History in the Making
The political events in the months of November and December 2004 in Ukraine are so important for the fact that they changed the course of history in Ukraine. It all started with the presidential election on November 21, 2004 and culminated in a democratic struggle, later to be known as the Orange Revolution, to rewrite history and the determination of Ukrainians to take their own future in their own hands. It was a battle the people of Ukraine fought boldly and won. It was a battle they needed to start, engineer, keep on the front burner every moment of the day and which they fought with great pains and sacrifice. It was a battle that rallied the young and the old in an attempt - as some of them put it - to "secure their future and the future of their children". The Orange Revolution eventually attracted the support and interests of the West and Western nations days after the people had begun to do something.
The people of Ukraine realized the need to sacrifice now and reap the rewards later. They knew who their enemies were and boldly confronted the post-Soviet monsters among them who were hell bent on keeping the people and the nation down, bound to its destructive Soviet past. They followed the victories and histories already made in the Eastern block by Yugoslavia, Georgia, and Romania, each with its own heroic citizenry and big name villains. No democratic struggle can succeed where the people are divided and where self- and sectional interests are prodded and held up above the collective good and development of the people. To secure their future and the future of their children and grandchildren, thousands of seniors and elders braved the brutal cold and the more brutal police and secret service of the incumbent pro-Kremlin Kuchma government.
The struggle to usher in a new dispensation in Ukraine began with the presidential elections early in November 2004. By November 21, both Viktor Yuschenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych claimed victory but International observers and election monitors from around the world condemned the elections and insisted that Viktor Yuschenko was leading, noting that the elections fell short of democratic standards. Within hours on November 22, 2004, Kiev's Independence Square was filled with hundreds of thousands demonstrators who came out in the cold to show their support for the opposition, Viktor Yuschenko. This was the beginning of the Orange Revolution.
Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan) became the epicenter and rallying point for the democratic struggle in Ukraine and marked a new beginning in the struggle to break from the past. The masses of Ukraine took their future in their own hands. They had a running battle with security forces but stood their ground. The sight was pitiable with the young and the old exposed to the brutal cold of winter to demand a new order. In spite of the freezing temperatures, over 200,000 people turned out at the Independence Square on November 25, 2004 to celebrate the decision of the Supreme Court, which refused to ratify the inauguration of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych until the court has considered an appeal of the elections.
A major twist in the democratic struggle in Ukraine came on November 27 when over 700,000 opposition supporters packed into Kiev's Independence Square and surrounded the parliament building. An emergency session of the Ukrainian parliament later that day declared the presidential election results invalid and expressed no confidence in the elections commission. This was a major victory for the Orange Revolution and it marked the beginning of a new democratic dawn in Ukraine.
December 1, 2004 was a special day in the life of the nation of Ukraine. On that day the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove current Ukrainian Prime Minister Yanukovych and his cabinet with a motion of non-confidence. At the same time about 400,000 protesters, spending their 10th night in the street, celebrated with fireworks. While Yanukovych refused to accept the vote, he non-the-less agreed with his challenger and nemesis, Viktor Yuschenko on rules for continued protests: no violence and no more blocking of government buildings. The democratic and electoral miracles in Ukraine had taken its toll on the people of this East European nation. A nation anxious to cut the umbilical cord that binds it to dictatorship and non-democratic tradition of imposed Kuchma leadership.
The coming together of the people for a noble and national course contributed in no small measure to the success that was achieved in Ukraine. When the rerun election was held on December 26, 2004 there were more than 13,000 International election observers from around the world to help conduct the election, among them nearly one thousand from Canada led by a former Canadian Prime Minister. The struggle in Ukraine attracted Lech Walesa, himself a former opposition and labor union leader.
The Polish Nobel Prize-winner Walesa told the crowd at the Independence Square he's confident of success. "I am here in Ukraine to help find a way out of a difficult situation. All my life I was fighting for freedom and democracy and my battles culminated in success." International diplomacy has played a significant part in helping Ukraine and its people to fulfill their destiny, but that was after the people have played their roles very well. Civil disobedience has been used as a weapon to force change and to bring about a new political order.
At the end of the rerun election, the opposition leader, Viktor Yuschenko was declared the winner of the election and the Orange Revolution has been acknowledged as a huge success. A people that bond together will build together and win together, and together they will defeat their enemies and achieve greatness. The people of Ukraine have done that exceptionally well and in the process earned the respect and admiration of the whole world.