The man who’s even less popular than Gordon Brown


From MRzine:

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine, which began with a dispute over the 21 November 2004 run-off vote between the leading presidential candidates, ended by installing Viktor Yushchenko, the Western favorite who cried fraud, into presidency on 23 January 2005. Ian Traynor of the Guardian put the price tag of the Orange Revolution at about $14 million. [1]

So, what is the Ukrainian opinion of Orange Revolutionaries today, a little over four years after the Orange victory? According to Gallup, it is, to put it mildly, jaundiced:

Eighty-five percent of Ukrainians in May told Gallup they disapprove of the job performance of their country’s leadership, up from 75% in 2008 and 73% in 2007. The 4% of Ukrainians who approve is not only the lowest rating Gallup has ever measured in former Soviet countries, but also the lowest in the world. (emphasis added, “Approval Ratings in Ukraine, Russia Highlight Differences,” Gallup, 31 July 2009)



That’s the voice of the people whose leadership came to power through a color revolution. In contrast, the top Russian leaders — who didn’t come to power through the same colorful path and are actually known for their vigorous opposition to color revolutions — apparently enjoy high levels of popular support, according to the same Gallup survey.


Orange Questions

. . . for imperialists:

“Isn’t ‘democracy assistance’ for color revolutionaries a waste of money?” [2]

. . . for leaders of nations bombarded with “democracy assistance”:

“Isn’t the best way to make the opposition unpopular sometimes to put them into power?”

. . . for opposition leaders favored by the West:

“Isn’t the quickest path to the dustbin of history to vault into power, leveraged by ‘democracy assistance,’ without knowing how to run anything bigger than your little political faction?”

[1] FYI, the FY 2009 funding for the “governing democratically and justly” programs targeting Iran is $65 million: “The $65 million for Iran is equal to roughly one-third of the FY 2009 funding allocated for the entire sub-Saharan African region, excluding Sudan” (David Price, “Global Democracy Promotion: Seven Lessons for the New Administration,” The Washington Quarterly, January 2009).

[2] E.g., “USAID has spent well over $9 billion over the past two decades to promote democratic governance in more than 100 countries. For the past few years, the annual investment in USAID democracy assistance programs has grown to about $1 billion dollars, and the median budget for such countries is now approximately $5 million” (US AID, “Initiatives to Improve Evaluation of USAID DG Assistance Programs: Strategic and Operational Research Agenda [SORA]“). And that is just one US government agency, not counting others, let alone NGOs, real or nominal. By the way, do you know what Freedom House is saying about the Barack Obama administration’s “democracy assistance” budget: “Freedom House is encouraged by the request to increase funding for democracy and human rights by nine percent at this critical time” (emphasis added, “Administration Takes Strong First Step with Democracy Budget Request,” Freedom House, 1 July 2009)?

There should be food for thought here for exponents of colour revolutions. If such was not an ideological position impervious to argument.


  1. skidmarx said,

    August 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Approval ratings are a fairly indirect measure.And no account is taken of the divide in the former opposition since it came to power.
    Here’s an opinion poll from last year:
    Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko would not even make the runoff if the Ukraine held a presidential election at the moment, the National Institute for Strategic Studies said on Thursday. The institute’s poll showed Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko top with 24.2 percent of respondents saying they would vote for her, followed by opposition Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovich with 20.7 percent. Only 9.7 percent of respondents said they supported Mr Yushchenko.
    It would seem that much of the Orange support has gone to Timoshenko. It is not surprising that a substantial section of voters, based mainly in the mainly-Russian speaking East Ukraine didn’t vote Orange before, generally laments the split from Russia and isn’t likely to vote Orange in the foreseeable future.

    It’s also not a shock that with the renewed strength of Russia, Putin has had plenty of opportunity to manufacture consent for his policies.

  2. Mark P said,

    August 12, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Skidmarx, the survey posted by our esteemed host actually includes Timoshenko as well. Her satisfaction rating is 12%, which is better than that of Yuschenko, but not much of an accomplishment in its own right.

  3. skidmarx said,

    August 12, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Approval ratings on Obama healthcare plans have dropped from 69% to 54% in the last six months (I quote from memory). Does this mean that 1 in 7 Americans have changed their minds on reform? What I’m pointing out first is that approval ratings measure something far more nebulous than voting intention. Are those measured saying that they have realtively low confidence in Yuschenko or Timoshenko because they now disagree with their policies, or because they have been unable to put them into effect? We’ll not find out from this data.

    The post is suggesting viewing the Ukraine in only one dimension: whether US support and popularity go together. Perhaps somewhat relevant is the depth of the economic crisis in the Ukraine, with Wikipedia reporting The World Bank expects Ukraine’s economy is to shrink 15% in 2009[4] with inflation being 16.4%.Apparently only the Icelandic krona and the Seychelles rupee have sunk further against the US dollar.The construction of a new gas pipeline to Europe bypassing Ukraine would be one reason why those thinking a rapprochement with Russia is necessary.
    I’m reminded of those who point to the opposition in Georgia to suggest that the Saakashvili government had no support in the war against Russia, when most of the opposition in fact supported the war.

  4. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 12, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Most of them supported the war when it was on, yes. Doesn’t stop them trading on the fact that Saakashvili started an adventuristic war and then made a comprehensive pig’s ear of it.

    As for the Tymoshenko factor… west Ukraine isn’t likely to vote for the mostly Russophone PR or KPU any time soon. All the same, you wonder if the US approach of encouraging an ethnically-based anti-Russian politic in Ukraine – as opposed to the pre-Orange approach of inclusive civic nationalism – looks quite as bright an idea as it did three or four years ago. And as in Ukraine, so also in Latvia and Estonia.

  5. ejh said,

    August 12, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    You’ll be doing German politics tomorrow morning?

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 12, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Warum nicht? Zu dieser Thema koennte ich euch totquatschen. 🙂

    In fact, I have an essay on Oswald Spengler I’ve been meaning to complete for ages. But maybe that would be too rich fare.

  7. skidmarx said,

    August 13, 2009 at 9:33 am

    All the same, you wonder if the Russian approach of encouraging an ethnical Russian based politic in the near abroad will look quite as bright an idea in three or four years time.

  8. skidmarx said,

    August 13, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Slightly off-topic, I was watching Russia Today a couple of days ago, where one commentator was speculating that the cargo ship that’s gone walkabout since it passed through the English Channel may have been carrying something other than lumber. Now the Russians have sent five warships looking for it I wonder if the cargo was something more sensitive than even RT was suggesting.

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