opposite" of democratic? This is simply an example of democracy contradicting the law. It's not difficult to understand, if you do not confuse democracy and law.

    I agree with you that "The perfectly legal and constitutional actions of the Socialists in no way justify the entirely illegal and unconstitutional actions of the President." I only point out that Yushchenko's action was not only illegal and unconstitutional but also democratic. In contrast, Yanukovich's actions have not only been illegal and unconstitutional, they have also been anti-democratic.

    I couldn't find the court's decision in my quick search but here is an article about it:

    http://www.razumkov.org.ua/eng/news.php?news_id=333

    Basically, the Court decided that each member of parliament is his own party and thus he may switch. Very convenient and creative interpretation of Article 81 of the Constitution which states: “The authority of a People’s Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:…6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction.”

    Clearly, according to the Constitution, if a member of parliament leaves his party he must resign. This is logical, because the people voted for parties not for individuals and the members of parliament have the specific job of representing the parties - not themselves. Nobody voted for them, after all.

    Here are some expert legal opinions:

    http://glavcom.ua/articles/480.html

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    You truly are going round in circles now:

    2. Every point you are making will be considered by the European Court of Human Rights. As I have repeatedly said (I have lost count how often) if the European Court of Human Rights finds that Tymoshenko's prosecution was politically motivated and concludes that she did not get a fair trial it will declare her conviction unsafe and order it quashed and will award her compensation. Why do you persist in trying to pre judge the decision of the European Court of Human Rights when the legal process is ongoing and incomplete?

    3. I am confusing nothing and again you are responding to an argument I have never made. I have never said or implied that it is undemocratic to call an election. What I do say is undemocratic and what definitely is undemocratic is when in a democracy the President who is the guardian of the Constitution and of the law puts himself above the law. What you do not seem to want to accept or understand is that democracy is a system of government that is based on law. Take the law away and what you are left with is no longer a democracy. If a country's President puts himself above the law then he is putting democracy at risk and his actions can in no way be called democratic whatever excuses or justifications are made for him.

    4. The link you previously provided about the Consitutional Court Judgment does not tell me very much and the other link about the legal opinions is inaccessible to me since I cannot read Ukrainian.

    I do not want to fall into the trap that you have fallen into of trying to excuse behaviour that is inexcusable and probably illegal. What I would say is that on the face of it this all looks far less serious and far less dangerous than Yushchenko's actions in 2007. A group of deputies appear to have gone over to Yanukovitch's side, something which by the way would have been their decision not his even if he inspired it. That decision was challenged in the Constitutional Court which duly delivered its Judgment. That Judgment may be wrong, Court Judgments (including US Supreme Court Judgments) often are, but there is no suggestion here that anybody least of all Yanukovitch has put themselves above the law.

    , @Hunter
    Interestingly, this is not Tymoshenko's first brush with the law. Here is what the BBC wrote about her in a 2002 article:

    "The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc is led by the eponymous Ms Tymoshenko, archcritic of the president and one of the most colourful and controversial Ukrainian politicians.
    Ms Tymoshenko headed the national gas company and was deputy premier under Viktor Yushchenko.

    She is standing on an anti-corruption ticket but is herself under prosecution for alleged embezzlement at the gas company, and was briefly jailed last year.

    She says the charges are politically motivated."


    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    , @Hunter
    "(by the way, the Tymoshenko case was initiated by that great upholder of the law, Yushchenko)"

    Hmm....if Tymoshenko was under investigation over corruption with a gas company from as far back as 2002 (under Kuchma) and fell under investigation again by Yushchenko (after 2002 but before 2010) and had the prosecution completed under Yanukovych (2010-2011) then she is either really corrupt or really targeted (it could well be both as either possibility is not mutually exclusive).

    , @AP
    Alexander:

    2. And, as I have said, we have the right to look at facts and draw logical conclusions even before the European Court of Human Rights issues its decision.

    3. You wrote: "What I do say is undemocratic and what definitely is undemocratic is when in a democracy the President who is the guardian of the Constitution and of the law puts himself above the law. What you do not seem to want to accept or understand is that democracy is a system of government that is based on law. Take the law away and what you are left with is no longer a democracy."

    The actual defintion of democratric is: "1. (Philosophy) (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) of, characterized by, derived from, or relating to the principles of democracy."
    2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) upholding or favouring democracy or the interests of the common people

    The English-language definition of democracy is: 1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
    2. A political or social unit that has such a government.
    3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
    4. Majority rule.

    No mention of the words "law" here. There is mention of concepts such as "by the people", "majority rule", "common people as source of political power, (hmm, who are the common people, Socialist party leader Moroz or the voters of Ukrane?)" etc.

    Clearly Yushchenko's illegal action was democratic, at least as the word democratic is understood in the English language (perhaps it has a different meaning in your native language?). He disbanded parliament that no longer reflected the opinion of the PEOPLE and called fair and free elections so that the people could choose their government. His actions insured that the common people, rather than party bosses cutting deals, were the "primary source of political power." Quite democratic indeed. I hope this has been cleared up?

    As for accusations of partisanship - I am no fan of Yushchenko and as I've stated several times what he did was wrong because it was illegal. I'm just pointing out that what he did was democratic, even though illegal. I hope partisanship doesn't play a role in your own confusion with respect to the idea of democracy.

    -------------

    Hunter: Tymoshenko was arrested the second time not for corruption per se but for "abuse of office" - essentially her crime was making a deal with Putin that Yushchenko didn't like. That deal involved cutting out a middleman with ties to both Yushchenko and Yanukovich, costing him (and allegedly but has not been proven perhaps them too) a lot of money.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    2. The trouble is that you are not "drawing logical conclusions from the facts". As I have pointed out to you previously since you concede the possibility that Tymoshenko might be guilty you should logically concede the possibility that she might have had a fair trial and has been properly convicted.

    What you are actually doing is not making any "logical conclusions" but drawing what may turn out to be mistaken inferences from incomplete facts. That is exactly the mistake many people made in the first Khodorkovsky case when the final judgment proved them wrong. Why not give the matter a rest, let the law take its course and wait for the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights?

    3. In trying to separate democracy from law you are fighting a hopeless cause. I do not know by the way where you got your definitions of democracy from but forgive me if I say that they look to me a little like dictionary definitions in which case they are of little use in any discussion of constitutional theory. Let us start instead with the earliest known definition of democracy by a constitutional theorist, in this case Aristotle:

    "A democracy is a state where the free men and the poor, being in the majority, are invested with the power of the state....The most pure democracy is that which is so called principally from that EQUALITY which prevails in it; for this is what the LAW in that state directs; that the poor shall be in no greater subjection than the rich; nor that the supreme power shall be lodged in either of these, but that both shall share it. For if LIBERTY and EQUALITY as some persons suppose, are chiefly to be found in a democracy, it must be so by every department of government being alike open to all; but as the people are the majority, and what they vote is LAW, it follows that such a state must be a democracy" (Politics, book iv, ch.4, 1290b 1291b).

    Here we have all the elements of democracy namely

    1. Equality of rights enforced by law;
    2. Equal access to all levels and bodies of power enforced by law;
    3. Law as the expression of the people's will expressed through the vote of the majority.

    Aristotle was writing at a time of direct democracy before the development of representative institutions in the light of which 3 has been modified. The best expression of this is Article 6 of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1791:

    "Law is the overt expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to participate in legislation, either in person or through their representatives."

    The fact that in a democracy the people are the ultimate source of law and that law is the expression of their will and that this is how in a democracy the people exercise their power and control the government also finds its way into the US Declaration of Independence

    "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted amongst Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter and to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness"

    Consequent upon this Declaration and general democratic principles the preamble to the US Constitution is careful to confirm that it is the people that has established the Constitution and through the Constitution ultimately the laws of the United States:

    "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America"

    Accordingly since for there to be a democracy there must be equality of citizens before the law and enforced by law it follows that any state official who sets himself up as above the law, as Yushchenko did in 2007, cannot be acting democratically. Also since in a democracy the law and the constitution are the expression of the people's will it must also follow that any state official who deliberately violates the law and who breaks his oath by violating the constitution is going against the people's will and is also not acting democratically.

    If you want a further fuller discussion of the supremacy of law in a democracy and of the vital importance of state officials adhering to the law and of the danger to democracy when they don't even in such cases as when the law is wrong or bad I would refer you to Abraham Lincoln's 1838 lecture to the Young Men's Lyceum in Springfield, which is too lengthy to set out here.

    I would conclude by saying that democracy is a Greek not an English word and much as I admire your courage in arguing definitions of Greek words with a Greek and constitutional theory with an admittedly long since retired constitutional lawyer you really are taking on a battle that in the end you simply cannot win. Given that as I understand it you do not even like Yushchenko or approve of what he did in 2007 I am somewhat baffled why you should even try.

    , @AP
    Alexander,

    Thank you for the polite reply, and the interesting information in your reply. It seems that the crux of our problem is that we have been debating on two different levels. When I use the terms democracy and democratic I use them in the sense of normal English-language usage, not in the sense of legal terminology/jargon. Sometimes (I see this in the medical field) professional understanding of terms does not correspond to standard usage of those terms. Moreover, as you undoubtedly know, words frequently have different meanings in different languages. In the standard English language, democracy and democratic refers to rule by the people. This is the way I use the term, according to the dictionary definition. Not according to constitutional lawyers' professional jargon.

    By calling new elections, Yushchenko committed an illegal act for which he deserves condemnation, because he went against the constitution; however, what he did was also demcoratic, in that he gave the power of choosing the parliament into the hands of the people expressed through free and fair elections. That power was legally taken away from them when the party boss Moroz switched sides to gain more power and attain for himself the position of speaker of parliament.

    So let's clarify something. It seems that within the field of constitutional law, something that is unconstitutional cannot be democratic, because democracy depends on law. Is that a correct understanding?

    Now - the free and fair Ukrainian elections were conducted because of an illegal act - the disolution of the previous parliament. That parliament was illegally disbanded in order to have new elections. Therefore, according to a purely legal undertanding, were those free and fair elections not democratic because they were illegal?

    Finally, I am arguing English language words, not Greek ones. I do not presume to tell you what democracy means in the Greek language today or 2300 years ago. I am using the English word "democracy." And I am not arguing constitutional law (indeed, we seem to agree that what Yushchenko did was unconstitutional) but again, normal English language understanding of the situation and whether or not it was democratic.

    Just because I am not a fan of Yushchenko does not mean that I ought to cease being objective about him.

    , @AP
    A further thought about Yushchenko. That he has operated against the law seems clear. In so doing he contributed to the lawlessness and legal nihilism that characterise Ukraine today. For that he can only be condemned. However he has also been consistently democratic. When the parliament switched due to Socialist party boss Moroz's deal, one which contradicted the will of the people who had voted for the Socialists, Yushchenko ultimately illegaly disbanded the parliament, an act supported by the Ukrainian people. According to this poll, 60% of Ukrainians supported what Yushchenko did:

    http://en.for-ua.com/news/2007/04/16/135558.html

    "According to the poll, 60 per cent of the respondents consider that by issuing the decree, Yushchenko wanted to ensure the observance of human rights and put an end to the usurpation of power."

    Yushchenko then called new elections. to give the power to the people rather than to the political bosses, and the elections he supervised were free and fair. Similarly, the presidential elections that Yushchenko lost were free and fair, and Yushchenko in accordance with the will of the people handed power over to Yanukovich.

    I am not proposing that he is a saint of democracy; probably he preferred Yanukovich to Tymoshenko, so his adherence to the democratic process was convenient. But Yushchenko was a bit of a complex political figure.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    Democracy means the same thing in any language, be it English, Greek, Russian, Tibetan or Swahili. The only reason I pointed out to you that it is originally a Greek word is because of your frankly reckless attempt to enlist the English language to support your argument. Nor did I use jargon unless you are accusing Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and the authors of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of using jargon. Nor are we arguing on different plains.

    The problem is that in your anxiety to defend Yushchenko’s you have hit on what you appear to think is a clinching argument that his actions were “democratic” and in order to sustain this argument you have to interpret democracy in a particular way. The result is that you do not think through the implications of many of the things that you say. For example you say that in plain English democracy is “rule of the people” and “rule by the majority” but you refuse to consider what these statements mean or how they contradict your own argument. How can the people rule and how can the majority make and impose its decisions except by law? What value do those decisions have if they do not have the force of law?

    If you stand back and think about it you will see that in reality statements about democracy being “rule by the people” and “rule by the majority” contain within themselves the very point I have been trying to make to you and which you seem determined to resist, which is that democracy is a system of government based on law and that lawless acts cannot ever be democratic.
    What happened in 2007 was that Yushchenko decided to dissolve a democratically elected lawfully constituted parliament in a manner that the constitution did not permit and then prevented the Constitutional Court from performing its function by ruling on his decision. The previous decision of the Socialists to go into coalition with Yanukovitch did not justify these illegal acts since as you admit yourself what the Socialists did was allowed by the Constitution and was perfectly legal and was not therefore undemocratic. Nor did the fact that the political crisis in the end was resolved by an election or that Yushchenko sought to justify his actions by saying that he wanted to call an election make his actions democratic since according to the Ukraine’s constitution calling an election was not Yushchenko’s decision to make. Nor does the fact that the decision might have been popular make it democratic. Dictators often make decisions that are popular but that does not make those decisions democratic any more than it makes the dictators who make them democrats. Nor does the fact that the Socialists lost support in a bitterly contested election in which Ukrainian society was further polarised by Yushchenko’s illegal and unconstitutional behaviour justify that behaviour. As to whether Yushchenko acted in a democratic way on other occasions that is wholly irrelevant to this discussion, which is about what he did in the political crisis of 2007.

    One of the most upsetting features of politics in the former Soviet political space is the way in which democracy is repeatedly reduced to a slogan and used as a political football to justify the most atrocious acts. Treating democracy in this way is disastrous and is one reason why politics in places like the Ukraine have become so dysfunctional. The English writer Samuel Johnson once said that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. If one substitutes the word “democracy” for “patriotism” this is all too often true of the former Soviet space. Do not try to grant Yushchenko this refuge.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    A minor point. If my recollection is correct then the parliamentary elections that eventually took place in 2007 did not take place as a result of Yushchenko's original illegal dissolution decree but as a result of an agreement negotiated by Yushchenko and Yanukovitch and were therefore formally agreed to by the parliament. As a consequence of this agreement the elections did not take place on the date originally envisaged by Yushchenko but several months later.

    I do not wish to dwell on this because it is largely irrelevant to the point I am making. What was undemocratic was the attempted illegal dissolution of a democratically elected parliament and the steps taken to prevent the Constitutional Court from ruling on it not the calling of the elections.

    I note by the way with dismay that you persist in saying that the elections that happened in 2007 were illegal even though I have already pointed out to you that I have never said or implied such a thing and nor so far as I know has anyone else. What was illegal was Yushchenko's attempt to dissolve a democratically elected parliament not the elections that followed later.

    , @AP
    Alexander,

    Spoken like a true patriot of your profession, and very well said. To the consitutuional lawyer, democracy cannot exist without law.

    But this is not a legal blog, and the English-language understanding of the word democracy is not dependent on the law. Indeed, the law is not even mentioned in the webster's dictionary definition of democracy, which I remind you is:

    1.a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority

    2. b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

    No mention here of law or that democracy must be dependent on the law. Sorry. I'm not sure why you brought Aristotle into this. I am not arguing about Aristotle's idea of democracy but the modern one as reflected in the definition of that word as currently used. Nor that of lawyers such as Abraham Lincoln.

    There are many cases where professional jargon does not match standard usage. For example, for criminal lawyers insanity has a different meaning than it does in standard usage. But I digress.

