STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Back in the winter of 2004, thousands of people took to the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev. They overturned a tainted election and they hoped for a new, democratic Ukraine. Now theres another election with 18 candidates standing for president. So what about the dreams of all those protestors? It seems theyve been lost to political infighting and economic decline. Heres NPR David Greene from Kiev.
(Soundbite of crowd cheering)
DAVID GREENE: The sounds from those cold nights in Kievs Independence Square still seem to echo through the streets. The man who symbolized the revolution for Westerners was Viktor Yushchenko, his face left green and pockmarked by a mysterious poisoning. He became president.
Prime Minister YULIA TYMOSHENKO (Ukraine): (Foreign language spoken)
GREENE: But thats the voice people here remember: his ally, Yulia Tymoshenko. she stole the show. Join us in the streets, she told the crowd, until a fair election is held.
Were you standing there in the square back in 2004 when Tymoshenko was up there talking and...
Ms. SVETLANA OSIPCHUK: Yes. Yes. I saw her. I saw them all. It was exciting.
GREENE: Thats a voice from today. Twenty-four-year-old Svetlana Osipchuk was in Kiev this week at the university where she gathered with other students five years ago. Here's how she's feeling as the new election looms.
Ms. TYMOSHENKO: The unity of 2004 is broken now.
GREENE: That unity broke quickly. After taking office, President Yushchenko made Tymoshenko prime minister. But the two soon became rivals. And today, many of their ardent supporters say the economy's in bad shape, the politics remain corrupt, and that revolutionary spirit seems gone. They blame Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.
Although both of them are candidates in Sunday's vote, Svetlana, for her part, says she won't vote for either of them. Still, she looks back to 2004 with no regret.
Ms. TYMOSHENKO: This aim was good. This aim was positive. This aim was a declaration of something new for our country, because it gave us a great democratic experience. And we could repeat it. And they know that we could repeat it.
GREENE: Mixed emotions are easy to find in Kiev these days.
Mr. NAZAR PERVAK (Attorney): (Foreign language spoken)
GREENE: Nazar Pervak is an attorney. The 27-year-old was also a student in 2004, and he recalls stuffing wads of newspaper beneath his T-shirt, because he feared the army would start firing rubber bullets. His bravery, though, has turned to embarrassment now. He says the leaders he brought to power have shown their greatest skill is bickering.
But if he has lost faith in politics, he points to changes in Ukraine that he does like.
Mr. PERVAK: (Through Translator) Before 2004, people, especially those working in state institutions, were afraid to show their political and social views in public. Now it has changed. The people are more open and not afraid.
GREENE: Nazar said he's not worried, even if the upcoming election turns back the Orange Revolution. The candidate leading in some polls is Viktor Yanukovych, the target of the Orange Revolution. He was the winner of that rigged election back in 2004. He still has significant backing in eastern Ukraine and a realistic chance to stage a comeback and turn the results of that popular revolt upside down.
(Soundbite of bells)
GREENE: That would be tough to swallow for another person on Kiev's Independence Square, Maria Moshkovska.
Ms. MARIA MOSHKOVSKA: This is one of the biggest monuments and the central monument which we have seen during Orange Revolution.
GREENE: She pointed out exactly where she stood in 2004. Like so many veterans of the Orange Revolution, she's been frustrated by all the political infighting. But maybe, she says, politicians in her country have learned some lessons.
Ms. MOSHKOVSKA: Because I'm Ukrainian, I always will be thinking that there is a chance.
GREENE: Even though she says the Orange Revolution has, in her words, come to nothing, she said she'd never discourage young people from taking to the streets when they think it's right.
Ms. MOSHKOVSKA: To fight to get freedom is very important for people. If the question will be to come or not to come, I'll come. I'll not stay home.
GREENE: Despite their misgivings, all three veterans of the revolution expect to vote in Ukraine's presidential election. But none of them say they're happy about the choices they'll have to make.
David Greene, NPR News, Kiev.
INSKEEP: David became familiar to many of our listeners for his reports from the White House and for guest hosting this program. We just heard David's first report from a new beat. He's based in Moscow now, and we'll be listening for his reports right here on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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