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After the ‘velvet revolutions’ in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States of the Soviet Union, 1989-1991, and a period of political re-organization and consolidation, several countries involved developed relatively stable multi-party parliamentary systems. But many others (especially states formed after the disintegration of the Soviet Union) developed into authoritarian or semi-authoritarian regimes. As a result, a second wave of protests to oust these autocratic rulers and to promote a multi-party regime took place in the late 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. There were significant mobilizations by opposition parties, combining street protests with contesting elections, in Romania (1996), Bulgaria (1996-97) and Slovakia (1998 – five years after Czechoslovakia’s ‘velvet divorce’). In all these cases the opposition won in the polls and, despite fears to the contrary, the ruling party stepped down.

Communist Yugoslavia had been outside the Soviet military and economic bloc, since 1948 and had in varying degrees at different times developed a rather more open society. After 1990, however, internal economic pressures, political intransigence and separatist nationalisms led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia into the separate states of Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia and the break-up of the former republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina into ethnically distinct enclaves, leaving Serbia and Montenegro to represent ‘Yugoslavia’ (until Montenegro’s eventual independence in 2006). The breakaway of Slovenia, where there was an active civil society and peace movement, was achieved with relatively few casualties. But Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and finally Kosovo became engaged in bitter wars that not only led to crimes against humanity, but promoted extreme ethnic nationalism and poisoned the prospects of internal democracy.

By the late 1990s the processes of economic and political change influencing other parts of Eastern Europe impacted on both Croatia and Serbia, and both adopted models of protest mobilization and attempts at regime change through elections. A popular movement in Croatia developed in 1999, and underpinned a coalition between opposition parties that won the 2000 elections against the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) that had been dominated by President Tudjman during the 1990s (until his death in late 1999). The struggle in Serbia against the autocratic rule of Slobodan Milosevic, which achieved success in reversing the rigged presidential election in October 2000, drew on the tactics of the movements in Slovakia and Croatia (although Slovak activists had earlier learned from the sustained Serbian protests against rigged local government elections in Belgrade and elsewhere in 1996-97).

The Serbian example was especially dramatic, with protest culminating in miners and others from the provinces converging on Belgrade on October 5 and joining with activists in the city to seize the Parliament building and the TV station. The security forces chose to side with the demonstrators, and Milosevic soon conceded electoral defeat. This example subsequently influenced groups in Georgia, December 2003, and the Ukraine, December 2004, to prepare similar campaigns against rigged elections and to mount large demonstrations in Tbilisi and Kiev. Although occasionally labelled the ‘Bulldozer Revolution’ after the single bulldozer at the front of the 5 October procession, the Serbian revolution has often been presented as the first of the ‘colour revolutions’, and bracketed with the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia and the ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine.

These successful (at least in the short term) combinations of people power with contesting elections in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union encouraged opposition groups in other countries in the region to use the electoral process to field opposition candidates and to organise protests against the rigging of elections. Similar protests – so far unsuccessful and on a smaller scale – have occurred in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Moldova. Kyrgyzstan achieved a change of political leadership in 2005, in what was hailed at the time as the ‘Tulip Revolution’, but the new president was ousted in turn amid widespread protests in 2010, and some commentators have queried whether Kyrgyzstan should be bracketed with Georgia and Ukraine.

Almost all the protests covered in this section have a number of common features that encourage comparison between them. They have all taken place in countries formerly ruled by communist one-party states. They have all occurred in semi-authoritarian regimes that included sometimes violent suppression of dissent but tolerated forms of civil society and formal political opposition – the most repressive ex-Soviet (Asian) republics of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have not experienced this type of movement. Russia itself has oscillated since 1991 in degrees of authoritarianism, without major electoral protests until 2012.

