Tell It Like It Is

KIEV, Ukraine -- As we move closer to the March parliamentary elections, Ukrainians are being bombarded with political advertising. In its campaign, the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc reminds its countrymen not to give up – not to betray – the ideals for which millions of Ukrainians took to the streets during the 2004 Orange Revolution.

Listening to the exhortations of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, one is reminded of the statements he made last November during celebrations in the capital to mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Orange Revolution.

Yushchenko said he was surprised to see how his fellow citizens had so quickly lost their revolutionary zeal, returning to the same attitudes and practices that had characterized the country under former President Leonid Kuchma.

At this point it should be clear to President Yushchenko and everyone else that the Ukrainian people are the last ones who should be faulted for compromising on principles. It was the folks on Maidan who captured the attention of the world by enduring sub-zero temperatures until their democratic demands were met.

For their troubles, they were hit with rising food and fuel prices, while their orange-clad leaders debased themselves and the new image of the country in their fight for power, and in some cases, prized assets.

Trying to build a democracy from an oligarchy is not easy, and President Yushchenko has to work with what (or who) he’s got. Moreover, his enemies, mostly representing the values of the old guard, are as determined and underhanded as ever.

But the days of motivating the masses with moralistic slogans have passed.

Whether you agree with his policies or not, front runner Viktor Yanukovych does command a strong following in the country’s southern and eastern regions. Moreover, many of Yushchenko’s former Orange allies are now among his toughest electoral opponents.

It might be convenient to present voters with a black and white, or rather blue and orange choice. But now the colors have faded, blending into a more familiar political landscape, where there is no moral high ground.

Ukrainians have greater access to unbiased information than ever before, and the president deserves a lot of credit for this. But like a parent confronted by an ever more inquisitive child, Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc should put aside the silly slogans and start telling it like it is.

Source: Kyiv Post Editorial