Revista Científica Profundidad Construyendo Futuro

ISSN: 2422-1783

ISSN: 2422-2518 (En línea)



Msc. Ligia Andrea Florez Cubillosa

Recibido: 18-04-2015 Aceptado: 18-05-2015


The revolutions that have taken place in Eastern Europe and the beginning of the century were a first element considered to identify the potential of social movements in the transformation of the realities of the states in different latitudes and the importance of globalization in this type of mani-festations. However, the achievements of civil society in this scenario have been overshadowed by the resurgence of conflicts. In this sense, this article studies the particular case of Ukraine and then raises how the orange revolution was a milestone in the awakening to democracy of a communist state but that the claim of civil society lacked structural elements that allowed the consolidation of an econom-ic, political and social model adjusted to its own conditions.

Keywords:Social Movement, Orange Revolution, Civil Society, Transformation.


From a realistic perspective, international relations have been identified, almost im-mediately, with the figure of the State and with the way in which these political units establish links with each other. In this con-text, it is common to relate the internation-al to everything that happens outside na-tional borders, but only and exclusively among state actors. This is how the proc-lamation of the State as the central unit of analysis of the international system, made the observers of this dynamic pay little attention to the emergence of other types of actors, whose activity made understand-ing the global situation more complex.

Today, these actors of a subnational, trans-national, global or mixed nature compete more intensely with national governments, to the point of refuting the monopoly of the State as the only agent capable of pro-moting social reforms. In this context, civil society has emerged as a key actor in the framework of the transformations of the State and the processes of globalization. Manifested in increasingly heterogeneous and complex organizations, which express diverse social, political, cultural and ideo-logical belongings. (From Piero, S. 2005)

In the seventies, the fusion of political and non-political spheres in social life began when analyzing the change of structures and dynamics promoted by governments in search of development. In this scenario, the analytical utility of the conventional sepa-ration between the State and civil society began to be questioned. There were merger processes between both spheres, not only at the level of global socio-political mani-festations but also at the level of citizens as primary political actors. (Offe, C. 1992)

Eastern Europe was one of the most im-portant scenarios for the development of this type of combination and it was there that movements of civil society were put in vogue with a clear position in front of the political processes that were gestated with-in the countries of the region.

In this way, the revolutions of colors, (Rodríguez, A. 2011) as, the Orange Revo-lution of Ukraine, the Revolution Grape of Moldova, the Rojiblanca Revolution of Belarus, and the revolutions of the flowers like the Revolution of the Roses in Geor-gia, and the Revolution of the Tulips in Kyrgyzstan, became transcendental mani-festations of civil society in search of the democratic development of the post-communist countries of central and eastern Europe.

Its characteristics focus on non-violent actions against authoritarian regimes, the implementation of the liberal model and the strengthening of national independ-ence. To demonstrate it tacitly, these revo-lutions usually adopted a color or a flower as a symbol, to reaffirm that their actions, implemented by Non-Governmental Or-ganizations (NGOs) and student-based, were inscribed in non-violent political ac-tion. (Gordon, P. and Chollet, D. 2005).

Despite the media condition, and relevance of these events, it was only afterwards that interest was raised to understand the activi-ty of civil society actors in peripheral sce-narios registered in non-democratic con-texts, since before that time they consid-ered themselves as actors secondary, una-ble to alter in any way or to some degree the order of the international system. (McAdam, D., McCarthy, J. D., & Zald, M. N. 1999)

This vision of the world allowed for the development of a state-centered scheme structured at center-periphery levels, in which the States belonging to the center had the faculty to establish the guidelines that governed the world order, while the countries of the periphery were limited to follow the political, economic and cultural models that emanated from that center. (Di Filippo, A. 1998).

However, authors such as Zald, Mc Carthy and Mc Adam, (1999), have pointed out the biased condition in which this way of understanding international relations is presented, and have extolled the scarce efforts that have been made in the interna-tional system to try to understand a more complex context composed of a wide range of actors, as or even more powerful than some States. From this divergence, the actors of the periphery, as well as those who do not hold a relevant rank in terms of power, are outsidethe categories of analy-sis of the theory and cannot be understood as significant agents of social transfor-mation for the international relations.

