Planet News Views

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ukraine's Identity Observed In Parliamentary Elections

By Scott McLean

Ukraine's Parliamentary elections Sunday were only the beginning of the process of agreeing upon a direction for the government.

Ukrainian politics is quite different than America's two-party politics. In fact Ukraine has about 45 political parties, which means no party will receive 50 percent of the votes and at least some of the parties must work together and form a coalition to have a majority in the Verkhovna Rada.

Still, that does not take anything away from the political passion of activists, who work tirelessly to give their issues and parties the best chance possible to win.

The party faithful, whether Republicans or Democrats in the United States, or any one of a number of party members in Ukraine do make their presence felt in elections.

In America, Ukrainians are able to vote in Ukraine's elections similar to the way Americans vote when they are overseas, with the help of absentee ballots.

The Orange Wave, an organization in Illinois, USA formed a few years ago before Ukraine's "Orange Revolution", mobilized Ukrainian voters in Illinois to participate in the parliamentary elections.

Orange Wave Organizer Iouri Melnik explained in a telephone interview how the organization was involved in helping keep reforms going in Ukraine by electing a Parliament that would work with President Viktor Yushchenko.

"Most of our job is and will be to educate people about what's going on in Ukraine. Not everyone has internet and TV, we are educating people about the political process in Ukraine," Melnik commented.

Melnik said that his organization supports parties pushing Orange Revolution reforms.

Giving Ukraine back its own distinct identity, and getting away from the influence of Russia, as well as becoming an active trading partner with the West are among the issues of his group.

Orest Baranyk, vice president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said that it's important that Ukraine continues those reforms.

When asked what he thought was the main issue in these elections, Baranyk said: "For Ukraine to be Ukraine and not a satellite of Russia. That is the central issue."

Ukraine's elections will be examined further in Part 2 of this series.


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