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Red, White, and Orange
TOL ^ | 11 - 29 - 04 | Jakub Jedras

Posted on 11/29/2004 4:13:23 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe

There's no doubt whom Poland's politicians, media, and people are supporting in Ukraine.

WARSAW, Poland--Thousands of Poles are on the streets decked out in orange. Both of Poland's post-communist presidents have been to Kiev to mediate. A near-total consensus in parliament and in the media: Poland has been absorbed by the events in Ukraine over the past week, and its politicians, media, and citizens are expressing an overwhelming solidarity with the Ukrainian opposition as it tries to overturn the results in Ukraine's flawed presidential elections.

In Warsaw crowds of Poles, most of them young, have gathered outside the Ukrainian Embassy, the parliament building, and the monument to Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine's national poet. Thousands have attended special concerts, Ukrainian poetry readings, and a range of other events in Warsaw. In some parts of central Polish capital where demonstrators gatheredy, not wearing anything orange has seemed at least a little odd. The same applies in Katowice, Krakow, Lodz, Wroclaw, Lublin, and many other cities with large student populations.

Those who believed opinion polls that indicated that Poles disliked Ukrainians more than Germans or Russians might now be feeling astonished. So too might Warsaw's shopkeepers as they try to cope with the new fashion for orange. Orange scarves, gloves, hats, and even shoes have reportedly been sold out, and kilometers of orange ribbon have been bought up.

"Yushchenko, Yushchenko!" "Ukraine without Putin," and "Free Ukraine" are just a few of the slogans being shouted by supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, presidential candidate and leader of Ukraine's opposition.

Why are they doing this? "This is the most important event in the past 15 years," says Michal, a university student reading economics. "Ukraine has an opportunity to be changed. We must support this!"

The view that Ukraine's current leadership is a relic of the Soviet era and Russia's perceived overweening involvement in Ukraine play a key role in Polish attitudes. Again and again, Poles say that the protests in Poland's eastern neighbor remind them of 1980 and 1989, the years when Poland's trade union movement Solidarity pressed the communist system to the wall and finally toppled it. "We were supported then; now we are supporting," says Magda, who has attended rallies every day since the second round of Ukraine's presidential elections on 21 November.


Solidarity figurehead and Nobel Prize-winner Lech Walesa swiftly flew to Kiev to give flesh to the analogy, apparently at Yushchenko's invitation. Though he talked with the government candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, as well as with Yushchenko, there was no doubt where his sympathies lay when he addressed a crowd of 200,000 orange-clad Yushchenko supporters.

Others contented themselves with attending pro-Yushchenko rallies in Warsaw.

In fact, the only prominent Polish politician not to come out in favor of Yushchenko was President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who flew off to Kiev on 26 November, a day after Walesa, to act as an intermediary. There he joined Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus, a representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the head of EU foreign policy Javier Solana at roundtable talks.

As president, Kwasniewski has adopted a neutral stance, and officially his relations with Kuchma have always been very good.

But the details suggest a more critical stance, both now and in the past. Two days before going to Kiev, Kwasniewski told journalists that Kuchma was "disappointing me" as he had failed "to adopt a role as mediator between Yanukovych and Yushchenko," a reference to Kuchma's close relationship with Yanukovych and his consistent support for him during the election campaign and in the early days of the post-election crisis.

He also backed the visit by his predecessor, Walesa, after Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma sharply criticized Walesa's mission as "increasing tensions."

"I had less room to act as I must take care of future Polish-Ukrainian relations," Kwasniewski said, in an ambiguous statement that seemed designed to imply where his sympathies lay.

The Polish president has also had reason to be disappointed on several occasions in recent years. To no avail, Kwasniewski has urged the Ukrainian president to clarify the circumstances of the killing of journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000, a crime in which secretly recorded tapes implicated Kuchma. Poland also recently suffered a setback in its "strategic relationship" with Ukraine, as it is always described, when Ukraine decided to allow Russia access to a pipeline that runs from Odessa in Ukraine to Brody in Poland.

While there have been some symbolic advances--the joint commemoration in 2003 of the 60th anniversary of massacres in the border region of Volhynia--those have been offset by setbacks, such as a scuttled joint ceremony at a cemetery for Polish victims of fighting in 1918 in Lviv, close to the Polish border.

Now, the political consensus seems to be that Poland has much more to gain by backing the opposition than by trying to preserve good relations with Kuchma and his prime minister.

Feelings are particularly strong among the founders and activists of Solidarity. "A mass movement very similar to Solidarity has emerged in Ukraine," one former Solidarity leader, Bogdan Borusewicz, told the daily Gazeta Wyborcza. "It has no name at the moment, but we can see that civic society has raised its head."

He added that Poland now has a great role to play and that the weight of Polish public opinion could help avert bloodshed in Ukraine.

Henryk Wujec, who also was a member of the anti-communist movement, echoed those feelings, pointing to visits to support the Ukrainian opposition by Polish politicians such as former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek and former Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski.

Not all of this political support may be selfless. Some newspapers, among them the left-wing Trybuna, accused right-wing politicians of seizing on the crisis for domestic political purposes.

The parties most actively supporting the Ukrainian opposition are the liberal Civic Platform (PO) and the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), which may well both form a new governing coalition after parliamentary elections next year. The PiS sent its leaders, the brothers Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski, to the demonstrations in Kiev.

Civic Platform went further, inviting Boris Tarasyuk, the former Ukrainian foreign minister and a close ally of Yushchenko, to speak in the Polish parliament. Tarasyuk’s speech in the Sejm was unprecedented; normally, only those officially invited by parliament are allowed to address the chamber. Tarasyuk underlined the shared history of Poles and Ukrainians, the importance of Solidarity, and a geopolitical axiom expressed by Jerzy Giedroyc, a Polish intellectual who died in 2000: "There can be no independent Poland without a free Ukraine."

Walesa used the same quote when he addressed the crowds in Kiev.

Some Polish politicians have, however, remained on the sidelines. Their reasons are various. "I am not going to Ukraine," said Wojciech Wierzejski, a far-right Polish member of the European Parliament. "The situation is not unambiguous; Yushchenko is backed also by nationalists hostile to Poles."

Janusz Wojciechowski, leader of the Polish Peasant Party, called for Poland to be "reserved," arguing, "We don’t want anybody to pry into our affairs, and the same goes for the Ukrainians. They must solve their problem by themselves."


The media has made clear its affinities. Gazeta Wyborcza--the country's leading paper, edited by a former dissident, Adam Michnik--has gone the farthest. It has supported Yushchenko and the opposition, handed out orange ribbons, and prepared a special eight-page supplement in Ukrainian that was distributed for free in Kiev and Lviv.

The public service channel TVP and the news station TVN24 have carried live broadcasts from Kiev and Lviv, with hourly reports from around the country. Most newspapers have devoted acres of space to articles, analyses, commentaries, and interviews relating to events in Ukraine.

The warmth felt toward Ukraine is accompanied by chilly feelings about Russia's role. Moscow's overt support for Yanukovych has reinforced perceptions that Russia still has an imperialist mindset.

President Kwasniewski expressed the sentiment in more careful but still clear terms when he told Gazeta Wyborcza that Russia's main aim is to re-establish its influence in this part of the former Soviet Union through "concrete political and economic acts."

Claims that Russian troops have been brought into Kiev have awakened fears of bloodshed. But ultimately, "If Ukraine's orange revolution is won, it will be a very serious blow to Russia," wrote Agnieszka Romaszewska in Rzeczpospolita, expressing a very widespread perception

Janusz Onyszkiewicz, a member of parliament and former minister of defense, believes Russia will have to accept whatever solution is reached in Ukraine. "In any case, Yushchenko is not an anti-Russian politician," Onyszkiewicz added.

The events in Ukraine and the massive support for the opposition in Poland is being seen as an opportunity to reinvigorate Poland's and the EU's eastern policy. The strong backing expressed by the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania--and the presence of Kwasniewski and Lithuania's President Adamkus, rather than representatives of Germany or France, as negotiators in Kiev--is adding to the belief that the EU's new member states should and can influence EU policy. In Poland, the EU is generally seen as preferring good relations with Russia to becoming involved in Ukrainian, Belarusian, or Moldovan affairs.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: poland; ukraine; walesa

1 posted on 11/29/2004 4:13:24 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Matthew Paul; Grzegorz 246; Lukasz; lizol; eleni121

Vast Polish Conspiracy bump!

2 posted on 11/29/2004 4:18:10 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

With all the international star power seeming to line up behind the "changeling" why do I feel conflicted? Why do I feel hoodwinked? I hear Soros and I get queasy for one.

Could it be that both candidates carry so much baggage that neither is an alternative?

3 posted on 11/29/2004 4:23:25 PM PST by eleni121 (NO more reaching out!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Why not separate? The Czechs are doing great without the Slovaks. The Slovenes are doing very well thank you without the rest of Yugoslavia.

