0
By Ray Fleming l THERE have been many disappointments in Ukraine since the heady days of the Orange Revolutionm 15 months ago when vast crowds in the centre of Kiev braved bitter cold for days on end to ensure that a fraudulent presidential election would be re-run with victory going to the Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko and his glamorous political associate Yuliya Tymoshenko. The extent of the disappointment is most easily measured by the fact that for today's parliamentary elections the party of the deposed pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who has now adopted a more open political approach, is leading in the polls on 30 per cent while both president Yushchenko's party on 20 per cent and Yuliya Tymoshenko's on 17 per cent are trailing. If these figures are reflected in today's voting it will be a remarkable comeback for Yanukovych. But perhaps it was inevitable that the euphoric atmosphere of the Orange Revolution would be deflated by the hard realities of government of a country still trying to establish its independence from Russian influence. Unfortunately the partnership of Yushchenko as president and Yuliya Tymoshenko as prime minister did not work well and he dismissed her after a few months, claiming that she had no control over finances. At the same time his overtures towards the European Union and even to Nato which he had advertised in his revolutionary speeches were received coolly in Brussels. The expansion of the EU from 15 to 25 countries had proved unpopular in the French and Danish constitutional referendums and the moment was unpropitious for additional newcomers. Then came this winter's reality of Russia's continuing hold over Ukraine for its energy supplies. However the good news is that the Ukrainian people's attachment to democracy has not diminished. More than seven thousand candidates of forty-five parties are fighting today's election for four hundred and fifty parliamentary seats and city centres are awash with a kaleidoscope of political colours. The Ukrainians won their democratic rights the hard way and will not easily relinquish them now.