Yushchenko's First Year Reviewed

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko receives mixed reviews from the country's press on the first anniversary of his inauguration.

President Yushchenko talking to reporters

Newspapers that generally support the president look kindly on his first year in office, but others express views ranging from disappointment to outright rejection.

The pro-presidential Ukraina Moloda praises Mr Yushchenko's leadership style.

"It is the style of a free person, a free politician, not tied to corporate interests as his predecessor Leonid Kuchma was, but one who is tied exclusively to the national interest," it says.

It also pays tribute to the president's "openness, honesty and self-critique".

"No other statesman in Ukraine", it goes on, "has even one per cent of Viktor Yushchenko's sincerity with the people".

It also perceives a balanced political approach "which unites two things organically: a high level of social security for citizens and a civilized market economy for Ukrainian business".

Culture change

The government paper Uryadovyy Kuryer welcomes what it sees as a culture change since Mr Yushchenko came to power.

In a front-page article headed "A year of democratic choice", it observes that "the majority of our citizens support the democratic order, and thus Ukraine's European vector".

"What is important from the point of view of the unity of the country and the nation is a refusal to support extreme radical political forces," it continues.

"In the Ukrainian system of values first place is gradually being taken by people's ability to live in new social conditions, their knowledge of legislation and independence in resolving day-to-day problems," it adds.

Disappointment

But other sources are less positive about the past year.

Oleksandr Levtsun, writing on the independent Ukrayinska Pravda website, recalls that "right after the Orange Revolution there were a lot of expectations and a lot of public trust in the new government".

However, he adds, "after just six months, the situation changed dramatically".

"The level of expectations crashed, and the public mood is now predominantly one of disappointment," he concludes.

A similar mood of regret is expressed in Gazeta po-Kiyevski, a newspaper that supports Mr Yushchenko's rival and dismissed prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.

"I have always sympathised with Yushchenko and have not changed my view," says Kiev historian Stanislav Kulchytskyy:

However, he goes on, "Mr Yushchenko has failed to get tougher on his opponents".

"His mistakes", Mr Kulchytskyy believes, "stem perhaps from the fact that he trusts people too much".

"He adheres to democratic principles, but his opponents often abuse democracy."

Russia unforgiving

Writing in its own voice, the newspaper believes Mr Yushchenko has little to show for his foreign policy efforts.

"Yushchenko started by looking for 'comrades' abroad," it says, "but Russia has not forgiven such demonstrative attention even to Poland and Georgia, let alone to the US, France and Britain."

"The 'elder sister' has not tired of sending signals that one shouldn't behave like that and that things should change," it warns.

The most hostile assessment comes, predictably, from Kiyevskiye Vedomosti, a daily controlled by businessmen close to the anti-Yushchenko and pro-Russian United Social Democratic Party.

"Everything has changed" in the past year, it believes.

"There are no more smiling people in the metro, united by trust in a better future, and the colour orange is seen only in fruit shops," it observes, concluding:

"The illusion which warmed the people during the events that went down in history as the 'orange revolution' has burst like a bubble."

Source: BBC News

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