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Ukraine: A Post-Orange Revolution Political Timeline

Viktor Yushchenko addressing demonstrators during the Orange Revolution (RFE/RL) Below, RFE/RL presents a timeline of key political events in Ukraine from President Viktor Yushchenko's inauguration in January 2005 until the present.

March 3, 2006: Ukraine introduces strict new customs rules on goods entering the country from the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniester, sparking a major row and raising tensions with Russia.

March 1, 2006: The pro-Russian Ne Tak election bloc, headed by former President Leonid Kuchma's administration chief Viktor Medvedchuk announces that it has collected 4.5 million signatures in favor of holding a referendum on whether Ukraine should join NATO.

February 17, 2006: The United States formally grants Ukraine market-economy status, following a similar decision by the European Union in December 2005.

January 22, 2006: President Viktor Yushchenko urges parties and politicians to put national interests first in their campaigning.

January 11, 2006: Presidents Yushchenko meets in Kazakhstan with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in their first encounter since a gas dispute flared up between the two countries in December.

January 10, 2006: The Verkhovna Rada votes to dismiss the government of Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov to express its dissatisfaction with the resolution of the gas crisis with Russia. Yushchenko declares the vote illegal and ignores it.

A gasworks near Ukraine (epa)

January 5, 2006: Former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko announces she will mount a legal challenge to the government's deal with Russia to resolve the gas dispute.

January 4, 2006: After days of intense negotiations and confrontation, Russia and Ukraine announce a deal to resolve their long-running dispute over natural-gas prices. The deal, however, is highly controversial and widely criticized in Ukraine.

December 30, 2005: Yushchenko indicates that he will hold a national referendum to reduce his presidential powers.

December 2005: The conflict with Russia over gas prices grows increasingly heated, with Ukraine threatening to revisit a bilateral agreement under which Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based at the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

December 7, 2005: During a trip to Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that United States is "committed to Ukraine's full integration to the international economy and, ultimately, to Euro-Atlantic structures." The same day in Moscow, Putin says that Russia's relations with Ukraine are unsatisfactory, describing 2005 as "a year of missed opportunties."

December 2, 2005: A two-day forum aimed at promoting democracy and human rights in Kyiv lead to the creation of the Community of Democratic Choice. The new grouping -- which comprises nine countries from the Balkan, Baltic, and Black Sea regions -- is widely perceived as an attempt to limit Russia’s influence on the post-Soviet area.

People in Kyiv celebrate the first anniversary of the Orange Revolution on November 22, 2005 (epa)

November 2005: Ukraine marks the first anniversary of the Orange Revolution. More than half of Ukrainians say the new government has failed to keep the promises that were made at that time, and just one in seven Ukrainians fully supports President Yushchenko, compared to nearly 50 percent in February.

November 21, 2005: Deputy Prime Minister Roman Bezsmertnyy resigns in order to work on the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc's election campaign.

November 17, 2005: Ukraine's parliament overwhelmingly approves a bill prohibiting authorities from carrying out inspections of media groups during the upcoming parliamentary election campaign.

November 15, 2005: Fisticuffs break out in the Ukrainian parliament during debate over the country's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). During a visit to Washington earlier in the month, Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said Ukraine hopes to join the WTO before the end of the year.

October 1, 2005: Yekhanurov holds his first cabinet meeting as prime minister.

September 30, 2005: During his first trip abroad as prime minister, Yekhanurov meets with Putin in Moscow and declares that Russia is Ukraine's "main partner."

September 22, 2005: Yekhanurov is confirmed as prime minister on the second vote in the Verkhovna Rada following a political deal between Yushchenko and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who heads the Party of Regions. The deal between the two rivals was widely seen as a betrayal of the Orange Revolution. On September 27-28, Yushchenko appoints a new cabinet.

September 13, 2005: Former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, who was dismissed on September 8, vows to compete in the March 2006 legislative elections with the goal of regaining her post as head of the government.

Yulia Tymoshenko watching Yushchenko deliver the speech in which he explained his decision to dismiss her on September 8, 2005 (AFP)

September 9, 2005: The day after her sacking, Tymoshenko says she will not support Yushchenko, her partner in the Orange Revolution, in the March 2006 legislative elections. "The whole history of my work in the government was a history of two governments working side by side, where ministers received their orders from four or sometimes even five sources," she said.

September 8, 2005: Amid wide-ranging accusations of corruption, Yushchenko sacks Tymoshenko and her cabinet. Mykola Tomenko, deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs, and Petro Poroshenko, the powerful secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, announce they are leaving the government. Yushchenko's chief of staff, Oleksandr Zinchenko, resigned on September 3. The shake-up produces a political crisis that sets the stage for the March 2006 legislative elections.

