A year on, Ukraine's democracy is showing results
Viktor Yushchenko looks back on a year of democracy in Ukraine. Messy and quarrelsome, democracy is alive and well one year after the orange demonstrations in the snows on the Maidan of Kyiv.
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Last year, as families throughout Europe celebrated winter holidays, millions of Ukrainians rose up against a discredited regime in what became known as the Orange Revolution. That peaceful and bloodless uprising against election fraud came to a close last December 26. Voters chose European democratic values and elected me as independent Ukraine's third president.
Belief remains that the Orange Revolution will change Ukrainian society. Politicians offering illusions about simple solutions wrapped in populist rhetoric have lost trust. Yet, citizens expected and this year we began delivering policies that provoked a new political, economic and social discourse within our country. The competition of ideas and sometimes disorderly nature of democracy is testament to a vibrant young nation that is steadily evolving.
On our path will be the rise and fall of political parties, alliances and coalitions. My challenge is to ensure that each of them contributes towards realising those hopes, values and ideals that provoked my countrymen to rise against a despotic regime. While it is impossible to transform instantaneously a country of 47m, significant and irreversible changes, unthinkable 12 months ago, have been implemented.
First, we instituted the basic freedoms of speech and assembly, which replaced media censorship and planned democracy. A policy dialogue was established with citizen groups. Only informed and empowered constituency groups can make the difficult choices required to transform a closed society into a competitive nation.