By John Bacher; The Sunflower | 2005-01-01 12:00:00

New Nonviolent Democracy Wave Hits Eastern Europe

Ukraine's Nonviolent "Orange Revolution" has been heavily influenced by a translation into Ukrainian of Gene Sharp's book on nonviolent struggle, From Dictatorship to Democracy. It is the third instance of a new wave of nonviolent confrontation with dictatorships, beginning with the overthrow of the Serbian dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. The engineers of this nonviolence are the same brave young people formerly in Otpor ("Resistance") who organized the successful nonviolent resistance to the Milosevic tyranny.

After their triumph over Milosevic, the Otpor alumni created the Center for Nonviolent Resistance. (CNR) in Serbia's capital, Belgrade. Aided by the European Union, the United States, and the philanthropies of George Soros, CNR has spread the nonviolent missionary gospel of democratization through nonviolent struggle to Georgia, Belarus and the Ukraine. The democracy wave stimulated by CNR has so far proved only to be a ripple is in Belarus. According to the 2003 annual report of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe, CNR met with failure in Belarus because the youth group that it assisted, Zubr, (Bison), lacked strong grassroots support. It concluded that Zubr was "an artificially created organization built by Western donors around a romantic appeal and relying on paid activists to distribute materials. In the end it was unsupportable because it lacked a true base."

Despite the weakness of the democratic opposition in Belarus, they are being encouraged by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Many democrats from Belarus have taken part in the Ukrainian protests.

CNR was also able to develop a strong base for democratic resistance in Georgia. This involved the training of the "Kmara" (Enough) youth movement, using Otpor's characteristic mixture of Yippie street theater and Gandhian resistance. Kmara brought about the demise of the authoritarian Eduard Shevardnadze regime through the "Rose Revolution."

In Ukraine CNR has been heavily involved in the training of the Pora ("The Time Has Come") youth movement. As a result of this work a founder of Otpor, Alexander Marich, was detained at Kiev's airport and denied entry by the Ukrainian government. Marich was widely attacked in the Russian press for his role as a consultant to the US human rights group, Freedom House. The Russian newspaper Pravda, in its November 23, 2004 issue, denounced Otpor's role both in Georgia and Ukraine. The nonviolent demonstrators in Kiev protesting election fraud were dismissed by Pravda as "hooligans."

With CNR's training, Pora's methods closely approximated the nonviolent tactics advocated in Gene Sharp's training manuals which were translated into Ukrainian and distributed widely. During one key confrontation outside Ukraine's Presidential Administration building, demonstrators put flowers in the shields of the riot police. Members of Pora urged police to break orders if they were called upon to remove demonstrators. To prevent conflict with police, Pora established a cordon as a buffer. Police barriers were festooned with flowers and orange memorabilia. A tented mini-city, sustained by donated food, occupied the main street and was the focal point for over 700,000 demonstrators.

While Pora's nonviolent protests have not yet resulted in a clear police mutiny, it has won over critical elements of the regime, notably the media. Formerly complacent journalists, becoming revolted by the lies, reported the massive government election fraud against the opposition "orange" leader, Victor Yushchenko. Such fraud included the expulsion of monitors from polling stations and the violent seizure of ballot boxes. The Supreme Court ruling then invalidated the election results. The successful peaceful democracy wave hitting Eastern Europe is never contrasted in the corporate mass media with the US attempt to encourage the democratization of Iraq through armed invasion. The peace movement needs to keep pointing out better ways than armed invasion for securing democracy, the rule of law, human security and the end of genocide.

-- John Bacher, of Toronto

Congress Cuts Nuke Budget

The final appropriations of the US 2005 ominbus bill deleted funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a program to modify existing nuclear weapons for new bunker-busting missions, and the Advanced Concepts Initiative, an open-ended program that involved research into low-yield nuclear weapons, including so-called "mini-nukes."

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said the cuts should "send a very loud message to the Administration."

-- The Nuclear Age Sunflower

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2005

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2005, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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