The other election

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In just a few hours, Ukraine will go to the polls to elect a president. TulipGirl, who lives there, asks us to keep the country and election in our prayers. The republics of the old Soviet Union have great potential but are still suffering from the legacy of 70 years under totalitarian rule, which prevented normal economic development and decimated civil society.

She links to this NRO article by Bruce Bartlett. Bartlett has this spot-on description of the economic disaster that is socialist central planning:

And because of communism, the Ukraine’s economy never developed naturally so as to exploit those industries and businesses most appropriate for its location and resources. Under central planning, production was guided by political whim, with the result that much of the industry located in the Ukraine at independence was inherently unviable in a free market.

There is a reformer in the race, and Ukraine would be blessed to have Viktor Yushchenko as president. Bartlett writes of him:

[As head of the Central Bank], he was one of the few Ukrainians who was trusted by foreign investors. He has a reputation for honesty as well as competence — the former perhaps more important than the latter, given the widespread corruption in the Ukraine. (A new report from Transparency International ranks the Ukraine as one of the most corrupt nations on Earth.)

In December 1999, Yushchenko was named prime minister. By all accounts, he did an excellent job, helping to implement economic and political reforms. This did not endear him to President Kuchma or the oligarchs who have robbed the country blind, so he was sacked in April 2001. Since then, he has been a member of the Ukraine’s parliament, where he has continued to press for reform.

Hmm. Reformer sacked by oligarchs who are running the country for their own enrichment. Sounds like my hometown....

TulipGirl links to a few articles that will give you a sense of what things are like in the run-up to the election. One article reports a plot to have a mob pose as supporters of the reform candidate and create a disturbance to discredit him. There has been violence targeting supporters of Yushchenko. Government agencies have used their enforcement powers to harass opponents of the current president's handpicked successor.

Ukraine has the potential to be a great and prosperous nation, but only if there is an end to corruption. Pray for Ukraine.

UPDATE: TulipGirl has another post up with links to blogs on the Ukraine election, and she links to her husband's comments on the election, in which he says:

Please be in prayer, that the people will make the right choice, and that their choice will be honored.

Will do.

MORE: Ukrainian author Oksana Zabuzhko wondered if free Ukraine has only one week left. She wrote this essay last Sunday -- week's almost up. Worth reading. (Published on Ukraine, Russia, Europe, the US, Oh My!, which was linked by TulipGirl.)

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For those interested in Ukrainian politics, I recommend Hubby's post about Europe's Most Important Election. And, Einsondernull recommends the following blogs for "on-site news. Sometimes biased, maybe incomplete - but definitly commited and first hand... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 30, 2004 10:48 AM.

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