    You repeatedly claim that I am trying to justify Yushchenko's action. I am not, and have stated so numerous times. The only thing I defend is accuracy and a proper label on his actions, which were quite democratic. That is, a government by the people and in which the power is in the hands of the people. Yushchenko did not become dictator after dissolving the parliament; nor did he create fake elections to give his party power against the wishes of the people. Instead, he disbanded a parliament that ceased representing the people's will (an act supported by 60% of the population, according to polls) and oversaw free and fair elections in order to elect a parliament that reflected the people's will, unlike the previous one which had after Socialiat leader Moroz's switch no longer represented the people's will (something that happeend very legally!).

    Your inability to be able to come to terms with the fact that law and democracy are not always the same thing prevent you from understanding the realtively simple fact that the law ceased being democratic when Moroz betrayed the people and switched sides, while Yushchenko's illegal act was also very democratic. The parliament with Yanukovich as PM was *legal* but *not democratic*, because the people did not vote for a Blue majority; they voted for a Socialist party based on the reasonable assumption* that their vote was going to an ally of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. This is reflected in the fact that 60% of the Ukrainian people supported that the dissolution of that legal but nondemocratic parliment, and in the fact that in the next elections the now-Blue-allied Socialists didn't make it into the parliament (its voters, were given the chance by the democratic Yushchenko to vote for parties that reflected their wishes). I understand that for some lawyers the law can be more important than reality - a murderer is not really a murderer if he is not convicted, and parliament that reflects the opposite of the people's will is democratic as long as the uinpopular, unelected majority came to power through some completely legal trick. This is frankly doublespeak or the abuse of the word democracy - to refer to a parliament that the people oppose, and that came about through a deal opposed by those who elected it - as democratic merely because the maneuvers that led to the new majority were legal.

    Anyways, essentially, Yushchenko, who as president was supposed to defend the Constitution, chose instead to defend democracy at the expense of the Constitution, when the Constitution failed to safeguard against backroom deals by party bosses acting against the wishes of those who voted their party into parliament.

    In a situation where the law prevented the people from ruling and the law prevented people from making and imposing their decisions, Yushchenko acting as defender of democracy broke the law by dissolving the unpopular parliament, in order to call new elections in order to give power back to the people.

    As for the 2007 elections - they would not have happened if not for the dissolution of parliament. So whatever they were, they were clearly the fruit of an illegal act. They were Yushchenko's.

    *a reasonable assumption because the Socialists and Tymoshenko had been allied since 2002, and Moroz was one of the figures prominant during the Orange Revolution.

    , @Hunter
    "How can the people rule and how can the majority make and impose its decisions except by law?"

    Alexander, there is another way the majority can impose its decision (other than by law of course), but it's not called democracy. The closest examples I can think of would have been the Jim Crow era in the United States and the 1990s in Rwanda where representatives of the majority population imposed it's will on a minority population and the rest of the majority population went along with it or even supported it for a while. "Democracy" for some of course is no real democracy at all. Under those conditions of course, blatantly illegal acts (like lynching, rape, imprisonment on false charges (or sometimes no charges), disenfranchisement etc) were tolerated and sometimes even encouraged or officially sanctioned. Thank God that the world has generally moved on from that form of governance (though minorities (ethnic, religious and political) still face many obstacles in many nations unfortunately).

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    Just as democracy means the same in any language so it means the same in any time or place. If you do not like Aristotle because you think he is too old an authority then try Abraham Lincoln whom I have also referred you to and who says precisely the same thing unless of course you want to argue that Abraham Lincoln is also too old an authority in which case good luck to you.

    You complain about my references to law. This discussion however began as a discussion about the independence of the Ukrainian courts, which is a legal issue. You then introduced democracy into it giving definitions of democracy which you wilfully misunderstand and interpret wrongly in basic ways. All I have done is to try to correct your misunderstandings of your own definitions. However your response when these misunderstandings are pointed out to you is simply o repeat your original definitions leaving all your original misunderstandings unchanged.

    Not only do you wilfully misunderstand what democracy is but you misrepresent the actions of the Socialists in 2006 as undemocratic even after it has been repeatedly pointed out to you that the Socialists were elected to parliament in 2006 as an independent party and that their subsequent decision to go into coalition with Yanukovitch was in accordance with international practice and was in accordance with the constitution and the law and cannot therefore be undemocratic. Despite the fact that you admit that the Socialists are an independent party you insist that in 2006 they were somehow obliged to go into coalition with the Orange parties even whilst you admit that the Orange parties do not own the Socialists or their votes, which must be the case since if Socialist voters were Orange voters they would have voted for Orange parties.

    You then seek to excuse Yushchenko’s illegal and unconstitutional acts by reference both to your mistaken definitions of democracy and to the behaviour of the Socialists which you wilfully misrepresent and persist in doing so even after it has been explained to you that the behaviour of the Socialists was not in fact the reason for Yushchenko’s illegal acts.
    As for the argument that Yushchenko’s unconstitutional behaviour can somehow be excused by reference to the will of the people the argument that a political leader is unconstrained by law so long as he acts in accordance with what he takes to be the will of the people is not a democratic one but a fascist one as any historian or political or constitutional theorist will tell you.

    Lastly I have never said or implied that Yushchenko was a dictator. What I have said and what I continue to say is that for the many reasons I have given you his actions in 2007 were not democratic, which is what you persist in defiance of all evidence and logic in trying to say.

    @Hunter,

    You are of course absolutely right in what you say. None of the examples of behaviour that you have cited are or can be defined as democratic. No one in their right minds would for example call the Jim Crow laws democratic since they violate the fundamental democratic principle of equality. I have avoided making reference to these sort of practices in this discussion up to now in order to avoid inflaming it beyond the point it has become inflamed already.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I want to touch briefly on one other false proposition you persist in making. You persist in saying that when the Socialists went into coalition within Yanukovitch the parliament became "legal" but "undemocratic".

    The proposition is absurd. The parliament was democratically elected by the Ukrainian people for a four year in accordance with the constitution. The Socialists as an independent party were elected to it. As an independent party they exercised their independence by going into coalition with Yanukovitch as they were fully entitled to do. They did this when they became fed up with Yushchenko's and Tymoshenko's failure to agree on a government. In doing so they went into coalition with what was the biggest party in the parliament. To say that this made the parliament "legal" but "undemocratic" is absurd just as it is absurd to argue that this somehow excused or justified the parliament's illegal dissolution before the term the Ukrainian people had elected it for had ended.

    I have already responded to your comments about the irrelevance of popularity of Yushchenko's decision and about the subsequent election to the question of whether what he did was or was not democratic and rather than repeat myself I would refer you to my earlier comments.

    As for your extraordinary comment that for "lawyers" a murderer is not "really" a murderer unless convicted this is another of those amazing comments you are given to making which quite literally leave me speechless.

    , @AP
    Alexander,

    I'm afraid you persist in confusing legality with democracy, and the law with rule by the people. There is a nice English expression - to a hammer everything is a nail. I suppose for some lawyers, everything must be by the law for it to be "real." So when the majority of people want something, and the president gives it to them - disbanding an unpopular parliament that no longer reflects the people's wishes and replacing it with another parliament through a free and fair election! - this is not democracy to you, because it is illegal. Even though it meets the English-language definition of democracy - rule by the people, power to the people, etc.

    Indulge me please, by answering a couple questions. Do you believe that it is democracy if in parliament, the people's will is directly negated through a completely legal maneuver by those whom the people elected but who after the election betrayed the will of the people for their own purposes? That as long as the rules are followed no matter what happens it is democracy? Do you believe it is democracy when the people who oppose and hate X vote for Y assuming that Y will oppose X, and that after getting voted in, Y turns around and joins X to the horror of most of those who elected Y?

    Secondly, do you believe that it is undemocratic to follow the people's will by disbanding an unpopular parliament in order to call free and fair elections so the people have a chance to choose another one?

    Please do not try to artifically separate the two actions - disbanding the parliament and calling elections. I understand doing so may be convenient for your position but in the real world - Ukraine in 2007 - the two events were completely linked. Yushchenko disbanded the parliamenent precisely in order to have new elections, and new elections would have been impossible had he not disbanded that previous parliament. The delay between the disbanding of the parliament and the new elections was completely due to attempted obstruction by the Party of Regions.

    Also, please no implied comparisons of Yushchenko to fascists, to Rwandan genocidists (!) or Jim Crow (!). All the guy did by breaking the law was to let the people vote for a parliament that reflected their wishes, and not have them sit with a parliament that worked against their wishes for four years as mandated by the Constitution. The people didn't want to kill minorities, they didn't want to pursue apartheid, they didn't want to lynch of to rape. All they wanted was new elections and new elections was why the law was broken. Not to kill Tutsis. Not to prevent blacks from sharing water fountains. Just to vote in free and fair elections.

    Because, I'm sorry, for me, a nonlawyer, it seems to be doublespeak to cry "democracy" in order to defend a parliament opposed by the majority of the people and to, also in the name of "democracy," oppose an action that is supported by the majority of the people, *whose sole purpose is to bring in free and fair elections.*

    As for the socialists, you wrote:

    "The parliament was democratically elected by the Ukrainian people for a four year in accordance with the constitution. The Socialists as an independent party were elected to it. As an independent party they exercised their independence by going into coalition with Yanukovitch as they were fully entitled to do."

    I agree with you. Legally they were entitled to do what they did. But here's the key: "The Socialists as an independent party were elected to it." Legally, they were indeed independent. But from the perspective of democracy, they were not independent of the people who voted for them. They were voted in based on certain assumptions by the people. The voters assumed that the Socialists were a left-wing, Orange party opposed to the Party of Regions (the Communists, in contrast, were the Party of Regions-allied left-wing party). The Socialists had been aligned with Tymoshenko since 2002, Socialist leader Moroz stood under the Orange flag during the 2004 crisis, alongside Tymoshenko and Yushchenko, and the Socialists were together with the other Orange parties prior to the 2006 elections. The Socialists were about as Orange as Tymoshenko and Yushchenko. Let's not pretend otherwise.

    From a strictly legal perspective, the Socialists could do what they wanted after they were elected, including totally betray their voters. There was no legal mechanism for recall elections, after all. Legally the people were bound to be ruled by a parliament that directly contradicted their wishes for four years. To you this may be democracy, but logically according to democracy as understood by nonlawyers (reflected in the dictionary definition of that word) democracy is rule by the people, not against the people. Thus when the parliament ceased repesenting the people and began representing only themselves, it ceased being democratic. Perhaps at that point it became an oligarchy. A completely legal one.

    So, Yushchenko broke the law in order to remove the legal oligarchy from power and to hold free and fair elections, in order to restore democracy to Ukraine.

    Is what he did the right thing to do? I don't think so. Because in 2007 Yushchenko broke the law for the sake of demcoracy, and in 2010 the Party of Regions broke the law for the sake of power opposed to democracy.

    But just because Yushcenko's action was wrong does not mean his action wasn't democratic. And just because I state the obvious truth that what he did was democratic does not mean that I defend him, as you have already falsely claimed a number of times.

    , @Hunter
    "Also, please no implied comparisons of Yushchenko to fascists, to Rwandan genocidists (!) or Jim Crow (!)."

    Interesting that you seem to go back on your own words....again. First you say that until I retract my statements on your obvious behaviour that it was "good bye and good luck" yet here you quoting me again. By the way, when someone who is versed in law says you are misrepresenting him, it really doesn't look good on you and telling someone that they are confusing legality with democracy is further confirming that you don't know the difference between ochlocracy and democracy (and yes I know you quoted wikipedia, but that actually serves to prove my point since I suspect you never encountered the word before I wrote it and had no clue what it meant, otherwise why quote a encyclopedic definition of a word instead of giving the definition in your own words?). In both ochlocracy (or in milder forms of majoritarianism) and democracy the "will of the (majority of the) people" is followed. Only in democracy however is law respected absolutely.

    Case in point; your own words:

    "All the guy did by breaking the law was to let the people vote for a parliament that reflected their wishes, and not have them sit with a parliament that worked against their wishes for four years as mandated by the Constitution. "

    And here are your own words as applied to another situation with the actors changed:

    "All the [southern State governments] did by breaking the law [/Constitutional amendments and various Civil Rights Acts] was to let the people [have State laws] that reflected their wishes, and not have them sit with [federal laws] that worked against their wishes [] as mandated by the Constitution. "

    The southern States made themselves to be above federal law in attempts to reflect the wishes of the majority in the South and Yushchenko made himself to be above the law in order to reflect the wishes of the those who voted for his party and its firm allies. What the South did was just as "democratic" as Yushchenko's actions because they were reflecting the wishes of the majority (who voted in persons who promised to institute Jim Crow laws). Similarly the South had a very manipulated justice system which was just as non-democratic as the current manipulation by Yanukovych.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    We are going over the same ground so rather than repeat myself I will limit myself as far as I can to answering your questions:

    1. It is possible to have the rule of law without democracy. Some argue that the USSR under Brezhnev was such a case though this is disputed. All agree that Nineteenth Century Britain had the rule of law but was not a democracy.

    2. It is impossible to have democracy without the rule of law. I have pointed out to you that your attempts to separate democracy from law are hopeless. Any definition of democracy that excludes law is wrong.

    4. I think where many of your problems start is that you refuse to recognise that the Socialists were free agents and were fully entitled to do what they did. I also feel that you have a tendency that I remarked on before to attach labels and because you obviously disapprove of what the Socialists did you attach to their actions the label "anti democratic"

    5. The Socialists's voters elected them to the parliament which was democratically elected by the Ukrainian people for a four year term. Once elected the Socialists as they were entitled to do chose to go into coalition with Yanukovitch. One may condemn this act politically and one is fully entitled to point out that before they were elected the Socialists had given every indication that they would go into coalition with the Orange parties. However because you condemn an act on political grounds that does not entitle you to call it undemocratic. The Socialists always remained ultimately accountable to their voters who would have had a right to pass judgement on what they did at the parliamentary elections that would have happened at the end of parliament's term. Their action was therefore both legal and accountable so it cannot have been undemocratic.

    5. I have to take issue by the way with your comment that the Socialists going into coalition with the Orange parties was contrary to the will of the Ukrainian people. All we are entitled to say is that the Ukrainian people elected for a four year term a parliament that included the Socialists. It is not for us or for Yushchenko to say what beyond this the will of the Ukrainian people was since neither we nor Yushchenko have the right to speak for the Ukrainian people.

    6. I would remind you that what the Socialists did is fairly commonplace in multi party democratic systems. Most people in Britain expected in 2010 that the Liberal Democrats in the event of an evenly divided government would go into coalition with Labour. They went into coalition with the Conservatives instead. Many people including many people who voted for the Liberal Democrats have condemned what they did but no one has called it undemocratic.

    Dear AP, I have never questioned the sincerity of your beliefs. All I have attempted to do is to draw your attention to the way in which they are wrong. I realised long ago that there was no chance that I would persuade you of this since it is clear to me that you are passionately committed to one side in this matter. This you are of course fully entitled to be and it is commendable in some ways that you are though frankly I do think that Yushchenko has in you in this instance a far better advocate than he deserves. I would however ask you to think carefully in future before bringing the question of democracy into a political argument. I realise that on this occasion you are too committed to back away but I would remind you of my previous comment about the concern I feel at the way in which democracy is misused in the post Soviet space often to justify actions that are its opposite. Needless to say that does not do either the cause of democracy or the political process any good.

    For the rest I want to apologise to the other commentators on this post for what must have seemed at times an obsessive discussion. I would say AP that unless you have some fundamentally new point to make or some entirely new question to ask me you check on my earlier comments for my answers to any questions you may have before expecting from me a reply.

    , @AP
    Hunter,

    Sorry, my post was directed towards Alexander, not towards you. That was clear when I started my post, "Alexander." If he chooses to put your ideas in his posts I will address them.

    It's unfortunate that despite by disengagemrnt you decided to keep up the swiftboating, though. Multiple false accusations, and the gem here, actually comparing Yushchenko's disbanding of parliament in order to call new free and fair elections, to Southern states' denials of black rights!

