Aspects of the Orange Revolution II. Information and Manipulation Strategies in the 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Elections
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In Ukraine’s presidential election of 2004, the establishment candidate Viktor Yanukovych had the advantage of a solid regional base, access to administrative resources, dominance in the media, Russian spin-doctors, and the support of Moscow. Yet the winner was the pro-Western challenger, Viktor Yushchenko. How did Ukrainian voters break through the barrage of propaganda so as to deliver their ultimate verdict? Was the divide between East and West Ukraine fact or PR fiction? In this volume scholars from two continents examine various aspects of the election that turned into an “Orange Revolution.” Following the editor’s scene-setting chapter which looks at the electoral laws and their consequences in the previous decade’s elections, presidential and parliamentary, the other contributors take up specific features of the 2004 contest. The critical part played by a single independent television broadcaster is one such contribution. Another reviews the coverage of the elections in the Russian press in Moscow, generally favourable to Yanukovych and always looking for parallels between Russia and Ukraine as well as for Russia’s interests. The myths and stereotypes of the campaign are taken up by two other contributors. Clearly, these overshadowed real issues. A fascinating essay exposes the linguistic innovations of the campaign, including the irony and humour unleashed by such incidents as the “egg attack” on Yanukovych. In the final essay, the machine politics, administrative resources, and fraud, which had worked so well in Donets’k are shown to have been less than successful on the national level for reasons of scale and impersonality. But like so much of contemporary politics, one still wonders if the “Orange Revolution” was only a media event.