Ukraine’s Orange Revolution Suffering a Case of the Blues

Two years after the peaceful protests that shone a spotlight on the falsified presidential elections and eventually ushered in the pro-democratic, pro-Western government of Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrainians are in a political funk. Disappointment and disillusionment with both the revolution’s opponents and the current leadership has soured the once buoyant mood.

With all aspects of politics, the truth often lies beyond the rhetoric. Ukraine as an economy borders on booming despite a twofold increase in gas prices. The national GDP was projected to grow by 5.5% by the end of 2006. Foreign investment is rolling across the borders to the tune of $3.5 billion boosted by a stable currency. The modest budget deficit is under control.

Democracy is a bit like making sausage according to some, tasteful in the end but nasty to watch. Still, parliamentary elections in March 2006 were judged free and fair. The media, after years of malaise and control, are viewed as free and independent. And while Ukraine’s efforts to join their Slavic brothers in the European Union were scuttled by a cautious Union leadership, efforts by the Ukrainian government to put a legal thumb on corruption as well as the government’s intention to join the Energy Community Treaty and a commitment to build stronger economic and trade ties with Europe are considered a precursor to continued negotiations for Ukraine’s membership in Europe’s political and economic union in 2007.

Why, in light of such progress in such a short period of time are Ukrainians so morose? Call it history or cultural orientations but sadly many have lost faith, a hard-won commodity on the brightest of days. Some Ukrainian intellectuals suggest that the cause of the funk is a belief that Yushchenko’s cheating adversary, Yanukovych will return to power eventually. Time will tell of course, but with the growing strength of Ukraine’s civil and political society, though Ukrainians may see only gray, many believe Ukraine’s future will be at least partly sunny.