Democratic Revolution in Ukraine: From Kuchmagate to Orange Revolution

Democratic Revolution in Ukraine: From Kuchmagate to Orange Revolution

Democratic Revolution in Ukraine: From Kuchmagate to Orange Revolution

Democratic Revolution in Ukraine: From Kuchmagate to Orange Revolution

Synopsis

In 2000 a beheaded journalist was found in a remote forest near Kyiv. The corpse led to a scandal when it was revealed that it was that of a journalist critical of the authorities. The President was heard on tapes, made covertly in his office, ordering violence to be undertaken against the journalist. The scandal led to the creation of a wide protest movement that culminated in the victory of democratic opposition parties in 2002. The democratic opposition, led by its presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, fought a bitter and fraudulent election campaign in 2004 during which he was poisoned. Widespread election fraud led to Europe's largest protest movement since the Cold War which became known as the Orange Revolution, known after the campaign colour of the democratic opposition.

This book is the first to provide a collection of studies surveying different aspects of the rise of the Ukraine's democratic opposition from marginalization, to protest against presidential abuse of office and culminating in the Orange Revolution. It integrates the Kuchmagate crisis of 2000-2001 with that of the Orange Revolution four years later providing a rich, detailed and original study of the origins of the Orange Revolution.

This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics.

Excerpt

Taras Kuzio

The eight articles in this book cover a broad range of hitherto unexplored themes on the popular protests against election fraud in Ukraine’s 2004 presidential elections that came to be known as the Orange Revolution. The articles analyse Ukraine’s 2004 elections and Orange Revolution within the historical context of the struggle for power between the pro-democratic opposition and a coalition of centrist parties linked to big business and oligarch interests allied with President Leonid Kuchma. Kuchma’s second term in office was plagued by scandal in winter 2000, which came to be known as Kuchmagate or Tapegate after tapes illicitly made in his office by a security guard implicated the president in the disappearance of a journalist who was subsequently murdered. The Kuchmagate crisis unleashed mass protests and pushed Viktor Yushchenko into opposition, both of which became the prelude for the mass protests four years later when Kuchma with Russia’s massive intervention sought to engineer a victory by his chosen successor, Viktor Yanukovych.

The eight articles deal with a range of subjects that covers Ukraine’s important transition from the Kuchma era to that of Yushchenko. The book is therefore a broader study that places the Orange Revolution in historical context and aims to locate our understanding of it within a twofold broader context.

First, the Orange Revolution took place not only because of election fraud during the presidential elections, but primarily because of a deep-seated political and social crisis in Ukraine that had been building up during Kuchma’s decade in office. The first term of which had seen massive socio-economic collapse and impoverishment of Ukraine’s population and the enrichment of a small handful of elites who became collectively known as oligarchs.

Second, the public face of the Orange Revolution was a popular revolt that one in five Ukrainians in Kyiv and in the regions participated in. Another face of the Orange Revolution took place behind closed doors. A pacted transition between the opposition and ruling elites negotiated a compromise package at . . .

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