The Orange Revolution: The US Political War For A Change Of Government In Ukraine

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The Orange Revolution Documentary

The Orange Revolution: Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish-American diplomat, political scientist, geopolitical expert, and former US National Security Adviser commented on Russia-Ukraine relations: “Russia is no more an empire without Ukraine.

In 2003, a book was published by the then President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma. The title of the book was – “Ukraine is not Russia!”

Brief Introduction Of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution

Ukraine is the second-largest state in Europe, located in Eastern Europe. Ukraine is bordered by Belarus to the north, Russia to the northeast, east, and southeast, Romania, Moldova, the Black Sea and the Azov Sea to the south, and Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west. According to the 2001 census, Ukraine had a population of about 4 crores 84 lakhs. No census has been conducted in Ukraine since 2001, but according to 2021, the current population of Ukraine is about 413 million. That is, the population of Ukraine is declining.

Orange Revolution
The Orange Revolution

In addition, since 2014, about 30.5% of the territory of the Danvers region in southeastern Ukraine has been out of the control of the Ukrainian government, and the population of that territory is about 38 lakhs. Thus, at present, the actual population of Ukraine is about 3 crore 75 lakhs.

According to the 2001 census, about 77.8% of Ukraine’s population was ethnic Ukrainian, about 17.3% was ethnic Russian and the rest belonged to other ethnic groups. Crimea seceded from Ukraine in 2014 and became part of Russia, leaving about 1.5 million ethnic Russians out of Ukraine. In addition, about 1.5 million ethnic Russians live in the part of the Donbas that is outside Ukraine’s control.

As such, the percentage of ethnic Russians in the current Ukrainian-controlled population is about 15%. In addition, ethnic Russians in Ukraine, as well as a large section of ethnic Ukrainians, are Russian-speaking, and virtually one-third of Ukraine’s population is considered Russian-speaking.

The Orange Revolution
The Orange Revolution Documentary

Overall, Ukraine is divided into four historical and geographical regions – Eastern Ukraine, Southern Ukraine, Central Ukraine, and Western Ukraine. Of the present 24 provinces of Ukraine, 4 TK (Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Luhansk) are in eastern Ukraine, 4 TK (Odesa, Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Mikolive) are in southern Ukraine, 8 TK (Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Kharkiv, Cherkiev, Cherkiev And 8 TKs (Ivano-Frankivsk, Khemlenitsky, Chernivtsi, Zakarpatia, Ternopil, Volin, Rivne, and Lviv) are considered to belong to western Ukraine.

Politically, however, Ukraine is divided into eastern Ukraine and western Ukraine. In that case, the whole of eastern and southern Ukraine, and part of central Ukraine, is considered to belong to eastern Ukraine. On the other hand, the whole of western Ukraine and the rest of central Ukraine is considered as western Ukraine.

Historically, the number of ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine is higher than in western Ukraine, and the level of pro-Russian sentiment is higher among ethnic Ukrainians in eastern Ukraine. In western Ukraine, on the other hand, ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers are fewer in number than in eastern Ukraine, and ethnic Ukrainians in western Ukraine are dominated by extremist nationalism, anti-Russian sentiments, and pro-Western thinking. Since the Mongol invasion of Russia in the 13th century, much of western Ukraine has been out of Russian control, and the territory did not come under Russian control before World War II. As a result, the level of ethnic segregation in the region is much higher than in the rest of Ukraine.

Geopolitics of Ukraine: Russian, Ukrainian and Western perspectives

From Russia’s point of view, Ukraine is a culturally, ethnically, religiously, politically, economically, militarily-strategically, and psychologically very important territory for Russia. The capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, is considered the birthplace of Russian civilization and the territory of Ukraine was an integral part of the first Russian state in history. Ukraine is home to a large number of ethnic Russians, and ethnic Ukrainians are ethnically very close to ethnic Russians. After Russia, Ukraine is the largest Eastern Orthodox Christian state in the world, and until 2019, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians were under the Russian Orthodox Church.

