New leaders will emerge

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Nov. 24, 2011, 8:59 p.m. | Op-ed — by Yuriy Lutsenko

Former Interior Minister and Orange Revolution leader Yuriy Lutsenko

Editor’s Note: The following is a Kyiv Post translation of a letter written from prison by former Interior Minister and Orange Revolution leader Yuriy Lutsenko on the anniversary of the 2004 peaceful uprising against a presidential election rigged in favor of then Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on Nov. 21, 2004, but later won by Viktor Yushchenko on Dec. 26, 2004. Yuriy Lutsenko writes:Despite failures, Orange Revolution values remain.

The 2004 Orange Revolution remains the most important event in the modern history of Ukraine. Its experience and lessons will determine the future of our country.

The first and most important lesson from Maidan is that it proved the ability of the Ukrainian people to break oligarch plans and choose their own destiny. And this is so scary for the current authorities.

A year ago, they cheerfully showed confidence in the power of money and lies. With a view to total looting of our poor country, ideological descendants of the totalitarian past habitually relied on fear.

The treason by [ex-President] Viktor Yushchenko, the venality of parliamentary [sellouts] and the “local werewolves,” all of this allowed them to believe that our revolution was random.

I didn’t leave the country, but inevitably chose prison for thought. As a “warlord revolutionary,” my duty is to prove that not everything is sold and not all are afraid.

Time has shown that a lot of people who are not afraid just did the same. Their beliefs have not changed.

After a year spent in a prison cell, I’m happy that the Orange Revolution, betrayed by demagogues and time-servers, stood in the minds of recalcitrant Ukrainians and spoke again throughout Ukraine.

The recent protests of entrepreneurs, students, Afghanistan War veterans and former Chornobyl cleanup workers and community activists are gaining strength.

Combining people in actions to protect their rights has no political slogans. But it scares President Viktor Yanukovych’s team more than the European Union’s stringent warnings or the pathos of the parliamentary opposition.

People are not afraid. Repression against dissidents, the prohibition of peaceful assembly on Independence Day and Freedom Day, the high fences and unprecedented measures of protection issued by panic and fear fuel the prospect of a new revolt.

We should no longer be cheated by talk of pseudo-reforms. We now know for a fact that the regime of Yanukovych and his Party of Regions is incapable of providing economic and moral standards of the country. They are doomed and will be removed from power.

In this light, it is crucial to remember the second lesson from the Orange Revolution. Expectations of a political messiah proved dangerous to society.

We now know that the new Maidan should be preceded by self-organization of public agencies, public discussion and development of a plan of reforms, as well as the formation of an integrated team which is able to change the country.

Pseudo-oppositionists who yearn to once more come to power from the corridors of the Ukrainian “political terrarium” are not happy about such a prospect.

I want to disappoint the sponsors of any modernized versions of Yushchenko. A new democratic leadership will not come to Maidan on a Mercedes after the protest.

The people’s leader has to be there.

He will be from the protesters’ tents, or from prison.

This is what those celebrating Freedom Day today should remember and keep in mind.


Yuriy Lutsenko is the former interior minister of Ukraine who was arrested on Dec. 26 and is being held for alleged misappropriation of state money involving overpayments to his driver. He is awaiting trial.
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