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    Friday, March 30, 2007

    Orange Revolution redux?

    Here we go again? Is it possible that Ukraine is heading back down the same road it did in 2004, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand change?

    Yulia Tymoshenko certainly hopes so. The firebrand ex-prime minister says she's fed up with the country's backwards slide under the current occupant of the Prime Minister's Office, Viktor Yanukovich (yes, that guy).

    Ukraine, Tymoshenko says, is now suffering from worse cronyism, corruption and media intimidation than before the Orange Revolution - a devastating indictment. She plans to take her supporters into the streets this weekend to back her demand that her former ally, President Viktor Yushchenko, dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.

    The fact that Yanukovich is back in the prime minister's chair after his role in perpetuating the 2004 vote fraud shows how effectively the Kremlin has used the energy card, primarily the threat of turning off the flow of natural gas to Ukraine, to undo the strategic losses it suffered during Orange Revolution. Tymoshenko is right when she says the people who took to the streets three years ago didn't get the change they demanded.

    But going to the streets again is a risky gambit. Just like in 2004, the country is split between pro-Western "orange" supporters - who, disillusioned with the compromise-seeking Yushchenko, now seem to be rallying around Tymoshenko - and those who back the pro-Russian Yanukovich. Given the economic punishment the Kremlin inflicted on Kiev after 2004, the latter camp may be stronger this time around.

    In 2004, the average Ukrainian was fed up with the corruption and stagnation and wanted change. In 2007, they might be understandably fed up with the turmoil and unrest. Even those with a pro-Western outlook might not heed another call to go into the streets.

    I'm heading to Ukraine next week on assignment for The Globe and Mail, so I'll write more soon once I get a feel for the situation on the ground.

    2 comments:

    V.I. Nicholson said...

    You call this a blog? Where are the catty comments about coworkers? Where's the mindless analysis of reality TV shows? Where are the links to your favourite bands?

    (All right, all right, I guess it looks okay.)

    Samer said...

    Mark, you are a God. May I link you to my blog?