Perspectief 2019-44

2019-44 97 MH17 – the Ukrainian Context Prof. dr. Cyril Hovorun 1. Independence The independent Ukrainian republic was proclaimed immediately af- ter the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It became an engine of democratic changes, even when other post-Soviet states gave up on democracy and returned to totalitarian political models. After Russia U-turned to authoritarianism under President Vladimir Putin, it also tried to reverse the democratic evolution of the Ukrainian republic. In particular, it used Ukrainian elections to promote authoritarian candi- dates, who also appeared pro-Russian. Such was Viktor Yanukovych. He was a governor of the Donbas region from 1997 to 2002 and then a Prime-minister of Ukraine from 2002 to 2004. He became a presidential candi- date from the Party of Regions during the elections of 2004. His rival was pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko. After counting votes, the Central Election Commission announced Yanukovych as the President of Ukraine. However, there was evidence that the elections and counting votes were manipulative and fraudulent. Electoral fraud caused mass pro- tests, which became known as the Orange Revolution. Under the pressure of the protests, the results of the initial run-off were annulled, and the Ukraine’s Supreme Court ordered new voting. This time Yushchenko won the elections and became Ukrainian President. The democratic parties and political figures who came to power together with Yushchenko did not govern the country coherently. Their poor performance did not match the expec- tations of most Ukrainians. As a result, they lost the next presidential elections in 2010 to Viktor Yanukovych. He won the elections without casting doubts about their fairness and