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January 10, 2005
The Apex Of Orange

The Orange Revolution reaches its climax today when Ukraine's Central Election Commission certifies Viktor Yushchenko as its new president. The re-run Ukrainian election has survived all challenges from the outgoing "establishment" candidate and PM, Viktor Yanukovych, and the electorate impatiently awaits the transition to true democracy:

The final certification would end more than two weeks of political limbo during which Yushchenko's Moscow-backed opponent, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, stalled with repeated, unsuccessful challenges to the outcome.

Yushchenko said the challenges were "torturing the nation" and his supporters accused allies of outgoing President Leonid Kuchma of spinning out the transition to buy time to cover the tracks of shady deals. ...

A tent city set up to protest against the election rigging has yet to be dismantled. Those living in it say they will stay until Yushchenko is inaugurated.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have been replaced by throngs of young people attending outdoor rock concerts and families strolling with children bundled into hats and scarves in Yushchenko's orange campaign colors.

We're preparing for our own inauguration celebration later this month, but I suspect that Ukraine will leave ours in the dust this year. Speaking of celebrating, the Bush administration may feel a deserved sense of accomplishment in standing firm for a Ukrainian re-vote. However, that victory will seem short-lived after Yushchenko takes office, as the new Ukrainian president appears to have set a high priority on undermining one of Bush's key goals:

Ukraine's president-elect promised on Monday to make withdrawing his country's troops from Iraq a priority as soon as he takes office, after eight of its soldiers were killed in an explosion. ...

"As is well known, the withdrawal of the Ukrainian peacekeeping force is one of our priorities. Yushchenko will address it immediately after he takes the post of president," his Web site said.

This is no surprise to anyone who has followed the Ukrainian crisis. I had wondered if Yushchenko might back away from his earlier statements on withdrawal after the support he received from the Bush administration, but the terrorists scotched that possibility. It's unfortunate; a withdrawal in the face of an attack only encourages the terrorists to continue. However, we want an independent and democratic Ukraine as well as Iraq -- and that means we sometimes get policies we don't like.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 10, 2005 6:59 AM

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