Erasing the Orange Revolution

The Orange Revolution was an important event in Ukraine’s history and independence, as the people demonstrated their will and helped elect their chosen leader past a wave of corruption, breaking their obedience to Moscow and their Soviet past to form a new relationship with the West. Breaking from reliance from Moscow has not been easy as the decades of corrupt partnerships and practices have been so entrenched for so long, no one was sure if change was possible without succumbing to civil war. Many forces have been fighting hard over the years to bring the country back to the status quo, to the falsely idealized days of the Soviet Union and Russian hegemony.

For the record, here are the facts on what the Orange Revolution was about:

On Thursday, as the presenter of state-controlled UT-1’s main morning news program was updating viewers on the Central Electoral Commission’s decision to declare Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner of the country’s Nov. 21 presidential vote, Natalya Dmitruk, the woman who translates broadcasts into sign language for the deaf, decided to send a very different message. "When the presenter started to read the news," Dmitruk told TIME, "I said: ‘I address all deaf viewers. [Challenger Viktor] Yushchenko is our President. Do not believe the Electoral Commission. They are lying.’" In a week filled with extraordinary acts of political protest, Dmitruk’s silent rebellion was one of the most defiant.

TIME Magazine: The Orange Revolution

The protests were prompted by reports from several domestic and foreign election monitors as well as the widespread public perception that the results of the run-off vote of November 21, 2004 between leading candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych were rigged by the authorities in favor of the latter.[1] The nationwide protests succeeded when the results of the original run-off were annulled, and a revote was ordered by Ukraine’s Supreme Court for December 26, 2004. Under intense scrutiny by domestic and international observers, the second run-off was declared to be "fair and free". The final results showed a clear victory for Yushchenko, who received about 52 percent of the vote, compared to Yanukovych’s 44 percent. Yushchenko was declared the official winner and with his inauguration on January 23, 2005 in Kiev, the Orange Revolution peacefully reached its successful conclusion.

Wikipedia: Orange Revolution

Now I am starting to see this information become more and more distorted in the media – especially in Russian publications like the state-run Russia Today:

The most egregious example of this ‘cozying up’ occurred during the so-called Orange Revolution in the capital of Kiev, when thousands of protesters took to the streets when run-off votes suggested that the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich had taken a comfortable lead over Viktor Yushchenko.

Ukrainian politics, never a rational beast on the best of days, was left in limbo for two months until Yushchenko, inaugurated on January 23, 2005, was finally declared the winner. Moscow accused the West, and specifically the United States, of underwriting Yushchenko to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, funneled to Kiev under the cover of a host of non government organizations.

History is being quietly re-written as the Orange Revolution is being falsely portrayed as some sort of mob ruling, and not what it really was  – the will of the people for a free and democratic re-election in the face of corruption. Ironically the Russian media is trying to liken the events to the 1920 Soviet propaganda film Storming of the Winter Palace which has a very sensationalized account of the October Revolution where hords of Bolsheviks dramatically capture the building in a violent uprising, but in real life the insurgency was accomplished with only a handful of people with little resistance from its guards.

2 thoughts on “Erasing the Orange Revolution”

  1. Check out the CBC website photo gallery where they do a history of world’s notable street protests. The Orange revolution is omitted (as is the Georgian revolution), however the recent pro Yanukowych rally made the cut. In my opinion, even in Western media, there seems to be increasing pro- Russian slant on things and especially in the more widely read and media such as CBC or BBC.

  2. Good find – very shameful of the CBC. I’ve left a comment there and will put it up on my blog today. Thanks for the great catch!

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