Zbigniew Brzezinski, adviser to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., recently illustrated Ukraine’s potentially pivotal role in Russia’s political evolution. Under his analysis, should Ukraine move towards Europe with a genuine program of democratic reform, Russia would be likely to follow suit.
There can be little doubt that the 2004 Orange Revolution – which overturned an election rigged for the current president, Viktor Yanukovych — had a significant, lasting impact upon Russia’s leadership, middle class and cultural elite.
The anti-Vladimir Putin protests involving thousands of people in Moscow have echoes of Kyiv in 2004. Many Russians observed the way in which the mobilization of people power in 2004 affected change in the highest political sphere, making Ukraine a regional example for democratic action. Today, with the rollback of democracy in Ukraine, things may have come full circle with Russia potentially offering Ukraine a model for how to conduct communication between government and citizens. While Yanukovych is often accused of following the Russian model to the letter, he is yet to pick up on this particular trend.