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Ukraine one year on: disillusionment and hope

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Ukraine one year on: disillusionment and hope


After the political romance between Viktor Yuschenko and his people, a post-honeymoon depression seems to have set in. Ukraine’s GDP has fallen by 10 percent in the last year, while corruption allegations and infighting have hit the administration.

The firing of one of the “Orange Revolution’s” key figures has not helped matters. A row between different factions led to the sacking of prime minister Yulia Timoshenko two months ago, slowing down economic reforms. Lyudmyla Zakovorotnya sells souvenirs that recall the heady days of November 2004. “I would simply like to tell the politicians that if they thought a bit more about Ukraine and a bit less about themselves, they would not have fallen out,” she says. “They should have thought about Ukraine. Their alliance was too good to throw away.” Abroad it is a very different picture. Yuschenko is feted in western capitals as a symbol of democratic change in ex-communist states. He received anespecially warm welcome at the US Congress in April. Along with his friend and ally Mikhail Saakashvili, the Georgian president, he is seen as a reformer who wants to reduce the influence of former colonial power Moscow. This summer they invited nations of the post-Soviet area to join them in a new coalition, the Community of Democratic Choice. Of course the picture at home is not all gloomy. Progress has been made on media freedom, and on transparency in government appointments. A major success has been the sale of the country’s largest steel mill for a price that beat all expectations. But a year after the rap group Green Joly summed up the spirit of the revolution with their song “together we are many, we cannot be defeated,” divisions cannot be ignored. It remains to be seen whether the different clans can be reunited by the threat from Viktor Yanukovich. Defeated by Yuschenko last year, he is set to make a comeback in the general election next March.
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