I recently placed a bet on Intrade on Viktor Yanukovych winning the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine. Since my recent Intrade successes were probably mostly brought on by dumb luck, I wouldn't be surprised if Yanukovych lost. Some thoughts on the election:
Yushchenko, the outgoing president, is lauded by Western media as a pro-Western, pro-market reform democrat, which in the Eastern European context invariably means having sold one's soul to George Soros, as well as, of course, thievery. He's also a Ukrainian nationalist. Why, you're asking, would guys like Soros and Berezovsky finance an Eastern European nationalist of any sort? Well, the biggest nationalism in the region happens to be the Russian kind. To counter it the liberal Soros, as well as the neocons, are temporarily willing to finance smaller nationalistic movements that are opposed to it. The enemy of one's enemy and all that.
This reminds me of a quote by Jozef Pilsudky, a socialist anti-czar revolutionary who turned into a conservative nationalist when he ran Poland between the world wars:
"I took the red tram of socialism to the stop called Independence, and that's where I got off."
I bet this is how Yushchenko felt about Soros's "democracy" too. He thought he'd pretend to be a multi-culti, pro-Western, pro-whatever "democrat" - the modern world's version of a communist - as long as the big guys helped him build an anti-Russian, Ukrainian-nationalistic state. But you've got to remember that the big guys got big primarily by stealing. And after they made him president, Yushchenko had to let them steal some more if he wanted to keep being their pal. And then some more on top of that. By the way, unlike Russia, Ukraine has no oil or gas reserves.
These guys ended up stealing such a large percentage of the country's wealth that at this point in time, in 2010, anyone who's associated with them, including Yushchenko, is politically dead. He only got 5% in the first round of this year's presidential election, which left his former ally and recent enemy Yulia Tymoshenko to hold the "pro-Western", "pro-democracy" flag all by herself. Since she wanted to get a lot more than 5%, she immediately threw this flag into the dumpster in which it belongs and went into overdrive cozying up to Putin.
About Putin: in spite of my ethnic background, I've been rooting for Putin for years and years now. Why? You're probably going to laugh, but I never got rid of a geeky sci-fi-type interest in The Future of Humanity. And if you're rooting for that, you might as well root for civilization, since that's our only distinctive trait as a species. Of course, rooting for civilization in no small part means rooting specifically for Western Civ. I think in the last 5 to 10 years one had to be blind not to see that Russia, despite its problems, is Western Civ's last big hope for meaningful survival. And right now rooting for Russia pretty much means rooting for Putin, so here I am.
The good news here is that the worldwide economic crisis has made Putin's enemies relatively weaker. Ms. Tymoshenko seems to have fled from them in the same spirit in which rats flee sinking ships. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that she'll lose the upcoming election, so I could still lose money on my Intrade bet.