Time for change in Ukraine


Issue: "Year in Review 2004," Jan. 1, 2005

With cries of "Pora!" or "It's time!," Ukrainians flocked by the hundreds of thousands in Kiev for two weeks to protest a fraudulent presidential election. Supporters of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko kept up a peaceful but determined presence until the Supreme Court annulled November election results and declared a fresh run-off for Dec. 26. Named for the campaign color worn by Yushchenko voters, the "Orange Revolution" was the true birth of Ukraine in the eyes of its foot soldiers. It's time, they said, to kick out Soviet-tainted corrupt government and usher in democracy.

Regardless of the outcome, Mr. Yushchenko is gaining hero status among Ukrainians. The question is: Will he be healthy enough to govern? A mysterious illness that began the day after he dined with Ukraine's state security chief was confirmed to be dioxin poisoning. Government officials insist they had no designs on maiming their challenger, but a clearly ill Mr. Yushchenko received word from top European medical authorities that since his last government-sponsored meal, his blood contained 100,000 units of dioxin, the second-highest concentration ever recorded in humans.

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