Helsinki Committee for Human Rights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Revolution

The Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud. Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, was the focal point of the movement's campaign of civil resistance, with thousands of protesters demonstrating daily. Nationwide, the democratic revolution was highlighted by a series of acts of civil disobedience, sit-ins, and general strikes organized by the opposition movement.

Georgiy Gongadze, a Ukrainian journalist and the founder of Ukrayinska Pravda (an Internet newspaper well known for publicising the corruption or unethical conduct of Ukrainian politicians) was kidnapped and murdered in 2000. Though no-one accused Ukrainian President Kuchma of personally murdering him, persistent rumours suggested that the President had ordered the killing. This murder sparked a movement against Kuchma in 2000 that can be seen as the origin of the Orange Revolution in 2004. After two terms of presidency (1994-2005) and the Cassette Scandal of 2000 that ruined his image irreparably, Kuchma decided not to run for a third term in the 2004 elections and instead supported Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in the presidential race against Viktor Yushchenko of the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc.

On 2 July 2004 Our Ukraine and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc established the Force of the People, a coalition which aimed to stop "the destructive process that has, as a result of the incumbent authorities, become a characteristic for Ukraine" - at the time President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych were the "incumbent authorities" in Ukraine. The pact included a promise by Viktor Yushchenko to nominate Tymoshenko as Prime Minister if Yushchenko won the October 2004 presidential election.

The two main candidates were neck and neck in the first-round vote held on 31 October 2004, winning 39.32% (Yanukovych) and 39.87% (Yushchenko) of the vote casts. The candidates who came third and fourth collected much less: Oleksandr Moroz of the Socialist Party of Ukraine and Petro Symonenko of the Communist Party of Ukraine received 5.82% and 4.97%, respectively. Since no candidate had won more than 50% of the cast ballots, Ukrainian law mandated a run-off vote between two leading candidates. After the announcement of the run-off, Oleksandr Moroz threw his support behind Viktor Yushchenko. The Progressive Socialist Party's Natalia Vitrenko, who won 1.53% of the vote, endorsed Yanukovych, who hoped for Petro Simonenko's endorsement but did not receive it.

Protests began on the eve of the second round of voting, as the official count differed markedly from exit poll results which gave Yushchenko up to an 11% lead, while official results gave the election win to Yanukovych by 3%. While Yanukovych supporters have claimed that Yushchenko's connections to the Ukrainian media explain this disparity, the Yushchenko team publicised evidence of many incidents of electoral fraud in favour of the government-backed Yanukovych, witnessed by many local and foreign observers. These accusations were reinforced by similar allegations, though at a lesser scale, during the first presidential run of 31 October.

At the same time, local officials in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, the stronghold of Viktor Yanukovych, started a series of actions alluding to the possibility of the breakup of Ukraine or an extra-constitutional federalisation of the country, should their candidate's claimed victory not be recognised. Demonstrations of public support for Yanukovych were held throughout Eastern Ukraine and some of his supporters arrived in Kiev. In Kiev the pro-Yanukovych demonstrators were far outnumbered by Yushchenko supporters, whose ranks were continuously swelled by new arrivals from many regions of Ukraine. The scale of the demonstrations in Kiev was unprecedented. By many estimates, on some days they drew up to one million people to the streets, in freezing weather.

Although Yushchenko entered into negotiations with outgoing President Leonid Kuchma in an effort to peacefully resolve the situation, the negotiations broke up on 24 November 2004. Yanukovych was officially certified as the victor by the Central Election Commission, which itself was allegedly involved in falsification of electoral results by withholding the information it was receiving from local districts and running a parallel illegal computer server to manipulate the results. The next morning after the certification took place, Yushchenko spoke to supporters in Kiev, urging them to begin a series of mass protests, general strikes and sit-ins with the intent of crippling the government and forcing it to concede defeat.

Throughout the demonstrations, Ukraine's emerging Internet usage (facilitated by news sites which began to disseminate the Kuchma tapes) was an integral part of the orange revolutionary process. It has even been suggested that the Orange Revolution was the first example of an Internet-organised mass protest. Analysts believe that the Internet and mobile phones allowed an alternative media to flourish that was not subject to self-censorship or overt control by President Kuchma and his allies and pro-democracy activists (such as Pora!) were able to use mobile phones and the Internet to coordinate election monitoring and mass protests.

A 2007 research revealed that opinion about the nature of the Orange Revolution had barely shifted since 2004 and that the attitudes about it in the country remained divided along the same largely geographical lines that it had been at the time of the revolution (West and Central Ukraine being more positive about the events and South and Eastern Ukraine more cynical (seniors also)). This research (also) showed that Ukrainians in total had a less positive view on the Orange Revolution in 2007 than they had in 2005. It has been suggested that since the Orange Revolution was impactful enough to interest people of all ages it increased the overall unity of Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION TO HOLD HEARING ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME

November 2, 2011

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Please join the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe for a hearing that explores the nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Human Trafficking.

Organized Crime has evolved to meet the challenges of globalization and modern technology. In this evolution major international criminal organizations and smaller highly specialized groups of criminal entrepreneurs have found new ways to expand their operations and exploit human beings into slavery. To meet these challenges new national and international strategies have been placed into action, but their results remain to be seen. This continues the Helsinki Commission’s hearing series on new fronts in human trafficking. This hearing will focus on: (1) the evolving nature of Transnational Organized Crime, (2) the role of major international organized crime groups and smaller organized criminal syndicates in human trafficking, (3) identified trends, and (4) strategies to combat these organizations and prevent the trafficking of human beings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights 2011