Sunday, October 17, 2004

Yanukovych Billboards in Moscow

Naturally, Yanukovych is Moscow's choice in Ukraine's upcoming Presidential election. But Putin had to make it even more obvious than putting on a circus of a showA billboard along Leningradskoye Shosse in Moscow reading: Ukrainians in Russia Choose Viktor Yanukovych for President of support for him by holding a "congress" of a non-existent organization of Ukrainians in Russia which backed Yanukovych's bid. That the organization of Ukrainians in Russia supports Yanukovych was news to the chair of the viable, active Ukrainian organization, Rudenko-Desniak. What's even more interesting is that Yanukovych's "Ukrainians in Russia" were organized by one Oleg Baklanov. Baklanov oversaw the Soviet military-industrial complex from his post on the Soviet Defense Council, was a member of the powerful Central Committee and was a putsch organizer.

Certainly, it wasn't enough for the Kremlin to gather signatures in Russia to put Yanukovych on the ballot in Ukraine. According to Yuschenko's people, there were more signatures than eligible voters in Russia.

Now there are billboards in Moscow urging Ukrainians to vote for Yanukovych. Which is curious because there are probably only about 4000 eligible Ukrainian voters in the region around Moscow. Certainly far fewer than, say, in Seattle or Rome.

So, are those few votes worth the expenditure of placing the billboards or is there another reason? Of course there's another reason. The Moscow Times reports that former Kremlin political consultant Sergei Markov said that the goal of the billboard is "to underline that Russia backs Yanukovych." The MT also quotes Igor Mintusov, chairman of the political consulting agency Nikkolo M: "The presidential administration is just telling people that it supports Yanukovych." The billboards "are not intended to attract voters," he added.

There is an implicit threat when Moscow makes clear what Moscow wants. Moscow gets what it wants... or else.


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