Monday, January 10, 2005

Forces Behind the Orange Revolution

KIEV, Ukraine -- The Ukrainian people succeeded to carry opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko to victory through their organized protest activities.

People surrounded public buildings and used other methods of civil disobedience without resorting to violence.

The Ukrainian revolution has brought comparisons with the velvet revolutions and people's power movements of Georgia in 2003 and in Serbia in 2000. Like the "Otpor" student organization that conducted street protests in Serbia and the "Kmara" student organization in Georgia, the Ukrainian youth, trained by Otpor, formed "Pora", which means, "It is time to move".

Pora arranged protests, laid siege to public buildings, and set up tent cities and other activities. Andrei Gusek from Pora says he had special seminars from Otpor about "winning and directing masses". Pora united 30,000 students all around the country before the activities started.



Pora was important for the success of the Orange Revolution protests but could not have been effective on its own. There were also other enterprises directing people to vote and then urging them to claim their votes. One of them is civilian enterprise Znayu which gave training to electors in all provinces and towns to vote, to be selective about candidates and to claim their votes. For this purpose Znayu prepared announcements entertaining and didactic radio and television programs.

Peter Koshukov, a founder and coordinator of Znayu said that they had distributed around 7 million leaflets and announcements and worked with thousands of volunteers for the elections. Znayu has the support of nearly 100 civilian organizations. Among these organizations there are also civilian foundations such as Open Community and branches of George Soros Foundation, Freedom House, the American Republican Party's IRI and Democrat Party affiliated NDI, and enterprises such as US-Ukraine Foundation. These foundations financed the projects developed by Znayu. Like Pora, organizations like Znayu have played their part in former civilian revolutions.

Another factor affecting the revolution is the coming together of 335 civilian organizations in Ukraine "supporting transparent and fair elections". A similar situation occurred in Serbia and Georgia and it makes representing wide public masses and supporting innovative candidates easier.

Like Rustavi-2 television in Georgia, Channel 5 has become the voice and broadcast body in Ukraine. In Serbia where there was no private television, Radio B-92 undertook that role. Certainly, there were many newspapers supporting the change.

It is worth noting that the young are the targets as well as the organizers of the activities. The new generation has not experienced Soviet pressure, but it is apolitical. The young are attracted to join the protesters with rock concerts and entertainment. While the participation in Ukrainian parliamentary elections in 2002 was 60 percent, participation in the presidential elections increased to 77 percent after activities.

The forces behind the Orange Revolution, as in Serbia and Georgia, provided leaders who are supporters of the West and Western values in the place of system infrastructure and leaders remaining from communism. This seems to confirm that "national velvet revolutions" is a part of global plan. It also strengthens the possibility of revolution to spread wave by wave.

In fact, managers of Pora and Znayu say that youth from Moldavia, Belarus, Russia and the Middle East came to join them to share their experiences. We may soon have new "velvet revolutions" among the Ukraine's neighbors.

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