Wednesday, July 06, 2005

From Ukraine on the Orange Revolution

Apparently, my sister has forgotten to change the password settings which still allows me to post! (Lucky, lucky YOU!)

Am no longer in Indonesia - PRAISE THE LORD! - but am in Ukraine and thought I would send an update on the scene here from the U.S.’s new best friend - sorry UK.

I was last here in November, immediately prior to the second election of orange revolution fame, and was curious if upon return I would find the country different…well, at all. I have to admit that I was skeptical. The U.S. is notorious for getting behind the revolution du jour and then forgetting about it while the new government slides into the same corrupt pit into which the last one lived. Then, six or so years later, we rise indignant shaking our head and wagging our finger and help a new government ascend the throne. It’s a beautiful system, actually, we feel good about ourselves and isn’t that what’s important? I digress…

The question remains how is the orange revolution doing six months on? And, in my opinion the answer is, surprisingly well. The first noticeable change was at the airport where passport/customs control operated like a civilized group of human beings rather than a thuggish group of hoodlums. EU citizens don’t even need visas in the summer months. Orange is still everywhere, on buildings, on scarfs, in kiosks, on flags, on clothes. Investigations are being carried out into shady business deals from the previous government. The currency has stabilized and is strong against the dollar. Yushenko (the funny looking guy who was poisoned and then elected) has cleaned house - even the social services people with whom we deal are new. The last thing - and the hardest to quantify but the easiest to notice - is that people are less afraid. A sort of apathetic gloom that has pervaded the atmosphere for at least 10 years has lifted. Things just ’seem’ more open, happier. Obviously, none of the things I’ve mentioned are significant policy changes or promising hard data on improvement but as a barometer for how the country is doing I’ll say it’s on the better side of good.

So what does it all mean? Well, it means that Ukraine is going somewhere. And, most importantly, that somewhere is not Russia. A friend of mine referred to a recent article she’d read that said Kyiv is the new Prague. I think that sums up quite a lot. Ukraine, at the moment, sees it’s future with Europe rather than Russia. Hopefully, it will get all the help it needs to carry on down that path.

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