Will Kiev in 2004 unfold like Prague in 1968?


Only the next few weeks will tell, but it’s a tingly feeling
up the back of my neck to be here in Prague, watching as Leonid Kuchma gets
called back to Moscow. Don’t kid yourself, he didn’t fly there on a whim, he
was called back just as Alexander Dubcek was called back from Prague in 1968.

That was the Czech flirtation with “communism with a human
face.” Tanks rolled in to Prague within days and the much heralded “Prague
Spring” was stomped into the mud. It took another 21 years for the wheels to
come off the Czech communist machinery.

So, it’s eerie, this similarity and Putin is on his way to
India for a state visit, which is a typical throw-em-off-the-scent Russian
operation. Leonid, who’s looked very relaxed and in control in all the pictures
from Kiev, looks like a spanked kid in the grim airport photo taken with Putin.
Dubcek came back from Moscow looking white as a sheet as well—must be
something in the water. Don’t ever forget that Putin is a KBG guy and he’s
buttoning down Russia—putting that big foot on anyone’s neck who dares to get
in his way. Ukraine is a huge blow to Russia’s pride and economy. I get the
feeling that Putin could choke down the pride, but economically he’s terrified
that Ukraine will become economically tied to Europe.

If tanks roll while Vladimir is in India, he’ll announce at
a news conference that Leonid Kuchma begged him to keep Ukraine from
disintegration. Interesting word. The integration Ukraine is dissing is of
course with mother Russia.

One hopes for the best and remembers the worst. Here in the
Czech Republic there was a huge collective sigh as membership in NATO was
ratified. No tanks in Prague, ever again. Fingers crossed for Ukraine—their
Supreme Court today called for a runoff election and we all hope it comes off
as advertised.

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