Moreover, Ukraine was Russia’s ‘grain store’ and a large part of the huge industrialization, electrification, modernization, and infrastructural development that took place in Ukraine during the Soviet period was financed using Russian resources. The economies of Russia and Ukraine were closely linked. Moreover, a significant portion of Soviet military industries was built in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian military industry had complementary relations with the Russian military industry. Not only that, Ukraine was a ‘buffer’ for Russia, keeping the Russian heart at a safe distance from enemy attacks and increasing Russia’s ‘strategic depth’.

After all, Ukraine has important ties with the geographical expansion of the Russian state. The Ukrainian manpower was an important asset to the Russian state and the role of the Ukrainians in the expansion of the Russian state was similar to the role of the Scots in the expansion of the British Empire. Ukraine’s annexation by Russia in 1654 effectively accelerated Russia’s transformation into an ’empire’ and a ‘great power’, and Russia’s ability to survive as a ‘superpower’ was shattered by Ukraine’s secession from the Soviet Union in 1991. In this case, various reasons were responsible). That is why Russia has always considered Ukraine as an integral part of its sphere of influence.

In this context, Russia generally intends to maintain close ties with Ukraine and, if possible, to include Ukraine in the Russian-led regional alliances. Moreover, part of the Russians is willing to reunite Ukraine, or at least eastern Ukraine, with the Russian state. But the other part of the Russians is reluctant to include the economically troubled Ukraine in the Russian state because they think that Ukraine will become an ‘economic burden’ for Russia.

On the other hand, from the Ukrainian point of view, Ukraine’s relations with Russia are extremely complex and multifaceted. Independent Ukraine has always been divided on what Ukraine’s relations with Russia should be. Some Ukrainians want to maintain close ties with Russia in terms of their close historical, cultural, ethnic, religious, economic, and psychological ties with Russia and Russia.

On the other hand, another section of the Ukrainians (especially those with whom Russia and the Russians have weak historical, cultural, ethnic, and religious ties) want to maintain distance with Russia and integrate with the rest of Europe. Moreover, there is a group of Ukrainians in this section who are not only pro-Western, but also fiercely anti-Russian, and they hate Russia and everything associated with Russia.

It should be noted that the majority of Ukrainians want to maintain Ukraine as an independent state, and public opinion in this regard is almost the same in West and East Ukraine. But public opinion in eastern Ukraine favored maintaining good relations with Russia and staying away from the US-led military alliance, NATO. On the other hand, public opinion in western Ukraine is keen to build good relations with the Western world and to include Ukraine in NATO and the European Union.

The West has always been a third party in Russian-Ukrainian relations. In fact, dialectical relations have existed between Russia and the Western world since the thirteenth century, and although the two sides cooperated with each other from time to time, their relations were generally hostile. In this situation, the eternal goal of the Western world is to weaken Russia as much as possible and destroy the Russian state if possible.

The difference between the present situation and the past situation is that in the past Western nations (Poland-Lithuania and Sweden in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France and Britain in the nineteenth century, Germany, Japan, Britain, France, and the United States directly in the first half of the twentieth century) Were interested, and now they are interested in dividing Russia into a number of smaller states so that they can dominate and seize the vast resources of Central Eurasia.

Therefore, from a Western (mainly US) point of view, isolating Ukraine from Russia would make it easier to keep Russia weak. Russia’s five western border states (Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland) have already joined NATO, and if Ukraine does, NATO will have a NATO presence across the lion’s share of Russia’s western border.

In that case, NATO would be able to deploy its strategic heavy weapons on Russia’s doorstep and keep Russia under constant pressure. Moreover, NATO’s presence along Russia’s western border means that the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence in Eastern and Central Europe (and the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Union), Russia will never regain, and US dominance in Europe will be assured. That is, the Western world has taken Brezhnevsky’s views seriously.

Russia And Ukraine In The Early 21st Century

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia, the United States-led Western world, and Ukraine have been guided by the above-mentioned perspectives on Russian-Ukrainian relations. However, with the change of government in Russia and Ukraine, there has been a qualitative change in Russian-Ukrainian relations. The 1990s saw the emergence of a series of complex problems between Russia and Ukraine.

But on the one hand, Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s (1991–1999) largely pro-Western and almost chaotic foreign policy, and on the other hand, due to the comparatively cautious nature of the inter-ministerial approach followed by the first two Ukrainian presidents Leonid Kravchuk (1991–1994) and Leonid Kuchma (1994–2005). There was no serious conflict between the two states.

