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Live From Kiev

Many Ukrainians from the New York area traveled to their ancestral home to be official observers in the much-watched December 26 Presidential Election, won by opposition leader (and poison victim) Viktor Yushchenko. Kate Pickert spoke with some of them.

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Damian Kolody
27, Maplewood, New Jersey
Freelance Cameraman and Editor
“Kiev’s got a different feeling than after the first vote. It’s more calm, and more touristy. People are making CDs, selling clothes. This is my third time in Ukraine. Now I’m thinking I might even want to live here. It’s, like, finally seeing this identity explode. On Election Day, we got a call that there were some problems at a polling place. We saw that one of the ballot boxes wasn’t latched. People got pretty aggressive about us being there. It never got physical, because we left, but there was a lot of tension.”


Askold lozynskyj
52, East Village
President of the Ukrainian World Congress
“I’ve been an observer for more than ten years, and I had never seen an election like November 21. They compiled these extravagant lists of voters, but many of them didn’t exist. And all the outstanding ballots were just stuffed in the ballot box. [During the second election] I was expecting Kiev to be basically just a good time—young people drinking and carousing. But they were extremely serious. I didn’t see a single drunk. I didn’t see a single act of violence.”


Roman Kyzyk
51, Park Slope
Partner in two Manhattan Private Equity Firms
“It’s electric here. One night, I had a sense of the 1800s in Union Square. I ran into twenty people—New York election brats. Kiev is Mecca now. . . . Only a small percentage of people live like we do. There’s a Fendi store and then grandmotherly types selling rolls for a pittance. . . . I was fortunate to be in the polling station where Yushchenko voted. He went in with his kids, which is not allowed. He looks worse than he does in the photographs. He looks like a leper. But he wears it very well.”


Yaroslaw Dobriansky
22, Upper West Side
Film Major at Hunter College
“This was my first trip to Ukraine. My father was born there. A friend of mine had mentioned my name to her godmother who wanted to sponsor someone. On Election Night, there was one person who turned to us and said he wanted to give us a present. A translator told us it would be rude not to accept. He gave my brother a medal of honor he got from the Soviet Union. He gave me his Special Forces medal from serving in Afghanistan.”


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