Once again, Ukraine is in the eye of a political hurricane. Faced with a possible constitutional coup that would have eviscerated his powers, President Viktor Yushchenko has dissolved Ukraine’s parliament and called for new elections. His political opponent – Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych – is violently opposing that move, fueling a bitter constitutional struggle that ultimately will settle Ukraine’s future orientation.
Will Ukraine continue its turn towards the West, as Yushchenko and his Orange Revolution ally Yuliya Tymoshenko want, or return to Russia’s strategic embrace, as Yanukovych and his allies want?
It was Russia’s attempt, only two and a half years ago, to install Yanukovych as President via rampant electoral fraud that touched off the “Orange Revolution.” After months of struggle, Yushchenko rightfully claimed the presidency. But the revolution petered out, former partners were soon at loggerheads, giving Yanukovych and his allies a chance to return to power.
Throughout this difficult period, the European Union has failed Ukraine, bluntly declaring that it should not hold any hope of future membership and justifying this stance by citing its internal problems – the stranded Constitutional Treaty – and growing public sentiment against further enlargement.