Orange Blues

KIEV, Ukraine -- It’s been four years since the Orange Revolution, and where are its heroes now? Its leaders are gridlocked in petty fights and mutual accusations of treason. Its cheerleaders are often bitter and disgruntled, while its villains are unpunished and have no remorse.

Orange Revolution

The revolution was a peaceful popular uprising against the falsification of presidential election results in November 2004. It brought millions of people from all over Ukraine to Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti to rally under orange flags that symbolized presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko.

Natalya Dmytruk, the sign-language translator who de facto started the revolution on Nov. 25, does not want to hear about it now. “I don’t talk about it anymore,” she said. This is a sad contrast to her courage and energy in 2004. This is what she gestured during a live news program on the national TV: “Don’t believe the Central Election Committee. It’s all lies. Our President is [Victor] Yushchenko. I don’t know if you’re going to see me again…”

She received several international awards for her integrity, and – ironically – lost her job half a year later when another revolution hero, Andriy Shevchenko from Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc, came to “reform” the national TV.

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, frontman of Okean Elzy rock band, who spent days on stage in the freezing cold in December 2004, cheering the crowd, was later elected to parliament on the pro-presidential Our Ukraine party list.

He was the first-ever parliament member in 17 years of Ukraine’s independence who quit his lucrative job to return to making music last September. “The struggle for power is the Verkhovna Rada's only sense for existence,” he said.

Roman Kalyn, leader of Gryndzholy, the band that created the revolution’s anthem, says he now craves a Mussolini-type leader for the country, because the main achievement of the Orange revolution, democracy, is interpreted too freely. “Yushchenko is a democratic president, but Ukraine has not matured enough to have such a president,” he says.

The villains are doing well, though.

Serhiy Kivalov, head of the Central Election Commission in 2004, who lost his job for falsifying the results of the second vote, received an award in 2007 from the Central Election Commission “for significant personal contribution in guaranteeing the constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens.”

He had a monument erected in his honor in Odesa. He is a member of the Party of Regions, and a parliament deputy, making regular appearances on TV and in press.

Victor Medvedchuk, who was reputedly the vote-rigging architect and the evil genius of President Leonid Kuchma’s Ukrainian politics, was in the shadows for over three years.

But he has made an impressive comeback lately. He was restored as a member of the Supreme Justice Council. Having close ties with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s child) and President Dmitry Medvedev (whose wife is the godmother), he has been reputedly helping the Orange Princess Tymoshenko to improve her relationship with Russia.

The party of Regions is now competing with Tymoshenko to get Medvedchuk's expertise. Even the president was rumored to offer him a position of the National Security Council chief.

Bandits were promised jail, but the promise has not been kept. A small consolation prize for those who rallied for justice is that they live without fear of the likes of Medvedchuk and Kivalov, at least for now and, hopefully, forever.

Source: Kyiv Post