This region still reflects former cold war antagonisms and both Russia and the USA still compete for economic, strategic and ideological advantage. These countries are almost all susceptible to the pull of the European Union and the influence of other European intergovernmental bodies; and the oppositions have been open to ideas, modes of protest and forms of organization in neighbouring countries. In addition the oppositions have adopted a strategy of linking popular mobilization to formal elections – a strategy that encourages external funding and support both for electoral monitoring (internally and by international organisations) and for electioneering. This electoral strategy is not confined to Eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet bloc – it was successfully pioneered in the Philippines in 1986, and unsuccessfully attempted in the Iranian Green Revolution of 2009 (see Section E). But it has been dominant in the former communist states, as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa (some of the literature attempts comparisons between the two regions).

Partly because of the political dynamics of the region, and partly because of the logic of a primarily electoral strategy, opposition movements have often (though not always) received an exceptional degree of external western support in terms of funding, organizational expertise and tactical advice. The role of various types of external support therefore often figures prominently in the literature. The post-communist states also provide a central focus for political and ideological debates about the underlying purposes of external intervention (although this is an issue that has also arisen in other parts of the world) – see commentary and literature under Section F.

Russia itself figures largely in the literature on electoral revolutions in former Soviet states as an external great power supporting authoritarian regimes. But developments within Russia itself are of course politically important, and there have been significant protests, though falling well short of threatening the Putin regime (see D.III).

Only one major and prolonged movement in this section does not fall into the pattern of electoral revolutions, and that is the unarmed struggle for secession and independence by the Albanian majority in the Serbian province of Kosovo from 1988 to the mid-1990s. This important movement committed to a nonviolent strategy was eventually superseded by a guerrilla wing that prompted Serbian armed attacks, which in turn led to NATO intervention in the conflict against Serbian forces. Kosovo is therefore covered first in a separate sub-section.

Kosovo, with a large and growing Albanian population suspected of separatist leanings, suffered serious repression in Tito’s Yugoslavia until 1966, when the powers of the political police were significantly curbed and the province gained greater autonomy, albeit still within the republic of Serbia. In 1981, however, protests erupted in which Kosovo Albanians demanded a republic, and for the rest of the decade tensions increased between the Serbian minority and Albanians within Kosovo, and between the rest of the republic and the province. A revived and aggressive Serbian nationalism was translated into a policy of oppressing the Albanians and suppressing their institutions from 1988 onwards. There was an impressive disciplined nonviolent mass struggle by the Albanian population from 1988 until 1998. But a group committed to guerrilla warfare (the Kosovo Liberation Army) began attacks in 1996, which led to a Serbian military offensive involving brutal retaliation in 1998, international condemnation of Serb actions and NATO bombing of Serb forces and Serbia in 1999.

For an insightful series of essays, which may not, however, be easily available, see:


Clark, Howard, Civil Resistance in Kosovo, London, Pluto Press, 2000, pp. 266

This study, whilst explaining the historical and political context of the civil resistance, focuses primarily on the strategy, institutions and weaknesses of the nonviolent struggle.

Also Clark, Howard , Kosovo: Civil Resistance in Defence of the Nation – 1990s In Bartkowski, Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, 2013, pp. 279-296 , pp. 279-96, and Clark, Howard , The Limits of Prudence: Civil Resistance in Kosovo, 1990-98 In Roberts; Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 277-293 , pp. 277-94.

Farnsworth, Nicole, History is Herstory Too: The History of Women in Civil Society in Kosovo, 1980-2004, Prishtina, Kosova Gender Studies Centre, 2008, pp. 391

Gashi, Shkelzen, Adem Demaçi Biography: a Century of Kosova’s History through One Man’s Life, Prishtina, Rrokulia Publishing House, 210, pp. 240

Biography of long-term prisoner and human rights campaigner who was increasingly critical of Rugova’s ‘passive’ approach.

Kostovicova, Denisa, Parallel Worlds: Response of Kosovo Albanians to Loss of Autonomy in Serbia, Keele, Keele European Research Centre, 1997, pp. 109

Kostovica’s commentaries also appeared frequently in the on-line journal Transitions:

Kostovicova, Denisa, Kosovo: The Politics of Identity and Space, London, Routledge, 2005, pp. 322

Primarily a study of education and on ethnic segregation.

