"The campaign in Ukraine has dragged on for six months. Everything is decorated with orange - even the trees beside the polling stations have been coloured orange. Some kind of tablecloths. Fashionable ones. We also had a fashion a certain number of years ago... for jeans. People were willing to pay anything in order to buy them. They stupefied the minds of the people. And all for what? So that political scum could come to power."
Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has lodged a strong protest with Moscow about these remarks. Reflecting on them, I found myself thinking that it's all very well for some - not many, but some - Western commentators to say that there was really very little to choose between the two candidates, as they both represented the Ukrainian political establishment. In the Russian Deputy Speaker's comments, it's possible to see why there was in fact a great deal to choose between the two men, who represent the old, Soviet past (Yanukovych) and a new direction that began with Ukraine's 1991 independence,and is still evolving (Yushchenko). It's incumbent on us in the West to lend our support to that new direction - and to be aware of what the alternative derives from, represents, and aims for.