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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 11:49 GMT
Middle class backs Orange Revolution
By Marina Denysenko
BBC News, Ukraine

Expensive cars festooned in orange; orange-clad demonstrators queuing at McDonalds; ladies dressed in fur coats with orange ribbons - these are all signs that Ukraine's "orange revolution" has enormous support from its newly emerging middle class.

Ukraine shops
Is Orange the new black? The protesters' colours are everywhere
The majority of protesters rallying in Kiev's Independence Square hold mobile phones. They keep their families and friends up-to-date with events in the capital and exchange text messages with an opposition logo.

Orange is hit of the season, as the windows of fancy clothes shops in Kiev testify.

There are numerous stories about Kiev entrepreneurs spontaneously sending food and medication to protesters or hosting them on their office premises. Some of the bus services bringing protestors to the Ukrainian capital operate through private donations.

Retaliation fears

But apart from cash, Ukraine's new class of managers also invest their organisational skills to make sure the protests keep running.

"Quality of life is not only about how much money you have. It is also about which principles you follow, the morality of the environment you live in," says Yuri Tkach, the owner of a fast-food restaurant chain.

It is a Ukrainian bourgeois revolution
Olexandr Irvanets
Ukrainian writer
"Finally, it is about the security of your business."

Yuri is at the core of a complex logistics operation at the opposition headquarters, aimed at channelling money and resources donated by individuals. He admits that he and some of his friends have suffered losses as a result of their actions.

"But you cannot measure everything in monetary terms," he insists.

He says many of the businessmen helping the protesters prefer to keep their identities secret. They fear retaliation if the opposition loses.

Red tape and cronyism

"It is a Ukrainian bourgeois revolution," says Olexandr Irvanets, a Ukrainian intellectual and writer.

It is a follow-up to the "national" revolution at the end of the 1980s, when Soviet Union collapsed, he says. Mass demonstrations back then were propelled by the enthusiasm of poets and writers and lacked the organisation and financing of today.

Yushchenko supporters outside Kiev McDonalds
Western influence has been widespread since the 1991 revolution
Some major Ukrainian businessmen have thrown their economic might behind the opposition too. The best known of them, Petro Poroshenko, is a key player in the team of opposition leader Victor Yushchenko, who, protesters claim, has won the disputed elections.

Since Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, thousands of its people have travelled abroad, obtained Western degrees and learned languages. Hundreds of thousands have benefited from the economic growth of recent years.

Local observers say that the Orange Revolution has showed that Ukraine's new middle class is no longer prepared to put up with red tape and cronyism, flourishing during President Leonid Kuchma's reign.




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