Scrupulous chronicle of Ukraine’s successful and bloodless mass demonstration, which in late 2004 proved that protest and civil disobedience can topple a corrupt regime.
In his first book, veteran journalist Krushelnycky captures the real-time suspense of a story whose outcome we already know by vividly characterizing the multiple parties and perspectives involved. We see the view from Putin’s Kremlin; from inside then-presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko’s camp; from Independence Square with Pora, the youth-centered opposition organization instrumental in organizing the first protests; and abreast of various figures and characters who formed the jigsaw puzzle of participation in or around Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution.” Krushelnycky successfully navigates rapid-fire narrative shifts between these groups by continually making connections between action and reaction, cause and effect. The book is not solely a political history, however. The son of Ukrainians who emigrated separately to England after World War II and married there in 1952, Krushelnycky also tells the story of his family’s participation in the fight for national unity and independence, providing a comprehensive history of Ukraine from World War I onward. Firsthand reporting and interviews with major players in the 2004 uprising combine to make a compelling case for the Ukrainians’ need to take to the streets to secure democratic rights. The author examines the failed assassination of Yushchenko and paints a technicolor portrait of the students, war veterans and intelligentsia who came to the capital in Kyiv to test their mettle by standing up to both a corrupt Ukrainian government and Soviet hegemony. He also shows the utter arrogance and contempt for ordinary citizens of Ukraine’s ruling party, “tight communist networks mutated into powerful oligarchic clans where government, corrupt business and organised crime intersected.”
A rich, multifaceted and complex account of Ukraine’s often tumultuous and tragic past, along with its newly minted democratic ideals.