    I only quoted wikipedia about ochlocracy to show that you were seemingly confused about the meaning of the term. An ochlocracy is a democracy. A bad, spoiled form of democracy, but still a democracy. Rule by the people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochlocracy

    Ochlocracy ("rule of the general populace") is democracy ("rule of the people") spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority" and the rule of passion over reason.

    Now what the mob (or, at least, 60% of the population according to opinion polls) wanted in Ukrane was free and fair elections, not racist laws. And this is what Yushchenko gave them, even though doing so was unconstitutional. Free and fair elections. A point worth remembering.

    Anyways, I'd really rather not take this further with someone like you who does not seem to be capable of honesty or civility with those who have an opinion different from your own. I write this with the understanding that you will probably try to provoke another response, which is what trolls do.

    , @AP
    Alexander,

    Thank you again for the civil discussion. We are obviously far apart on some issues but not others. We seem to agree that what Yushchenko did was illegal, and wrong, though the issue of whether it was democratic divides us. Specifically, whether it should be labeled democratic. I don't think you doubt that what he did expressed the will of the majority of the people of Ukraine, as confirmed by an opinion poll giving 60% support for disbanding parliament. We seem to differ on the label of that action.

    I wish you would have directly answered the questions I asked, but it is of course your right not to do so.

    I will address your specific points later, when I am less busy.

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I thought I had answered your questions. Apologies if I was not clear. Let me have one last go:

    1. It is democratic for parties in a democratically elected parliament to form coalitions if this is done in a constitutional way. Individual actions may be criticised on political grounds but that does not make them undemocratic. That applies to what the Socialists did in 2006;

    2. It is undemocratic to dissolve a democratically parliament unconstitutionally. The fact that one of the parties elected to that parliament has gone into an unexpected coalition with another party does not make that unconstitutional act democratic for the reasons I have discussed previously and for the reason I touched on in 1.

    3. No one can say when dissolving unconstitutionally a democratically elected parliament that one is acting in accordance with the will of the people since what is being dissolved is a parliament the people have themselves elected freely and democraticatically in accordance with their constitution and their laws.

    4. It is not democratic to dissolve illegally and unconstitutionally a parliament that has become unpopular. Many parliaments including at the moment the US Congress are unpopular but that is not grounds for illlegally dissolving them. As I have previously said it is possible for something to be both popular and undemocratic and there are many historical examples of this.

    I do insist that the dissolution of the parliament and the subsequent elections are separate events even if the second follows from the first. I do not accept that because the elections were democratic that made the dissolution of the parliament or the attack on the independence of the Constitutional Court democratic.

    There, I am done!

    , @AP
    Alexander,

    Thank you for clarifying further. We seem to agree on the facts (including constitutionality and legality of the events under discussion, etc.) but differ on the label of some events. You prefer the legalistic definition of democracy/democratic (based on laws) - and in such terms you are probably correct - whereas I use that word in its standard or perhaps colloquial form (defined as power to the people, laws not necessary), in which case I am correct.

    An important point I'll repeat here is that a vote does not exist in a vacuum. That is, people do vote based on assumptions and expectations. They do not just vote for X, they vote for X specifically because they expect X to do something. If X gets voted in based on the assumption that he will do that thing, and then does the complete opposite (essentially, committing fraud), then X's presence is clearly not the will of the people. Their vote was basically stolen, even if nothing illegal occurred. In Ukraine's case, X were of course the Socialists.

    So this was Yushchenko's dilemna. He was faced with a parliament that (legally) reflected the opposite of what the people wanted, and which (legally) would act against the interests of the people for four years. He chose the interests of the people - I will call it democracy, you may call it something else - above the Law. He returned the power to the people in the form of free and fair elections, and erased the theft fo their vote and their voice using illegal means.

    The issue here, to emphasize, is more than merely popularity of the Socialists. It is more of fraud. The people did not vote for a prty, and then change their mind or started to dislike it, as has happened with respect to the US congress. They voted for a party expecting one thing and then discovering that they were completely tricked and got the oppositie of what they had voted for. They voted for the Socialists because the Socialists were an ORange party whose platform was very much anti-oligarch, and soon after they got into the parliament based on their Orange status and anti-oligarch position, they completely joined the Blue/oligarch coalition. It was fraud.

    An analogy to the US would seem utterly fantastical: the US elects a democratic congress which promises to underdo Republican policies, then soon after the elections the democrats all change their party affiliation to Republican and state they will take orders from Boehner and/or Gingrich. Something completely bizarre in an American context, but reality in the Ukrainian one.

    In terms of dissolution of parliament and subsequent elections - it is not only that the latter follow from the first, but the first was done for the sole purpose of having the latter. The people wanted new elections, and Yushchenko dissolved the unpopular parliament specifically in order to have them and for no other purpose. It was one event.

    Anyways, best wishes. An interesting conversation.

    , @AP
    A brief addition. Alexander, you mentioned the British Liberal Democrats. I'm not familiar with British politics, but AFAIK the Liberal Democrats did not have an explicitly anti-Conservative platform (also9, I suspect, British society is not as polarized as is Ukrainian society). So their joining the Conservatives is not really that comparable to the Socialists joining the Party of Regions.
    , @Hunter
    AP you wrote:

    "Hunter,

    Sorry, my post was directed towards Alexander, not towards you. That was clear when I started my post, “Alexander.” If he chooses to put your ideas in his posts I will address them."

    Oh please, at no point in Alexander's post did he explicitly mention Rwanda, but you did. Alexander referred generally to my examples and then talked about Jim Crow. Since you had said good bye and good luck to me, why are you bothering to address issues raised between Alexander and myself? If you can address a section of Alexander's post that started out as "@Hunter" (note it didn't say "@AP") why is that you are now using the defence that your post started out as "Alexander"? Doesn't that strike you as hypocritical? You are allowed to address a section of the post that was not directed towards you, but others cannot address a post of yours that was not explicitly directed towards them? Or is it that you genuinely believe you are allowed to do some things while others should not?

    "It’s unfortunate that despite by disengagemrnt you decided to keep up the swiftboating, though. Multiple false accusations,"

    You've yet to deny my stated observations and just above you seem to have proven at least one of them (hypocrisy).


    "and the gem here, actually comparing Yushchenko’s disbanding of parliament in order to call new free and fair elections, to Southern states’ denials of black rights!"


    I was only using your own words as it applied to another situation. If you don't like the comparison why make justifications for Yushchenko breaking the law in order to satisfy the will of the majority? In so doing by the way he denied the minority (those who did not vote for the Orange parties) their right to have their own will respected for the life of the parliament. But apparently minority considerations don't factor into what you consider democracy hence, observing laws (which are one of the ways in which minority rights are expected and if violated can be redressed) is considered separate by you from democracy.

    "I only quoted wikipedia about ochlocracy to show that you were seemingly confused about the meaning of the term. An ochlocracy is a democracy. A bad, spoiled form of democracy, but still a democracy. Rule by the people."

    Sure you did. So now you are saying that ochlocracy is democracy in the same way that grape juice and wine are the same. So now wine is just grape juice right? Just a bad, spoiled form of grape juice. Since nobody ever uses wine as a synonym for grape juice or vice versa unless they are playing around then you must be playing around with the terms ochlocracy and democracy.


    "Now what the mob (or, at least, 60% of the population according to opinion polls) wanted in Ukrane was free and fair elections, not racist laws. And this is what Yushchenko gave them, even though doing so was unconstitutional. Free and fair elections. A point worth remembering."

    Nice way to sidestep the uncomfortable comparison I was able to make using your own words to show that in theory nothing was wrong with Jim Crow according to your own logic. You are basically implying that the "mob" wanted the trappings of elections more than it did the rule of law. Hence they wanted ochlocracy.

    "Anyways, I’d really rather not take this further with someone like you who does not seem to be capable of honesty or civility with those who have an opinion different from your own. I write this with the understanding that you will probably try to provoke another response, which is what trolls do."

    Given that you have apparently demonstrated your own hypocrisy this can't mean much coming from you. I note that you are still unable to account for how the November 2005 Razmukov Cenrte poll Razumkov Centre poll (reproduced below) fits into your hypothesis even though you seem willing to address other points which I raise. Is it that it is inconvenient and therefore ignored? Or that you didn't see it?

    Anyway here is the poll and election results four months later:


    Ramzukov Centre poll conducted between November 3-13, 2005:

    PoR – 17.5%
    BYuT – 12.4%
    OU – 13.5%

    Final election result four months later:

    PoR – 32.4%
    BYuT – 22.3%
    OU – 14%

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  • @Hunter
    "When comparing polls it’s important to compare apples to apples. That is, don’t compare these pre-election parliamentary polls to the results of the parliamentary election but to other pre-election parliamentary polls."

    Which book did you read that in? Because I've never heard anything like that in my life and this is the first time I've ever seen such an idea enunciated. I don't buy it though for the simple reason that if you can't compare pre-election parliamentary polls to parliamentary elections themselves then the pre-election parliamentary polls are useless and there is no point ever discussing them. Much less discussing them with a view to a possible parliamentary election in 2012. After all if pre-election parliamentary polls cannot be compared to actual election results, how can you or I then use these same pre-parliamentary polls to discuss and extrapolate on possible 2012 parliamentary election results? Surely by this logic the only data we can use in discussing the upcoming Ukrainian election is the actual results of past parliamentary elections......

    Pre-election polls (particularly when multiple parties are involved) include large numbers of undecideds who make their decision during the actual election. Thus pre-election numbers tend to underestimate the actual vote totals in the election. For example, in the parliamentay elections of 2006 the Orange parties consistantly polled 35% or so in the pre-election polls, and got into the 40′s during the actual election. One can certainly predict likely results in the actual election based on the pre-election polls (otherwise pre-election polls would be useless) but the raw numbers themselves are not comparable.

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    • Replies: @Hunter
    So you are saying that 35% and 45% are not comparable even though both numbers can easily be described as a range (and even though with the margin of error in polls being 2-5% normally a 35% result in a poll could easily be 40% when error is taken into account)? I'm sure from the very start we established that the Orange parties (for lack of a better term) have consistently scored between 30-50% in parliamentary elections and polls. To say that we can't use pre-parliamentary polls to compare to parliamentary elections except in the one specific instance you've outlined just because one group moves from the 30s to the 40s between only one set of pre-parliamentary polls and a particular parliamentary election means that you are basically framing the debate to suit your needs instead of looking at all the available historical data (which if you did look would show that back in the early 2000s the Orange parties did indeed score about 30% combined - indeed for 2002 the original Orange party had been polling at 27-28% by itself in the poll and ended up with 23% in the actual result).

    Sure polls include a number of undecided, but you what? They also include people who will say one thing to the pollster and then do something else in the voting booth. Some people simply change their mind while others never gave a candid answer to begin with (for instance in the Shy Tory Factor or the Bradley effect). Others have already made up their mind but simply refuse to answer the pollster since they may feel that their views are private and their privacy should be respected. If you are going to throw out one set of opinion polls (except for the ones which you like to choose because they fit your thesis) because they have undecided then you really should throw out ALL opinion polls since all opinion polls (or almost all) have an undecided category. Even then you do not account for the fact that some of the undecided may actually be "against all" inclined and would either choose that option if available or spoil their ballot.

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  • So Zhuganov has outed himself as a comprador with his recent announcement that he would release Khodorkovsy, the living saint of Russian dissidents and political prisoners (sarc). I can see that a circus is being prepared for March. The Russian opposition is so desperate for power that they are willing to sell their country down the river.

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    • Replies: @AP
    I may be wrong, but wasn't Khodorkovsky funding the Communists prior to his imprisonment?
    , @yalensis
    It is a law of nature: Stalinists ALWAYS enter into rotten popular fronts with the class enemy. Stalinists ALWAYS betray their constituents.
    English proverb: The apple does not fall far from the tree. Grrrrrrr!
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  • @Jennifer
    This BBC report has been doing the online rounds quite a lot so some people here might have already seen it:
    http://www.ufo-blogger.com/2011/08/libya-war-media-lies-exposed-bbc-shows.html

    There were also reports in October last year that a US commander had spilt the beans about BBC, Agence Presse and CNN journalists on the ground in Libya providing ground co-ordinates of pro-Gaddafi forces to NATO who then relayed the information to the "rebels" but the last couple of times I did Google searches, all these reports had disappeared.

    This was about when The "Ndranguardia newspaper printed an article about some archaeologists "discovering" a lost civilisation in the Libyan Sahara and exchanging ground co-ordinates information with NATO as part of their research. A commenter on the forum following the article made a remark about the archaeologists collaborating with NATO.

    Hi, Jennifer, thanks for reminding me of the egregious role played by CNN, BBC and Sky News as well in the Libyan conflict. These organizations, like Al Jazeera, cast aside all pretences to be journalists and acted as agents of their nations military intelligence agencies. The Rixos Hotel example shows how some Western “journalists” collaborated with NATO in targeting other (pro-Gaddafy) journalists for assassination.
    Like you, I have been finding recently that some sources I used to see on internet (mostly by pro-Gaddafy or neutral elements) have disappeared. While following Libya war I saved links of articles that interested me, figuring that I could cite them as sources when debating on blogs, but now when I try to return to some of those links I encounter a “page not found” error. I have also encountered some you-tube videos that used to exist but now say something like “Video removed due to copyright infringements at the request of …. [and then list some entertainment organizations].” I don’t want to get too paranoid, but I do get the impression somebody in Orwellian fashion is scouring the internet and cleaning up after the “fog of war”. There is probably more stuff intact in Arabic, but unfortunately I do not read Arabic. I am currently TRYING to learn to read Arabic, but it is slow going. (I am only halfway through the alphabet, have not even STARTED to learn the grammar; fortunately alphabet is fairly logical, not like English alphabet, I will get there eventually, but it is slow going…) BTW, as an Australian, you might be interested: Arabic pronunciation seems similar in many ways to Australian dialect of English, there is the glottal stop (like the way you Australians pronounce a word like “bottle”), and the main consonants (b, t, d, etc.) in Arabic are pronounced more like in English than their Russian counterparts.

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    • Replies: @Jennifer
    Hi Yalensis: You could try reading the Press TV reports in English as well as RT Today. Also if you go to Youtube.com and try typing names like Morris Herman and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in the search field, you may find several videos on the NATO invasion on Libya there still.

    There were reports of a 1996 prison massacre in Tripoli doing the rounds late last year which The Guardian was beating up a lot but they've died down once CNN sent some medical investigators to the scene of the "crime" and discovered the bones found there were animal bones.

    I don't have much knowledge about the status of Arabic in Australia but most Arabic speakers here speak Lebanese Arabic. I don't know how representative Lebanese Arabic is of Arabic generally. Probably the next biggest group of Arabic speakers in Australia is the Egyptian group and I do know Egyptian Arabic is very different from most other dialects of Arabic (eg Egyptians say "Gamal" and "gebel" whereas other speakers would say "Jamal" and "jebel"). Most Arab Australians are Muslim but a large minority is Christian (usually Coptic or Maronite).

    Australian English changes all the time as well and seems to be edging closer to British and New Zealand forms of English. It really depends on where you live and work. The glottal stop has become ancient history. People in poorer areas have a broader, flatter accent that sounds "typically" Australian. Also people seem to be swallowing their vowels more (in the manner of New Zealand English which uses the schwa sound more than Australian English does) so a word like "visit" ends up sounding like "vusut".

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  • @Hunter
    Excellent! Examples. So we have Tymoshenko (arrested, tried and imprisoned), Lutsenko (in jail), Korniychuk (arrested), Makarenko (arrested) and Didenko (arrested). Alongside Kuchma (who was also arrested but in 2004 painted as a Yanukovych ally) and from an earlier time Kolesnikov and Kushnaryov (both Yanukovyvh allies arrested under the Orange government). Besides Yankovych's own prison-stint this just seems to confirm that as I said, a lot of Ukrainian politicians are corrupt. Or at least they seem to get themselves involved in activities that authorities seem eager to arrest them. But then I guess judicial independence doesn't really mean anything when the presiding Supreme Court judge (Onopenko) can be described in some western newspapers as a "Tymoshenko ally".

