Waving the Flag

_41815406_ukraine_girl_getty203.jpgFlags are currently in vogue in Kyiv. Walk down any street without one and you will get some very odd looks. “Look Mama,” says a small child to her mother, “that man is not carrying a flag”. The mother looks on in disgust shaking her head slowly and adjusts her armband. “Perhaps he does not like pop music” she replies.

Yes, it is time for a revolution and that means coaches of supporters for pro-this or anti-that blocking all the roads whilst large trains of the great unwashed gather for pop music in the square. Rock, gospel – whatever floats your boat but there is usually a pretty girl wearing lycra kicking it all off and a fat guy with a stoney face bringing it to a close with a megaphone proclaiming that he is anti-this or anti-that.

One thing that is sure – we have another 2 weeks of holiday coming up to celebrate victory in the Great Patriotic War and so the crowds will be dispersing to the seaside. Stuff the Revolution – I want a Mr Whippsky 99 with red sauce.

After seeing his presidential powers steadily eroded by Ukraine’s Yanukovych-led legislature, Yushchenko on April 2 decided to fight back by ordering the dissolution of parliament. He said new parliamentary elections would be held May 27, just 14 months after Ukrainians elected the current parliament. We will perhpas discuss the removal of the Foreign Affairs ministers budget another day but stories of him taking flights using his credit card are supposedly true.

Yushchenko and Yanukovych had been at loggerheads since Yanukovych’s Party of Regions won the largest share of votes in the March 2006 parliament election. For Yushchenko, however, the last straw came with the defection of 11 lawmakers from Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party and Orange ally Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc over to Yanukovych’s ruling coalition.

The defections gave Yanukovych 260 lawmakers in the 450-seat parliament, drawing him closer to the 300-vote supermajority he would need to override any Yushchenko veto.

Yanukovych and his allies have refused to abide by Yushchenko’s decree and have continued to work in parliament. They also have bussed thousands of Ukrainians from Yanukovych’s support base in the east and south to Kiev’s Independence Square to demonstrate daily against Yushchenko’s decision. Whether it is 3 guys who looks as if they need a bath holding a placard proclaiming Crimea or the swisher Odessa crowd it is a sight to behold….

The impasse has been put in the hands of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, which is expected to begin discussing the legality of Yushchenko’s decree next week. They were scheduled to begin their work last week, but hearings were postponed after five of the court’s judges complained they were being pressured by Yanukovych’s allies. Can you imagine such a thing?

For many Ukrainians, all this has made them question the value of the Orange Revolution and the end of years of post-Soviet corruption and political chicanery. As my driver says as we skirt past the throngs “Revolizti idiotitz” – or something like that – but I get the drift.

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