Election day is just four days away in Ukraine. The protests about the fairness of the vote, it seems, will begin as soon as the polling stations close.
Two bits of news today that make some sort of repeat of the street theatre of 2004 seem almost inevitable.
First, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich told regional television in the eastern oblast of Poltava that he would be bringing his supporters to the streets of Kyiv on Sunday night to protest what he says will be electoral fraud perpetrated by the erstwhile "team" of Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko.
"We see that orange team (Yushchenko) and white brotherhood (Tymoshenko) will not win the election honestly. And they feel this. Their rating is falling. They see they will lose, that is why they are preparing for the falsifications," Mr. Yanukovich said. "We have enough power not to allow this."
Forget the absurdity of Yanukovich - who was behind the spectacular election fraud of three years ago that sparked the Orange Revolution - accusing anyone else of planning to rig an election. What's important here is that he does have enough money and support to make a mess of the coming election.
Yushchenko, for his part, sees the trouble coming, and has rightfully pointed out that it's up to the prime minister and his government to oversee the vote. He alleged that it's Yanukovich (again) who is plotting to defile the results of the vote.
"I want to make it clear to Mr. Yanukovych and his team: the government bears personal responsibility for holding honest, transparent and democratic elections," the president said on a visit to Sumy. "Why does Mr. Yanukovych speak about fraud? This is because he is planning it."
What can we draw from all the threats and acrimony, so close to voting day? My conclusion is the same as Eugene Ivantsov's, who wrote this in Ukrainska Pravda.
"The Parliamentary election will not be over after polling stations close in the evening. This election will most likely begin after that."
Pity the ordinary Ukrainians who are trapped in this never-ending tug-of-war.