Monday, March 07, 2005

Postcard from Ukraine 

Our sometime guest blogger and roving international correspondent Dan Foty reports from Ukraine in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution (which, like yellow fever, seems to be quite contagious lately):

I was in western Ukraine (L'viv and the Transcarpathian region) on business last week. I wasn't there for political reasons of course, but it was still interesting to be there to see the state of affairs following the "Orange Revolution."

There was a lot of interest in whether or not Americans even had heard about it; while it was going on, actually, I was in almost daily e-mail contact with friends in L'viv and was telling them that it was the lead story almost every night on the American network news.

My main concerns, though, were that the Ukrainians might succumb to two problems which tend to blight "revolutions" of various sorts - 1) An over-investment in a belief that a charismatic leader can magically overcome all problems immediately (followed by an unpleasant backlash when that doesn't happen); 2) A revolution becomes "permanent" with horrid consequences (which is usually the case). The pleasant surprise on these counts was the basic sense of "normalcy" which pervaded everything. On the first count, there seemed to be no expectations that Mr. Yushchenko and his team will be instantaneous miracle workers; the sense I got was that this was all very straightforward - he was the legitimate majority choice in the voting and this verdict must be respected. On the second count, it was as if the "revolution" had been done right - having achieved its objectives, the revolution disbanded and went home. There was still some spray-painted wall-graffiti in L'viv "Yushchenko - President" (L'viv is about the most "orange" part of the country), and when we were strolling down the "main drag" in central L'viv (Shevchenko Prospekt) last Sunday you could still see a few faded orange ribbons tied in tree branches; my friends told me that back in December all the trees were gratuitously festooned with orange ribbons.

This was actually nice to see, since "permanent" revolutions have a bad habit of eating their children (and everyone else within reach). But I guess that Ukrainians have learned from the past 100 or so years about that - all too well.

Lots of interesting - and bizarre - stuff happening in Ukraine right now - check out
the update at Bloggledygook (hat tip: Instapundit). Elsewhere in the world, Publius Pundit keeps track of democratic movements and revolutions - here's the latest from Moldova (ain't politics great to teach you about geography?).


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