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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Having come to power, you should have wielded it”

A few embarrassing questions on the eve of the Orange Revolution anniversary
14 November, 2006 - 00:00

Take me across the maidan,
Where I used to sing all the songs I know.
I will sink into silence and pass away.
Take me across the maidan.


One year ago they could still get together. It was “the same” weather and “the same” people, and even Viktor Yushchenko, the “key to the door of freedom” (Yurii Lutsenko’s metaphor), was in league with them. And although they enjoyed less trust, they still stood a chance of improving the situation.

Today, having lost almost everything, they continue to write various “scenarios” of a certain festive period. Roman Bezsmertny was the first to publicize his notes. He said “a scenario of Freedom Day is being completed,” which has Yushchenko “coming onto the stage and addressing the Maidan.” To tell the truth, the Presidential Secretariat was very surprised by Bezsmertny’s plans.

As it turns out, they are drafting a scenario of their own. So far only Yulia Tymoshenko is not drafting anything, although she has already announced that she will never appear on the same Maidan together with Bezsmertny. One month ago Tymoshenko’s fellow party man Mykola Tomenko suggested that the Ukrainian people should celebrate the Orange Revolution’s second anniversary without politicians. “The Orange Revolution is a social event, not a political one. But since the politicians failed to meet the people’s expectations, the people should mark this event without the former,” he said. There is a lot of common sense in these words.

We asked The Day’s experts if it is a good idea to observe the Orange Revolution’s anniversary now. We also posed two eternal questions: who is to blame for what happened and what is to be done?

Prof. Yuri SHAPOVAL, Ph.D. (History):

“Of course, in the conditions of the current diarchy, it is improper and, I would say, a bit shameful to noisily celebrate the Orange Revolution anniversary. The Donetsk team hates the Orange Maidan, while those who sang with their hands on their hearts on Independence Square in November 2004 have now betrayed that Maidan. They have devalued the Maidan, its slogans, and values.

“Yet, in spite of this devaluation, some will be marking the anniversary — those who stood on the Maidan in November 2004 not FOR the personal victory of the current president of Ukraine but AGAINST the former leadership, against deceit, rigging, and falsification. I strongly believe that the Maidan taught our society, especially intellectuals, a lot of things — first of all, to rely on our own strength. It taught us not to fear the government and to speak the truth. This is the most important lesson to be remembered as often as possible, irrespective of the anniversary of those dramatic and fateful events.

“From the perspective of the fall and early winter of 2004, we are now living through a counterrevolution. The Orange-camp windbags (the do-gooders who seemed to be forming an Orange coalition for three months but never succeeded) are certain to lose to the ‘tough guys’ from Donetsk. Why? Because the latter know what they want, whereas the Orange ones are unlikely to understand what they should have done and what they should never do from now on. Naturally, President Yushchenko is the one who bears the greatest blame, for he has forgotten, among other things, the axiom, ‘The retinue plays the king.’ It is Yushchenko to whom the question ‘What is to be done?’ should be addressed above all. Well, I am prepared to prompt him with the answer: ‘Having come to power, you should have wielded it.’”

Myroslav POPOVYCH, philosopher, corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and director of the Institute of Philosophy:

“I think celebrations are out of place right now. Of course, all the gains of the revolution have not been lost — freedom still exists. But, still, there is nothing to exult over.

“Who is to blame? — naturally, specific people. But I would not like to pass judgment now. As for ‘What is to be done,’ this is really an important and interesting question. We have in fact only one way out: to go to the polls and elect those who are worthy of being supported. No public rallies or mass protests will ever produce a good result. One should just do one’s everyday work.

“Undoubtedly, the Orange Revolution was one of the brightest episodes in the lives of many people. This applies even to me, although I am not a young man at all and have been around. The same applies to my granddaughter and my whole family: this was a fairy tale.

“It is also very important to understand that it was not some specific people or political forces but democracy in the finest sense of the word from which the Maidan drew its true inspiration. It was democracy that gave a springtime flavor to that fall event. And it is unforgettable that absolutely different people stood up for freedom.”

“But, unfortunately, this also caused the ensuing rift. The former allies stopped understanding each other. But it is not their lack of understanding that will determine our future but the call to freedom that we all heard at the time.”

Dmytro OSTROVERKH, World War II veteran, retired lieutenant-colonel (Kharkiv):

“I think we should celebrate the second anniversary of the Orange Revolution. Otherwise, people will gradually forget what they fought for. Ordinary people need this celebration for mental equilibrium: some of them still hope that the Orange Revolution will continue and have a logical end. As a matter of fact, the revolution took place but produced no positive results. The coalition and almost the entire cabinet are devoid of ‘Orange people.’ Only the president remains, but he has no real impact on the situation, especially in the economy.

