Ukrainian Opposition – Getting Blood out of a Stone

Ukraine’s brief democratic outbreak has long been forgotten by the West. The Orange Revolution was big news back in 2004, after all, it mobilised the highest numbers of any democratic revolution. The uprising put Ukraine on the map, so to speak, as the media’s latest scause. If nothing else, it made a great story. Here’s a pop-cultural take on the Orange Revolution.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… It is a period civil disobedience and strikes. The Rebel Alliance is fighting for justice in the aftermath of the 2004 presidential elections. The evil Galactic Empire headed by Vader himself, and guided by the Emperor, has been accused of tempering with the results through a huge network of corruption and intimidation.

During the battle, the Rebel spies banded together in a never-before seen act of civil resistance. Luke and Leia campaigned tirelessly to keep up the morale of the resistance, publicly calling for protests on election day. The Empire’s efforts to contain the threat that the Rebel Alliance posed were unsuccessful. The original vote was void and the subsequent re-vote was closely scrutinised. Luke’s inauguration brought an end to the peaceful revolution, leaving him and Princess Leia to save their people and restore freedom to the galaxy…

For a solid background on Ukraine check out Wilson and Aslund, who do a much better job. 

The mobilisation of the opposition back in 2004 to this extent was just shy of a miracle.  Of course the underlying factors that contributed to this uprising were a long time coming. The deep rooted socio-economic problems, regional divisions and the media rebellion were all ingredients in the Orange soup. At first, the Western support, at least from the media, of the Ukrainian pursuit for democracy seemed overwhelming. Here was a nation whose people were ready to fight the Soviet-style system inherited from decades spent under Russia’s thumb. Yet, nobody seemed to be able to put their money where the mouth was. The lack of practical international support is one of the primary reasons that Ukraine has failed on its quest to become a modern day democracy. At least, by Western standards. It’s a real shame too. There is a lot of potential there, and not just as a buffer state. Alas, everyone has their own wars to fight.

In recent years the Ukrainian political sphere has been divided between the Yanukovych and Tymoshenko’s opposition factions. Democratic regression was taking place long before the former prime-minister’s incarceration in the summer 2011. The authoritarian grip was, once again, tightening. It is this context that gave rise Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR (punch) party, which analysts are touting as a serious challenger to the ruling Party of Regions. Although, the ruling party is set to retain its majority in parliament thanks to its alliance with their communist allies and some independents.

UDAR accused Yanukovych’s Party of Regions of rampant corruption and has promised a European future for Ukraine. Klitschko declared during a campaign that they “want to live in a normal, democratic country, where the rule of law works”. In the elections the party gained 4o seats, but refused to join Tymoshenko’s Batkivshschyna bloc, which improved on its 2007 election result. The party displays distinct pro-European tendencies advocating integration with the European Union and furthering the Ukraine-NATO ties.

Ukraine’s current standing is marred by corruption (and the holding of political prisoners) which, unless addressed, will only lead to isolation and sanctions. Neither will reflect positively on the people of Ukraine, who will ultimately have to decide the Ukrainian fate in the presidential elections in 2015.



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