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Leonid Kuchma: Two electoral crimes from one video

"What we seemed to be witnessing together was a dinosaur from a totalitarian past attempting to defer extinction by the application of brute force, and what possibly was behind this appearance was cash payment in American dollars from the Putin-Kuchma-Yanukovych war chest for delivering the votes of an entire school." Lubomyr Prytulak


             19 November 2004

Leonid Kuchma, President
vul. Bankivska 11
Kyiv, 252005
Ukraine

Leonid Kuchma:

A PORA student secretly videod the Rector of the National Academy of the Tax Service of Ukraine bullying students to vote for presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych:

PLAY RECTOR VIDEO  originally published by Channel 5 TV at  www.5tv.com.ua/video/143/0/64/

Neither the precise violation of electoral process the Rector demands, nor the threat that he backs it up with, is absolutely clear.  It does seem to be the case, though, that the Rector informs the students that their ballots will not be secret as when he states that the vote will make it "crystal clear to Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych and to Mykola Yanovych Azarov who is who."  Students who intend to not vote for Yanukovych, furthermore, are told to not show up back at school on polling day, which perhaps carries the implication that they should consider themselves expelled.

In many Western countries, an educator attempting to influence student voting by coercion of this magnitude would bring newspaper headlines, criminal charges, and firing.  This Rector's statement undoubtedly violates Ukrainian law as well.  The Rector, then, commits the first crime of which the PORA video is evidence.

But if this Rector has not been arrested and punished, then the second crime to which the PORA video testifies is your conniving at electoral manipulation when it is committed on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych.  If you did support fair elections, if you did have the welfare of the nation at heart, then your reaction to any evidence of electoral crime would be investigation, and to any video evidence of electoral crime would be to reward those who supplied it with ten additional video cameras so that they could expand their excellent work of saving Ukraine from gangster rule.

As one who has enjoyed prolonged acquaintance with University education in both Canada and the United States, both as student and teacher, what struck me most about this Rector's talk was the primitiveness of its content.  What I would have expected in any recommendation of Yanukovych directed to post-secondary students is some review of the evidence of Yanukovych accomplishments together with some refutation of Yanukovych criticism, and on the other hand some disparagement of Yushchenko accomplishments and some reinforcement of Yushchenko criticism.  What I did see, in contrast, was a statement so devoid of intellectual content as to be more fitting for pre-school children than for post-secondary-school students.

First came the proclamation of what the Rector considered a secret, as yet unknown to the students, that a Yanukovych victory was certain.  This was backed by no evidence, no extrapolation, no poll results, no weighing of pros and cos, no allusion to unique sources simply a bald assertion that the Rector seemed to dare anyone to challenge which to my surprise one student courageously did.  There followed the Rector's statement that people of conscience belong to a family, that a family lives by rules, that a family has a father, and that the father is honored.  The implication was either that the Rector was the father of the Academy who properly laid down the voting rules that the child-students were obligated to obey implicitly, or else that Yanukovych was the father of the nation who laid down the voting rules that the child-citizens were obligated to obey submissively.  Whichever of these variants the Rector had in mind, his message was unmistakable: obedience good, disobedience bad.  The Rector's attitude, moreover, seemed not that of a benevolent father eliciting the obedience of his doting children, but seemed rather that of a harsh father threatening to lock his disobedient children out of a Garden of Eden to which he held the key.

My sense was, then, that it would be inconceivable for a presentation as primeval as the Rector's to be made in any Canadian or American institution of higher learning.  The murmers of disapproval, and at one point a gasp of astonishment, from the Ukrainian students, suggested that they shared my perception.  What we seemed to be witnessing together was a dinosaur from a totalitarian past attempting to defer extinction by the application of brute force, and what possibly was behind this appearance was cash payment in American dollars from the Putin-Kuchma-Yanukovych war chest for delivering the votes of an entire school.





Lubomyr Prytulak


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