Therefore, the phenomenon of democratic renewal that occurs at the end of 2004 in Ukraine calls on students of political and social phenomena to reflect on the implica-tions of having antagonistic actors within the international board.

Now, in this complex scenario in itself, social movements become an engine of democratic progression both in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe where in-tense collective action in opposition to authoritarian practices and in favor of strengthening democracy at the head of the Ukrainian student movement is recognized as an element of rupture with traditional forms of participation.

Its reach extends beyond national borders and projects a change in the balance of power of the post-Soviet era, leading other countries to develop their own version of the so-called Orange Revolution. This is how the Romanians and Belarusians are the first to follow the Ukrainian legacy, demanding transparency in the presidential elections of December 2004. A few months later, in March 2005, thousands of people in Moldova and in Lebanon also consciously invoked the Ukrainian experi-ence in demand for a democratic govern-ment for its people. At the same time, Kyrgyzstan, also inspired by the Ukrainian experience, promoted the so-called Tulip Revolution with the aim of transforming the authoritarian rules institutionalized by the executive. (Oñativia, O, G. D.E. I. 2014)

It is important to clear then that the Ukrainian experience was a historically significant event, which led governments with undemocratic characteristics such as Russia Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uz-bekistan, to strengthen controls over the activity of the opposition, to avoid the un-leashing of a peaceful revolution like the one experienced in Ukraine in 2004. (Åslund, A., & McFaul, M. (Eds.). 2006)

However, it is important to note on the other hand, that despite the victory of the Ukrainian social movements in 2004, some authors point out that the conflict that arose in 2014, and the shadows of a mili-tary invasion by the Russian Federation cannot be understood without analyzing the scope and failures of the called Orange Revolution, "an eventof unquestionable importance in post-communist Europe, where democracy never finished solid roots, because the dynamics to administer power is not only resolved by means of electoral rules and definition of democratic institutions." (Gamboa, F. 2014).

This is also evident when the revolution is analyzed in a broader context when Víktor Yushenko became president, and Yulia Tymoshenko became Prime Minister, bringing its policy closer to the West with the aim of integrating into the European Union and the Treaty Organization. North Atlantic, (NATO), the economic problems and the energy dependence of Russia made this task difficult. (Priego, A. 2014).

The events presented above make it clear that civil society has played an important role in different impact scenarios, focused on the development of social transfor-mation objectives. However, their role has also been criticized in that it is not only about meeting their needs, but also about making impact evaluations to ensure that their interventions generate favorable con-ditions in the long term in the environment in which they are developed.

Therefore, this article focuses on analyzing the extent to which the Ukrainian orange revolution, beyond being a social trans-formation, was an accelerated transition towards a weak democracy that, for geo-strategic reasons, should later return the principles of the old Russian communist axis.

With the aim of developing this problem, the hypothesis on which this document focuses is that despite the fact that the Or-ange Revolution was a successful process in the actions of Civil Society, it lacked structural elements that would allow it to redeem achievements in the long run. a term for the consolidation of democracy at the interior of the Ukrainian State.

To develop this hypothesis, the study will focus on two relevant variables, the first focused on defining the role of civil socie-ty in the social transformation achieved from the orange revolution and the second in studying the Ukrainian State and its democratic process at the end of the said revolution. With these elements, some conclusions will be developed relevant that will allow responding to the problem out-lined and thus demonstrate the veracity or otherwise of the hypothesis initially risen.


The phenomena of participation of civil society in processes of democratic trans-formation in Eastern Europe give an ac-count of the ability of social movements to impact on decision-making processes with-in the States until they become relevant issues on the international stage.

If this dynamic is observed from the for-mal conception of democracy, falling on the faculty of choosing, andbeing elected. If analyzed from limited approaches of representation by elites competing for power, or if they are evaluated in the light of neo-institutional theories where the State is the only agent capable of promot-ing political, economic or social transfor-mation, it is simply not possible to under-stand the contribution of social movements to democratic processes, or even could be mistakenly labeled as destabilizing actors of the same. (Diamond, L., & Plattner, M. F. 1996).

On the contrary, if the verticality of this type of understanding is overcome, leading to these phenomena being approached from a broader constructivist perspective, in which the other actors of civil society have space, social movements could begin to be understood as decisive pieces of the democratic construction, as they open the doors of deliberation and embody direct political participation.

