Ukraine Quiet On Orange Anniversary

KIEV, Ukraine -- No orange banners hang from the street lamps; no stage is being erected on Kiev's Independence Square; no festivities are planned.

Orange Revolution two years ago

Quietly is how Ukraine plans to commemorate what has become for many a bittersweet occasion: the second anniversary Wednesday of the Orange Revolution. Ukraine's topsy-turvy politics have made any official celebration of the mass protests awkward.

Viktor Yanukovych, whose fraud-tarnished presidential victory sparked the uprising, is back in his old job as prime minister. And the Orange Revolution team is again in the opposition.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's popularity is so low that a recent opinion poll showed he would get less than 15 percent of the vote if the election were held now.

The revolution's slogans -- including "Bandits in Jail," referring to corrupt bureaucrats and their businessman cronies -- and its promises of a quick embrace by NATO and the European Union turned out to be naive. Now Yushchenko's camp, too, is accused of corruption.

And lives have not gotten any better since the popular uprising, with energy and food prices skyrocketing.

Even the hopes of shrugging off Russia's influence seem premature; analysts say Ukraine's energy dependence on Moscow means the Kremlin's shadow will continue to advance.

"We were very romantic and idealistic," said former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whose glamour and fiery speeches made her the revolution's heroine. "We believed that everything would happen quickly and beautifully."

Today, the only prominent orange on Independence Square is on the hats and scarves of girls advertising a Ukrainian mobile phone company, and hawkers manning the souvenir tables have added buttons and T-shirts depicting Yanukovych to their stocks.

Portraits of the unpopular president have been dropped altogether.

"We stood on the square for a month in the bitter cold and what did we get? They're in opposition again," said Kiev resident Pavel Korneichuk, who said he spent a month freezing in the protesters' tent camp two years ago. "What kind of victory is that? I don't see anything to celebrate."

Yushchenko's party initially planned festivities on Independence Square but called them off after consultations with its "orange blood brothers," party spokeswoman Tetyana Mokridi said.

Instead, members of the Our Ukraine party will simply gather on the square to mingle with whoever shows up. Yushchenko is also expected to make an appearance.

Tymoshenko plans to be out of the country.

"Most people are disillusioned with politicians but not disillusioned with the ideals of the Orange Revolution," said analyst Serhiy Taran of the International Institute of Democracy. "They realize that what they did two years ago was the right thing, but there is still a way to go."

Source: AP