Sunday, January 3, 2010

Democracy Not Worth It, Says Presidential Candidate

It's kind of disturbing when a presidential candidate questions the whole point of democracy, but that's basically what Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych did last week. During an interview with the Associated Press last week Yanukovych said that he thought Ukraine's pro-democracy "Orange Revolution" in 2004 wasn't worth the upheaval it cost for the country.

The whole Orange Revolution was sparked in the first place by Yanukovych's attempts to rig the results in the 2004 presidential election. Eventually the massive street protests would see his challenger Viktor Yushchenko swept into power. But the promises of the Orange Revolution have turned out to be hollow for many Ukrainians. The government has spent the past few years in virtual gridlock as the camps of President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko fought for control over the nation. Meanwhile Ukraine has suffered badly during the global recession; the economy has contracted by 15% this year alone, while they've relied on billions in loans from the International Monetary Fund just to keep their currency afloat.

The situation is so bad that Yanukovych is now leading in the polls for the presidential elections to be held later this month. He's pledging to nix membership in NATO and to rebuild relations with Russia - ideas that are playing well in eastern Ukraine, which has a large ethnic Russian population, while causing unease in western (and pro-Western) Ukraine. His main challenger is PM Tymoshenko, who Yanukovych has been slamming for allowing Ukraine's government to become corrupt and ineffective.

"Democracy is above all rule of law," Yaunkovych said to the AP. "In these five years we have seen how the laws have been systematically broken, how the principles of the law have been replaced by political expediency."

Tymoshenko and Yanukovych will likely face off in a run-off election in February.
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