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Guest Thinkers

Peeling the Orange Revolution

The excessively volatile and unpronounceable nature of Eastern European politics can make them seem futile, if not impossible to follow. But today’s elections in the Ukraine could lead to a second wave of the Orange Revolution, which bears relevance to electoral fiascos everywhere.

When Viktor Yanukovich won the Ukrainian presidential election in 2004, he was accused of a fraudulent victory, sending hundreds of thousands of protestors to the streets sporting orange ribbons in Kiev. The original election results were scrapped in favor of a revote, which led to the election of Yanukovich’s opponent, Viktor Yushchenko.

Today, Yanukovich will try his hand once more – this time against Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s Prime Minister and fervent leader of 2004’s protests. Tyomoshenko, forever donning a manicured blonde braid around her head, is behind her opponent by early predictions and warns that if she loses by any shady means, she’ll reignite the revolution that earned her a place in politics in 2004.

But there are several obstacles that will stand in Tymoshenko’s way should she take the Orange Revolutionary road once again. Her fight in 2004 against Yanukovich was grounded by an overarching ideological rift – the Orange party wanted to bring their nation away from Russian influence and closer to Western Europe. Defeating Yanukovich was necessary in order to accomplish this.

And because, in recent years, Tymoshenko has tried to curry wider favor by promising warmer ties with the Russia she formerly pledged to move away from, there’s a fundamental chink in her armor. This time around, Tymoshenko’s threats to reignite the Orange flame just feel a lot like pre-emptive sour grapes.

As Viktor Yanukovich was sworn in as president today there was one notable absence. Yulia Tymoshenko, who was defeated in a recent run-off, boycotted the inauguration.

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