Krasniqi, Gezim, ”For Democracy – Against Violence”: a Kosovar Alternative, In Jankovic, Bojan ; Jankovic, Vesna , Resisting the Evil: [Post-]Yugoslav Anti-War Contention Baden-Baden, Nomos, , 2012, pp. 83-102

Maliqi, Shkelzen, Kosova: Separate Worlds: Reflections and Analysis, Peja/Pec, Dukagjini, 1998, pp. 261

Mertus, Julie, Kosovo: How Truths and Myths Started a War, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1999, pp. 378

Interviews with both Serbs and Albanians about key episodes in the escalation from 1981 to 1990 are juxtaposed with a written history. See also: Mertus, Julie, ‘Women in Kosovo: Contested terrains – the role of national identity in shaping and challenging gender identity’ in Sabrina P. Ramet (ed.), Gender Politics in the Western Balkans, University Park PA, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999, pp. 171-86.

Waller, Michael ; Drezov, Kyril ; Gokay, Bulent, Kosovo: The Politics of Delusion, London, Frank Cass, 2001, pp. 190

Main focus on developments after 1996, the role of the Kosovo Liberation Army and the NATO war on Serbia (including documents such as the Rambouillet Text and the UN Security council Resolution of June 1999). But chapter two (pp. 11-19) discusses Albanian schooling in Kosovo, 1992-98, and chapter 19 ‘The limitations of violent intervention’ raises questions about nonviolent alternatives.

The primary focus of many of the references in this section is on the nature of the movements that challenged rigged elections and tried to topple autocrats, the role of civil society, the significance of external support, and reasons for immediate success and failure. Many also discuss diffusion of protest. diffusion of protest. Since ‘electoral revolutions’ are also designed to secure longer term democratization of politics, important questions arise about longer term ‘success’ in changing the system. Within the democratization literature some authors query how far (if at all) system change was achieved by the colour revolutions – see for example Hale, Kalandadze and Orenstein, and Tudoriou below. (Some analyses of campaigns in particular countries covered under D.2. also comment on subsequent political developments which indicate little long term improvement in the conduct of government.) Accounts in the civil resistance literature tend to focus primarily on the movements and the immediate overthrow of governments, but for a very condensed sceptical assessment of subsequent politics in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan see Carter, People Power and Political Change: Key Issues and Concepts (A. 1.a.ii. Theories of Civil Disobedience, Power and Revolution) , Chapter 6.

Beissinger, Mark, Structure and Example in Modular Political Phenomena: The Diffusion of Bulldozer/Rose/Orange/Tulip Revolutions, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 5, issue 2 (June), 2007, pp. 259-276

Binnendijk, Anika Locke ; Marovic, Ivan, Power and persuasion: Nonviolent strategies to influence state security forces in Serbia (2000) and Ukraine (2004), Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39, issue 3 (Special Issue ‘Democratic Revolutions in Post-Communist States’, ed. Taras Kuzio), 2006, pp. 411-429

Describes explicit strategies developed in both Serbia and Ukraine to increase costs of repression and reduce the willingness of the security forces to resort to violence. By combining deterrence and persuasion the organisers were able to avert major repression in 2000 and 2004.

Bunce, Valerie J. ; McFaul, Michael ; Stoner-Weiss, Kathryn, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 360

Examines waves of change in 11 former communist nations, from 1989-1992, and the electoral defeat of authoritarian rulers from 1996 to 2005 in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. This volume looks in particular at issues of transmission and the role of transnational and international actors, with a particular focus on the role of the EU. The final section discusses the conundrum posed by political developments in Russia, and also Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. Individual chapters are also cited under particular countries.

Bunce, Valerie J. ; Wolchik, Sharon L., Favourable conditions and electoral revolutions, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, issue 4 (October), 2006, pp. 5-18

Analysis of ‘second wave of democratization’ in post-Communist states and why conditions in these states favourable to success, compared for example with failure of protests over fraudulent elections in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire. See also by Bunce, Valerie J.; Wolchik, Sharon L., International diffusion and postcommunist electoral revolutions Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 2006, pp. 283-302 , discussing five factors in the diffusion of electoral revolutions, including the development of civil society and networks between ‘international democracy promoters’.

Bunce, Valerie J. ; Wolchik, Sharon L., Postcommunist Ambiguities, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 20, issue 3 (July), 2009, pp. 93-107

Discusses why since 1996 some authoritarian rulers have been ousted but in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus opposition failed (in two successive elections in each case).

Bunce, Valerie J. ; Wolchik, Sharon L., Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Post-Communist Countries, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 364

Discusses electoral defeats of authoritarian leaders from 1998 to 2005 (Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan), but also unsuccessful movements in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. Analyses local and international actors and draws comparisons with other parts of the world.

Collin, Matthew, The Time of the Rebels: Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century Revolutions, London, Serpent's Trail, 2007, pp. 224

Interviews activists from Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus, as well as Serbia.

D'Anieri, Paul, Explaining the success and failure of post-communist revolutions, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39, issue 3 (Special Issue ‘Democratic Revolutions in Post-Communist States’, ed. Taras Kuzio), 2006, pp. 331-350

Argues that while most studies focus on grassroots movements, elites – especially security services – are crucial in determining whether movements reach a ‘tipping point’. Illustrates argument by comparing two ‘failed revolutions’ (Serbia 1996-97 and Ukraine 2001) with two ‘successful revolutions’ (Serbia 2000 and Ukraine 2004-2005). [Compare with Binnendijk; Marovic, Power and persuasion: Nonviolent strategies to influence state security forces in Serbia (2000) and Ukraine (2004) (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments) above.]

Forbrig, Joerg ; Demes, Pavol, Reclaiming Democracy: Civil Society and Electoral Change in Central and Eastern Europe, Washington DC, German Marshall Fund of USA, 2007, pp. 254

First section includes contributions from Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Georgia and the Ukraine. Second section is comparative discussion on range of issues by authors including Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik, Taras Kuzio and Vitali Silitski.

Hale, Henry E., Democracy, autocracy and revolution in Post-Soviet Eurasia, World Politics, Vol. 68, issue 1 (October), 2005, pp. 133-155

Includes references to Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine.

Hale, Henry E., Democracy or autocracy on the march? The colored revolution as normal dynamics of patronal presidentialism, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39, issue 3 (Special Issue ‘Democratic Revolutions in Post-Communist States’, ed. Taras Kuzio), 2006, pp. 305-329

Argues that the ‘color revolutions’ 2003-2005 were fundamentally succession struggles in ‘patronal presidental’ regimes, rather than demoncratic breakthroughs, and therefore can result in retreat from democratic principles, as in Georgia.

Howard, Marc Morje ; Roessler, Philip G., Liberalizing electoral outcomes in competitive authoritarian regimes, American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50, issue April, 2006, pp. 365-381

Makes comparisons between post-communist regimes and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Kalandadze, Katya ; Orenstein, Mitchel, Electoral Protests and Democratization: Beyond the Color Revolutions, Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 42, issue 11 (November), 2009, pp. 1403-1425

Sceptical assessment of role of popular protest in achieving genuine democratic change.

Kuzio, Taras, Civil society, youth and societal mobilization, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39, issue 3 (Special Issue ‘Democratic Revolutions in Post-Communist States’, ed. Taras Kuzio), 2006, pp. 365-368

Examines the leading role of youth organizations – Otpor in Serbia (2000), Kmara in Georgia (2003) and Pora in Ukraine (2004) – and conditions for success, including training, western technical and financial assistance, choice of strategies and response of authorities.

