Europe

Fakes, Thugs, Peace and Democracy

As predicted by Eric, the fake ‘human rights campaigner’, the Guardian’s favourite right-winger, John Laughland turned up in the paper at the weekend to make his usual defence of dodgy East European regimes and smear the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine.

The Sunday Telegraph, in contrast, has an account of the abuses that took place during the election which Laughing Boy thinks are a western ‘fantasy’.

It was 5.30pm on election day in Ukraine when the thugs in masks arrived armed with rubber truncheons.

Vitaly Kizima, an election monitor at Zhovtneve in Ukraine’s Sumy region, watched in horror as 30 men in tracksuits stormed into the village polling station.

They started to beat voters and election officials, trying to push through towards the ballot boxes,” he told The Telegraph.

“People’s faces were cut from blows to the head. There was blood all over.”

The thugs – believed to be loyal to the pro-Russian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovich from his stronghold, Donetsk – were repulsed only when locals pushed them back and a policeman fired warning shots.

The catalogue of abuses in the contest between Mr Yanukovich, the prime minister, and his opponent, the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko, is growing longer by the day.

In the Observer, David Aaronovitch looks at the broader picture:

For all the talk about the wedge driven between the EU and America over Iraq, what has been evident from the response to events in the Ukraine is how much we have in common. The EU and its representatives, the governments of the new EU states which border the Ukraine and the US State Department have all been saying much the same thing. The consequence has been to give immense encouragement to those Ukrainians for whom the issue is a straightforward one of democratic standards. And for those of us who cannot see how the world will be a better place if Europe and America are at each others’ throats, this solidarity is encouraging.

It also shows that there are some places where it easier for the EU to go than for America. Eurosceptics, many of whom claim that democracy lies at the heart of their objection to the Union, should reflect on the role of Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, who has been leading mediation attempts in Kiev. This is how it should be. This was the whole idea. The EU’s political purpose was originally about bringing the continent together, not in currencies, but in peace and democracy.

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