Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times is covering the ongoing Orange Revolution in the Ukraine and provides some interesting background for the events in Kiev:
Young people enveloped in orange scarves, hats and ribbons alternately chant slogans for freedom, boogie to rock music, eat oranges, warm up and flirt at McDonald’s, and disappear into their downtown “tent city” to make love, not war.
The protest organizers have placed gorgeous young women in the vanguard of confrontations with troops, so the troops will be too dazzled to club them.
Most Ukrainians love the U.S., and to be an American here – any American – is to be a rock star. Protesters overhear me speaking English and line up to ask me to autograph their orange ribbons with a big “U.S.A.”
Georgious young women who think Americans are rock stars? When’s the next flight to Kiev?
In all seriousness, this is a historic event. The revolution in Ukraine has yet to turn violent and is a grass-roots pro-democracy movement that is a model for peaceful political change. This is a continuation of the wave of democracy that began with the fall of the Iron Curtain — and no matter how hard Putin tries to extend his neo-Soviet authoritarianism, the people of the Ukraine have clearly chosen the path of democracy.
Kristof also offers a suggestion to President Bush:
Here’s a suggestion for President Bush from the protesters behind the democratic “orange revolution” here: Wear an orange tie.
“If he wore an orange tie, people here would be crying,” said Yuri Maluta, a protester from Lviv. “It would show that the American president supports democracy here.”
I understand that it’s probably inappropriate for the head of the US government to even tacitly endorse a political party in a foreign election, but if I were in his shoes I’d say hell to being appropriate — the people of the Ukraine are fighting for democracy against authoritarianism, and they deserve our support.