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Orange Revolution

For a day by day overview, see Timeline of the Orange Revolution.

Orange Revolution
Part of the Colour Revolutions
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Orange-clad demonstrators gather in the Independence Square in Kiev on 22 November 2004
Date 22 November 2004 – 23 January 2005
(2 months and 1 day)
Location Ukraine, primarily Kiev
Causes
Methods Demonstrations, civil disobedience, civil resistance, strike actions
Result
Lead figures
Number
central Kiev: hundreds of thousands up to one million by some estimates[3]
Casualties
Death(s) 1 man died after suffering a heart attack[4]

The Orange Revolution (Ukrainian: Помаранчева революція, Pomarancheva revolyutsiya) was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud. Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, was the focal point of the movement's campaign of civil resistance, with thousands of protesters demonstrating daily.[5] Nationwide, the democratic revolution was highlighted by a series of acts of civil disobedience, sit-ins, and general strikes organized by the opposition movement.

The protests were prompted by reports from several domestic and foreign election monitors as well as the widespread public perception that the results of the run-off vote of 21 November 2004 between leading candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych were rigged by the authorities in favour of the latter.[6] The nationwide protests succeeded when the results of the original run-off were annulled, and a revote was ordered by Ukraine's Supreme Court for 26 December 2004. Under intense scrutiny by domestic and international observers, the second run-off was declared to be "fair and free". The final results showed a clear victory for Yushchenko, who received about 52% of the vote, compared to Yanukovych's 44%. Yushchenko was declared the official winner and with his inauguration on 23 January 2005 in Kiev, the Orange Revolution ended.

In the years following the Orange Revolution it was used in Belarus and Russia as a negative association among pro-government circles.[7][8][9][10]

In the 2010 presidential election Yanukovych became Yushchenko's successor as Ukrainian President after the Central Election Commission and international observers declared that the presidential election was conducted fairly.[11] Yanukovych was ousted from power four years later following the February 2014 Euromaidan clashes in Kiev's Independence Square. Unlike the bloodless Orange Revolution, these protests resulted in more than 100 deaths, occurring mostly between 18 and 20 February.

Background

Gongadze assassination/Kuchmagate crisis

Georgiy Gongadze, a Ukrainian journalist and the founder of Ukrayinska Pravda (an Internet newspaper well known for publicising the corruption or unethical conduct of Ukrainian politicians) was kidnapped and murdered in 2000. Though no-one accused Ukrainian President Kuchma of personally murdering him, persistent rumours suggested that the President had ordered the killing. This murder sparked a movement against Kuchma in 2000 that can be seen as the origin of the Orange Revolution in 2004. After two terms of presidency (1994-2005) and the Cassette Scandal of 2000 that ruined his image irreparably, Kuchma decided not to run for a third term in the 2004 elections and instead supported Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in the presidential race against Viktor Yushchenko of the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc.

Causes of the Orange Revolution

The state of Ukraine during the 2004 presidential election is considered an “ideal condition” for an outburst from the public. During this time Ukrainians were impatient while waiting for economic and political transformation.[1] The results of the election were thought to be fraudulent and considered “a nail in the coffin” of the preceding events.

Factors enabling the Orange Revolution

The Ukrainian regime was in power before the Orange Revolution created a path for a democratic society to emerge. It was based on a “competitive authoritarian regime” that is considered a “hybrid regime”, allowing for a democracy and market economy to come to life. The election fraud definitely emphasised the Ukrainian citizens’ desire for a more pluralistic type of government. The Cassette Scandal definitely sparked the public’s desire to create a social reform movement. It not only undermined the peoples’ respect for Kuchma as a president, but also for the elite ruling class in general. Because of Kuchma’s scandalous behaviour, he lost many of his supporters with high ranking government positions. Many of the government officials who were on his side went on to fully support the election campaign of Yuschenko and well as his ideas in general. After a clear lack of faith in the government had been instilled in the Ukrainian population, Yushchenko’s role had never been more important to the revolution. Yushchenko was a charismatic candidate who showed no signs of being corrupt. Yuschenko was on the same level as his constituents and presented his ideas in a “non-Soviet” way. Young Ukrainian voters were extremely important to the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election. This new wave of younger people had different views of the main figures in Ukraine. They were exposed to a lot of negativity from the Kuchmagate and therefore had very skewed visions about Kuchma and his ability to lead their country. The abundance of younger people who participated showed an increasing sense of nationalism that was developing in the country. The Orange Revolution was impactful enough to interest people of all ages.[12]

Prelude to Orange Revolution

File:Yusch.jpg
Viktor Yushchenko, the main opposition candidate
File:Orange ribbon.svg
An orange ribbon, a symbol of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution. Ribbons are common symbols of non-violent protest

Late 2002 Viktor Yushchenko (Our Ukraine), Oleksandr Moroz (Socialist Party of Ukraine), Petro Symonenko (Communist Party of Ukraine) and Yulia Tymoshenko (Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc) issued a joint statement concerning "the beginning of a state revolution in Ukraine". The communist stepped out of the alliance, Symonenko was against a single candidate from the alliance in the Ukrainian presidential election 2004, but the other three parties remained allies[13] (until July 2006).[14] In the Autumn of 2001 both Tymoshenko and Yushchenko had broached at creating such a coalition.[15]

On 2 July 2004 Our Ukraine and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc established the Force of the people, a coalition which aimed to stop "the destructive process that has, as a result of the incumbent authorities, become a characteristic for Ukraine", at the time President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych were the incumbent authorities in Ukraine. The pact included a promise by Viktor Yushchenko to nominate Tymoshenko as Prime Minister if Yushchenko won the October 2004 presidential election.[15]

This 2004 presidential election in Ukraine eventually featured two main candidates. One was sitting Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, largely supported by Leonid Kuchma (the outgoing President of Ukraine who already served two terms in the office and was precluded from running himself due to the constitutional term limits), and the opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, leader of the Our Ukraine faction in the Ukrainian parliament and a former Prime Minister (1999–2001).