In addition to their contribution to the democratic strengthening of the States in which they were formed, civil society movements have been involved in the dynamics of international relations, establish-ing transnational ties with actors from oth-er latitudes such as NGOs, foundations or others social movements, achieving in this sense the configuration of global civil so-ciety.

According to Markoff, since 1780, move-ments for democracy have been transna-tional, as their members move from one movement to another and carry their con-ceptions and interests with them. Transna-tionalism has occurred, in part, because democratizing social movements have crossed borders themselves, and, in part, because governments are sensitive to what different agents do in other countries. In other words, the knowledge of what social movements have achieved elsewhere is often an important impulse for new social movements to have an impact in similar spheres. (Markoff, J. 1999).

The fact that the activity of social move-ments has crossed national borders is due, according to the same author, to three situ-ations: first, to the replication of structural circumstances. This means that when cer-tain features such as social structure mi-grate transnationally, the concomitant ele-ments of social movements do so in a simi-lar way; second, to the transmission of the cultural model. This occurs when issues and movement techniques migrate across borders, through the establishment of ac-tion networks. (Markoff, J. 1999) That is, forms of collective action that can be com-bined with a wide variety of ideas and or-ganizations (Tarrow, S. 1999); and third, the displacement of people across national borders, since, as they migrate, people carry with them their experience as a particu-lar model of conflict.

From the author's proposal, it is inferred that the birth of the Ukrainian student movement was due in large part to the momentum provided by other organiza-tions formed in other latitudes of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which were also at that time engaged with the processes of expansion and strengthening of democra-cy.

This fact demonstrates how global civil society as an agent and medium at the same time, has at its disposal the networks to achieve political mobilization (Marín Aranguren, EM 2010), andtherefore man-ages to pressure and influence state organi-zations and governments to revert or sup-port a decision that wants to take in a given environment and that generates direct con-sequences on global development.

The influence of social movements and transcendence of global civil society be-comes visible in this case in the year 2000, when Milosevichwas forced to abandon power in Serbia due to the pressure of the movement student OTPOR. “Resistance” in Serbian, and three years later, Edgard Shevarnadze, president of Georgia, ran with the same fate as his Serbian counter-part, when the student-based movement, KMARA, “Enough” in Georgian, forced him to resign (Morgan M. 2004). The ac-tivity of the OTPOR members went be-yond the borders of Serbia and nurtured the campaign carried out by KMARA ac-tivists. Between the two movements, a permanent communication network was established through which information; experiences, training, and resources were exchanged.

On March 9, 2004, the student movement PORA of Ukraine declared its official con-formation and made public its commit-ment: to advance an intensely political activity in order to expand and strengthen the discredited Ukrainian democracy. Its members included the four largest youth organizations in Ukraine: the Christian Democratic Youth of Ukraine, the Union of Ukrainian Youth, the Prosvita Youth, the Law Students Association, as well as student organizations from different uni-versities and educational institutes, and members of the Ukrainian coalition of NGO Freedom of Choice (Demes, P., & Forbrig, J. 2006).

Subsequently, the student movement estab-lished its way of maneuver guided by the action strategies and the training of the members of the OTPOR, and the KMA-RA, supported also by international NGOs, as well as different governments of the countries belonging to the European Un-ion, and the government of the United States who contributed to the training of the new activists and participated in the monitoring of the electoral processes.

The experts also point out that the Orange Revolution was the first to be organized in a certain way via online "The Digital Rev-olutionary Stage of Ukraine was based on several emerging tools. These tools have a wide range of uses, from the coordination of activists through SMS with the devel-opment of an independent organization of discussion forums, websites, blogs for ac-tivists where to share best practices and make detailed reports of electoral fraud "(Goldstein, J. 2007)

This is how the challenges posed by global civil society and the union of diverse forc-es that converged in this transformation, made Ukraine the channel through which the western model of democracy would be disseminated. NATO called this event a success in the democratic enlargement "The emergence of new democratic states is a characteristic of the new world order. Their ability to survive and prosper as in-dependent states poses a challenge to both institutions and nations themselves. In this sense, Ukraine occupies a crucial place in Europe. An independent, stable and demo-cratic Ukraine is an element of strategic importance for the evolution of democracy throughout Europe "(Solana, J. 1997).

