Protesters in Kiev's Independence Square, Dec 2013 (Getty)
November 22 2004 In Ukraine’s second round election, the Central Electoral Commission declares pro-Russian incumbent Viktor Yanukovich the winner. Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the opposition decries widespread voter fraud and electoral irregularities.
November 23 2004 An estimated 500,000 protestors assemble in Kiev’s Independence Square. The Orange Revolution is born. Ukraine’s Supreme Court suspends publication of the election results pending an investigation.
December 8 2004 Following the Supreme Court’s annulment of the elections, a December re-run of the disputed presidential election is announced. Protesters scale down their demonstration and government employees return to work. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
No event has done more to spook the Kremlin, over the last decade, than the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004. Now Vladimir Putin’s worst moment looks like turning into a recurring nightmare as demonstrators once again fill Kiev’s Independence Square, demanding that their country move closer to the EU and further away from Russia.
The tug of war over the future of Ukraine
Ukraine finds itself caught between Russia and the EU ahead of a summit next week in Vilnius, where the country’s president Viktor Yanukovich will have the opportunity to sign a major free trade deal and political association agreement with the EU. Russia has intensified pressure on the country recently not to sign the deal in favour of joining a Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. In this week’s podcast, Gideon Rachman is joined by Neil Buckley, Eastern Europe editor and Peter Spiegel, Brussels bureau chief to explain how the situation is likely to develop.
Alexei Navalny, opposition leader and blogger, who came second in Moscow's mayoral election (Reuters)
Little by little, more air is set to be let into Russia’s tightly managed democracy. Opposition members from outside Kremlin-approved parties – the so-called non-system opposition – will be allowed to compete in, and even win, local-level elections. The recent polls in Moscow and Yekaterinburg were the start.
Those are conclusions that can be drawn from four days of discussions last week among invited Russian and foreign experts at the annual Valdai Club conference, and off-record meetings with some very senior Russian officials. They provided some grounds to hope that the worst of the clampdown that followed the demonstrations of winter 2011-2012 may be over. Having established some ground rules, the Kremlin seems to be elaborating a new approach to the opposition. Read more
After a testing two years for Vladimir Putin that saw the first serious protests against his rule, Russia’s president was back to his relaxed, confident and sometimes acerbic self at an annual meeting with academics and journalists on Thursday.
Though avoiding triumphalism, Mr Putin seemed to bask in his diplomatic success over the plan for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons. He also appeared to believe the sting had been drawn out of the demonstrations that followed parliamentary elections in December 2011 and his own decision to return for a third term as president. Read more
ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
By Catherine Contiguglia and David Gallerano
Russia has been the talk of the town since the announcement by foreign minister Sergei Lavrov of a diplomatic initiative to get Syria to turn over chemical weapons. Then all eyes turned to Russian president Vladimir Putin when his New York Times op-ed appeared, arguing that air strikes could “could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
Here are some of the best articles on the man who has managed to keep a grip on Russian power for over a decade, and his maneuverings around the Syria crisis and beyond. Read more
Sergei Lavrov (Getty)
Anybody offered a gift by Sergei Lavrov would do well to inspect it rather carefully before unwrapping it. The Russian foreign minister is a tough nationalist who is not in the habit of doing the US any favours. Nonetheless, the Lavrov proposal that Syria’s chemical weapons should be placed under international supervision should be grabbed by the Obama administration for several reasons. Read more
Alexei Navalny delivers a speech on August 25, 2013 during a campaign rally for the Moscow mayoral election (Getty)
While experts agree that the level of falsification in Moscow elections on Sunday was historically low, the narrow margin by which Sergei Sobyanin was elected the mayor of Moscow has given credibility to opposition claims that what fraud there was could have been decisive in the contest.
Mr Sobyanin, the incumbent, won 51.3 per cent of the vote, which put him within a whisker of the 50 per cent total that would have prompted a second-round runoff against Alexei Navalny.
While Mr Navalny got 27 per cent of the vote, analysts say that in a second-round contest between him and Mr Sobyanin some of the protest vote would have gone to Mr Navalny, even though it was unlikely to have been enough to beat the incumbent mayor. Read more
Alexei Navalny (Getty)
After a decade in which most elections have been little more than puppet shows with the Kremlin holding the strings, real politics may just be starting a comeback in Russia. Sunday sees elections for mayor of Moscow and some other big cities, plus several regional governors and local legislatures. For the first time in years, at least some candidates from outside the Kremlin-controlled arena of politics are being allowed to take part.
It is significant that the governors’ elections are taking place at all. Russian president Vladimir Putin abolished regional governors’ elections (and those for Moscow and St Petersburg mayor) after the Beslan tragedy in 2004. They were reinstated in the face of public protests over alleged vote-rigging in the 2011 parliamentary elections – albeit with an effective Kremlin veto on candidates.
Gennady Gudkov (Getty)
But the authorities have allowed Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption blogger and closest thing the protests have to a leader, to stand in Moscow. Navalny was even released from jail, hours after being sentenced to five years on dubious embezzlement charges, pending the result of an appeal, apparently to allow him to stand.Another prominent figure in the protests, Gennady Gudkov – who was expelled from the Russian parliament – is standing for governor of the Moscow region, the area around the capital. And Yevgeny Roizman, an opposition anti-drugs activist, is a candidate for mayor of Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-biggest city. Read more