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Europe

Press Review: Deadlock of Hatred?

European papers on Wednesday continued to focus on the Ukrainian elections and have questioned whether mass resistance to Yanukovich makes the official result untenable.

The Independent in London devoted its entire front page to a picture of what it calls the "Orange Revolution," orange being the campaign color for Yuschenko.

Other papers, too, saw the crisis in Ukraine escalating. "Opposition chief in Ukraine issues power challenge," wrote the front-page headline of the Financial Times in London. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung saw “a deadlock of hatred.”

Moscow's Komsomolskaya Pravda backed the regime the protesters want to remove: “Lenin taught what all political scientists know by heart: It isn’t enough to conquer power, one also has to defend it.” The mass circulation paper went on to say: “The attack on legitimate power is backed by the USA and the European Parliament. The pressure is strong and outstandingly well organized. Yanukovich is putting up only weak resistance and has said he’s willing to compromise.”

However, the business paper Kommersant in Moscow opined that it’s almost impossible to stop the opposition winning in Kiev. “With every day of the confrontation the number of people leaving the government camp will grow until a critical point is reached where power can hardly be held with legitimate means. If the Ukrainian leadership resorts to violence, it will only drive up the cost of its defeat.”

In Belgium De Standaard commented that “this could have become a democratic country. Kuchma and his successor Yanukovich have learnt a lot from Vladimir Putin: How to silence the media, the dirty tricks to use against opponents, and so on. What they failed to learn from him so far is, how in spite of all this, how you can make yourself popular with the electorate?”

The Financial Times saw the Ukrainian election as decisive for Moscow. For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it’s trying to assert its political will outside its borders. Trouw in Holland urged the European Union to re-examine its attitude to Putin. His absurdly rapid and uncritical recognition of Yanukovich as the winner shows yet again that he doesn’t value democratic rules of play. Because of the international fight against terror, Putin has a lot of leeway, but he must not be allowed to resurrect the Soviet Union through the back door.