But at the beginning of the 21st century, there was a change of government in Russia and Ukraine. On December 31, 1991, Russian President Yeltsin abruptly resigned and was replaced by then-Russian Prime Minister and former intelligence officer Vladimir Putin Yeltsin. Putin greatly reduced the political power of Russia’s pro-Western neo-elite (oligarchs) and replaced them with Russian military and intelligence personnel (commonly referred to as “Siloviki” or “R”).

Most of them (including Putin) were part of the Soviet armed forces and intelligence agencies, and that is how their military-political outlook developed. The Russian neo-liberals, naturally bound by the wider economic ties with the Western world, were not interested in pursuing a pro-Western foreign policy like the Russian Slovic.

After Putin came to power, Russia initially sought to maintain good relations with the West, but soon a conflict of interest arose between them. At the same time, fuel prices rose in the international market, and the Russian government, led by Putin, was able to improve Russia’s economic situation by exploiting its vast hydrocarbon reserves. This made it possible for Russia to renew its military might and gain influence in the surrounding areas.

Leonid Kuchma was President of Ukraine at the time, and under him, Ukraine maintained a delicate balance between Russia and the Western world. Kuchma’s political opponents were dissatisfied with his cautious foreign policy and accused him of being “pro-Russian.” But in fact, Kuchma’s foreign policy was relatively moderate.

Naturally, Kuchma’s foreign policy was not entirely desirable for Russia, because Kuchma was neither interested in fully integrating Ukraine with the Western world on the one hand, nor was it interested in fully integrating Ukraine with Russia on the other. But for Russia, Kuchma was “good for evil,” because Kuchma wanted to keep Ukraine as a neutral state, and a neutral and moderate Ukraine was relatively safer for Russia than a potential NATO and pro-Western Ukraine.

2004 Ukrainian Presidential Election: US Strategy Of ‘Political-Psychological Warfare’ In Ukraine

Ukraine held presidential elections in October 2004. The main candidates in this election were two – the then Prime Minister of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and the former Prime Minister of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko. Yanukovych was a member of the ‘Party of Territories’ or ‘Partia Rehioniv’ (Ukrainian: регіонів регіонів) group, which was a regionalist, relatively pro-Russian, and center-left party.

Yanukovych was backed by Ukrainian President Kuchma and Russia. Yushchenko, on the other hand, was an independent candidate, but the leader of the pro-Western and liberal-style ‘Our Ukraine’ (Ukrainian: Наша Україна, ‘Nasha Ukraine’) party. Yushchenko was backed by the United States and the European Union. Simply put, the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election was a relatively ‘non-violent’ version of the Russian-Western proxy war.

The United States is waging a secret but wide-ranging “political-psychological war” in Ukraine to win the election over its preferred candidate (Yushchenko). The tactics of this ‘war’ were to lead the movement with students and youth, to unite the opposition parties, and to use the media tactfully for the candidate of their choice.

The State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Agency for International Development, the International Republican Institute of the then-ruling Republican Party, and the Democratic National Party of the then-opposition Democratic National. The Freedom House, the Open Society Institute (now the Open Society Foundations) under the control of US billionaire George Soros, and, above all, the CIA are actively involved in this process.

Russia backed Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election

As part of this process, US-funded ‘Pora!’ (Ukrainian: Пора!) Or a youth organization called ‘Now is the time’. The organization has established 150 groups and 72 regional centers across Ukraine, and at least 30,000 young Ukrainian people are part of the organization. Officially, the organization’s goal was to build an anti-government “non-violent movement” in Ukraine and to develop a “national democracy.” In fact, the Americans behind the creation of this organization intended to use them to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

Under the indirect direction of the Americans, these groups use the Internet to campaign against the Ukrainian government. As part of this, they opened various websites and spread anti-government sentiments among the people through anti-government writings and mocking the government.

