KIEV, Ukraine -- Exit polls projected an easy victory Sunday for opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in a bitter campaign that required an unprecedented three ballots and Supreme Court intervention to pick a new Ukrainian leader.
Elated opposition supporters flooded Kiev's Independence Square, the center of protests after the Nov. 21 election that was beset with fraud allegations and eventually annulled. Music blared from loudspeakers and fireworks lit up the sky. In Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's home base of Donetsk, the streets were largely empty, with only a few people stumbling home from the bars.
Last time, the exit polls also favored Yuschenko, of course, but it looks like he'll be certified as the victor this time.If he wins, and lives up to a tiny portion of his promise, it's a change of historic proportions. A definitive separation of Ukraine from Russia will further weaken any hope of Russia reemerging as a great power in the near or middle range.
However, that in turn does increase the chances of Russia becoming another Argentina -- a country in long-term decline, with a penchant for authoritarianism and radical nationalism.
Nevertheless, a victory for nationalism in a populous and resource-rich nation like the Ukraine is an important positive development.
HT Roger L. Simon.