A smaller more homogeneous Ukraine state makes more sense when it comes to the Old World.

4 posted on 11/29/2004 4:26:14 PM PST by eleni121 (NO more reaching out!)
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To: eleni121
As I've stated before, I'm tired of all the whining about Soros on one Ukraine election thread after another and starting to wonder as to its true motivation.
Many within the reform movement have publicly condemned Soros' unwanted interference and, since the Kuchma clique of thugs, gangsters and pro-Russian boot-lickers plainly can't be defended, why all the nay-saying of the alternative?

If a few Nazis, for their own self-serving reasons, were found to have supported President Bush's re-election would this mean that he - or the over 61 million patriots who voted for him - agreed with their goals or ideology?
5 posted on 11/29/2004 4:37:13 PM PST by GMMAC (lots of terror cells in Canada - I'll be waving my US flag when the Marines arrive!)
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I'm sick of hearing his name too but there it is in black and white and I will not ignore it. But that's only one of the problems. The "Changeling" has certainly been changing recently. Yushchenko served in Kuchma's govt during the monetary fiascos and thieveries. So what makes him such a nice guy all of a sudden?

Not buying this.

6 posted on 11/29/2004 5:12:51 PM PST by eleni121 (NO more reaching out!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

WE need to sen the Ukrainians some videotape of crowd shots of a Syracuse U football or basketnall game..70,000 people all dressed in ORANGE..we can tell them that the US supports them/

7 posted on 11/29/2004 5:20:15 PM PST by ken5050
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To: eleni121
Its just two rival groups of crooks battling it out for power from everything I have read. Whoever finally gets in power will certainly be a dissapointment to almost everyone except those who financially benefit.

As somebody who travels to that part of the world four times a year I do want to point out some facts about the lay of the land. The average income in Russia is over twice that of Ukraine. The city of Moscow with 10 million people, almost has the same GDP as the entire Ukraine of 47 million. There are hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who go to Russia every year to find work. Many of them work in the contruction industry. On many of the projects I personally worked on I would say Ukrainians made up about 30% of the workforce. Ukraine to Russia at the current time is in a way like Mexico to the United States, but Ukraine has a lot of potential with an educated population and excellent ports.
8 posted on 11/29/2004 5:23:52 PM PST by Timedrifter
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To: Timedrifter

"As somebody who travels to that part of the world four times a year..."

That's fascinating. I have head similar stories from Ukrainian immigrants here. It's too bad there is that enmity between them...they are about the same ethnicity with only religion dividing them right?

9 posted on 11/29/2004 5:27:46 PM PST by eleni121 (NO more reaching out!)
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To: eleni121
they are about the same ethnicity with only religion dividing them right? Yes and no. Both Russians and Ukrainians consider themselves to be East Slavs. However over the centuries they have mixed with other groups. Russians have various amounts of Finnish and Tatar blood. Ukrainians have mixed with various Steppe people in ancient times, Turks and Poles in more modern days.

About 65% of Ukraine belongs to the Eastern Orthodox Church, the same as Russia. The Western third of Ukraine is primarily Uniate Catholic. The owe allegiance to Rome, while keeping a lot of the Orthodox liturgy.

Russian and Ukrainian languages are similar. Both use the cyrillic alphabet. In the East its heavily mixed with Russian, in the west with Polish borrowings.
10 posted on 11/29/2004 5:37:51 PM PST by Timedrifter
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To: Timedrifter

Well OK I knew all that although Ukrainians would never admit to Turkish blood because there isn't any. Sure they have been raided for hundreds of years but most the raids took kidnapped women back to Ottoman lands.

So it appears that the main stumbling block is religion..the Catholic and Eastern rites cementing the divisions.

11 posted on 11/29/2004 5:54:47 PM PST by eleni121 (NO more reaching out!)
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To: eleni121
Ukrainians would never admit to Turkish blood because there isn't any.

Cossacks are partly Turkish, or so I have always read.
12 posted on 11/29/2004 6:11:38 PM PST by Timedrifter
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To: Timedrifter
NO they are not related to Turkmen. They are not related to the kazaks either. I believe their name Cossack comes from the Turkish meaning wanderer but that's it. The Cossacks were fierce turk fighters. And they sided with the Whites thus suffering greatly when the Bolsheviks took power. Great people and are making a comeback. Enjoy this fascinating work of art.

In 1676 the Turkish Sultan Mohammed IV offered the Zaporozhye Cossacks who lived near the Dniepr rapids to become his subjects. They wrote him a mocking letter spurning his offer

13 posted on 11/29/2004 6:29:27 PM PST by eleni121 (NO more reaching out!)
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To: Timedrifter
"About 65% of Ukraine belongs to the Eastern Orthodox Church, the same as Russia. The Western third of Ukraine is primarily Uniate Catholic. The owe allegiance to Rome, while keeping a lot of the Orthodox liturgy."

This is fairly accurate but, to put a finer point on it, the Orthodox Church is divided into 3 main sub-groups, each loyal to a different Patriarch, and a host of smaller ones.
Interestingly and for obvious reasons, other than within the grouping loyal to the Patriarch of Moscow, there seems to be a fair bit of support for the reformers within the Orthodox community.

Although smaller than the Orthodox in overall numbers, the Ukrainian Catholic Church is larger than any of its sects. Over the past millennium, few Christian Churches have suffered the persecution that was inflicted upon Ukrainian Catholics by the communists; largely because of the nationalist component of their Faith and their allegiance to Rome which was seen as both anti soviet and anti Slavic.

The Russian Orthodox Church, in particular, enjoyed a sweetheart deal with the communists and was often the beneficiary of stolen Catholic Churches and artifacts as well as converts compelled to so at gunpoint.
There's a lot of both history and theology driving the reformers and a big time "chickens coming home to roost" factor at hand for the Russians and their Ukrainian toadies.
14 posted on 11/29/2004 6:29:43 PM PST by GMMAC (lots of terror cells in Canada - I'll be waving my US flag when the Marines arrive!)
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To: eleni121

Stalin murdered 6 million or more Ukrainians in 1933 with the complicity of Walter Duranty and his employer the NY Times. Duranty got a Pulitzer Prize for praising Stalin.

The Ukrainians have a good reason to fear and hate the KGB. I was hopeful Putin was more of a nationalist who was just going after the oligarch pirates but he appears to be another tyrant.

15 posted on 11/29/2004 6:33:37 PM PST by FrankRepublican (Boycott NBC & their parent company General Electric for smearing the USMC)
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To: eleni121

that is a great painting, here is some history on it:

These [Cossack attacks] so inflamed the hatred of the Muslims toward the Zaporozian Cossacks and the entire Christian population of Ukraine that the Turks decided to attack the Zaporozian Seech and raze it to the ground. There is a popular tradition that, before sending his troops to the Zaporozian Seech, Turkish Sultan Muhammad IV sent to the Zaporogians a letter demanding they submit voluntarily to him, an unconquerable knight. To the Sultan's letter, the Cossacks responded with free choice of words in a letter of their own. It denied the Sultan all honor, cruelly mocking the boasts of an "unconquerable knight." Many who treasure South Russian lore preserve copies of this letter of the Turkish Sultan and of the quaint reply of the Zaporozians. The letter may be fictitious, but it is entirely consistent with the spirit of the Zaporozian Cossacks.

Sultan Mahmud IV to the Zaporozian Cossacks:
As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians -- I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.
--Turkish Sultan Mahmud IV

The following translation appeared in M.B. Kuropas, "The Saga of the Ukraine," MUN Enterprises, © 1961:

The Kozaks of the Dnieper to the Sultan of Turkey:
Thou Turkish Satan, brother and companion to the accursed Devil, and companion to Lucifer himself, Greetings!
What the hell kind of noble knight art thou? The Devil voids, and thy army devours. Never wilt thou be fit to have the sons of Christ under thee: thy army we fear not, and by land and on sea we will do battle against thee.
Thou scullion of Babylon, thou wheelwright of Macedonia, thou beer-brewer of Jerusalem, thou goat-flayer of Alexandria, thou swineherd of Egypt, both the Greater and the Lesser, thou sow of Armenia, thou goat of Tartary, thou hangman of Kamenetz, thou evildoer of Podoliansk, thou grandson of the Devil himself, thou great silly oaf of all the world and of the netherworld and, before our God, a blockhead, a swine's snout, a mare's ___, a butcher's cur, an unbaptized brow, May the Devil take thee! That is what the Kozaks have to say to thee, thou basest-born of runts! Unfit art thou to lord it over true Christians!
The date we write not for no calendar have we got; the moon is in the sky, the year is in a book, and the day is the same with us here as with thee over there, and thou canst kiss us thou knowest where!

16 posted on 11/29/2004 6:39:04 PM PST by KOZ. (Reducing liberalism from a threat to a mere nuisance. Just like prostitution.)
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