Backgrounder: Ukraine Politics

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Ukrainian politics has been a point of geopolitical intrigue for over a decade now. 2004 brought waves of protesters into the streets following a contested run-off election between pro-West candidate Victor Yushchenko and the Russia-leaning Viktor Yanukovych. The former’s victory helped plant the seeds of the Kremlin’s current paranoia of ‘color revolutions’ installing pro-West governments in its near abroad.

Much like the Arab Spring, the outbreak of the Orange Revolution was a resounding victory for ‘people power’ and human rights – as long as one overlooks the details. In truth, even after the Supreme Court overturned the second run-off result, Yushchenko received around 52% of the vote in the third round.

Thus from the very beginning of Ukraine’s turn towards the West, there wasn’t anything approaching a national consensus. Ukrainians were split then just as they are now.


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