Nikolayenko, Olena, Youth Movements in Post-Communist Societies: A Model of Nonviolent Resistance, Working Paper No 114, June, Stanford CA, Center on Democracry and the Rule of Law (Stanford University), 2009, pp. 50

O'Beachain, Donnacha ; Polese, Abel, The Colour Revolutions in the former Soviet Republics: Successes and Failures, London, Routledge, 2010, pp. 254

See also O'Beachain, Donnacha , Roses and Tulips: Dynamics of regime change in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan Journal of Communist and Transition Studies, 2009, pp. 199-206 . Argues against the thesis that opposition unity is a prerequisite for success in overthrowing presidents, and also rejects claims that Western agents promoted protests to secure western interests.

Tucker, Joshua A., Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective Action Problems, and the Second Wave of Post-Communist Democratic Revolutions, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 5, issue 3 (September), 2007, pp. 537-553

Tudoriou, Theodor, Rose, Orange and Tulip: The failed post-Soviet revolutions, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 40, issue 2 (Sept), 2007, pp. 315-342

Argues that civil society (despite its role in the opposition ) was too weak in these cases to achieve basic change, and that the democratic revolutions ‘proved to be little more than a limited rotation of ruling elites within undemocratic political systems’.

Way, Lucan, The Real Causes of the Color Revolutions, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 19, issue 3 (July), 2008, pp. 55-69

See also follow-up debate:

Journal of Democracy, Debating the color revolutions Journal of Democracy, 2009, pp. 69-97 (including contributions from Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik, Mark Beissinger, Charles Fairbanks, Vitali Silitksy and Martin Dimitrou, with reply by Lucan Way).

The literature available in English on campaigns centred primarily on elections in post-communist and post-Soviet states is variable, from good coverage of the overthrow of Milosevic in Serbia (2000) to limited coverage of the ‘critical election’ in Croatia (2000). The 2009 protests against a disputed election in Moldova (which failed) have also not been well covered (and Moldova is not listed separately below) – but see

Pipidi, Alina Mungu ; Monteanu, Igor, Moldova’s “Twitter Revolution”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 20, issue 3 (July), 2009, pp. 136-143

This section does cover ‘critical elections’ – where civil society mobilization to promote voter turnout and ensure independent electoral monitoring helped achieve an ideologically significant opposition victory over the ruling party – in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Croatia. In these countries there were also popular protests and demonstrations on various issues in advance of the elections. The democratization literature on post-Communist states generally cites Romania 1996 as the first ‘critical election’, where the opposition defeated an illiberal ruling part in the ballot (see Bunce; Wolchik, Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Post-Communist Countries (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments) above). But although there was civil society activity related to the elections, and Romanian activists did give advice to groups in the Slovak opposition, events in Romania do not really qualify for inclusion in a bibliography on nonviolent action.

Information on individual campaigns can generally be found on internet sources such as the International Crisis Group, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and also OSCE and/or EU reports on specific elections. Very short but informative articles can also sometimes be found in the journal The World Today.

Inspired by electoral protests elsewhere, a number of Armenian NGOs tried to mobilize to contest the rigging of presidential elections in both 2003 and 2008 and engaged in voter education and electoral monitoring. Despite findings by the Constitutional Court in favour of opposition candidates’ complaints about the unfairness of the poll, and a degree of external monitoring that criticised the electoral process, public mobilization to demand new elections, including marches and a tent city, were crushed by the regime both times.

Armenia has been less well covered than most other electoral protests in post-Soviet states. But see:

Ishkanian, Armine, Democracy Building in Post-Soviet Armenia, London, Routledge, 2008, pp. 206

Critical assessment of western support for civil society groups, noting that it can create a backlash and needs to be considered in the historical, social and cultural context of the country involved. Also makes comparisons with other post-Soviet states.

See also:

Valerie J. Bunce; Sharon L. Wolchik, Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Post-Communist Countries, (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments), pp. 190-98 for useful summary and detailed references.

The Presidential election in 2003 confirmed Ilham Aliyev, son of President Heydar Aliyev (former First Secretary of the Azerbiajan Communist Party) as successor to his father. This election was criticized by the OSCE, but accepted internationally, and left the electorate disillusioned when the parliamentary elections took place in 2005. So only 50% of the electorate voted.

