Faded Orange

Captain Ed has a post on the disintegration of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s government. After a public spat with the highly popular Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko which resulted in her dismissal, Yushchenko has had a very difficult time delivering on his promised reforms. The Russian-oriented Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych got 31% of the vote, the Tymoshenko Bloc received 23%, and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine Party only pulled 15% of the vote.

It’s always hard to live up to such expectations, but the public fighting between the charismatic Tymoshenko and Yushchenko didn’t help at all, splitting the Orange Revolution and allowing the Kremlin-backed Yanukovych play a game of divide and conquer. Yushchenko also made the dramatic mistake of hinting at a possible coalition with Yanukovych despite the fact that Yanukovych was quite likely to have been involved in his attempted assassination by dioxin poisoning. Yushchenko will have to bury the hatchet with Tymoshenko if he wants any chance at retaining control of the government.

Ukraine remains a house divided between the Catholic West and the Orthodox East, between the Western-looking and the Russian-speaking. These divisions have shaped Ukrainian politics for centuries, and continue to be a major factor today. The feelings that created the spectacle of the Orange Revolution haven’t necessarily disappeared, but the squabbles among the leadership of the revolution have stalled progress. If Ukraine is to continue to look away from the Kremlin to guidance, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko need to get their acts together and work towards the common good.

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