Ukraine's Orange Flame, Dimmed
Published: September 9, 2005
So ends the Orange Revolution, at least Act I. After months of increasingly nasty disputes, Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, fired his charismatic prime minister and nominated a caretaker to replace her. The fired prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, has said nothing - yet. But she will. Her fiery speeches and powerful presence were a major factor in the popular uprising that brought Mr. Yushchenko to power last fall, and she is certain to turn these weapons on the president and his new government, especially with elections for Parliament scheduled for March. All that is a serious blow to the hopes and expectations that had been raised for the future of Ukraine, and for reformers in Belarus and other former Soviet republics.
Perhaps the expectations were always unrealistic. People who unite to oust one government, as the Ukrainians did with huge demonstrations, do not necessarily agree on what the next one should be, and the alliance was always shaky between Mr. Yushchenko, a former prime minister and central banker, and Ms. Tymoshenko, who made a fortune in the gas business. Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko squandered the momentum generated on Kiev's streets, struggling over control of lucrative industries, over relations with Russia and over how to cope with soaring energy prices. The impression was of a government with no focus.
On dismissing the government, Mr. Yushchenko declared that his one goal was to ensure stability. But the Ukrainian protesters wanted change. If Mr. Yushchenko hopes to salvage anything of their spirit, he needs to convince his country, and a very wary West, that he not only believes in democracy, free markets and the rule of law, but is also capable of leading Ukraine in that direction.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Via Abdymok, an editorial in the New York Times: