|November 2004 - January 2005
|Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, Albert Einstein Institution
|2004-05 colour revolution in the Ukraine
The Orange Revolution 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 between leading candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych.
The election took place 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 claimed he had suffered dioxin poisoning under mysterious circumstances. While he survived and returned to the campaign trail, the incident undermined his health and altered his appearance dramatically (his face remains disfigured by the consequences).
The Orange Revolution 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. The movement 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 were rigged by the authorities in favour of the incumbent. 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 "free and fair". The final results showed a clear victory for Yushchenko, who received about 52% of the vote, compared to Yanukovych's 45%.
According to the Associated Press, in the years 2002-2004 alone the Bush Administration spent more than $65 million to seed the Orange Revolution and build support for opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. The $65 million plus went to pro-Yushchenko think tanks, civic organizations, political training, and work with strategically placed professionals, such as journalists and judges. It paid for some questionable exit polls and election monitors, many of them Ukrainian expatriates who were far from impartial. The Americans funded all this through a series of "cutouts" - primarily Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy.
With their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime, the democracy guerrillas of the Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory - whatever the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev.
..the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, thetwo big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze. Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.
The operation - engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections.