Ukraine: Betting on Yushchenko

Global Voices Online
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people attended two major rallies in Kyiv: supporters of prime minister Victor Yanukovych and his ruling coalition were brought to European Square to protest president Victor Yushchenko's plans to dissolve the parliament; supporters of Yushchenko and his current allies stood at Maidan Nezalezhnosti, voicing their approval of this tough measure.

On Sunday, all was perfectly quiet and uneventful in Kyiv.

Then on Monday, Yushchenko dissolved the parliament, accusing Yanukovych of usurping power. The ruling coalition reacted to the president's order by defying it; the parliament continued its work throughout Tuesday.

How the situation is going to develop and whether the early election, scheduled for May 27, would take place, is anyone's guess right now. But Ukrainians seem to be used to such unpredictability. After all, it wasn't clear until the very last moment whether the president and the prime minister would reach compromise, and hardly anyone seemed too surprised when they didn't - but even if they had, it wouldn't have been a complete shock to many.

LJ user chernikovsun (Ukrainian journalist Andrey Chernikov) has written this (RUS) about the risky business of betting on Ukraine's president:

A political totalizer

I've got some political forecasting skills. But at a bookmaker's office, I wouldn't bet on the parliament's dissolution or its non-dissolution. Because our president is an unpredictable person. I haven't been able to figure out what determines the decisions he makes. And I would've lost on any stake I'd made.

Funny, but some gambling did take place (RUS) - at the forum of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine's most popular news sites, founded by Georgiy Gongadze: Yushchenko's firmness allowed three forum dwellers to win 50 hryvnias ($10) and two more twice as much; one of the bettors who didn't believe the president would dissolve the parliament lost 200 hryvnias ($40).

Almost like betting but not quite is a survey question (UKR) posted at Ukrainska Pravda's forum; readers are asked whether they'd be prepared to support their president right up to the victory. Of the 154 voters, 132 said they would, 13 responded negatively, and nine said they didn't care:

VERBICKY: So we'll support him, but he'd let us down and recall his order on Easter's eve.


Kram: Yes, but even yesterday I didn't expect myself to feel this way!


Matroskin: No. In the two years of his presidency, one firm decision? [...]

LJ user unika_ is one of those who is skeptical about the idea to re-elect Ukrainian lawmakers. She notes that Yushchenko's order to dissolve the parliament was made public shortly after full moon appeared in the skies on April 2 - and full moon is known to only make it worse for the mentally ill, according to unika_. Seriously, though, she writes:


They can do re-elections ten times or more, but the result would still be 50/50. Both optimists and pessimists understand this. So what's the point in spending money, distracting people from the work in the fields, stopping the ministries' work?


And here is a view of someone who agrees with the president - LJ user skylump writes (RUS):

Hurrah. I'm glad. Yushchenko has made at least one dignified step. I continue to enjoy the story of the parliament's dissolution. Because the elites have to be taught democracy. The old European method, guillotine - or the old Ukrainian method, throwing hetmans [commanders] onto spike - do not fit the spirit of the time. Nowadays, the elites have to be reshuffled and led to bankruptcy during the multiple elections - to make them understand at least something.

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