World Affairs Journal – (Motyl, A) “Remembering the Orange Revolution, somberly — yet hopefully”
Remembering the Orange Revolution, somberly — yet hopefully
Yesterday marked six years since the start of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution — the mass upheaval that reversed a fraudulent election, catapulted Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency and Yulia Tymoshenko to the premiership, and promised to transform the country into a modern, democratic European state. Despite expectations at the time, the Orange coalition only held for a few months. Embroiled in seemingly endless bickering, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko neglected reform and enabled the man who had been humiliated by the uprising, Viktor Yanukovich, to stage a comeback in 2010 and win the presidency.
Since then, Yanukovich, who campaigned as a moderate promising to unify the nation and fix the country, has embarked on a systematic rollback of the revolution’s ideals. He’s substituted Russia for the West, authoritarianism for democracy, and Russian supremacism for Ukrainian patriotism, thereby establishing himself as a radical willing to do anything — even deepen regional, national, ethnic, and class divides — in order to get and keep power. The many Ukrainian democrats who thought of Yanukovich as the lesser of two evils have now descended into despair — German reporter Konrad Schuller has called it “the return of fear” — and increasingly view Yanukovich’s administration as an “occupation” regime and his Party of Regions as a throwback to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).