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2nd Orange anniversary a low-key affair
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Nov. 22 - Ukraine marked the second anniversary of its so-called Orange Revolution in a low-key manner Wednesday, as groups planned small gatherings in Independence Square, focal point of the 2004 mass demonstrations that led to President Viktor Yushchenko taking office.

Yushchenko was hosting a reception at the presidential palace and planned a television address.

Ukrainians elated by the protests now express frustration that they changed little in post-Soviet political intrigues.

"There was an absence of decisive steps right after the revolution. So much time was lost," said Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, lead singer of Okean Elzy, a band which actively supported the revolutionary cause.

"We thought the whole system would change, that the political elite would be purified of all dubious figures," said journalist Hryhory Vagapov, according to Reuters. "That didn't happen."

Yushchenko defeated arch rival Viktor Yanukovich in the rerun poll and set out to move Ukraine closer to the West, with membership one day of the European Union and NATO.

But eight months later, his team was riven by disputes and he sacked firebrand Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his close ally.

Last August, he named Yanukovich as prime minister after "orange" parties suffered a setback in a parliamentary election and were unable to form a government after four months of talks.

Yushchenko says he is not to blame for the collapse of his team and blames "excessive ambitions," a clear reference to Tymoshenko. Interviewed on the eve of the anniversary, he backed a "new political project," a party to unite divided liberals.

"My goal is to stimulate and consolidate democratic forces. They have been estranged for many years," he said.

An opinion poll this week gave Yushchenko a 30 percent approval rating against 52 in the 2004 election. But it also showed a dip in support for Yanukovich's Moscow-friendly Regions Party since it took over government in August.

Yanukovich has challenged the president's authority, exploiting reductions in presidential power under changes to the constitution approved at the height of the 2004 protests.

Parliament tried to sack ministers loyal to the president. Yanukovich told NATO in Brussels in September that lack of public support ruled out fast-track membership for Ukraine.

The president hopes to overturn the constitutional amendments, which he says make Ukraine difficult to govern.

Tymoshenko, speaking on Tuesday in Brussels, backed his call and said only new parliamentary elections could end the impasse.

"We see this as a temporary period which will end with the return to power of democratic forces supported by the public," she told the European Policy Centre think-tank. (rt/ez)




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