Accessibility links

Breaking News

The Daily Vertical: The Third Time's The Hardest (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Whenever tents start to appear on the streets of Kyiv, you know things are getting pretty serious.

This week's demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital, which saw protesters block the entrance to parliament, clash with police, and erect a makeshift tent city for the first time since the Euromaidan uprising, was just the latest sign that the postrevolutionary honeymoon is long over.

Pro-Western politicians are squabbling. Judicial reform is stalled. Pessimism and tension is rising.

So I guess it's time to get cynical about Ukraine again, right? Well, actually no.

Because the way I see it, Ukraine has been making very slow -- but very steady -- progress since independence.

WATCH Today's Daily Vertical

Ukraine has effectively had three revolutions, each of which has built on the previous one.

The first occurred in the summer of 1994 when incumbent president Leonid Kravchuk lost an election, and then did something remarkable: he stepped down and let the victor, Leonid Kuchma, take office.

This set the precedent that Ukraine's elections are competitive and its power transfers are peaceful.

The second revolution -- popularly known as the Orange Revolution -- occurred a decade later and it basically established the principle of oligarchic pluralism.

After serving two terms as president, Kuchma and his handpicked successor Viktor Yanukovych tried to cement their own clan in power through a fraudulent election -- and civil society, backed by rival oligarchic clans, balked.

And Ukraine's third revolution was of course the Euromaidan.

This was when Ukrainian civil society basically said it's time to move from oligarchic pluralism to real pluralism -- and made it clear it was not going to take no for an answer.

But this is the hardest step for an oligarchic elite to take because it means having the vision, the foresight, and the confidence to legislate away its own privilege and impunity for the good of society.

So what we are witnessing now are simply the growing pains of Ukraine's third and most difficult revolution.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.