September 5, 2005: Former Yushchenko aide Oleksandr Zinchenko tells reporters that several high-ranking officials -- whom he said are among the most corrupt members of Yushchenko's team -- are trying to control all branches of government. Among officials Zinchenko identifies as corrupt is Poroshenko.

August 28, 2005: Yushchenko makes a brief visit to the impoverished Donetsk region, a center of support for rival Yanukovich.

August 2005: The Washington-based International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) publishes a survey of 1,265 Ukrainians in late February that was devoted to perceptions of the Orange Revolution and its consequences.

July 2005: Some 200 Ukrainian journalists join forces to ask President Viktor Yushchenko formally to apologize for what they say was rude behavior during a July 25 news conference. The Ukrainian president was angered when a reporter pressed him to address reports about his son's lavish lifestyle. Analysts interpret the disputer as a sign the president's political honeymoon is coming to an end.

July 14, 2005: The growth rate of Ukraine's economy slows to a sluggish 4 percent in the first six months of 2005 under the new government of President Viktor Yushchenko.

June 29, 2005: A Kyiv court orders the Justice Ministry to backdate the registration of the Pora student movement as a political party. The decision allows Pora, which spearheaded the Orange Revolution that brought President Viktor Yushchenko to power, to take part in the March 2006 parliamentary elections.

The Kryvorizhstal steel mill was reprivatized in October 2005 for six times as much as it sold for under President Leonid Kuchma (courtesy photo)

June 14, 2005: Yushchenko calls on his government to be clear and transparent in its reviews of earlier privatization deals. Many ordinary Ukrainians want social justice and urge the government to look into shady privatization deals of the past. However, the new administration has no clear program how it should be done and on what terms suspicious deals should be revisited.

May 19, 2005: Yushchenko criticizes Tymoshenko's government over its handling of gas negotiations with Russia, indicating a serious rift between the two Orange Revolution allies.

May 13, 2005: Tymoshenko marks her first six months as prime minister with an interview with RFE/RL. In it, she says: "But as a person who has been a politician, I know that nobody exists who has committed bigger crimes against Ukraine -- [against] its interests and against the Ukrainian people -- and that if [former President Leonid Kuchma] is not made to answer before the law for what he has done to Ukraine and to our people, then I think there will be little justice in this life."

May 3, 2005: Yushchenko marks his first 100 days in office.

April 4, 2005: Yushchenko meets in the White House with U.S. President George W. Bush. The two presidents affirmed their mutual commitment to democracy, a respect for human rights, and the rule of law.

March 25, 2005: Yushchenko meets in Kyiv with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. "I was last in Kyiv with champagne and greeted Kyivans on the victory and New Year," Saakashvili told a joint press conference. "But the holiday is over, and everyday work has begun. This is no longer a meeting of two revolutionaries; this is a meeting of two leaders."

March 19, 2005: In his first visit to Kyiv since the Orange Revolution, Putin holds "highly constructive" talks with Yushchenko. "Our meeting today demonstrates our common desire to see our bilateral relations be constructive," Yushchenko said. "I highly appreciate the readiness of the head of the Russian state to work jointly in reaching these common goals."

March 5, 2005: More than 6,000 delegates gather in Kyiv to set up a party called Our Ukraine People's Union (NSNU), which is to provide political support to Yushchenko's government and vie for a substantial parliamentary representation in the March 2006 parliamentary elections.

February 21, 2005: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Kyiv to remind the new, pro-Western government of President Viktor Yushchenko that it has some important obligations in the "eastern direction" left to it by its predecessor.

February 21, 2005: Yushchenko travels to Brussels to convince European Union officials to open membership talks with his country by 2007.

February 10, 2005: Yushchenko threatens to take legal action against politicians in eastern Ukraine who are calling for the Russian-speaking part of the country to secede. Yushchenko said all of the country is Ukrainian and that those supporting separatism are "sick."

February 8, 2005: Ukraine's newly appointed foreign minister, Borys Tarasyuk, says his country should use its strategic position between the expanding European Union and a resurgent Russia to become a regional leader.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko at an Orange Revolution rally in December 2004 (epa)

February 4, 2005: Tymoshenko is confirmed as prime minister.

January 25, 2005: Yushchenko tells the Council of Europe he will do all he can to make Ukraine's democratic changes "irreversible."

January 24, 2005: Yushchenko makes his first trip abroad as president to Moscow for talks with Putin.

January 23, 2005: Yushchenko sworn in as president after Yanukovich concedes defeat in the December 26 election runoff. (For an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the Orange Revolution, click here.)

(compiled by RFE/RL)

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