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22 Nov, 2007 03:51

Ukraine's Orange Revolution: myths and realities

Ukraine is marking the third anniversary of the Orange revolution. In 2004 the nation was divided between supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, the current president, and Viktor Yanukovich, the current prime minister.

The revolution split many villages and towns in Ukraine. Lubov Petrivna, a Ukrainian villager, said there was conflict in the smallest communities.

“When the election campaign started, we were supporting Yulia Timoshenko. And somebody poured oil into our wells. The head of our village is always plotting against us,” she said.

Allegations that a presidential vote was rigged in favour of Yanukovich prompted thousands of people in Kiev to camp out on the streets in freezing temperatures. Three years on, many say they still believe in their President and his former ally, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko. Her pictures are hanging right next to holy icons in some houses.

But it's a different picture in the east of Ukraine. For many in the town Donetsk the revolution was a farce.

Former miner Dmitry Kazan said he supported Yushchenko’s rival, current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, because he came from this industrial region. He also revealed the striking fears of people in his area.

“During the revolution we were told that if ‘the orange’ come to power, they would build a barbed wire fence around our region and sterilise our women.” Kazan said.

After three years of volatile politics, Dmitry says he has left these stereotypes behind. But he still supports the blue rather than the orange camp. The main thing people in his mining city have experienced since the revolution is inflation.

Meanwhile, the capital Kiev is marking the third anniversary of the orange protests.

It is poignant that the anniversary of the Orange Revolution falls right on the eve of the new parliament’s first sitting. The balance of power three years on has not changed much. The orange and the blue camps are still neck and neck in the race for influence and power.  The two sides are refusing to join forces and finally unite the nation.