News / Europe

Ukraine Election Result Hints at Feelings of Betrayal

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko suffered a resounding defeat at the polls on Sunday as voters abandoned him for allegedly betraying the ideals of the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought him to power. 

Thousands of people once chanted Viktor Yushchenko's name on Kyiv's Independence Square, or Maidan.  Maidan has come to mean not only a place, but a historic event representing hopes for honest government and a sound economy.

A Ukranian man named Petro participated in the Orange Revolution.  He says the Maidan is considered sacred.

He says the entire world knew about the Orange Revolution, but now everything is back where it was.  He adds that everyone dispersed, all of the "good old boys" grabbed everything, and that's that.

Many voters say the good old boys include Mr. Yushchenko and members of his administration.  Voters suspect that the President's Orange Revolution ally and now bitter rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is also corrupt.  And former prime minister, Victor Yanukovych - the man Ms. Tymoshenko will face in a presidential run-off on February 7 - is allegedly tainted.  A ruling by Ukraine's Supreme Court found that his 2004 presidential bid was riddled with fraud.

In 2004, people pounded drums and danced in the streets, hoping for honest leaders and a strong economy.  The 2010 election comes amid doubts about both.

Physicist turned small businessman Bohdan Markevych says the leaders of the Orange Revolution should think about why people are disillusioned.

But Markevych says that in defense of the leaders, they did what they could.  He adds that those who opposed them should not be happy about people's disenchantment or think they will win popular support.  "No," says Markevych, "Ukrainians remain true to their understanding that their nation must have dignity."

He says the Maidan will guide young people throughout their lives.  And he says the Orange Revolution is still the envy of democratically-minded people in Russia and other post-Soviet countries.

Olexiy Haran is a Ukrainian political scientist. Haran says that the revolution brought many things - democracy, freedom of speech and democratic elections.  As a result, the government and the opposition exchange power.

The Maidan has yet to fully deliver on its economic and political promises.  But Ukrainians seem to believe that the Orange Revolution set high standards by which the country's politicians will be judged in 2010 and beyond. 

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