Reaffirming the foregoing, foreign policy experts pointed out at that time that a liber-al, independent and West-oriented Ukraine was the only guarantee that, in the long term, Russia would converge in the same direction. According to these views, the democratic victory in Ukraine marked the end of the defense of the classic French-German model of negotiating with Russia, ignoring its authoritarianism and its impe-rialist interests, and this would force it to use an Anglo-Saxon liberal language, ra-ther than a reason of State continental to retain its influence in the framework of the new world order. (Wilson, A. 2005).

In this sense, this model indicates not only the capacity of civil society movements to create links, and establish networks for the achievement of precise objectives in a struggle based on non-violent collective action, but also demonstrates the influencethat, they generate the interests of the great powers within the framework of interna-tional politics, considering, in this case, the geostrategic importance of this country for security and democracy in Europe. (Plo, R., & Antonio, R. 2004).

In the same way, it is clear that the national State was at some point the framework to interpret or predict the activities deployed by civil society actors, but now, the mobi-lization takes place on multiple levels. So-cial movements have developed broad transnational factions and links so that the state structure has become only an initial tool to understand how collective action arises and operates, so its development must be analyzed having in mind it has a broader spectrum, which also involves the elements of the international context. (Tar-row, S. 1999)


According to the postulates defended by the global civil society gathered in the very spirit of the orange revolution, since Presi-dent Víctor Yushchenkotook office, on January 25, 2005, Ukraine began a new stage in his political life. The objectives of changing the external image of Ukraine, consolidating democracy, fundamental freedoms and the observance of human rights would be the demands that would be achieved in the new democratic process. In this scenario, the use of state agencies as an element of pressure for the media to disseminate the government's opinion with exclusivity and ended the abuse against freedom of expression ceased. (Zubelzú, G 2007).

However, analysts point out that Yush-chenko turned out to be an indecisive lead-er once in power, fulfilling what little had been on the agenda during his time as pres-ident, presenting lesser management than any other president during the post-Soviet period of Ukraine. (Fairbanks, C. H. (2007).

The new Constitution of Ukraine with the reforms implemented by the new leaders, modified the distribution of powers be-tween the president, the Prime Minister, and the Parliament, transforming the polit-ical regime of the country, by reducing the powers of the president and his subsequent assignment of these responsibilities to Par-liament and the Prime Minister.

This new distribution of functions was not a structural reform to legitimize the institu-tions, but was developed as a political game to give greater relevance to an insti-tution in such a way that its influence was decisive in the decision making of the country. The political game led to the need to give power to the opposition to achieve balance and the economic decline began to make visible in the population in general. Growth fell from twelve percent to five percent and inflation reached 15 percent. (Márquez Muñoz, J. 2014).

However, the greatest mistake was in the nationalization and re-privatization in fa-vor of the elites, as well as variousscan-dals that aroused the interest of different actors but that forgot the claims that had given raise to the mobilization of civil so-ciety in the orange revolution.

Its position pointed at achieving the entry of Ukraine into the European Union sup-ported by the Europeanists and in this con-text of regulation and adjustment for the fulfillment of requirements of annexation to this organization, the economic conse quences of the imposition of a Liberal democratic State, not They were waiting. The Russian Federation decided to impose restrictions and tariff barriers on products from Ukraine. At that time, the Russian Federation used its most powerful weapon, the gas, and proposed to energetically drown the rebellious country. (Fernández, R. 2006).

Confidence went down to such an extent in a society that, in 2010, the elections gave the victory to Viktor Yanukovych andthe claims made by civil society through the orange revolution were left behind. The new president reversed the constitutional reform, returning to a presidential model. His model also required a number of ad-justment reforms which accumulated a huge statedebt, over 65,000 million dol-lars. This further aggravated the Ukrainian economic situation, together with the un-compromising position of Russia, which sold gas to Ukraine at a higher price than other European countries, despite the fact that it needed touse Ukrainian gas pipe-lines. (Goncharova, G., Montaner, A., & Ryzhykov, Y. V. 2014).