    As I said earlier, the EU isn't going to encourage judiciary independence in Ukraine by pressuring Yanukovych to meddle (or continue meddling) with the courts. The best thing the EU could have done would have been to appeal to the courts directly to not be swayed by any political interference and to not let political allegiances (whether to Yankuovych or Tymoshenko) get in the way of a fair judgement (whether it be conviction or acquittal).

    Remember that two wrongs don't make a right and even if Yanukovych is interfering in the courts (as seems to be the case on the evidence you have presented), encouraging further wrongs isn't the way to go about making Ukraine into a proper EU candidate as it sends the wrong message. Rather than sending the message to the judiciary to be independent it sends the message that it is okay for government control or interference in the courts as long as the outcome doesn't meet the displeasure of the EU.

    “If the Ukrainian people supported what the parliament was now doing, this would give them a chance to vote out the Orange parties….”

    Given that voter turnout dropped by 5% (equivalent to 2 million voters), it could well be argued that a lot of Ukrainians didn’t like Yushchenko did. Rather than voting the Orange parties out it seems that more Ukrainians decided to not bother voting for any party at all which is damning indictment on the Orange parties, the PoR, the Socialists and the other parties.

    And remember that with a 62% turnout, even if the Orange parties got 50% of the vote that would be 31% of the electorate’s support. The referendum on amending the constitution including how parliament could be dissolved got the support of over 64% of the electorate (over 80% support in a vote with an 80% turnout). It’s quite possible that the Orange parties had the support of some people who voted for the constitutional amendments as well as some people who did not vote in the referendum and some people who may have voted against those amendments.

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  • @AP
    Hunter,

    When comparing polls it's important to compare apples to apples. That is, don't compare these pre-election parliamentary polls to the results of the parliamentary election but to other pre-election parliamentary polls.

    I looked at four opinion polls taken prior to the parliamentary elections of 2006 (unfortunately I couldn't find opinion polls for the 2007 parliamentary elections), three by Razumkov and one by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. The results for the three Orange parties were 31.5%, 32%, 35.9%, and 32.9%, respectively (the percent of undecideds ranged from 10.5 to 20.9% in these polls).

    In contrast, December 2011's poll gave the Orange parties a collective support of 45%. This pre-election poll's results is thus a significant improvement for the Orange side in comparison to the previous ones.

    Back in 2006, the Orange parties ended up collectively winning 41.93% of the votes which translated into 243 seats out of 450 - a small (54%) majority. Given the current poll numbers, in which already the Orange parties are enjoying about 10% more support than they did in previous pre-election polls, it is quite likely that they will the get into the upper fifties or even sixty percent of the parliamentary vote. The elections are of course about ten months away, much can happen until then, but that's how it looks now.

    You explanation for increase in Orange support makes sense. Certainly the lack of squabbling between Tymosehnko and Yushchenkoplays a role. As AK pointed out, Yanukovich's austerity measures also undoubtedly play a large role also.

    About EU support in Yanukovich's camp - it seems that most people in Ukraine understand that whatever his rhetoric, Yanukovich's policies (especally those concerning Tymoshenko) are keeping the EU distant. If people were really interested in the EU they would not support Yanukovich. His rhetoric might turn off very hardcore oppoenents of the EU (who would suport the Communists or insignificant Rusian nationalist parties) but these wouldn't be over 20% of the Ukrainian population.

    “About EU support in Yanukovich’s camp – it seems that most people in Ukraine understand that whatever his rhetoric, Yanukovich’s policies (especally those concerning Tymoshenko) are keeping the EU distant. If people were really interested in the EU they would not support Yanukovich.”

    This makes a lot of suppositions:

    First it presupposes that voters must know that Yanukovych’s EU rhetoric is false but that his pro-Russia rhetoric is true. Given Yanukovych’s actual efforts in government I’m sure a lot of voters would be hard pressed to make this distinction as easily as you. After all how can they all think that Yanukovych’s policies keep the EU distant when in late 2010 an agreement was made for an “action plan for Ukraine toward the establishment of a visa-free regime for short-stay travel”? That is a very visible and real pro-EU policy move right there.

    Secondly it presupposes that voters who support the EU must be anti-Yanukovych, but in real life you can’t categorize people like that under neat little titles. Just as you can have Blue Dog Democrats (who are Democrats but favour some conservative/Republican ideas such as low taxes) it should be quite possible that some who support the EU will also support Yanukovych.

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  • @AP
    Hunter,

    When comparing polls it's important to compare apples to apples. That is, don't compare these pre-election parliamentary polls to the results of the parliamentary election but to other pre-election parliamentary polls.

    I looked at four opinion polls taken prior to the parliamentary elections of 2006 (unfortunately I couldn't find opinion polls for the 2007 parliamentary elections), three by Razumkov and one by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. The results for the three Orange parties were 31.5%, 32%, 35.9%, and 32.9%, respectively (the percent of undecideds ranged from 10.5 to 20.9% in these polls).

    In contrast, December 2011's poll gave the Orange parties a collective support of 45%. This pre-election poll's results is thus a significant improvement for the Orange side in comparison to the previous ones.

    Back in 2006, the Orange parties ended up collectively winning 41.93% of the votes which translated into 243 seats out of 450 - a small (54%) majority. Given the current poll numbers, in which already the Orange parties are enjoying about 10% more support than they did in previous pre-election polls, it is quite likely that they will the get into the upper fifties or even sixty percent of the parliamentary vote. The elections are of course about ten months away, much can happen until then, but that's how it looks now.

    You explanation for increase in Orange support makes sense. Certainly the lack of squabbling between Tymosehnko and Yushchenkoplays a role. As AK pointed out, Yanukovich's austerity measures also undoubtedly play a large role also.

    About EU support in Yanukovich's camp - it seems that most people in Ukraine understand that whatever his rhetoric, Yanukovich's policies (especally those concerning Tymoshenko) are keeping the EU distant. If people were really interested in the EU they would not support Yanukovich. His rhetoric might turn off very hardcore oppoenents of the EU (who would suport the Communists or insignificant Rusian nationalist parties) but these wouldn't be over 20% of the Ukrainian population.

    “When comparing polls it’s important to compare apples to apples. That is, don’t compare these pre-election parliamentary polls to the results of the parliamentary election but to other pre-election parliamentary polls.”

    Which book did you read that in? Because I’ve never heard anything like that in my life and this is the first time I’ve ever seen such an idea enunciated. I don’t buy it though for the simple reason that if you can’t compare pre-election parliamentary polls to parliamentary elections themselves then the pre-election parliamentary polls are useless and there is no point ever discussing them. Much less discussing them with a view to a possible parliamentary election in 2012. After all if pre-election parliamentary polls cannot be compared to actual election results, how can you or I then use these same pre-parliamentary polls to discuss and extrapolate on possible 2012 parliamentary election results? Surely by this logic the only data we can use in discussing the upcoming Ukrainian election is the actual results of past parliamentary elections……

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    • Replies: @AP
    Pre-election polls (particularly when multiple parties are involved) include large numbers of undecideds who make their decision during the actual election. Thus pre-election numbers tend to underestimate the actual vote totals in the election. For example, in the parliamentay elections of 2006 the Orange parties consistantly polled 35% or so in the pre-election polls, and got into the 40's during the actual election. One can certainly predict likely results in the actual election based on the pre-election polls (otherwise pre-election polls would be useless) but the raw numbers themselves are not comparable.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • One thing we can all comfortably predict for 2012 is that US-financed “independent” non-government organisations and “opposition” groups will be very active during the Russian Presidential elections this coming March and the Western media will be falling over themselves to interview these groups and get their “analyses” of the election outcomes. See this report by F William Engdahl on the Global Research website: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28571

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    Much as I admire your persistence in trying to prove the existence of a defence of selectivity I am afraid you are not going to persuade me.

    As for the police I think most lawyers and most policemen would be surprised to hear that their remit is to maintain order rather than prosecute crime given that in a democratic society the two cannot be separated.

    Try upholding underage drinking laws in a college town and see how fast disorder grows.

    ps. I don’t see why you need to add democratic to society?

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Yalensis,

    You are absolutely right in what you say. When journalists fabricate a story in this way they have ceased to be reporters of news but have become propagandists.

    This BBC report has been doing the online rounds quite a lot so some people here might have already seen it:

    http://www.ufo-blogger.com/2011/08/libya-war-media-lies-exposed-bbc-shows.html

    There were also reports in October last year that a US commander had spilt the beans about BBC, Agence Presse and CNN journalists on the ground in Libya providing ground co-ordinates of pro-Gaddafi forces to NATO who then relayed the information to the “rebels” but the last couple of times I did Google searches, all these reports had disappeared.

    This was about when The “Ndranguardia newspaper printed an article about some archaeologists “discovering” a lost civilisation in the Libyan Sahara and exchanging ground co-ordinates information with NATO as part of their research. A commenter on the forum following the article made a remark about the archaeologists collaborating with NATO.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    Hi, Jennifer, thanks for reminding me of the egregious role played by CNN, BBC and Sky News as well in the Libyan conflict. These organizations, like Al Jazeera, cast aside all pretences to be journalists and acted as agents of their nations military intelligence agencies. The Rixos Hotel example shows how some Western “journalists” collaborated with NATO in targeting other (pro-Gaddafy) journalists for assassination.
    Like you, I have been finding recently that some sources I used to see on internet (mostly by pro-Gaddafy or neutral elements) have disappeared. While following Libya war I saved links of articles that interested me, figuring that I could cite them as sources when debating on blogs, but now when I try to return to some of those links I encounter a “page not found” error. I have also encountered some you-tube videos that used to exist but now say something like “Video removed due to copyright infringements at the request of …. [and then list some entertainment organizations].” I don’t want to get too paranoid, but I do get the impression somebody in Orwellian fashion is scouring the internet and cleaning up after the “fog of war”. There is probably more stuff intact in Arabic, but unfortunately I do not read Arabic. I am currently TRYING to learn to read Arabic, but it is slow going. (I am only halfway through the alphabet, have not even STARTED to learn the grammar; fortunately alphabet is fairly logical, not like English alphabet, I will get there eventually, but it is slow going…) BTW, as an Australian, you might be interested: Arabic pronunciation seems similar in many ways to Australian dialect of English, there is the glottal stop (like the way you Australians pronounce a word like “bottle”), and the main consonants (b, t, d, etc.) in Arabic are pronounced more like in English than their Russian counterparts.
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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I will follow our existing numbering:

    1. We are agreed about this.

    2. Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is the issue. If she is guilty and has been properly convicted according to law then her conviction should stand. As I have laboured to point out it is not a defence that others might be equally or more guilty of criminal offences. Taking that approach would mean that no politician in the Ukraine however corrupt could be convicted of anything. A more certain way to entrench corruption I cannot imagine. Let me say it again if the European Court of Human Rights decides that her prosecution is politically motivated (and the fact that other Orange politicians have been prosecuted or imprisoned may be evidence of that) then Tymoshenko conviction will be quashed and she will be be awarded substantial compensation.

    I do not agree by the way that Tymoshenko's imprisonment limits Ukrainians' political choices. You have argued at length that the three parties we shall call Orange parties are presently outpolling Yanukovitch's party and look set to win the parliamentary elections. This is happening with Tymoshenko in prison.

    3. It is not just a question of rules. Yushchenko's major transgression was not the dissolution decree but the actions he took to rig the Constitutional Court and to prevent it from ruling on his decree. By taking this step Yushchenko put himself above the law, which is not merely a bad precedent but a step to dictatorship given what any constitutional law jurist or theorist will tell you, which is that the prerequisite of democracy is the rule of law and that democracy cannot exist without it. The doctrine was set out centuries ago by Lord Justice Coke addressing the ministers of James I: "Howsoever high you stand the law is above you".

    I also have to take serious issue with your habit of putting "democrat" and "anti democrat" labels on Ukrainian politicians. I have already said why I think this leads you into error. As I have also said Yushchenko's actions cannot by any stretch be considered "democratic".

    As for the parliamentary coalition, the fact that it had disagreements with Yushchenko and was taking measures he didn't like does not make it "anti democratic". Nor does the fact that the Socialists were a part of that coalition render the coalition "anti democratic". The Socialist party was an independent party and the Orange parties didn't own it or own its votes and had no grounds to assume that it would enter into coalition with them no matter what they did. The Socialists were acting perfectly within their rights by going into coalition with Yanukovitch given that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko could not agree with each other and delayed the formation of a government for several weeks if not months.

    As I have said before (and as you appear to accept) such things happen pretty regularly in other countries. For example in Germany in the 1980s the Free Democrats switched sides between elections from the Social Democrats to the Christian Democrats. In Britain in the 1970s the Liberals midway through a parliamentary term in the 1970s entered into an informal coalition arrangement with Labour who they had opposed in the previous elections. Elsewhere in countries like Belgium this sort of thing goes on all the time.

    The fact that the Ukrainian Socialists paid a heavy political price for their decision to go into coalition with Yanukovitch does not make their action "anti democratic". Nor does it mean that they were not entitled to make it. As I have said already the Orange parties did not "own" the Socialist parties or "own" its votes. The fact that the Socialists would have had to put their decision to their voters at the subsequent parliamentary election whenever that took place means that their decision however strongly it may be criticised cannot be called "anti democratic".

    3. As I have said before I do not defend Yanukovitch. If I was advising the parties whose deputies have defected I would advise them to apply to the relevant Ukrainian court (presumably the Constitutional Court) for the defecting deputies' mandates to be withdrawn. The mandates could then be handed out to other members of the parties to whom the defecting deputies originally belonged.

    Has this happened? If so do you know where I might be able to find in English a copy of the Court's Judgment?

    4. I have already discussed the position of the Socialists at length and I don't want to repeat myself.

    Dear Charly,

    Much as I admire your persistence in trying to prove the existence of a defence of selectivity I am afraid you are not going to persuade me.

    As for the police I think most lawyers and most policemen would be surprised to hear that their remit is to maintain order rather than prosecute crime given that in a democratic society the two cannot be separated.

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    • Replies: @charly
    Try upholding underage drinking laws in a college town and see how fast disorder grows.

    ps. I don't see why you need to add democratic to society?

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    1. I agree on your point.

    2. I think we can comment on the facts, and draw conclusions from them, before the European Court of Human Rights reaches a decision. Two major opposition leaders (as well as several of their subordinates) have been imprisoned, not a single figure with friendly ties to the government has been arrested. I doubt this is a coincidence. As for Tymoshenko's innocence - it is largely irrelevant. Ukraine's society is such that nobody with significant money is not guilty of something. She is probably guilty of many things; so is Yanukovich, so are his oligarch backers, etc. Ifnot only she but Yanukovich himself, his backer Akhmetov the richest man in Ukraine, etc. were all arrested I would not be complaining. But maybe that would lead to instability. Perhaps the right thing to do for the sake of stability in Ukraine is to declare an amnesty.

    In my opinion the real problem with her prosecution is that it is denying the Ukrainian people a choice in elections by taking out a relatively popular candidate, currently leading in the polls.

    3. Spoken like a good lawyer (I am not complaining about you! - it is the correct attitude for lawyers and it would be awful for them not to have such an attitude). I agree that clear rules that are respected and followed are important and essential for a government; the alternative is mob rule or dictatorship. But it is not necessarily, completely the same as democracy, which is defined as "government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system." It can be reasonably argued that when a party leader stops representing his electors (the people) and indeed *goes against them* (as Socialist leader Moroz did when he switched sides and joined the Party of Regions) he is no longer acting democratically, even though he is acting legally. Yushchenko's quandary in this specific situation was that on the one hand, what happened was legal while on the other, it was antidemocratic in the sense that it was contrary to the people's wishes. For several months he tried not to make a decision, but when the nondemocratic but legal parliamentary majority started to strip away the powers of the elected president it was too much and he chose (rough) democracy over the law by calling new parliamentary elections to let the people, rather than Moroz, decide.

    In the long run it was a bad move because it further eroded the rule of law and set up a bad precedent that Yanukovich followed.

    4. Yushchenko vs. Yanukovich. You wrote "Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis." This applies to the what the Socialists did 5 years ago, but not to what Yanukovich has been doong since becoming president. In Ukraine (unlike, for example, in Canada)parliament members are not elected by the people - parties are. The parliament members are appointed by the parties to represent the parties. Their job is to represent their party. Most people do not even know who the parliament members are. Accordingly, the Constitution was quite clear that if an unelected member of parliament leaves his party he is no longer supposed to be in the parliament. Article 81 of the Constitution stated: "The authority of a People's Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:...6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction." So if a member of parliament left his party, he was no longer supposed to be in the parliament. See here: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ukraine,_2004. So the Ukrainian people elected a parliament with 156 people from Tymoshenko's party 72 from Yushchenko's Our Ukraine (a very slim majority of 228 out of 450 seats) but thanks to the illegal defections under Yanukovich, the parliament became one in which Yanukovich has about 260 votes. Here is an excellent summary of the situation in Ukraine:
    http://globalpolitician.com/26324-ukraine
    Despite our disagreement I highly respect your opinion and wonder what your thoughts are about that.

    5. The Socialists marched under an Orange flag arm-in-arm with Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. Nemtsov and Kasparov did not march under the hammer-and-sickly. Moreover, going into those 2006 elections, the Socialists were allies with Tymoshenko and Yushchenko. It was thus completely reasonable for voters to assume that the Socialists were part of the Orange coalition, which they did. As proof of voters' assumptions - in the next parliamentary elections, after Moroz's betrayal, the Socialsits' voters abandoned them and the Socialists failed to clear the 3% hurdle to get into parliament at all.

    Dear AP,

    I will follow our existing numbering:

    1. We are agreed about this.

    2. Tymoshenko’s guilt or innocence is the issue. If she is guilty and has been properly convicted according to law then her conviction should stand. As I have laboured to point out it is not a defence that others might be equally or more guilty of criminal offences. Taking that approach would mean that no politician in the Ukraine however corrupt could be convicted of anything. A more certain way to entrench corruption I cannot imagine. Let me say it again if the European Court of Human Rights decides that her prosecution is politically motivated (and the fact that other Orange politicians have been prosecuted or imprisoned may be evidence of that) then Tymoshenko conviction will be quashed and she will be be awarded substantial compensation.

    I do not agree by the way that Tymoshenko’s imprisonment limits Ukrainians’ political choices. You have argued at length that the three parties we shall call Orange parties are presently outpolling Yanukovitch’s party and look set to win the parliamentary elections. This is happening with Tymoshenko in prison.

    3. It is not just a question of rules. Yushchenko’s major transgression was not the dissolution decree but the actions he took to rig the Constitutional Court and to prevent it from ruling on his decree. By taking this step Yushchenko put himself above the law, which is not merely a bad precedent but a step to dictatorship given what any constitutional law jurist or theorist will tell you, which is that the prerequisite of democracy is the rule of law and that democracy cannot exist without it. The doctrine was set out centuries ago by Lord Justice Coke addressing the ministers of James I: “Howsoever high you stand the law is above you”.

    I also have to take serious issue with your habit of putting “democrat” and “anti democrat” labels on Ukrainian politicians. I have already said why I think this leads you into error. As I have also said Yushchenko’s actions cannot by any stretch be considered “democratic”.

    As for the parliamentary coalition, the fact that it had disagreements with Yushchenko and was taking measures he didn’t like does not make it “anti democratic”. Nor does the fact that the Socialists were a part of that coalition render the coalition “anti democratic”. The Socialist party was an independent party and the Orange parties didn’t own it or own its votes and had no grounds to assume that it would enter into coalition with them no matter what they did. The Socialists were acting perfectly within their rights by going into coalition with Yanukovitch given that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko could not agree with each other and delayed the formation of a government for several weeks if not months.

    As I have said before (and as you appear to accept) such things happen pretty regularly in other countries. For example in Germany in the 1980s the Free Democrats switched sides between elections from the Social Democrats to the Christian Democrats. In Britain in the 1970s the Liberals midway through a parliamentary term in the 1970s entered into an informal coalition arrangement with Labour who they had opposed in the previous elections. Elsewhere in countries like Belgium this sort of thing goes on all the time.

    The fact that the Ukrainian Socialists paid a heavy political price for their decision to go into coalition with Yanukovitch does not make their action “anti democratic”. Nor does it mean that they were not entitled to make it. As I have said already the Orange parties did not “own” the Socialist parties or “own” its votes. The fact that the Socialists would have had to put their decision to their voters at the subsequent parliamentary election whenever that took place means that their decision however strongly it may be criticised cannot be called “anti democratic”.

    3. As I have said before I do not defend Yanukovitch. If I was advising the parties whose deputies have defected I would advise them to apply to the relevant Ukrainian court (presumably the Constitutional Court) for the defecting deputies’ mandates to be withdrawn. The mandates could then be handed out to other members of the parties to whom the defecting deputies originally belonged.

    Has this happened? If so do you know where I might be able to find in English a copy of the Court’s Judgment?

    4. I have already discussed the position of the Socialists at length and I don’t want to repeat myself.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    Much as I admire your persistence in trying to prove the existence of a defence of selectivity I am afraid you are not going to persuade me.

    As for the police I think most lawyers and most policemen would be surprised to hear that their remit is to maintain order rather than prosecute crime given that in a democratic society the two cannot be separated.

    , @AP
    2. Due to the fact that the law is clearly being applied selectively Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether she is guilty or not. Past criminality is the best predictor of future criminality. As somene who became wealthy in the 90's Tymoshenko is probably up to her ears in criminal behavior, so it is likley she was guilty of what she was charged with. On the other hand, Yanukovich's judge's decision that she was guilty means nothing with respect to her actual guilt.

    Tymoshenko's conviction does limit the Ukrainian peoples' choices - she is curently polling in first place, and so the people's choice to choose her is obviously limited. Yes, they can choose others - but many of them want to choose her, and are not allowed to do so. If Obama imprisoned Mitt Romney, Republicans could still choose Gingrich or Santorum or Perry, but their choice would still be limited.

    3. I think you are confusing two different things: democracy and law and that this confusion leads you to make incorrect conclusions. Something can be legal but not democratic (i.e., North Korea's justice system) and democratic but not legal (i.e., primitive democracies without constitutions, mob rule, etc.) Your confusion of democracy and legality has led you to the nonsensical (in my opinion) claim that somehow the Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections of 2007 which were declared generally free and fair by both Western and Russian observers were not democratic.

    Remember that democracy is rule by the people. What made the Socialists' actions in 2006 undemocratic was not becuase Yushchenko didn't like what they did but because the people (especially those who voted for the Socialists) did not like what the Socialists did. As proof - they threw out the Socialists in the democratic elections as soon as they got the chance to do so. I NEVER claimed that Yushchenko or Tymoshenko "owned" the Socialist votes. In a democracy, the *people* own those votes. And when given the chance in the democratic snap elections called by Yushchenko, the people took their votes away from the Socialists who betrayed them.

    I don't disagree with your examples from Western countries of situations similar to that of the Ukrainian Socialists switching sides. The Socialist Party was elected by the people and it legally had the right to do what it wanted, even fool the people who voted for it. If the Free Democrats or British Liberal
    Parties betrayed their voters - did they? - then this demonstrates that in certain limited situations Western government isn't always completely democratic either. But I suspect that unlike what the Ukrainian Socialsits did, the Free Democrats's actions actually reflected the interests of their voters. People still voted for the Free Democrats after their switch, didn't they?

    BTW, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court never declared those elections to be illegal and never declared the dismissal of the Ukrainian parliament to have been an illegal act (even though I agree with you that it surely was one). It ruled that Yushchenko's dismissal of one of the three judges he dismissed was illegal, and reinstated her, but never ruled on the dismissal of parliament. So if your measure of whether or not something is legal, is whether or not a Court explicitly ruled that it was illegal, than Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament was legal.

    BTW, during that crissi five Constitutional Court judges who were leaning towards Yushchenko, claimed that they were being placed under extreme pressure by Yanukovich and asked for armed guards to protect them. What do you think of that?

    4. The Yanukovich court dismissed the appeal and later eliminated that provision from the consitution. This "independent" court has never ever gone against the Yanukovich government on any matter. To insure compliance, Yanukovich fro example arrested the head of the court's daughter. Here is an interview with Ukraine's former Chief Justice:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/96885/

    (his daughter's case was dismissed the day after he met with Yanukovich, and he has subsequently left the Court)

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @charly
    There is a difference between yellow is more noticeable and yellow is the only color car who are ticketed. Your case was i presume the first and as such not a reason for dismissal

    The police is there to keep the order. Going after criminals is ancillary to that but not its purpose.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    This discussion is becomeing circular and I find I am repeating myself but here goes:

    1. Your point is not the same as Charly's. Bringing a prosecution on the basis of sex, age, race, disability or sexual, religious or political orientation is not "selectivity" but discrimination. Discrimination is illegal and is indeed a criminal offence in many legal jurisdictions. Charly's point is or appears to be the quite different one that there is some sort of defence of "selectivity" where a person charged with a crime is able to show that another person who has committed the same crime has not been charged with it.

    2. As I have repeatedly said if the European Court of Human Rights decides that the case that has been brought against Tymoshenko is politically motivated (as you appear to believe) then it will set her conviction aside because she will not have had a fair trial. In the meantime the legal process is not exhausted and given that it is not exhausted we should wait and see rather than seek to prejudge the decision of the Court. How often do I have to repeat this simple point before it is understood? In the meantime since it seems that we must discuss Tymoshenko's case perhaps you can enlighten me on one particular point? Do you think Tymoshenko is innocent?

    3. Turning to the political crisis of 2007 it seems to me that you are falling into the trap that because you that Yushchenko unlike Yanukovitch is a "democrat" he anti should be given the benefit of the doubt in a way that Yanukovitch should not. This sort of reasoning is quite simply wrong. At the end of the day what makes a country a democracy is its constitution and its laws and the way they are enforced. That applies to the Ukraine as much as it does to any other country. If you are as I think an American you should appreciate this fact better than anyone else since it is the great achievement of your country to establish the world's first functioning and fully successful democracy on the basis of its constitution and its laws. The guardian of the constitution is the President who swears an oath to uphold and defend it. If the President violates the constitution and breaks his oath and interferes with the system of justice to prevent his decisions being challenged in the way that Yushchenko did in 2007 and does so moreover in order to achieve a particular political objective his actions are not "democratic" but the opposite. As for your concept of "illegal/unconstitutional democratic behaviour" that quite simply is an oxymoron.

    4. This is not in any way to justify Yanukovitch's actions since he became President. However since you press me I will say that in my opinion Yanukovitch's actions are nowhere near as dangerous as Yushchenko's. Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis. If there is a law against it in the Ukraine then of course it should not happen but the right way to challenge such acts is through the Courts. What made Yushchenko's conduct during the political crisis of 2007 so dangerous and so outrageous was not the dissolution decree itself but the repeated attempts Yushchenko made to prevent the decree from being challenged in a legal way in the Constitutional Court by his attempts to rig the membership of the Constitutional Court and by the cynical steps he took to obstruct its work. By acting in this wayYushchenko put himself above the law, which is not democratic but the opposite. So far Yanukovitch has done nothing that comes close and nor by the way when he was President did Kuchma. The equivalent would have been if Yanukovitch and Kuchma had sought in 2004 to prevent the Supreme Court from considering the case Yushchenko brought against the Central Electoral Commission over its conduct of the disputed Presidential elections.

    5. Lastly and quickly on the subject of the Socialists the mere fact that Moroz and the Socialists shared platforms with the Orange parties does not mean that the Socialists were an Orange party any more than the presence at the demonstration in Moscow on 10th December 2011 of a representative of the Russian Communist party sharing a platform with liberals such as Nemtsov and Kasparov mean that on major political issues the Communists and the liberals share the same views.

    1. I agree on your point.

    2. I think we can comment on the facts, and draw conclusions from them, before the European Court of Human Rights reaches a decision. Two major opposition leaders (as well as several of their subordinates) have been imprisoned, not a single figure with friendly ties to the government has been arrested. I doubt this is a coincidence. As for Tymoshenko’s innocence – it is largely irrelevant. Ukraine’s society is such that nobody with significant money is not guilty of something. She is probably guilty of many things; so is Yanukovich, so are his oligarch backers, etc. Ifnot only she but Yanukovich himself, his backer Akhmetov the richest man in Ukraine, etc. were all arrested I would not be complaining. But maybe that would lead to instability. Perhaps the right thing to do for the sake of stability in Ukraine is to declare an amnesty.

    In my opinion the real problem with her prosecution is that it is denying the Ukrainian people a choice in elections by taking out a relatively popular candidate, currently leading in the polls.

    3. Spoken like a good lawyer (I am not complaining about you! – it is the correct attitude for lawyers and it would be awful for them not to have such an attitude). I agree that clear rules that are respected and followed are important and essential for a government; the alternative is mob rule or dictatorship. But it is not necessarily, completely the same as democracy, which is defined as “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” It can be reasonably argued that when a party leader stops representing his electors (the people) and indeed *goes against them* (as Socialist leader Moroz did when he switched sides and joined the Party of Regions) he is no longer acting democratically, even though he is acting legally. Yushchenko’s quandary in this specific situation was that on the one hand, what happened was legal while on the other, it was antidemocratic in the sense that it was contrary to the people’s wishes. For several months he tried not to make a decision, but when the nondemocratic but legal parliamentary majority started to strip away the powers of the elected president it was too much and he chose (rough) democracy over the law by calling new parliamentary elections to let the people, rather than Moroz, decide.

    In the long run it was a bad move because it further eroded the rule of law and set up a bad precedent that Yanukovich followed.

    4. Yushchenko vs. Yanukovich. You wrote “Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis.” This applies to the what the Socialists did 5 years ago, but not to what Yanukovich has been doong since becoming president. In Ukraine (unlike, for example, in Canada)parliament members are not elected by the people – parties are. The parliament members are appointed by the parties to represent the parties. Their job is to represent their party. Most people do not even know who the parliament members are. Accordingly, the Constitution was quite clear that if an unelected member of parliament leaves his party he is no longer supposed to be in the parliament. Article 81 of the Constitution stated: “The authority of a People’s Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:…6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction.” So if a member of parliament left his party, he was no longer supposed to be in the parliament. See here: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ukraine,_2004. So the Ukrainian people elected a parliament with 156 people from Tymoshenko’s party 72 from Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine (a very slim majority of 228 out of 450 seats) but thanks to the illegal defections under Yanukovich, the parliament became one in which Yanukovich has about 260 votes. Here is an excellent summary of the situation in Ukraine:

    http://globalpolitician.com/26324-ukraine

    Despite our disagreement I highly respect your opinion and wonder what your thoughts are about that.

    5. The Socialists marched under an Orange flag arm-in-arm with Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. Nemtsov and Kasparov did not march under the hammer-and-sickly. Moreover, going into those 2006 elections, the Socialists were allies with Tymoshenko and Yushchenko. It was thus completely reasonable for voters to assume that the Socialists were part of the Orange coalition, which they did. As proof of voters’ assumptions – in the next parliamentary elections, after Moroz’s betrayal, the Socialsits’ voters abandoned them and the Socialists failed to clear the 3% hurdle to get into parliament at all.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I will follow our existing numbering:

    1. We are agreed about this.

    2. Tymoshenko's guilt or innocence is the issue. If she is guilty and has been properly convicted according to law then her conviction should stand. As I have laboured to point out it is not a defence that others might be equally or more guilty of criminal offences. Taking that approach would mean that no politician in the Ukraine however corrupt could be convicted of anything. A more certain way to entrench corruption I cannot imagine. Let me say it again if the European Court of Human Rights decides that her prosecution is politically motivated (and the fact that other Orange politicians have been prosecuted or imprisoned may be evidence of that) then Tymoshenko conviction will be quashed and she will be be awarded substantial compensation.

