Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ukraine redux

Just returned from the Ukraine last night after a one-week mission for the OSCE. This was my fifth OSCE deployment, and my fourth to the Ukraine!

I'll write something of substance later, because I'm tied up now with writing a piece on the election results for Security Watch.

But I wanted to post a few photographs first.

The statue at the top is, of course, a likeness of Vladmimir Ilyich. Lots of those still around. My area of responsibility was the charming city of Mirgorod, where I really must return to someday soon as a tourist.

On our first night in Mirogorod, my partner and I stumbled upon a wonderful, raucous pop-music group doing a stage show, sponsored by the pro-Russian Party of Regions. Really fun, with barbeques and families and even fireworks.

Also, oddly, we noticed at least eight weddings in a day and a half while in the Mirgorod area. Our translator explained that there is quite a rush now for couples to wed, since Ukrainians prefer not to marry on a leap year, and the following year is considered also to be unlucky ("the year of widows," we were told).

Here is one young bride, leaving the "Gogol Restaurant" (the region prides itself on its connection to Golgol) - where we could never get decent service:

On election day, I had duty from 0645 Sunday until 0330 the following morning. Long day. Here is a shot of me and my interpreter. This is how your tax dollars are spent!

Finally, after returning to Kiev on Tuesday, I switched for a couple of hours to journalist mode and got some interviews as I roamed from the Central Election Commission to the Maidan - where the Orange Revolution began three years before. In contrast to the 150,000 demonstrators then (which I witnessed), there were maybe ten tents in the plaza in front of the CEC and maybe another eight or so at the Maidan - a futile gesture on the part of the Communists and the Party of Regions.

Here is a shot of some zoned-out kids "protesting" at the Maidan.