Diane Francis Mar 10, 2012 – 7:00 AM ET
The heroes of the Orange Revolution — the man nearly poisoned to death and the beauty in traditional braids — inspired the world in 2004. I covered this non-violent protest and stood, with half a million others, many nights in a frigid Kiev square to hear Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko denounce the country’s corrupt regime.
Their grassroots movement overturned the rigged election of Viktor Yanukovych. Yushchenko became President and appointed Tymoshenko to be Prime Minister. Hopes lifted throughout the country, and elsewhere that Ukraine would overthrow their Soviet-style autocrats.
But today the country lurches toward bankruptcy and toward becoming a Russian vassal again. Six million have fled and the IMF has cut off credit.
Tymoshenko occupies a jail cell in a penal colony, 300 miles east of Kiev, after being sentenced for seven years on trumped up charges. Polling shows that she is Ukraine’s most popular politician.