    I do not agree by the way that Tymoshenko's imprisonment limits Ukrainians' political choices. You have argued at length that the three parties we shall call Orange parties are presently outpolling Yanukovitch's party and look set to win the parliamentary elections. This is happening with Tymoshenko in prison.

    3. It is not just a question of rules. Yushchenko's major transgression was not the dissolution decree but the actions he took to rig the Constitutional Court and to prevent it from ruling on his decree. By taking this step Yushchenko put himself above the law, which is not merely a bad precedent but a step to dictatorship given what any constitutional law jurist or theorist will tell you, which is that the prerequisite of democracy is the rule of law and that democracy cannot exist without it. The doctrine was set out centuries ago by Lord Justice Coke addressing the ministers of James I: "Howsoever high you stand the law is above you".

    I also have to take serious issue with your habit of putting "democrat" and "anti democrat" labels on Ukrainian politicians. I have already said why I think this leads you into error. As I have also said Yushchenko's actions cannot by any stretch be considered "democratic".

    As for the parliamentary coalition, the fact that it had disagreements with Yushchenko and was taking measures he didn't like does not make it "anti democratic". Nor does the fact that the Socialists were a part of that coalition render the coalition "anti democratic". The Socialist party was an independent party and the Orange parties didn't own it or own its votes and had no grounds to assume that it would enter into coalition with them no matter what they did. The Socialists were acting perfectly within their rights by going into coalition with Yanukovitch given that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko could not agree with each other and delayed the formation of a government for several weeks if not months.

    As I have said before (and as you appear to accept) such things happen pretty regularly in other countries. For example in Germany in the 1980s the Free Democrats switched sides between elections from the Social Democrats to the Christian Democrats. In Britain in the 1970s the Liberals midway through a parliamentary term in the 1970s entered into an informal coalition arrangement with Labour who they had opposed in the previous elections. Elsewhere in countries like Belgium this sort of thing goes on all the time.

    The fact that the Ukrainian Socialists paid a heavy political price for their decision to go into coalition with Yanukovitch does not make their action "anti democratic". Nor does it mean that they were not entitled to make it. As I have said already the Orange parties did not "own" the Socialist parties or "own" its votes. The fact that the Socialists would have had to put their decision to their voters at the subsequent parliamentary election whenever that took place means that their decision however strongly it may be criticised cannot be called "anti democratic".

    3. As I have said before I do not defend Yanukovitch. If I was advising the parties whose deputies have defected I would advise them to apply to the relevant Ukrainian court (presumably the Constitutional Court) for the defecting deputies' mandates to be withdrawn. The mandates could then be handed out to other members of the parties to whom the defecting deputies originally belonged.

    Has this happened? If so do you know where I might be able to find in English a copy of the Court's Judgment?

    4. I have already discussed the position of the Socialists at length and I don't want to repeat myself.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @yalensis
    Thanks, Alex. Yes, the fake “fall of Tripoli” may have started off as “conspiracy theory”, but is pretty much established fact now. The video analysis does not lie. Aside from RT this fake did not get much coverage in mainstream international media, Deception in war is nothing new (most famous example = Trojan Horse!). In the Tripoli case, what was egregious was not the fact that deception was used, but the fact that the deception was perpetuated by journalists (=Al Jazeera), who filmed the fake “fall of Tripoli” in a sound studio in Doha, Qatar. Nobody expects journalists to be truly impartial, but they do expect them to not fabricate news!

    Dear Yalensis,

    You are absolutely right in what you say. When journalists fabricate a story in this way they have ceased to be reporters of news but have become propagandists.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jennifer
    This BBC report has been doing the online rounds quite a lot so some people here might have already seen it:
    http://www.ufo-blogger.com/2011/08/libya-war-media-lies-exposed-bbc-shows.html

    There were also reports in October last year that a US commander had spilt the beans about BBC, Agence Presse and CNN journalists on the ground in Libya providing ground co-ordinates of pro-Gaddafi forces to NATO who then relayed the information to the "rebels" but the last couple of times I did Google searches, all these reports had disappeared.

    This was about when The "Ndranguardia newspaper printed an article about some archaeologists "discovering" a lost civilisation in the Libyan Sahara and exchanging ground co-ordinates information with NATO as part of their research. A commenter on the forum following the article made a remark about the archaeologists collaborating with NATO.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @charly
    There is a difference between yellow is more noticeable and yellow is the only color car who are ticketed. Your case was i presume the first and as such not a reason for dismissal

    Dear Charly,

    I am beginning to worry that this is becoming an increasingly esoteric discussion of little interest to anyone other than a lawyer.

    Briely, the police have a duty to prosecute crime. This is true in every country with a police force. If there was no such duty there would be nothing to stop the police drawing their salaries and sitting around in police stations doing nothing except reading newspapers and drinking coffee.

    The police do however a great deal of operational freedom in the way that they perform this duty. The law does not expect them to prosecute every single crime however trivial since it understands that this would be impossibly costly in terms of resources and in respect of trivial crimes frankly oppressive. Sometimes things go a bit further than that. I gave the example of the Netherlands where the police and the authorities had for a long time a policy of turning a blind eye to soft drugs use. Another example is the British obscenity law under which no prosecutions have been brought for a very long time.

    However in choosing how to exercise their operational freedom the police have to act in a lawful way. This means that they cannot exercise this freedom in a whimsical and arbitrary manner. Picking on drivers of yellow cars and ignoring identical offences committed by drivers of differently coloured cars is obviously arbitrary exactly as you say. It is therefore a straightforward breach of the duty to prosecute crime and is therefore illegal.

    There, I hope that clarifies the point finally and fully. Let’s move on to something else closer to the subject of Anatoly’s post.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Yalensis,

    Thank you for these very kind words.

    Thank you also for the up to date information about Operation Mermaid Dawn. As I have said before I have found your posts on the Libyan conflict informative and fascinating. When I read on one of your comments I think on Mark Chapman's blog that Al Jazeera had faked the fall of Tripoli the day before it happened I admit I was incredulous. I checked your story and you were absolutely right. Some years ago there was a US film called either Wag the Dog or something like it about a US President with declining opinion poll ratings who secures re election by using television to fake a war that never actually happened. It seems that's where we've now got to.

    Thanks, Alex. Yes, the fake “fall of Tripoli” may have started off as “conspiracy theory”, but is pretty much established fact now. The video analysis does not lie. Aside from RT this fake did not get much coverage in mainstream international media, Deception in war is nothing new (most famous example = Trojan Horse!). In the Tripoli case, what was egregious was not the fact that deception was used, but the fact that the deception was perpetuated by journalists (=Al Jazeera), who filmed the fake “fall of Tripoli” in a sound studio in Doha, Qatar. Nobody expects journalists to be truly impartial, but they do expect them to not fabricate news!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Yalensis,

    You are absolutely right in what you say. When journalists fabricate a story in this way they have ceased to be reporters of news but have become propagandists.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @yalensis
    Hi, charly, I appreciate your defending me against that unfair speeding ticket! But I think what that cop was trying to say (in his own brutish manner) was NOT that he only goes after yellow cars, but that he goes after easy prey. A friend told me that these American state troopers have a quota of speeding tickets to reach each month --the money is pure revenue which funds their departmental operations. When the trooper is out on the hunt, it is a cakewalk to meet his quota -- so many speeders, so little time! For a while he will lurk in hiding, eating a box of donuts, watching speeders blur by but too lazy to go after them, then he looks at his watch, well, he needs to catch at least one more fish before lunchtime. He sees a brightly colored car zip by above the speed limit – so easy to spot and follow. So the cop crams his last donut into his mouth and lopes out into traffic, ready once more to cull the herd…
    Bottom line is, I WAS speeding. The cop had science on his side (=radar), and I would have no defense against that in court. Not even the fact that everybody else around me was speeding even more than me. How could I possibly prove that to the judge? And if I were black, how could I prove racial prejudice? I could not prove it with a single case. I would have to bring a group action, with many cases and proof in the form of statistical data.

    There is a difference between yellow is more noticeable and yellow is the only color car who are ticketed. Your case was i presume the first and as such not a reason for dismissal

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    I am beginning to worry that this is becoming an increasingly esoteric discussion of little interest to anyone other than a lawyer.

    Briely, the police have a duty to prosecute crime. This is true in every country with a police force. If there was no such duty there would be nothing to stop the police drawing their salaries and sitting around in police stations doing nothing except reading newspapers and drinking coffee.

    The police do however a great deal of operational freedom in the way that they perform this duty. The law does not expect them to prosecute every single crime however trivial since it understands that this would be impossibly costly in terms of resources and in respect of trivial crimes frankly oppressive. Sometimes things go a bit further than that. I gave the example of the Netherlands where the police and the authorities had for a long time a policy of turning a blind eye to soft drugs use. Another example is the British obscenity law under which no prosecutions have been brought for a very long time.

    However in choosing how to exercise their operational freedom the police have to act in a lawful way. This means that they cannot exercise this freedom in a whimsical and arbitrary manner. Picking on drivers of yellow cars and ignoring identical offences committed by drivers of differently coloured cars is obviously arbitrary exactly as you say. It is therefore a straightforward breach of the duty to prosecute crime and is therefore illegal.

    There, I hope that clarifies the point finally and fully. Let's move on to something else closer to the subject of Anatoly's post.

    , @charly
    The police is there to keep the order. Going after criminals is ancillary to that but not its purpose.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    It would not only be arbitrary but it would also be illegal. The police have a duty to prosecute crime and if they were not prosecuting drivers who were speeding because their cars were not yellow any concerned citizen affected by such malpractice would have a right to bring an action against the Police in England by way of Judicial Review. In the US and other countries the procedure is different but the principle is the same. We have just had an example in England where the politician John Prescott brought a successful claim in Judicial Review against the Police because they refused to investigate evidence that his phone had been hacked by the Murdoch organisation.

    However the fact that the Police were not prosecuting drivers of non yellow colours who were speeding would not provide a defence to drivers of yellow cars who were speeding. An offence would still have been committed and the misconduct of the Police in relation to other drivers of non yellow cars would not change that fact.

    The police has in most countries not the obligation to prosecute crimes. I believe Germany is an exception with this after the Nazi’s used selective prosecution to further their objectives.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @charly
    You are correct on 1. For an example. If a police department had a policy to only go after speeding cars if they are driven by blacks than that would be discrimination and as such a reason for dismissal but if a police department really had a policy that they will only go after yellow cars than that is not discrimination but it would be arbitrary and as such still a reason for dismissal as the law shouldn't be arbitrary or arbitrary implemented.

    Hi, charly, I appreciate your defending me against that unfair speeding ticket! But I think what that cop was trying to say (in his own brutish manner) was NOT that he only goes after yellow cars, but that he goes after easy prey. A friend told me that these American state troopers have a quota of speeding tickets to reach each month –the money is pure revenue which funds their departmental operations. When the trooper is out on the hunt, it is a cakewalk to meet his quota — so many speeders, so little time! For a while he will lurk in hiding, eating a box of donuts, watching speeders blur by but too lazy to go after them, then he looks at his watch, well, he needs to catch at least one more fish before lunchtime. He sees a brightly colored car zip by above the speed limit – so easy to spot and follow. So the cop crams his last donut into his mouth and lopes out into traffic, ready once more to cull the herd…
    Bottom line is, I WAS speeding. The cop had science on his side (=radar), and I would have no defense against that in court. Not even the fact that everybody else around me was speeding even more than me. How could I possibly prove that to the judge? And if I were black, how could I prove racial prejudice? I could not prove it with a single case. I would have to bring a group action, with many cases and proof in the form of statistical data.

    Read More
    • Replies: @charly
    There is a difference between yellow is more noticeable and yellow is the only color car who are ticketed. Your case was i presume the first and as such not a reason for dismissal
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    It would not only be arbitrary but it would also be illegal. The police have a duty to prosecute crime and if they were not prosecuting drivers who were speeding because their cars were not yellow any concerned citizen affected by such malpractice would have a right to bring an action against the Police in England by way of Judicial Review. In the US and other countries the procedure is different but the principle is the same. We have just had an example in England where the politician John Prescott brought a successful claim in Judicial Review against the Police because they refused to investigate evidence that his phone had been hacked by the Murdoch organisation.

    However the fact that the Police were not prosecuting drivers of non yellow colours who were speeding would not provide a defence to drivers of yellow cars who were speeding. An offence would still have been committed and the misconduct of the Police in relation to other drivers of non yellow cars would not change that fact.

    Dear Charly,

    Just one final point about your comment, which I missed.

    If the Police had a policy of only prosecuting black people who were speeding that would indeed be illegal and discriminatory but as the black people who were speeding would still have committed a criminal offence it would not properly speaking be a defence. What it would give rise to is an action in discrimination by the affected black people against the Police. That would be a serious matter and the compensation awarded would be very high. It would also be gross misconduct by the Police officers involved who would surely be dismissed from their jobs.

    By contrast if the judge trying the case of the black people who were speeding was a racist so that the Court’s judgment was affected by anti black racial prejudice then even if the facts showed that the black people in question were speeding the convictions would have to be set aside because the trial would have been unfair.

    We are getting very far from the Tymoshenko case. Shall we in future focus on that?

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @charly
    There is a presumption of innocence, problem is the person is guilty just like most people who are prosecuted for murder have killed the victim.

    Dear Charly,

    Even if that were true it is not an argument in law.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @charly
    You are correct on 1. For an example. If a police department had a policy to only go after speeding cars if they are driven by blacks than that would be discrimination and as such a reason for dismissal but if a police department really had a policy that they will only go after yellow cars than that is not discrimination but it would be arbitrary and as such still a reason for dismissal as the law shouldn't be arbitrary or arbitrary implemented.

    Dear Charly,

    It would not only be arbitrary but it would also be illegal. The police have a duty to prosecute crime and if they were not prosecuting drivers who were speeding because their cars were not yellow any concerned citizen affected by such malpractice would have a right to bring an action against the Police in England by way of Judicial Review. In the US and other countries the procedure is different but the principle is the same. We have just had an example in England where the politician John Prescott brought a successful claim in Judicial Review against the Police because they refused to investigate evidence that his phone had been hacked by the Murdoch organisation.

    However the fact that the Police were not prosecuting drivers of non yellow colours who were speeding would not provide a defence to drivers of yellow cars who were speeding. An offence would still have been committed and the misconduct of the Police in relation to other drivers of non yellow cars would not change that fact.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    Just one final point about your comment, which I missed.

    If the Police had a policy of only prosecuting black people who were speeding that would indeed be illegal and discriminatory but as the black people who were speeding would still have committed a criminal offence it would not properly speaking be a defence. What it would give rise to is an action in discrimination by the affected black people against the Police. That would be a serious matter and the compensation awarded would be very high. It would also be gross misconduct by the Police officers involved who would surely be dismissed from their jobs.

    By contrast if the judge trying the case of the black people who were speeding was a racist so that the Court's judgment was affected by anti black racial prejudice then even if the facts showed that the black people in question were speeding the convictions would have to be set aside because the trial would have been unfair.

    We are getting very far from the Tymoshenko case. Shall we in future focus on that?

