Revolutionary energy in Ukraine today is a far cry from seven years ago. Then, hundreds of thousands of people protested over a presidential election they said was rigged. They stamped their feet in the cold for two weeks until their man was declared the winner. It underscored a mentality change.
Today, Viktor Yushchenko insists the turnaround still has momentum — although Ukrainians who had hoped he would deliver more might differ.
Yushchenko told euronews: “In the five years following the revolution the country changed. We started respecting more national values which unite us. The Orange Revolution was the first event which delivered freedom of choice. Why shouldn’t I be proud of it? Why are people talking about defeat? If you once did everything possible for the common freedom, nobody will take that away. Nobody gives you democracy. Democracy is something that once you have you don’t give up, and it happened in Ukraine because of the Orange Revolution.”
Taking part in celebrations to mark the groundshift seven years ago, in Maydan, the square that was the people’s launchpad, political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko said there is still a lot to be done: “Maydan” was an attempt to make the Ukrainian authorities more European and more Ukrainian, but these hopes didn’t materialise in full. This revolution isn’t finished. It has to end either in reforms or with a new revolution.”
Any new revolution will need new icons. The leaders of 2004 have paled, one in prison, her conviction criticised by Ukraine’s EU neighbours, and Yushchenko has been sidelined. They may have written a fresh political cheque but it is still in the mail.