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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 November, 2004, 23:42 GMT
Kiev's new orange order
By Stephen Mulvey
BBC News, Kiev

Driving into town from Kiev airport, it is only when you climb up the steep wooded bank of the River Dnieper, that you realise something is different.

As the cobbled road curls past the multiple golden domes of an ancient Kiev monastery the city's new orange livery comes into view against the white of the snow.

Ukraine's Independence Square has the air of a natural theatre
Orange cars and orange crowds are on the move to or from the permanent demonstration in the city's main square in support of presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

People are wearing orange ribbons, scarves, hats, armbands - some are even wearing orange plastic sheeting turned into shawls or tunics - and carrying orange flags.

Long before you reach the square the road is full of these orange people, who periodically break into chants of "Yush-chen-ko! Yush-chen-ko!"

The remaining cars, squeezing between the crowds, follow the three-note rhythm on their horns.


The sight of the square itself, and the surging sensation of people power, is overwhelming. I was in Kiev when it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and there was nothing like it then.

The square is a vast area, with slopes on two sides, which turn it into a kind of natural theatre, and it is full of politically charged men, women and children.

At the centre is a stage with a giant television screen and powerful amplifiers sending echoes bouncing off the surrounding buildings.

Yanukovych supporters at Kiev railway station on Friday
Yanukovych's supporters made their mark in Kiev at a rally on Friday
There is a huge sense of euphoria. On Saturday, the parliamentary debate was being broadcast live as MPs passed a vote of no confidence in the Central Electoral Commission and called for a new election.

The crowd periodically erupted into roars and cheers - or whistling when it heard something it did not like.

One man, who had driven 500km (300 miles) from the Ivano-Frankivsk region in the west of the country to join the demonstration, said the news from parliament meant his mission had been accomplished.

He had made the journey in order to give moral support to his candidate and to protest against a "falsified" election - and now, just as he had hoped, there was to be a new vote.

In the elated atmosphere of the square, it was almost possible to believe it.

But in fact the parliament's decision carries only symbolic weight - like the demonstration of people power itself.

Sad group

It puts moral pressure on the authorities who have already declared Mr Yushchenko's rival, Viktor Yanukovych, the winner.

It could also influence the thinking of the judges of the Supreme Court, who begin considering allegations of election fraud on Monday.

Since the Yanukovych supporters are almost invisible in Kiev, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that they do not exist
But it has no automatic consequences.

At first sight in Kiev there are no supporters of Mr Yanukovych. There was one small and rather sad group of people bearing his blue and white flags on Saturday afternoon, just above the square.

Orange Yushchenko supporters were engaging them in argument. Others drowned out their small loudspeaker with chants.

I found another small group of Yanukovych faithful outside the railway station, where they had held a large rally the previous day.

Even here they were outnumbered. They looked tired and crestfallen and complained of having been mobbed by up to 20 argumentative Yushchenko people at once.

But they admitted that no-one had shown aggression.

Since the Yanukovych supporters are almost invisible in Kiev, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that they do not exist.

But even the exit polls that first raised the hopes of the Yushchenko camp that he would be declared winner, suggested that Mr Yanukovych had the support of more than 40% of the country's voters.

Somewhere out there, there is a blue Ukraine as well as an orange one.  

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