Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Serhiy Kivalov is the name of the guy from the Central Election Commission, who spent a minute or so yesterday, thinking whether he should announce Yushchenko's significant Kyiv lead over Yanukovych or not. He is the head of the Commission (his Russian equivalent is Aleksandr Veshnyakov - they do look alike a lot, not really "separated at birth" but pretty close). That episode hasn't been mentioned enough - it may prove to be more or less something like the trembling hands of Gennady Yanayev during the August 1991 coup, a decisive moment. In any case, it was as funny and as significant and as telling to me personally. No matter what happens next.

As I said before, it's exactly the same country: calm; people are commuting from work, the subway is crowded and many smell of alcohol; nothing is happening around the Central Election Commission building or near the Presidential Administration; at the Maidan Nezalezhnosti they are singing Vyacheslav Butusov's Ya Khochu Byt' S Toboi (I Want to Be With You) all the time. It's sort of boring. I'm grateful to God that we havent't had any bloodshed, but it is boring, considering the fact that the Central Election Commission has stopped counting the votes as soon as Yushchenko approached Yanukovych (as of now, the difference is less than 1 percent and, according to the Ukrainian legislation, they can stay this way for the next ten days, which would prevent Yushchenko from campaigning, until the second round officially kicks off).

My friend told me that it was fun at Yushchenko's headquarters yesterday night - many famous people hanging out there, including Boris Nemtsov, one of Russia's main opposiotion leaders, and a few cool bands, and Yulia Timoshenko, and yes, all the people gathered outdoors, carrying or dressed in something orange. I passed Yanukovych headquarters tonight - located in the building of what once used to be a movie theater - and all I saw was a fountain and a metal fence surrounding the building, no people, no supporters or anything.

Miscellaneous stuff: totally by accident, I've eavesdropped on Stephen Bandera, a grandson of one of the most notorious Ukrainian leaders, Stepan Bandera, calling Kuchma "a smart man, though not a wise one." Strangely, it has made me feel like such a radical - I do consider Kuchma a brainless idiot, and I do have a Russian friend who calls me a "Banderovka" - a hard-core Ukrainian nationalist - every time I mention Kyiv, even when I'm just talking about the weather. Go figure. There was also a Polish election observer guy who spoke perfect Ukrainian but sort of accused me of being a CIA person because of my accent: it usually takes me at least a week to switch from Russian/English to Ukrainian/Russian/English, and my Ukrainian has never been something to be proud of. This Polish guy was observing the election in Kyiv and said everything had been great. He loves Donetsk, too, because the region he grew up in Poland is a coal-mining region and reminds him of Donbas. Another observer, from the Netherlands, also said everything had gone okay - in a town close to Kyiv, Brovary, where he had been observing.

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