Is the Orange Revolution Over in Kiev?

Just a few short years ago, what seemed to be a tidal wave swept across The Ukraine.  Ukraine reformers and nationalists led by Yulia Timonschenko and Victor Yushchenko overturned a fraudulent election and swept the Russian backed President Victor Yanukovich and his pro-Russian party out of an office they had tried to steal.  Putin had openly backed the Yanukovich pro-Russian party. 

During the campaign Yushchenko was poisoned by political opponents, and his scarred face had become the rallying point of the Ukraine reformers.  Yushchenko had learned free market principles from his American born wife, and learned from her the virtues of Ronald Reagan.  Or at least had seemed to. 

And for awhile it seemed to work.  Yushchenko reached out to Russia and met with the Putin government.  The new government in Kiev went to the West and told the US and most of the European Union that they wanted to mend fences with the Western World.  The Ukraine Stock Exchange (PFTS) had a small but significant rise.  Currently 220 companies trade on the PFTS. 

However charges of corruption became the norm for the "Our Ukraine" party.  Yushchenko accused Timonschenko of using her position as Prime Minister (akin to our Vice-President's office) to write off $1.5 billion dollars of debts incurred by their family business. 

And people close to Yushchenko said that the corruption in Kiev had only gotten worse under Yushchenko than in the previous government. 

Now it looks like the tables may have turned.  Last year, Yanukovich's Pro-Russian party took the largest number of seats in their Parliament, and relations between Timonschenko and Yushchenko have so deteriorated that the two can barely be in the same room together. 

And in a political move designed to put the pro-Russian forces on the defensive, Yushchenko called for the dissolution of their Parliament and has asked for the Austrian Chancellor to mediate the current political differences.  Yanukovich has also asked for the Ukrainian Supreme Court to intervene.  In the past few days, Yushchenko has threatened to level criminal charges against Yanukovich for trying to bring down the government. 

It is a very sad state of affairs, and one that the US State Department must share in some of the blame. Condi Rice and the Bush administration were both so concerned about possibly offending Vladimir Putin and Russia that they seemed to overlook that the Ukraine could have become one of our more vital allies.  The European Union's Western countries look down on anyone not from "Old Europe" and has pretty much told the Ukraine that they have no chance to enter the EU, and to forget about joining NATO.

Most Americans tend to think of Ukrainians and Russians as the same people.  They are very different with two unique (albeit similar) languages.  The country that we now know as Russia was founded in the 800's and was called Kiev Rus by the Vikings.  After the Mongols sacked Kiev in the early part of the 1100's, Moscow grew in prominence and Kiev has been relegated to the sidelines.  The two areas grew apart and adopted different languages and customs.  Russia looks down on the Ukraine and thinks that it should be a part of Russia.  The Ukraine sees itself as the original birth of the Russian nation and has little tolerance for the way that Russia looks down on the Ukraine. 

December 2004 could have been the beginning of a new Ukraine.  One that has Western ideals and concepts.  A Ukraine that could be a stable trading partner with the US.  A Ukraine that could be a military ally with us.  Remember that the Ukraine did contribute over 1000 troops to the Coalition fighting in Iraq.  18 brave Ukrainians were either killed or wounded in the fighting. 

We need to remember that not all democracies are born with the use of weapons.  And that democracies and capitalism, especially those emerging from former communist countries, are extra fragile.  It is the US and Europe's duty to assist the Ukraine people and save them from Russian domination.  These people want to be our allies.  It is time that we treat them as such.

Pastor John Massoud publishes
Christ Church Online
Just a few short years ago, what seemed to be a tidal wave swept across The Ukraine.  Ukraine reformers and nationalists led by Yulia Timonschenko and Victor Yushchenko overturned a fraudulent election and swept the Russian backed President Victor Yanukovich and his pro-Russian party out of an office they had tried to steal.  Putin had openly backed the Yanukovich pro-Russian party. 

During the campaign Yushchenko was poisoned by political opponents, and his scarred face had become the rallying point of the Ukraine reformers.  Yushchenko had learned free market principles from his American born wife, and learned from her the virtues of Ronald Reagan.  Or at least had seemed to. 

And for awhile it seemed to work.  Yushchenko reached out to Russia and met with the Putin government.  The new government in Kiev went to the West and told the US and most of the European Union that they wanted to mend fences with the Western World.  The Ukraine Stock Exchange (PFTS) had a small but significant rise.  Currently 220 companies trade on the PFTS. 

However charges of corruption became the norm for the "Our Ukraine" party.  Yushchenko accused Timonschenko of using her position as Prime Minister (akin to our Vice-President's office) to write off $1.5 billion dollars of debts incurred by their family business. 

And people close to Yushchenko said that the corruption in Kiev had only gotten worse under Yushchenko than in the previous government. 

Now it looks like the tables may have turned.  Last year, Yanukovich's Pro-Russian party took the largest number of seats in their Parliament, and relations between Timonschenko and Yushchenko have so deteriorated that the two can barely be in the same room together. 

And in a political move designed to put the pro-Russian forces on the defensive, Yushchenko called for the dissolution of their Parliament and has asked for the Austrian Chancellor to mediate the current political differences.  Yanukovich has also asked for the Ukrainian Supreme Court to intervene.  In the past few days, Yushchenko has threatened to level criminal charges against Yanukovich for trying to bring down the government. 

It is a very sad state of affairs, and one that the US State Department must share in some of the blame. Condi Rice and the Bush administration were both so concerned about possibly offending Vladimir Putin and Russia that they seemed to overlook that the Ukraine could have become one of our more vital allies.  The European Union's Western countries look down on anyone not from "Old Europe" and has pretty much told the Ukraine that they have no chance to enter the EU, and to forget about joining NATO.

Most Americans tend to think of Ukrainians and Russians as the same people.  They are very different with two unique (albeit similar) languages.  The country that we now know as Russia was founded in the 800's and was called Kiev Rus by the Vikings.  After the Mongols sacked Kiev in the early part of the 1100's, Moscow grew in prominence and Kiev has been relegated to the sidelines.  The two areas grew apart and adopted different languages and customs.  Russia looks down on the Ukraine and thinks that it should be a part of Russia.  The Ukraine sees itself as the original birth of the Russian nation and has little tolerance for the way that Russia looks down on the Ukraine. 

December 2004 could have been the beginning of a new Ukraine.  One that has Western ideals and concepts.  A Ukraine that could be a stable trading partner with the US.  A Ukraine that could be a military ally with us.  Remember that the Ukraine did contribute over 1000 troops to the Coalition fighting in Iraq.  18 brave Ukrainians were either killed or wounded in the fighting. 

We need to remember that not all democracies are born with the use of weapons.  And that democracies and capitalism, especially those emerging from former communist countries, are extra fragile.  It is the US and Europe's duty to assist the Ukraine people and save them from Russian domination.  These people want to be our allies.  It is time that we treat them as such.

Pastor John Massoud publishes
Christ Church Online