Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I followed the student rally across the city center to the Ukrainian Parliament building yesterday afternoon: they were voicing their support for Yushchenko, and also protesting against frauds during the election and the count of the votes. Really nice guys, a very moving experience, obvious solidarity from the people driving by in cars and those watching the rally from their balconies: many were honking in a friendly way and waving orange flags.

Two elderly women walked next to me, very passionate and outspoken. As we passed the police guarding the Cabinet of Ministers building, one yelled at the cops: "Shame on you! You're selling yourself for nothing to the criminals! Shame on you!" Then the head of the Central Election Commission, Serhiy Kivalov, got his share of curses: "A traitor! He sold out!" And then one of the women yelled something that I didn't find too smart: "He doesn't even speak Ukrainian! He only speaks Russian! He sold out to the enemies!" To which the other woman replied that it didn't really matter all that much what language he spoke, and the first one let it pass, and the two screamed in unison again for a while - and I wasn't paying attention to the language either was using, until the second one suddenly asked, loudly, without any embarrassment, and in Russian: "And how do you say 'traitor' in Ukrainian?" And a middle-aged man from the crowd in front of us turned and, looking amused but not irritated, replied: "Zradnyk." (In Russian, it's "predatel.") And the Russian-speaking woman, together with her Ukrainian-speaking comrade, yelled: "Kivalov zradnyk, Kivalov zradnyk!"

The reason Kivalov is drawing so much hatred is because the Central Election Commission is taking forever to count the remaining 4 or 3 percent of the bulletins - according to everyone's predictions, Yushchenko is going to win the first round, and his opponents are looking for ways to avoid this embarrassment, and the longer they pretend to be counting the remaining votes, the more ridiculous it looks.

Unfortunately, there's still gonna be the second round on Nov. 21, even if Yushchenko gets more votes now.

(More pictures from the rally on my fotopage, HERE.)

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