Reed Magazine May 2004
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Community organizing takes form

Politically, I could tell that Ukraine had entered a new crisis as reformers and their allies in the media faced increasing authoritarianism and repression. Thousands of peaceful demonstrators called for the removal of then-President Leonid Kuchma, who had been implicated in the violent death of a reporter, as well as election rigging, suppressing the media, and other forms of corruption. Kuchma retaliated and while the demonstrations faltered, important changes were taking place that were creating the foundations of the Orange Revolution: an active community of politically engaged citizens was forming.

I was particularly impressed by a small but growing network of citizens who participated in a broad variety of community groups. Nila, for example, was a research scientist and single parent of four teenagers. Her salary (equivalent to $57 a month) was not enough to buy milk on a daily basis, and she spent many weekends traveling hours by train and foot to tend the garden that she relied on for most of her family's meals. Nila also made time to be active in a mnumber of civic groups and was a founding member of a small Ukrainian Orthodox parish.

Nila, like many pro-reform minded people I met in 2001, was helping build Ukraine's civil society. It was these people who created the public leverage in 2004 that enabled the Orange Revolution's participants to overcome Ukraine's corrupt government.


Internet links

Elections in Ukraine

International Support for Ukrainian Democracy

Ukrainian Presidential Elections - 2nd Round Preliminary Report

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Reed Magazine May