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Issue #1440      27 January 2010

Orange Revolution fades

Ukrainian voters took part in the first round of presidential elections on January 17. As there was no clear winner the second round will take place on February 7.

The two candidates left to fight it out are Yulia Tymoshenko, the current Prime Minister, and Victor Yanukovich representing the Regional Party.

It was only six years ago that the so-called Orange Revolution in the Ukraine saw thousands of people camping in the centre of the capital Kiev in massive support for the pro-western Victor Yushchenko and his side-kick Yulia Tymoshenko.

The world-best specialists in organising “democratic” and “free” elections had been employed to install Yushchenko. Money was no object and great was the jubilation afterwards.

Six short years later – and Victor Yushchenko finished up with 5.45 percent of votes – a fair outcome considering a severe the crisis in economy, plummeting living standards, unemployment, corruption and chauvinism. It is the worst result ever recorded for a sitting president.

The population of the Ukraine is about 50 million – 17 percent is Russian. One of the most divisive results of Yushchenko’s time in power was a deliberate policy of splitting up the population along ethnic lines and setting ethnic groups against each other.

The pro-Western policies of the Yushchenko administration, open hostility towards Russia and a concerted push to join NATO (60 percent of the population is against NATO membership) combined with harsh economic situation have not proved to be a winning formula.

“Russia has not offered any support to any candidates in the Ukrainian elections, but we do see that all the likely winners are people who take a more realistic view of cooperation with Russia [than Yushchenko],” sais Andrei Klimov, deputy chair of the Russian State Duma’s international affairs committee.

“I am quite certain that after these elections, Russian-Ukrainian relations will improve markedly,” he said.

Total turnout for the elections was 62.02 per cent.

There were 16 contenders in the first round but only two will be taking part in the second round on February 7.

They are Viktor Yanukovich and Yulia Tymoshenko.

Next article Cooperation spirit is put to the test in Haiti

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