Is the "Orange Revolution" Over?
by gobacktotexas, Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:46:43 PM EDT
The much heralded "orange revolution" of a year and a half ago marked a hopeful turn towards the West in countries that were once solidly in the "Soviet-sphere." But now Russia is actively undermining these Democratic movements raising the question whether any of their gains were permanent.
Ukraine's main pro-Russian opposition party has formed a coalition with two other political parties.
The Party of Regions says it has signed an agreement with the Socialists and the Communists in an attempt to bring order to the country.
The move comes after a general election in March in which no party won an overall majority.
It also comes after the collapse of a pro-Western coalition which backed the mass protests of the Orange Revolution.
[...]The new coalition has said it wants the opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych to be its candidate for prime minister.
Mr Yanukovych was the disgraced loser in Ukraine's 2004 presidential election.
The vote was marred by allegations of mass vote-rigging and sparked the Orange Revolution, which led to the election of Mr Yushchenko.
Now it looks like the political rivals will have to work together and that the president's party will be kept out of government.
In Georgia, it is imperiled:
Mikheil Saakashvili, president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, warned yesterday that Russia is trying to undermine his government in hopes of intimidating democracy activists from rising up against corrupt regimes like the one he toppled three years ago.
Saakashvili, an American-trained lawyer who led the Rose Revolution in Georgia and inspired two other "color revolutions" in the region, complained that Moscow has employed hard-nosed tactics aimed at starving his tiny mountain nation economically and breaking it up physically. If it succeeds, he said, it would chill the spread of democracy far beyond his borders.
"It will mean revolutions don't work and everyone ought to calm down . . . that color revolutions are bad and no one should follow their example," he told editors and reporters at The Washington Post.
He added: "From our perspective, any kind of setback would be a real disaster, a real disaster. If Georgia fails, it will not be that my government fails. . . . It means the whole idea of the democracy agenda, which is so precious to us, is in real trouble."
And Russia is taking some ominously anti-democratic, Soviet-style steps:
MOSCOW, July 6 -- Russian regulators have forced more than 60 radio stations to stop broadcasting news reports produced by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, according to radio managers and Russian officials.
The regulators cited license violations and unauthorized changes in programming format. But senior executives at the U.S.-government-funded broadcast services and at the stations blame the Kremlin for the crackdown, which has knocked the reports off stations from St. Petersburg in western Russia to Vladivostok in the Far East.
While it would be nice to know that the Bush administration and the US was fully engaged on these fronts, the fact is that all the military and foreign-policy energy of the Unitd States is being drained in Iraq and as a result the nation now must respond reactively, from a position of relative weakness to these problems. Russia, with a fat budget surplus from oil revenues, is back in action, no longer just a shell of an old empire, and even if Bush took a stand against his soul-friend, the words would seem rather hollow in light of the obvious fact that the US is spread thin in Iraq.
Isn't it kind of ironic that when Bush became President, the US had a huge budget surplus, Russia had a huge deficit, and American power, militarily and otherwise, was respected around the world, and Bush has created precisely the conditions necessary to turn that on its head? The irony isn't lost on Putin.