At the same time, the United States sought to unite Yushchenko’s party and other Ukrainian opposition groups against the Ukrainian government. As a result, Yushchenko’s ‘Nasha Ukraine’, Yulia Tymoshenko’s ‘Block Yulia Tymoshenko’ (Ukrainian: Блок Юлії Тимошенко) and Alexander Moroz’s ‘Socialist Party of Ukraine’ or ‘Socialist Party Partia Ukraine’ are formed in Ukraine. And the coalition-backed Yushchenko in the election. In addition, Ukrainian extremist nationalist parties have expressed support for Yushchenko in this election.

In addition, US-supervised Ukrainian opposition groups introduced a system of “parallel vote counting”. To this end, the National Democratic Institute and the Freedom House have trained more than 1,000 Ukrainians as election observers. In addition to the international observers of the 2004 election, the American-trained local observers also participated in the election. Externally, the goal of these local observers was to observe the conduct of the election. But in practice the purpose of deploying these observers was different. Their job was to declare the election transparent if the US-backed candidate (Yushchenko) won, and to accuse the election of “irregularities” and “fraud” if the unsupported US candidate (Yanukovych) won.

After all, US-trained local election observers also conduct ‘exit polls’, which determine which candidate is ahead based on voter opinion before the official election results are announced. The real purpose of the process was to create an impression among the Ukrainian public that US-backed candidates were ahead in the polls, even before the election results were officially announced. This was a psychological ploy since a candidate is leading in the polls after such an impression is created in the public mind that if a different candidate is declared the winner in the official result, then the supporters of the losing candidate naturally have the idea that their victory has been snatched by fraud.

If Yushchenko loses after all this, then the US strategy is as follows: In such a situation, the opposition will have to strongly reject the election results and hold mass protests against the Ukrainian government. Not only that, the level of anti-government movement must be intensified so that the Ukrainian government is forced to use force against the protesters. This will create sympathy among the masses towards the agitators and will widen the scope of the movement. In this situation, the Ukrainian government has no choice but to bow down.

It is not just the United States that has devised and implemented plans to ensure Yushchenko’s victory. They also provided a significant portion of the funds needed for this process. According to Scott McClellan, then head of the US presidential press service, between 2003 and 2004, Ukraine spent about 6 crores 50 lakhs (or 65 million) on “developing democracy” (ie, putting a pro-US government in power).

In addition, Boris Berezovsky, a British-based Russian billionaire, provided about 4 crores 50 Lakh (or 45 million) in funding for the “Orange Revolution.” It should be noted that Berezovsky had considerable influence over the Russian government in the 1990s, but after the rise of Vladimir Putin, Berezovsky lost his influence and was forced to flee Russia. As a result, he became Putin’s worst enemy, and this was the main reason behind his financing of the ‘Orange Revolution.

The US-led “political-psychological war” in Ukraine was not the first such US-led covert operation. The United States has conducted similar operations in various states since the nineteenth century. Following the rise of Putin in Russia (and before the 2004 elections in Ukraine), the United States conducted similar operations in the former Yugoslavia and Georgia, overthrowing the Russian-backed governments there. Such campaigns run by the United States in the media became known as the ‘color revolution’.

Ukraine’s Orange Revolution: Elections And The ‘Orange Revolution’

Orange Revolution: In the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election held in October 2004, Yushchenko received 39.9% of the vote and Yanukovych 39.26%. None of the candidates received 50% of the vote, so the second round of elections was held on 21 November between the two candidates with the highest number of votes, according to the Ukrainian constitution. An exit poll conducted by US-trained local election observers before the election claimed that Yushchenko was ahead of Yanukovych by 11%. But after the official results were announced, Yanukovych won 49.46% of the vote and Yushchenko 47.61% in the second round, meaning Yanukovych won.

In fact, in this election the division of Ukrainian society became clear. In both rounds, the majority of the people of eastern Ukraine voted for Yanukovych, while the majority of the people of western Ukraine voted for Yushchenko.

But soon after the election, activities began to be conducted according to the strategy formulated by the United States. Yushchenko refused to accept the election results, alleging that Yanukovych had won by fraud. Immediately after the election results were announced, supporters of Yushchenko in the capital, Kyiv, and in western Ukraine, began agitating against the Ukrainian government. Even Yushchenko was sworn in as President of Ukraine in the presence of members of his party only in the Ukrainian legislature.