The election was held in a highly charged atmosphere, with the Yanukovych team and the outgoing president's administration using their control of the government and state apparatus for intimidation of Yushchenko and his supporters. In September 2004, Yushchenko suffered dioxin poisoning under mysterious circumstances. While he survived and returned to the campaign trail, the poisoning undermined his health and altered his appearance dramatically (his face remains disfigured by the consequences to this day).

The two main candidates were neck and neck in the first-round vote held on 31 October 2004, collecting 39.32% (Yanukovych) and 39.87% (Yushchenko) of the vote cast. The candidates that came third and fourth collected much less: Oleksandr Moroz of the Socialist Party of Ukraine and Petro Symonenko of the Communist Party of Ukraine received 5.82% and 4.97%, respectively. Since no candidate carried more than 50% of the cast ballots, a run-off vote between two leading candidates was mandated by Ukrainian law. Later: after the run-off was announced, Oleksandr Moroz threw his support behind Viktor Yushchenko. The Progressive Socialist Party's Natalia Vitrenko, who won 1.53% of the vote, endorsed Yanukovych, who hoped for Petro Simonenko's endorsement but did not receive it.[16]

In the wake of the first round of the election many complaints regarding voting irregularities in favour of the government supported Yanukovych were raised. However, as it was clear that neither nominee was close enough to collecting an outright majority in the first round, challenging the initial result would not have affected the final outcome of the election. As such the complaints were not actively pursued and both candidates concentrated on the upcoming run-off scheduled for 21 November.

Pora! activists were arrested in October 2004, but the release of many (on what was reported President Kuchma's personal order) gave growing confidence to the opposition.[17]

Orange was originally adopted by the Yushchenko's camp as the signifying colour of his election campaign. Later the colour gave name to an entire series of political terms, such as the Oranges (Pomaranchevi in Ukrainian) for his political camp and supporters. At the time when the mass protests grew, and especially when they brought about political change in the country, the term Orange Revolution came to represent the entire series of events.

In view of the success of using colour as a symbol to mobilise supporters, the Yanukovych camp chose blue for themselves.

Protests

File:Militsiya and orange flowers, Kiev.jpg
Protest during the Orange Revolution
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Ukraine portal

Protests began on the eve of the second round of voting, as the official count differed markedly from exit poll results which gave Yushchenko up to an 11% lead, while official results gave the election win to Yanukovych by 3%. While Yanukovych supporters have claimed that Yushchenko's connections to the Ukrainian media explain this disparity, the Yushchenko team publicised evidence of many incidents of electoral fraud in favour of the government-backed Yanukovych, witnessed by many local and foreign observers. These accusations were reinforced by similar allegations, though at a lesser scale, during the first presidential run of 31 October.[citation needed]

The Yushchenko campaign publicly called for protest on the dawn of election day, 21 November 2004, when allegations of fraud began to spread in the form of leaflets printed and distributed by the ‘Democratic Initiatives’ foundation, announcing that Yushchenko had won – on the basis of its exit poll.[2] Beginning on 22 November 2004,[18] massive protests[nb 1] started in cities across Ukraine:[18] the largest, in Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), attracted an estimated 500,000 participants,[3] who on 23 November 2004, peacefully marched in front of the headquarters of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, many wearing orange or carrying orange flags, the colour of Yushchenko's campaign coalition. One of the most prominent activists of that time was Paraska Korolyuk, subsequently bestowed with the Order of Princess Olga. From 22 November Pora! undertook the management of the protests in Kiev until the end of the demonstration.[19]

The local councils in Kiev, Lviv,[20] and several other cities passed, with the wide popular support of their constituency, a largely symbolic refusal to accept the legitimacy of the official election results, and Yushchenko took a symbolic presidential oath.[21] This "oath" taken by Yushchenko in half-empty parliament chambers, lacking the quorum as only the Yushchenko-leaning factions were present, could not have any legal effect. But it was an important symbolic gesture meant to demonstrate the resolve of the Yushchenko campaign not to accept the compromised election results. In response, Yushchenko's opponents denounced him for taking an illegitimate oath, and even some of his moderate supporters were ambivalent about this act, while a more radical side of the Yushchenko camp demanded him to act even more decisively. Some observers argued that this symbolic presidential oath might have been useful to the Yushchenko camp should events have taken a more confrontational route.[citation needed] In such a scenario, this "presidential oath" Yushchenko took could be used to lend legitimacy to the claim that he, rather than his rival who tried to gain the presidency through alleged fraud, was a true commander-in-chief authorised to give orders to the military and security agencies.

At the same time, local officials in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, the stronghold of Viktor Yanukovych, started a series of actions alluding to the possibility of the breakup of Ukraine or an extra-constitutional federalisation of the country, should their candidate's claimed victory not be recognised. Demonstrations of public support for Yanukovych were held throughout Eastern Ukraine and some of his supporters arrived in Kiev. In Kiev the pro-Yanukovych demonstrators were far outnumbered by Yushchenko supporters, whose ranks were continuously swelled by new arrivals from many regions of Ukraine. The scale of the demonstrations in Kiev was unprecedented. By many estimates, on some days they drew up to one million people to the streets, in freezing weather.[22]

In total 18.4% of Ukrainians have claimed to have taken part in the Orange Revolution (across Ukraine).[2]

Political developments

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