Feature

Has the Orange Revolution gone sour?

The week's news at a glance.

Ukraine

The “first couple” of Ukraine’s democratic revolution has broken up, said Jacqueline Prager in Romania’s Evenimentul Zilei. President Viktor Yushchenko’s disagreements with his prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, “degenerated into a total and open war,” and last week he fired her and her whole Cabinet. It’s a sad end to the stirring, almost romantic saga that began last fall, when Yushchenko led a populist movement against the corruption of Ukraine’s longtime leader, former Soviet strongman Leonid Kuchma. The evil of the Kuchma regime was almost a caricature—it actually resorted to poisoning Yushchenko with dioxin, ravaging his good looks and leaving his face scarred and pocked. But the gorgeous oil baroness Tymoshenko rallied to the cause, joining her money and power to Yushchenko’s political clout. Together, the two led a peaceful uprising that toppled Kuchma and brought them to power through free elections. Now, though, the father and mother of the Orange Revolution have effectively “divorced.” Is this the end of Ukraine’s democratic reform?

No—it’s proof that reform is real, said Katja Tichomirowa in Germany’s Berliner Zeitung. The first free Ukrainian government was a messy entity, “knocked together from followers of different political camps,” whose only common ground was a hatred of communism and Kuchma. Tymoshenko, in particular, may have been a riveting sight during the revolution, waving her orange flag, but she has not been an effective prime minister. The allegations of corruption in her Cabinet that prompted Yushchenko to dismiss the government were, unfortunately, credible. So while the split “may not fit the image of brave heroes of the revolution,” it does reflect the revolution’s goals. “It isn’t the revolution that has collapsed, it’s only the government.”

Tatiana Ivzhenko

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

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