Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Monday, September 12, 2005

Revolution Runs Into Trouble?

There's an interesting take on events in Ukraine over at Georgia's English language newspaper 'The Messenger'. The publication is always a top read for relatively independent news from the ex-Soviet republic and home to the first 'colour revolution'

In this edition it adresses the possibility that Yushchenko's perceived failure in Ukraine, (the revolution falling apart when Tymoshenko was fired) could damage the chances of a democratic upsurge across the CIS region.

'Nonetheless, officials in Tbilisi are well aware of the importance of the Kiev government for Georgia and are monitoring developments carefully. The possible collapse of the Orange Revolution and the undermining of Ukraine's western orientation render the idea of making an alliance of countries of "democratic choice" - as foreseen in the "Borjomi Declaration" - pointless. This will amount to a great success for imperialists in Moscow and give them additional means to exert pressure on Ukraine's revolutionary little brother, Georgia. This in turn will likely put an end to the wave of pro-western revolutions in the former Soviet Union that has so weakened Moscow's grip on the region. Therefore, the potential political risks for Georgia are tremendous.'

I think this is a very important and increasingly relevant point. In my opinion the Orange, differed greatly from the Rose Revolution. Tbilisi witnissed the complete destruction of the former Shevardnadze regime, and exposed that he had virtually nil support towards the end of his term in office. The 'Union of Citizens of Georgia' that Shevvie once led is now a completely non-existant force in the Republic's politics. However Ukraine's former leaders did have genuine backing (slighlty less than 50% of the population voted for Viktor Yanukovych in the Presidential ballot). This in my opinion always posed a threat to the revolution. The fact that if people became tired of Yushchenko, their only real alternative lay with the seemingly corruption tainted team of Kuchma.

Some took Tymoshenko's dismissal last week as a positive event. They viewed her as being capable of forming a democratic westernized opposition. This however does not feel me with confidence that she is anything more than a pragmatist:

While addressing Ukrainians during an emotional political talk-show appearance Sept. 9, Tymoshenko clutched in her hands two ribbons - one orange, which was Yushchenko's campaign color, and blue, the campaign color of his rival, losing presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych.She told viewers that she would start carrying both with her, saying "I want us to combine the best we have in both our colors" - a possible hint at her willingness to cooperate with her former political opponents.

Im sorry, but I am of the opinion that Kuchma could foresee a situation such as this developing, and an opportunity for his allies to regain position in a newly empowered parliament. Unfortunately most of Kuchma's ex-team had their hands in state coffers, and are unlikely to have changed their ways in the last 9 months. It would be extremely unwise for Tymoshenko to involve herself with such people, and the democratic gains of last year could easily be erradicated.

As for the end of democracy spreading throughout the ex-Soviet space? Well if Yushchenko can get his government back on track by the time of Azerbaijan's legislative elections, all will be well. However if the Orange events are deemed to have been a disaster, we could be waiting a long while for apathetic Baku residents to rise up against their own cronies.


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