“If there is no celebration, this will adversely affect most of the people who still believe in the ideals for which they fought. Sooner or later, this will find its expression in the next elections. Then this revolution will have different consequences. In my view, the people long for what they have not yet achieved, so a true revolution is still ahead. One should not necessarily organize a gaudy extravaganza — the main thing is that people should become aware that the current society and circumstances are the consequences not of the Orange Revolution but of its failure. People should not become disillusioned.

“Who is to blame for what happened? — the Orange people and the opposition. The revolutionary leaders failed to turn their power to advantage, put things in order, and put the revolution’s ideals into practice. Time was lost and no concrete actions were taken. The opposition also bears the blame, but to a lesser extent: they took advantage of the Orange government’s mistakes, and they did not even have to make a major effort to form a majority in both parliament and the cabinet, as well as in the regions. They had not even dreamed of receiving such a gift. “In Kyivan Rus’ times, princes could not come to a common conclusion even when they were being attacked by the enemy. Now, too, the Orange leadership has missed its chance. To implement the Orange Revolution’s gains, there must be a strong leader who would sometimes even have to go against the Constitution in order to achieve the goal that the people set on the Maidan. Yushchenko proved to be too soft a president. “If our legislation is to be strictly obeyed, there will be no Orange revolutions or changes. Everything is so tangled and eroded by corruption that nothing can be achieved in a lawful way. We must wait for the time when strong-willed and strong-spirited people come to lead the Orange movement. There are such people in PORA, the BYuT, and some other political forces. Our people are now so inactive politically that they will do nothing for themselves in the provinces until the highest echelons of government launch tough actions to implement the Orange ideas.”

Prof. Olena STIAZHKINA , Ph.D. (History), Department of the History of the Slavs, Donetsk National University:

“A holiday is always a good thing. People adopt a reverent attitude to the past in which they played the main role. Some people, who are more sentimental, observe ‘the day of the first date,’ while others, who are less sentimental, wait for Father Frost on New Year’s Eve.

“For many people the Maidan is the first date with themselves, when they saw themselves in a new capacity; in a way, it is also expectation of Father Frost (not to be confused with Oleksandr Moroz (‘frost’ in Ukrainian — Ed.)).

“Is it necessary to celebrate? I think so. Of course, the Maidan is not a holiday for everyone. Such things do happen. For example, eastern Ukraine loved International Women’s Day, while western Ukraine preferred Mother’s Day. But did this make somebody worse? The point is that a celebration should not be an excuse for a quarrel, for a new rift.”

Volodymyr HAZIN, Associate Professor, Kamianets-Podilsky State University:

“Of course, in the current conditions it is impossible to organize celebrations of the Orange Revolution’s anniversary. And is this really necessary?

“First of all, two years ago the Maidan brought together only part of Ukrainian society (although, in my opinion, the most progressive and patriotic one). And no matter what we think about the then and current ‘white-and-blue’ electorate (supporters of Yanukovych — Ed.) it has the right to have its own outlooks and vision of those events, which, naturally, it considers anything but festive. Second, the power is now, unfortunately, in the hands of those who are striving not to celebrate the fact of the Ukrainian nation’s awakening but to take revenge and erase the memories of the triumph of the spirit as soon as possible. And third, our leaders’ attempts to mark a certain date officially very often turn into a farce: officialese only kills the best ideas and intentions.

“In all probability, the Orange Revolution anniversary is a holiday for those who thronged the streets of Kyiv and other cities — from Lviv to Kamianets-Podilsky and Chernihiv — for those who managed to overcome their inherent fear of the authorities and dared to rise up against lies, corruption, and contempt for our people. In those days people took to the streets not just for Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Poroshenko, Moroz, and Co. What brought the people together was a sincere desire finally to see Ukraine a free, democratic, and affluent state. All the people felt pride in themselves and the person standing next to them.

“Today, the Maidan electorate is deeply disappointed — of course, not with the ideals for which they stood, defying the bitter cold and snow. They are obviously disgruntled with the fact that the actors on the Maidan stage have not met the expectations and hopes of this electorate. The enormous vote of confidence and major opportunities for implementing the proclaimed slogans were forgotten and stupidly lost.

“Maybe there should be a holiday — but only a holiday for those who were the revolution’s chief motive force. This should be a stern warning to those in power today. They should understand that Ukrainians are a proud and freedom-loving nation.

“I think the ‘Orange events’ of 2004 were just the first stage of the revolutionary changes that are bound to engulf Ukraine. Only then will we understand the historic significance of the Maidan, and this holiday will assume the exalted place that it truly deserves, like Bastille Day in the history of France.

“Current events should be a lesson for everybody. There’s nothing you can do about it: it is our destiny to learn from our own mistakes.”