All these situations further weakened the governability and lack of identity among the inhabitants of a country divided be-tween pro-European and pro-Russian, causing that after the rejection of the sign-ing of a long-term agreement with the Eu-ropean Union and the decision to strength-en the ties with Russia, the crisis did not wait. “The inhabitants of Western Ukraine felt a great affinity with Europe and, in particular, wished to join the European Union. In sharp contrast, the inhabitants of eastern and southern Ukraine recognized in Russia the origin of their culture, religion, and language, so their desire was to belong to that nation”. (Mancera, A. C. 2014)

The crisis is still going on and the country today is divided again between Western liberal policies and its Soviet pastmarked. The conditions after the orange revolution did not mark a different scenario for Ukraine, suddenly the basic transfor-mations that were fought in the revolution were not claimed, and the crisis that occurs twelve years later has the same motiva-tions.

The development of the conflict and the associated costs (particularly the economic prejudices derived from special agreements with Russia),hardly contribute to improv-ing the economic and social situation, while social confrontation on an ethnic basis can lead to lasting social divisions that crystallize in political conflicts long projection (Cardone, I. J. 2014).


The phenomena of globalization and trans-nationalization have meant that States can no longer interfere in all matters that take place in the world. The interstate system has ceased to be the only possible scheme within the international system and has come to coexist with multiple actors who have the faculty to generate innovations, as well as to influence the social, political and economic transformations that occur, in an accelerated manner nowadays. (Cohen, S. 2005).

The Ukrainian Orange Revolution demon-strated that the rigid conception of democ-racy, centered on electoral elements, and of international relations, focused on the cen-trism state, has been shortsighted when it comes to addressing new forms of sociali-zation. In the current international scenar-io, diverse actors converge with multiple interests, where social transformations are no longer the exclusive responsibility of the States

On the contrary, new participants coexist as the movements of global civil society, who have become the engine of processes as significant as the democratic transition of the political regimes of Eastern Europe.

However, when analyzing the particular case of Ukraine, it is evident how the ac-tivity of the student movement contributed to the questioning in front of democratic processes, traditionally understood from the figure of the political parties. However, with the Orange Revolution, it demonstrat-ed that the strengthening of democracy depends on structural issues that include the action of the elites, citizen empower-ment and the exercise of active opposition, capable of creating spaces for public de-bate and political participation direct.

Achieving a goal of transformation is not an easy task and the context of global civil society and its most relevant actors must take into account these weaknesses in their actions. In the Ukrainian scenario, civil society had to ask the political elites to negotiate to avoid stagnation in such a way that the conflict did not end with acts of violence. The latter limited the actions of the social movement and its effective in-tervention in the democratic sphere since, as Gamboa (2014) mentions, power nego-tiations were transferred to the Supreme Court, the Parliament and the Electoral Commission.

In the same way, it is clear that after the revolution the access of civil society to the decision-making processes was limited, the rulers worried only about their personal achievements and their deepest ideals, leaving aside the fundamental basis of de-mocracy, that is, the government of the people. This also turned down civil society immensely, since, as various authors point out, "access is absolutely crucial to the capacity of civil society to promote good governance." (Laverty, N. 2008).

In this context, it is clear that it is not pos-sible to resolve a historically rooted con-flict without taking into account the geopo-litical and economic conditions of the country in which it develops. In addition, in the particular case already presented, it is clear that Ukraine depends on the energy resources of Russia and therefore in a real-istic context moving away from a strategic partner will not bring any positive conse-quence for its economic development.

The Civil society clearly has a role in in-ternationalrelations, its processes of col-lective action in favor of a general interest, the use of networks and the exploitation of the potential of the mass movement means that they must be considered in a broad panorama and their activities must be mon-itored. However, it is not possible to affirm that these movements can generate struc-tural changes and even less if they do not workvery close to the States because to generate this type of deep transformations a series of commitments is necessary not only of national actors but to review in context the international environment at the time of making decisions.

Ukraine’s case, also has other edges that further complicate the outlook, Russia, the United States, the European Union, and NATO claim this country as part of their allies, every manifestation of civil society has been influenced by any of these actors and together, all they have achieved with this convergence of interests is an unstable and drifting country where violence and lack of identity have generated a conflict of international character and a partial tri-umph for global civil society making it “a simple popular wave of discontent .” (Za-rembo, K. 2011)


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a. Universidad Externado de Colombia Bogotá, Colombia, correo: