Five years later, another election in Ukraine has come and passed. This time it looks like the winner will be Viktor Yanukovych, the one-time victor in 2004 who was abruptly ousted when a nation of millions stood up and demanded an election without fraud. And with his victory, the loser presumably won’t just be exiting president and Orange Revolution champion, Viktor Yushchenko, but the Orange Revolution itself.
I know that there are huge swaths of Ukrainians out there who will be feeling somber about this today, as they have been on a steady somber slide since the collective chant of “Yu-shchen-ko, Yu-shchen-ko, Yu-shchen-ko!” first filled the streets of Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and elsewhere.
I remember back to late 2005, early 2006, the mood in western Ukraine was already shifting back toward the pessimism from a millennium of outside invasion, brutal dictatorship, soul-crushing bureaucracy, scant traces of self-rule, and the din of empty promises. As the honeymoon of the Orange Revolution was beginning to fade, people said to me that they had hoped for a strong leader, and that it was clear that Yushchenko wasn’t the right man for the job. Read the rest of this entry ?