    , @charly
    The police has in most countries not the obligation to prosecute crimes. I believe Germany is an exception with this after the Nazi's used selective prosecution to further their objectives.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    I admit I am struggling to follow you. Let me say it again, there is no defence of "selectivity" as such. What there is is a right to a fair trial. If someone is prosecuted not because of any crime he or she might have committed but for political reasons with the supposed crime being essentially a pretext then the trial is arguably unfair because there is no presumption of innocence and the outcome appears predetermined. The fact that other people who may have committed the same offence have not been charged with that offence may be evidence that the prosecution is politically motivated and of the unfairness of the trial but it does not provide a defence by itself. That is the thrust of the argument Tymoshenko and before her Khodorkovsky have been making and which they are taking to the European Court of Human Rights. Incidentally the right to a fair trial is enshrined in Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It is this Convention that the European Court of Human Rights was created to administer.

    By contrast I cannot think of a single country where it is possible to obtain an acquittal on the grounds that "someone else" who has supposedly committed the same offence in similar circumstances has not been prosecuted for it. Frankly I find such a concept inconceivable. How would a defendant, who is not a prosecuting authority, be able to show that another particular individual is guilty of an identical offence without infringing that individual's right to a presumption of innocence? Alternatively if one relies on supposed general knowledge that "everyone knows" that "other people" are not being charged for the same offences then it is difficult to see how anybody could ever be convicted of anything at all.

    There is a presumption of innocence, problem is the person is guilty just like most people who are prosecuted for murder have killed the victim.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    Even if that were true it is not an argument in law.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    This discussion is becomeing circular and I find I am repeating myself but here goes:

    1. Your point is not the same as Charly's. Bringing a prosecution on the basis of sex, age, race, disability or sexual, religious or political orientation is not "selectivity" but discrimination. Discrimination is illegal and is indeed a criminal offence in many legal jurisdictions. Charly's point is or appears to be the quite different one that there is some sort of defence of "selectivity" where a person charged with a crime is able to show that another person who has committed the same crime has not been charged with it.

    2. As I have repeatedly said if the European Court of Human Rights decides that the case that has been brought against Tymoshenko is politically motivated (as you appear to believe) then it will set her conviction aside because she will not have had a fair trial. In the meantime the legal process is not exhausted and given that it is not exhausted we should wait and see rather than seek to prejudge the decision of the Court. How often do I have to repeat this simple point before it is understood? In the meantime since it seems that we must discuss Tymoshenko's case perhaps you can enlighten me on one particular point? Do you think Tymoshenko is innocent?

    3. Turning to the political crisis of 2007 it seems to me that you are falling into the trap that because you that Yushchenko unlike Yanukovitch is a "democrat" he anti should be given the benefit of the doubt in a way that Yanukovitch should not. This sort of reasoning is quite simply wrong. At the end of the day what makes a country a democracy is its constitution and its laws and the way they are enforced. That applies to the Ukraine as much as it does to any other country. If you are as I think an American you should appreciate this fact better than anyone else since it is the great achievement of your country to establish the world's first functioning and fully successful democracy on the basis of its constitution and its laws. The guardian of the constitution is the President who swears an oath to uphold and defend it. If the President violates the constitution and breaks his oath and interferes with the system of justice to prevent his decisions being challenged in the way that Yushchenko did in 2007 and does so moreover in order to achieve a particular political objective his actions are not "democratic" but the opposite. As for your concept of "illegal/unconstitutional democratic behaviour" that quite simply is an oxymoron.

    4. This is not in any way to justify Yanukovitch's actions since he became President. However since you press me I will say that in my opinion Yanukovitch's actions are nowhere near as dangerous as Yushchenko's. Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis. If there is a law against it in the Ukraine then of course it should not happen but the right way to challenge such acts is through the Courts. What made Yushchenko's conduct during the political crisis of 2007 so dangerous and so outrageous was not the dissolution decree itself but the repeated attempts Yushchenko made to prevent the decree from being challenged in a legal way in the Constitutional Court by his attempts to rig the membership of the Constitutional Court and by the cynical steps he took to obstruct its work. By acting in this wayYushchenko put himself above the law, which is not democratic but the opposite. So far Yanukovitch has done nothing that comes close and nor by the way when he was President did Kuchma. The equivalent would have been if Yanukovitch and Kuchma had sought in 2004 to prevent the Supreme Court from considering the case Yushchenko brought against the Central Electoral Commission over its conduct of the disputed Presidential elections.

    5. Lastly and quickly on the subject of the Socialists the mere fact that Moroz and the Socialists shared platforms with the Orange parties does not mean that the Socialists were an Orange party any more than the presence at the demonstration in Moscow on 10th December 2011 of a representative of the Russian Communist party sharing a platform with liberals such as Nemtsov and Kasparov mean that on major political issues the Communists and the liberals share the same views.

    You are correct on 1. For an example. If a police department had a policy to only go after speeding cars if they are driven by blacks than that would be discrimination and as such a reason for dismissal but if a police department really had a policy that they will only go after yellow cars than that is not discrimination but it would be arbitrary and as such still a reason for dismissal as the law shouldn’t be arbitrary or arbitrary implemented.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear Charly,

    It would not only be arbitrary but it would also be illegal. The police have a duty to prosecute crime and if they were not prosecuting drivers who were speeding because their cars were not yellow any concerned citizen affected by such malpractice would have a right to bring an action against the Police in England by way of Judicial Review. In the US and other countries the procedure is different but the principle is the same. We have just had an example in England where the politician John Prescott brought a successful claim in Judicial Review against the Police because they refused to investigate evidence that his phone had been hacked by the Murdoch organisation.

    However the fact that the Police were not prosecuting drivers of non yellow colours who were speeding would not provide a defence to drivers of yellow cars who were speeding. An offence would still have been committed and the misconduct of the Police in relation to other drivers of non yellow cars would not change that fact.

    , @yalensis
    Hi, charly, I appreciate your defending me against that unfair speeding ticket! But I think what that cop was trying to say (in his own brutish manner) was NOT that he only goes after yellow cars, but that he goes after easy prey. A friend told me that these American state troopers have a quota of speeding tickets to reach each month --the money is pure revenue which funds their departmental operations. When the trooper is out on the hunt, it is a cakewalk to meet his quota -- so many speeders, so little time! For a while he will lurk in hiding, eating a box of donuts, watching speeders blur by but too lazy to go after them, then he looks at his watch, well, he needs to catch at least one more fish before lunchtime. He sees a brightly colored car zip by above the speed limit – so easy to spot and follow. So the cop crams his last donut into his mouth and lopes out into traffic, ready once more to cull the herd…
    Bottom line is, I WAS speeding. The cop had science on his side (=radar), and I would have no defense against that in court. Not even the fact that everybody else around me was speeding even more than me. How could I possibly prove that to the judge? And if I were black, how could I prove racial prejudice? I could not prove it with a single case. I would have to bring a group action, with many cases and proof in the form of statistical data.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    This discussion is becomeing circular and I find I am repeating myself but here goes:

    1. Your point is not the same as Charly's. Bringing a prosecution on the basis of sex, age, race, disability or sexual, religious or political orientation is not "selectivity" but discrimination. Discrimination is illegal and is indeed a criminal offence in many legal jurisdictions. Charly's point is or appears to be the quite different one that there is some sort of defence of "selectivity" where a person charged with a crime is able to show that another person who has committed the same crime has not been charged with it.

    2. As I have repeatedly said if the European Court of Human Rights decides that the case that has been brought against Tymoshenko is politically motivated (as you appear to believe) then it will set her conviction aside because she will not have had a fair trial. In the meantime the legal process is not exhausted and given that it is not exhausted we should wait and see rather than seek to prejudge the decision of the Court. How often do I have to repeat this simple point before it is understood? In the meantime since it seems that we must discuss Tymoshenko's case perhaps you can enlighten me on one particular point? Do you think Tymoshenko is innocent?

    3. Turning to the political crisis of 2007 it seems to me that you are falling into the trap that because you that Yushchenko unlike Yanukovitch is a "democrat" he anti should be given the benefit of the doubt in a way that Yanukovitch should not. This sort of reasoning is quite simply wrong. At the end of the day what makes a country a democracy is its constitution and its laws and the way they are enforced. That applies to the Ukraine as much as it does to any other country. If you are as I think an American you should appreciate this fact better than anyone else since it is the great achievement of your country to establish the world's first functioning and fully successful democracy on the basis of its constitution and its laws. The guardian of the constitution is the President who swears an oath to uphold and defend it. If the President violates the constitution and breaks his oath and interferes with the system of justice to prevent his decisions being challenged in the way that Yushchenko did in 2007 and does so moreover in order to achieve a particular political objective his actions are not "democratic" but the opposite. As for your concept of "illegal/unconstitutional democratic behaviour" that quite simply is an oxymoron.

    4. This is not in any way to justify Yanukovitch's actions since he became President. However since you press me I will say that in my opinion Yanukovitch's actions are nowhere near as dangerous as Yushchenko's. Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis. If there is a law against it in the Ukraine then of course it should not happen but the right way to challenge such acts is through the Courts. What made Yushchenko's conduct during the political crisis of 2007 so dangerous and so outrageous was not the dissolution decree itself but the repeated attempts Yushchenko made to prevent the decree from being challenged in a legal way in the Constitutional Court by his attempts to rig the membership of the Constitutional Court and by the cynical steps he took to obstruct its work. By acting in this wayYushchenko put himself above the law, which is not democratic but the opposite. So far Yanukovitch has done nothing that comes close and nor by the way when he was President did Kuchma. The equivalent would have been if Yanukovitch and Kuchma had sought in 2004 to prevent the Supreme Court from considering the case Yushchenko brought against the Central Electoral Commission over its conduct of the disputed Presidential elections.

    5. Lastly and quickly on the subject of the Socialists the mere fact that Moroz and the Socialists shared platforms with the Orange parties does not mean that the Socialists were an Orange party any more than the presence at the demonstration in Moscow on 10th December 2011 of a representative of the Russian Communist party sharing a platform with liberals such as Nemtsov and Kasparov mean that on major political issues the Communists and the liberals share the same views.

    Dear AP,

    I am sorry I have been having problems alll day with the internet connection to this blog. The result is that it is difficult to write comments and the first sentence of paragraph 3 got muddled. What it should say is:

    “3. Turning to the political crisis of 2007 it seems to me that you are falling into the trap that because you think that Yushchenko unlike Yanukovitch is a “democrat” he should be given the benefit of the doubt in a way that Yanukovitch should not”.

    Apologies for any confusion.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @yalensis
    @Alex Mercouris re. "Libyan" thread above.
    Thanks very much for link of your Libyan piece, it is one of the best I have read on Libyan conflict, I wish I had read this earlier. Your piece puts all the main facts together in one place and lays it all out how UN and international legal system was completedly subverted (mostly by 3 main countries: France, Britain, and USA) in their goal of regime change.
    Comments on 2 paragraphs:
    40. The western powers justify this hardline by claiming that they would have been unable to guarantee the safety of Libyan civilians whilst Gaddafi was still in Libya and remained free. Supposedly Libyan civilians would always have been in danger from Gaddafi so long as he was in Libya and remained free. This would apparently have been the case even if a ceasefire was in existence and talks were underway. This argument elevates the supposed threat from Gaddafi to superhuman and even mythic levels. It is a bizarre endorsement of the personality cult he had previously created around himself.
    This is very well said. It is well known that American propaganda likes to pick a “bogeyman do jour” (usually the one targeted for regime change) and demonize him to the point of of superhuman cult. Do Europeans buy this comic-book version of reality? Americans sure do, because, well, they are raised on comic books! It is not enough to be a dictator, you must be a super-evil dictator with super-human powers. (As an exception, though, I have not seen the same kind of personal attacks directed at Assad.) However, I do see them demonizing Putin in this manner, and this is troubling. We have discussed this at length in other posts.
    41. The end of Gaddafi’s regime came at the end of August 2011 when Tripoli was stormed by a rebel Berber force operating from the Nafusa mountains to the west. The French government has openly admitted that it provided arms supplies to these rebels and it has been informally admitted that this force was assembled in Tunisia and was “advised” (or commanded) by western Special Forces. It seems that these Special Forces (mainly British and French) actually took part in the fighting. The attack on Tripoli was apparently planned at NATO headquarters and was given the codename “Operation Mermaid Dawn”.
    Since you wrote that, there has been additional information that the attack on Tripoli was mostly a marine one (which perhaps explains the code name “Mermaid Dawn”?). SAS and American Navy Seal (as well as Qatari Arab) commandos launched amphibious attacks on Tripoli from the Mediterranean Sea. The notion that a handful of Mountain Berbers took Tripoli was a ridiculous propaganda device that was set up in advance. For months Al Jazeera had been trumpetting the notion that the Berbers (Amazigh tribes) were a main force of rebellion against Gaddafy. There were many sweet little propaganda pieces in Al Jazeera showing Berber children learning to write their own alpabet (which they were supposedly forbidden to use under Gaddafy). Well, the Amazigh did in fact have some legitimate beefs against Gaddafy government, and they were the only component of the “rebel” side that I ended up sympathizing with; but guess what? (1) they did NOT take Tripoli, that was done by professional NATO soldiers (and Qataris); and (2) as soon as the new NTC government came into power it immediately excluded the Berbers from representation and made clear that this will be an Arab government. In short, the Amazigh were used for propaganda purposes by the NATO Rebels and then discarded as soon as their services were not required any more!

    Dear Yalensis,

    Thank you for these very kind words.

    Thank you also for the up to date information about Operation Mermaid Dawn. As I have said before I have found your posts on the Libyan conflict informative and fascinating. When I read on one of your comments I think on Mark Chapman’s blog that Al Jazeera had faked the fall of Tripoli the day before it happened I admit I was incredulous. I checked your story and you were absolutely right. Some years ago there was a US film called either Wag the Dog or something like it about a US President with declining opinion poll ratings who secures re election by using television to fake a war that never actually happened. It seems that’s where we’ve now got to.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    Thanks, Alex. Yes, the fake “fall of Tripoli” may have started off as “conspiracy theory”, but is pretty much established fact now. The video analysis does not lie. Aside from RT this fake did not get much coverage in mainstream international media, Deception in war is nothing new (most famous example = Trojan Horse!). In the Tripoli case, what was egregious was not the fact that deception was used, but the fact that the deception was perpetuated by journalists (=Al Jazeera), who filmed the fake “fall of Tripoli” in a sound studio in Doha, Qatar. Nobody expects journalists to be truly impartial, but they do expect them to not fabricate news!
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    1. I concur with Charly. Selectivity based on factors such as race, religion, political orientation etc. with respect to prosecution is generally considered to be a legitimate defence. Yanukovich's using the law to take out two prominant opposition political leaders (one whom, Lutsenko has not even been convicted but has been sitting in jail for almost two years awaiting trial. the other, Tymoshenko, leading the main oppsotion party and the front-runner in possible elections if she were not in jail), and several of their subordinates, while not touching anyone related to his party is pretty selective.

    2. I posted this somewhere in the mess previously in the comment section but will cut and paste here for the sake of convenience: When Socialist leader Moroz switched sides and joined the Party of Regions after the elections (even though he was assumed to have been on the ORange side by most of his voters, and many members of his party) he was legally “gaming the system” in order to maximize his personal power by switching sides. To his credit, Yushchenko initially tried to follow the rules and go along with this, by joining a super-coalition with the Party of Regions and the Socialists. However, over the following months it appears that Yushchenko’s party was being marginalized within the super-coalition, which was going about undoing the Orange Revolution by legislating the stripping of the presidential authority. Faced with that (a nondemocratic but totally legal parliamentary majority reversing de facto the people’s choice for president by making the presidency largely ceremonial), Yushchenko decided to act unconstitutionally to call new elections. If the Ukrainian people supported what the parliament was now trying to do in reversing the Orange Revolution, this would give the Ukranian people a chance to vote confirm such actions by voting out the Orange parties. Instead, the Ukrainian people voted out the Socialists and returned a slim Orange majority to power.

    Clearly, Yushchenko's action was wrong because it was illegal, and illegal democratic actions are similar to mob rule. On the other hand, Yanukovich’s actions since his election were not only illegal but also anti-democratic. In both cases, btw, the courts proved to be nonindependent. Yushchenko fired judges who wouldn't obey him, Yanukovch arrested the relatives of a judge to insure obedience.