There is no conclusive evidence that Yanukovych’s victory was actually rigged. But a large section of Ukraine’s pro-Western neo-elite oligarch was in favor of Yushchenko, and their controlled media was campaigning for Yushchenko and against Yanukovych. The political movement against Yanukovych became known as the ‘Orange Revolution’ (Ukrainian: Помаранчева революція, ‘Pomarancheva Revolutsia’; English: Orange Revolution) because the electoral color of Yushchenko’s party was orange.

US-controlled ‘Pora!’ Yushchenko’s supporters, led by members, staged intense anti-government protests. They began occupying or besieging various government buildings in various parts of Ukraine, including Kyiv. Local authorities in several provinces of western Ukraine have rejected the election results and expressed support for Yushchenko. In eastern Ukraine, Yanukovych’s supporters marched in his favor. But Yushchenko’s supporters are more violent than Yanukovych’s supporters, making it increasingly impossible for the Ukrainian government to run the state.

The United States and the European Union have supported Yushchenko since the beginning of the crisis. OSCE observers have claimed that the election was rigged and that the United States and the European Union have refused to accept the results. The United States has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Ukraine. EU member states have summoned their ambassadors from Ukraine to put pressure on the Ukrainian government. Even then-US senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton sent letters to the Norwegian Nobel Committee urging Yushchenko to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but their efforts failed.

On the other hand, CIS observers claim that the election was generally held in a transparent manner and that the CIS states such as Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan have congratulated Yanukovych as President. Rumors circulated among Ukrainian anti-government protesters that Russia would deploy troops to Ukraine to quell the protests. But the Ukrainian government and Russia quickly rejected the claim.

Russia favored Yanukovych, but the Ukrainian government did not have the capacity to intervene in the same way that the United States had deliberately created anti-government movements in Ukraine. Therefore, the Russian government’s response to the crisis was relatively mild. But opposition parties and the media inside Russia have sharply criticized the US-led crisis in Ukraine, with Gennady Juganov, secretary-general of the Communist Party of Russia’s largest opposition party, blaming US intelligence agencies for Ukraine’s “revolution” following a visit to Ukraine.

The Orange Revolution
Germans and Ukrainians protest against the Ukrainian government in Germany during the Orange Revolution

But the Ukrainian government was not interested in bloodshed and therefore refrained from using force to disperse the protesters. As a result, their position against the opposition was greatly weakened. The Ukrainian government finally backed down in the face of intense protests by Yushchenko supporters and intense pressure from the Western world. They annulled the results of the November 2004 election and called for re-election in December.

As a result of intense anti-government movement and propaganda, public opinion was leaning towards the opposition. As a result, Yushchenko won 51.99% of the vote and Yanukovych 44.2%, meaning that Yushchenko won. In January 2005, Yushchenko took over the presidency of Ukraine.

The new Ukrainian government claims that it has clear evidence that Yanukovych rigged the election and that it arrested members of the previous Ukrainian government. But in the end, none of them were brought to justice. That is, either the new Ukrainian government had no evidence of rigged elections, or they secretly reached an agreement with the defendants.

Appendix

The new Ukrainian government under Yushchenko adopted a sharp anti-Russian foreign policy and initiated closer ties with the Western world. Yushchenko pushed for Ukraine’s accession to NATO, rejected the proposal to make Russian the second state language of Ukraine, voted against extending the lease of the Russian naval base in Crimea, sharply criticized the Soviet regime in Ukraine and the Ukrainian allies who allied themselves with World War II. But by 2008, the ongoing global economic crisis hit Ukraine, and the economic situation in Ukraine worsened.

Moreover, a sharp power struggle began between Yushchenko’s political ally during the Orange Revolution and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Under these circumstances, Yushchenko’s popularity plummeted.

The next presidential election in Ukraine was held in January 2010. In this election, Yushchenko suffered a crushing defeat, and Yanukovych won the presidency of Ukraine. But in 2013–14, with the direct intervention of the United States and the Western world, a new revolution/coup took place in Ukraine, which plunged Ukraine into a protracted political crisis, which is still ongoing.

The Orange Revolution Documentary

FAQs

Q. When did the Orange Revolution start?

A. 22 November 2004

Q. Where is Ukraine?

A. Ukraine, is a country located in eastern Europe.

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