    Btw, I'm reposting a picture of Socialist leader Moroz during the Orange Revolution. He's on the left, with the white hair, standing next to Tymoshenko under the big Orange flag:

    http://euronest.blogspot.com/2010/04/ukraines-fractured-opposition.html

    Dear AP,

    This discussion is becomeing circular and I find I am repeating myself but here goes:

    1. Your point is not the same as Charly’s. Bringing a prosecution on the basis of sex, age, race, disability or sexual, religious or political orientation is not “selectivity” but discrimination. Discrimination is illegal and is indeed a criminal offence in many legal jurisdictions. Charly’s point is or appears to be the quite different one that there is some sort of defence of “selectivity” where a person charged with a crime is able to show that another person who has committed the same crime has not been charged with it.

    2. As I have repeatedly said if the European Court of Human Rights decides that the case that has been brought against Tymoshenko is politically motivated (as you appear to believe) then it will set her conviction aside because she will not have had a fair trial. In the meantime the legal process is not exhausted and given that it is not exhausted we should wait and see rather than seek to prejudge the decision of the Court. How often do I have to repeat this simple point before it is understood? In the meantime since it seems that we must discuss Tymoshenko’s case perhaps you can enlighten me on one particular point? Do you think Tymoshenko is innocent?

    3. Turning to the political crisis of 2007 it seems to me that you are falling into the trap that because you that Yushchenko unlike Yanukovitch is a “democrat” he anti should be given the benefit of the doubt in a way that Yanukovitch should not. This sort of reasoning is quite simply wrong. At the end of the day what makes a country a democracy is its constitution and its laws and the way they are enforced. That applies to the Ukraine as much as it does to any other country. If you are as I think an American you should appreciate this fact better than anyone else since it is the great achievement of your country to establish the world’s first functioning and fully successful democracy on the basis of its constitution and its laws. The guardian of the constitution is the President who swears an oath to uphold and defend it. If the President violates the constitution and breaks his oath and interferes with the system of justice to prevent his decisions being challenged in the way that Yushchenko did in 2007 and does so moreover in order to achieve a particular political objective his actions are not “democratic” but the opposite. As for your concept of “illegal/unconstitutional democratic behaviour” that quite simply is an oxymoron.

    4. This is not in any way to justify Yanukovitch’s actions since he became President. However since you press me I will say that in my opinion Yanukovitch’s actions are nowhere near as dangerous as Yushchenko’s. Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis. If there is a law against it in the Ukraine then of course it should not happen but the right way to challenge such acts is through the Courts. What made Yushchenko’s conduct during the political crisis of 2007 so dangerous and so outrageous was not the dissolution decree itself but the repeated attempts Yushchenko made to prevent the decree from being challenged in a legal way in the Constitutional Court by his attempts to rig the membership of the Constitutional Court and by the cynical steps he took to obstruct its work. By acting in this wayYushchenko put himself above the law, which is not democratic but the opposite. So far Yanukovitch has done nothing that comes close and nor by the way when he was President did Kuchma. The equivalent would have been if Yanukovitch and Kuchma had sought in 2004 to prevent the Supreme Court from considering the case Yushchenko brought against the Central Electoral Commission over its conduct of the disputed Presidential elections.

    5. Lastly and quickly on the subject of the Socialists the mere fact that Moroz and the Socialists shared platforms with the Orange parties does not mean that the Socialists were an Orange party any more than the presence at the demonstration in Moscow on 10th December 2011 of a representative of the Russian Communist party sharing a platform with liberals such as Nemtsov and Kasparov mean that on major political issues the Communists and the liberals share the same views.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I am sorry I have been having problems alll day with the internet connection to this blog. The result is that it is difficult to write comments and the first sentence of paragraph 3 got muddled. What it should say is:

    "3. Turning to the political crisis of 2007 it seems to me that you are falling into the trap that because you think that Yushchenko unlike Yanukovitch is a "democrat" he should be given the benefit of the doubt in a way that Yanukovitch should not".

    Apologies for any confusion.

    , @charly
    You are correct on 1. For an example. If a police department had a policy to only go after speeding cars if they are driven by blacks than that would be discrimination and as such a reason for dismissal but if a police department really had a policy that they will only go after yellow cars than that is not discrimination but it would be arbitrary and as such still a reason for dismissal as the law shouldn't be arbitrary or arbitrary implemented.
    , @AP
    1. I agree on your point.

    2. I think we can comment on the facts, and draw conclusions from them, before the European Court of Human Rights reaches a decision. Two major opposition leaders (as well as several of their subordinates) have been imprisoned, not a single figure with friendly ties to the government has been arrested. I doubt this is a coincidence. As for Tymoshenko's innocence - it is largely irrelevant. Ukraine's society is such that nobody with significant money is not guilty of something. She is probably guilty of many things; so is Yanukovich, so are his oligarch backers, etc. Ifnot only she but Yanukovich himself, his backer Akhmetov the richest man in Ukraine, etc. were all arrested I would not be complaining. But maybe that would lead to instability. Perhaps the right thing to do for the sake of stability in Ukraine is to declare an amnesty.

    In my opinion the real problem with her prosecution is that it is denying the Ukrainian people a choice in elections by taking out a relatively popular candidate, currently leading in the polls.

    3. Spoken like a good lawyer (I am not complaining about you! - it is the correct attitude for lawyers and it would be awful for them not to have such an attitude). I agree that clear rules that are respected and followed are important and essential for a government; the alternative is mob rule or dictatorship. But it is not necessarily, completely the same as democracy, which is defined as "government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system." It can be reasonably argued that when a party leader stops representing his electors (the people) and indeed *goes against them* (as Socialist leader Moroz did when he switched sides and joined the Party of Regions) he is no longer acting democratically, even though he is acting legally. Yushchenko's quandary in this specific situation was that on the one hand, what happened was legal while on the other, it was antidemocratic in the sense that it was contrary to the people's wishes. For several months he tried not to make a decision, but when the nondemocratic but legal parliamentary majority started to strip away the powers of the elected president it was too much and he chose (rough) democracy over the law by calling new parliamentary elections to let the people, rather than Moroz, decide.

    In the long run it was a bad move because it further eroded the rule of law and set up a bad precedent that Yanukovich followed.

    4. Yushchenko vs. Yanukovich. You wrote "Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis." This applies to the what the Socialists did 5 years ago, but not to what Yanukovich has been doong since becoming president. In Ukraine (unlike, for example, in Canada)parliament members are not elected by the people - parties are. The parliament members are appointed by the parties to represent the parties. Their job is to represent their party. Most people do not even know who the parliament members are. Accordingly, the Constitution was quite clear that if an unelected member of parliament leaves his party he is no longer supposed to be in the parliament. Article 81 of the Constitution stated: "The authority of a People's Deputy of Ukraine shall terminate prior to the expiration of his or her term in office in the event of:...6.his or her failure, as having been elected from a political party (an electoral bloc of political parties), to join the parliamentary faction representing the same political party (the same electoral bloc of political parties) or his or her exit from such a faction." So if a member of parliament left his party, he was no longer supposed to be in the parliament. See here: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ukraine,_2004. So the Ukrainian people elected a parliament with 156 people from Tymoshenko's party 72 from Yushchenko's Our Ukraine (a very slim majority of 228 out of 450 seats) but thanks to the illegal defections under Yanukovich, the parliament became one in which Yanukovich has about 260 votes. Here is an excellent summary of the situation in Ukraine:
    http://globalpolitician.com/26324-ukraine
    Despite our disagreement I highly respect your opinion and wonder what your thoughts are about that.

    5. The Socialists marched under an Orange flag arm-in-arm with Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. Nemtsov and Kasparov did not march under the hammer-and-sickly. Moreover, going into those 2006 elections, the Socialists were allies with Tymoshenko and Yushchenko. It was thus completely reasonable for voters to assume that the Socialists were part of the Orange coalition, which they did. As proof of voters' assumptions - in the next parliamentary elections, after Moroz's betrayal, the Socialsits' voters abandoned them and the Socialists failed to clear the 3% hurdle to get into parliament at all.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    Again just to respond quickly to your latest comments:

    1. Selectivity is not a defence in law if Tymoshenko was convicted according to law. If she was not convicted according to law and if the prosecution brought against her was politically motivated the ECHR will set her conviction aside. Incidentally running symetrical parallel prosecutions of people from both camps in order to preserve some kind of political "balance" would simply confirm that the prosecutions were politically motivated and would render them all unsafe.

    2. I am afraid your understanding and recollection of the political crisis of 2007 differs from mine. Firstly, I did not think then and I do not think now that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were justified in assuming that the Socialists were an Orange party that would automatically go into coalition with them. Secondly if Yushchenko's reason for dissolving the parliament was the "defection" of the Socialists then the time to have done it was when the Socialist "defection" took place and not several months later after the new government had been formed (with Yushchenko's agreemen!) and had got down to work. As I recall Yushchenko's actual reason for dissolving the parliament was not the"defection" of the Socialists but the fact that the parliament was intent on passing laws that Yushchenko interpreted as a challenge to his power as President. If the dissolution decree was unconstitutional as you say then it cannot be called "democratic" for the reasons I discussed above. The same would be equally (not more) true of any ruse whereby Yanukovitch engineered the defection of individual Orange deputies to his side if that is indeed unconstitutional as you also say. However in that case I would expect it to be challenged in the Constitutional Court, which so far as I am aware has not happened. Yanukovitch has not attempted to sack Constitutional Court judges who were considering a case in which he was a party and who might have ruled against him as Yushchenko did. To repeat, it was that open attack by Yushchenko on the independence of the Constitutional Court and the EU's indifference to it which was the starting point of my discussion.

    Since we appear to disagree on so much perhaps I ought to mention one thing we do appear up to a point to agree about though we draw quite different conclusions from it. You have said that it is the visible corruption of Yanukovitch and his team that has to a certain extent antagonised Ukrainian voters. I do not know how visible such corruption is and frankly I find your comparison of Yanukovitch with Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky overdrawn especially given that in 2004 Berezovsky by his own admission funded the Orange camp. However up to a point I agree with you. The whole thrust of my argument is that Yanukovitch has lost at least some of his support because he has disappointed his electoral base by subordinating its wishes to those of his wealthy oligarchic supporters, who are amongst the strongest supporters of EU membership probably because of their desire to get their hands on the structural funds.

    1. I concur with Charly. Selectivity based on factors such as race, religion, political orientation etc. with respect to prosecution is generally considered to be a legitimate defence. Yanukovich’s using the law to take out two prominant opposition political leaders (one whom, Lutsenko has not even been convicted but has been sitting in jail for almost two years awaiting trial. the other, Tymoshenko, leading the main oppsotion party and the front-runner in possible elections if she were not in jail), and several of their subordinates, while not touching anyone related to his party is pretty selective.

    2. I posted this somewhere in the mess previously in the comment section but will cut and paste here for the sake of convenience: When Socialist leader Moroz switched sides and joined the Party of Regions after the elections (even though he was assumed to have been on the ORange side by most of his voters, and many members of his party) he was legally “gaming the system” in order to maximize his personal power by switching sides. To his credit, Yushchenko initially tried to follow the rules and go along with this, by joining a super-coalition with the Party of Regions and the Socialists. However, over the following months it appears that Yushchenko’s party was being marginalized within the super-coalition, which was going about undoing the Orange Revolution by legislating the stripping of the presidential authority. Faced with that (a nondemocratic but totally legal parliamentary majority reversing de facto the people’s choice for president by making the presidency largely ceremonial), Yushchenko decided to act unconstitutionally to call new elections. If the Ukrainian people supported what the parliament was now trying to do in reversing the Orange Revolution, this would give the Ukranian people a chance to vote confirm such actions by voting out the Orange parties. Instead, the Ukrainian people voted out the Socialists and returned a slim Orange majority to power.

    Clearly, Yushchenko’s action was wrong because it was illegal, and illegal democratic actions are similar to mob rule. On the other hand, Yanukovich’s actions since his election were not only illegal but also anti-democratic. In both cases, btw, the courts proved to be nonindependent. Yushchenko fired judges who wouldn’t obey him, Yanukovch arrested the relatives of a judge to insure obedience.

    Btw, I’m reposting a picture of Socialist leader Moroz during the Orange Revolution. He’s on the left, with the white hair, standing next to Tymoshenko under the big Orange flag:

    http://euronest.blogspot.com/2010/04/ukraines-fractured-opposition.html

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    This discussion is becomeing circular and I find I am repeating myself but here goes:

    1. Your point is not the same as Charly's. Bringing a prosecution on the basis of sex, age, race, disability or sexual, religious or political orientation is not "selectivity" but discrimination. Discrimination is illegal and is indeed a criminal offence in many legal jurisdictions. Charly's point is or appears to be the quite different one that there is some sort of defence of "selectivity" where a person charged with a crime is able to show that another person who has committed the same crime has not been charged with it.

    2. As I have repeatedly said if the European Court of Human Rights decides that the case that has been brought against Tymoshenko is politically motivated (as you appear to believe) then it will set her conviction aside because she will not have had a fair trial. In the meantime the legal process is not exhausted and given that it is not exhausted we should wait and see rather than seek to prejudge the decision of the Court. How often do I have to repeat this simple point before it is understood? In the meantime since it seems that we must discuss Tymoshenko's case perhaps you can enlighten me on one particular point? Do you think Tymoshenko is innocent?

    3. Turning to the political crisis of 2007 it seems to me that you are falling into the trap that because you that Yushchenko unlike Yanukovitch is a "democrat" he anti should be given the benefit of the doubt in a way that Yanukovitch should not. This sort of reasoning is quite simply wrong. At the end of the day what makes a country a democracy is its constitution and its laws and the way they are enforced. That applies to the Ukraine as much as it does to any other country. If you are as I think an American you should appreciate this fact better than anyone else since it is the great achievement of your country to establish the world's first functioning and fully successful democracy on the basis of its constitution and its laws. The guardian of the constitution is the President who swears an oath to uphold and defend it. If the President violates the constitution and breaks his oath and interferes with the system of justice to prevent his decisions being challenged in the way that Yushchenko did in 2007 and does so moreover in order to achieve a particular political objective his actions are not "democratic" but the opposite. As for your concept of "illegal/unconstitutional democratic behaviour" that quite simply is an oxymoron.

    4. This is not in any way to justify Yanukovitch's actions since he became President. However since you press me I will say that in my opinion Yanukovitch's actions are nowhere near as dangerous as Yushchenko's. Political haggling of the sort of that happens in the Ukraine is unedifying but it happens often enough in Europe with deputies and parties in many European countries including Britain switching sides and forming new coalitions between elections on a pretty regular basis. If there is a law against it in the Ukraine then of course it should not happen but the right way to challenge such acts is through the Courts. What made Yushchenko's conduct during the political crisis of 2007 so dangerous and so outrageous was not the dissolution decree itself but the repeated attempts Yushchenko made to prevent the decree from being challenged in a legal way in the Constitutional Court by his attempts to rig the membership of the Constitutional Court and by the cynical steps he took to obstruct its work. By acting in this wayYushchenko put himself above the law, which is not democratic but the opposite. So far Yanukovitch has done nothing that comes close and nor by the way when he was President did Kuchma. The equivalent would have been if Yanukovitch and Kuchma had sought in 2004 to prevent the Supreme Court from considering the case Yushchenko brought against the Central Electoral Commission over its conduct of the disputed Presidential elections.

    5. Lastly and quickly on the subject of the Socialists the mere fact that Moroz and the Socialists shared platforms with the Orange parties does not mean that the Socialists were an Orange party any more than the presence at the demonstration in Moscow on 10th December 2011 of a representative of the Russian Communist party sharing a platform with liberals such as Nemtsov and Kasparov mean that on major political issues the Communists and the liberals share the same views.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.