However campaigners (inspired by Georgia and later Ukraine) had been trying since 2003, when they organized minor protests, to promote popular resistance to electoral fraud and repression. The opposition gained unity in 2005 and the opposition Azadlig bloc ran 115 candidates and tried with public demonstrations to launch their own ‘orange revolution’. The OSCE and Council of Europe condemned human rights abuses and government manipulation of the elections, but western diplomats encouraged the opposition to limit their protests to the courts and authorized rallies, although even authorized demonstrations attracted repressive measures.

Alieva, Leila, Azerbaijan’s frustrating elections, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, issue 2 (April), 2006, pp. 147-160

Analysis of background and context of elections, the regime’s role and actions of the opposition.

Bunce, Valerie J. ; Wolchik, Sharon L., Azerbaijan’s 2005 Parliamentary Elections: A Failed Attempt at Transition, Working Paper No 89, September, Stanford CA, Center on Democracry, Development and the Rule of Law (Stanford University), 2008, pp. 52

See also Bunce; Wolchik, Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Post-Communist Countries (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments) , pp. 178-90.

Valiyev, Anar M., Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan: A failed revolution, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 53, issue 3 (May/June), 2006, pp. 17-35

Argues that despite violence used against opposition and shattered hopes, the protests promoted increased political participation.

Belarus remains the most authoritarian regime among the European ex-Soviet states, despite a significant dissident movement among intellectuals and young people who grouped round Charter 97, Zubr (Bison) – a group committed to nonviolence – and other organizations. Commemoration of Chernobyl in April 2005 resulted in large scale arrests. Since the March 2006 presidential election, where the opposition failed to overthrow President Lukashenka, a major (but not exclusive) focus has remained on electoral protest. The opposition tried again in the presidential election of December 2010, despite arrest and torture of activists and journalists, and held a 30,000 strong demonstration in Minsk on election night. But the President retains a strong grip on power and still has significant popular support.

Forbrig, Joerg ; Marples, David R. ; Demes, Pavol, Prospects for Democracy in Belarus, Washington DC, German Marshall Fund of USA and Heinrich Boell Stiftung, 2006

Marples, David R., Color revolutions: the Belarus case, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 39, issue 3 (Special Issue ‘Democratic Revolutions in Post-Communist States’, ed. Taras Kuzio), 2006, pp. 351-357

Examines why protesters failed to achieve regime change in the 2006 presidential election. Argues that the historical background of the regime, the popularity of the president, and electors’ concern with economic rather than democratic issues were all important. Also considers role of Russia and its ambivalence towards the Belarus regime.

Silitski, Vitali, Belarus: Learning from defeat, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, issue 4 (October), 2006, pp. 138-152

Examines presidential election of March 2006 and argues that, although the protests against abuses apparently failed, they created a ‘network of solidarity’ and a ‘revolution of the spirit’. Two essays by Silitski focus on the effectiveness of the authoritarian regime and why it can contain protest: Silitski, Vitali , Pre-empting Democracy: The Case of Belarus Journal of Democracy, 2005, pp. 83-97 , and Silitski, Vitali , Contagion Deterred: Pre-emptive Authoritarianism in the Former Soviet Union (the Case of Belarus) In Bunce; McFaul; Stoner-Weiss, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments)New York, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 274-299 .

Wilson, Andrew, Belarus – The Last European Dictatorship, New Haven CT, Yale University Press, 2011, pp. 256

Covers earlier Belarusian history and search for identity, but gives weight to analysis of President Lukashenka’s rise to power and how he maintained it effectively for so long, including his handling of the challenge in the 2010 presidential election.

See also:

Valerie J. Bunce; Sharon L. Wolchik, Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Post-Communist Countries, (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments), pp. 198-211, including detailed references.

Bulgaria did not experience a full scale internal revolution in 1989 – although there was a degree of public internal dissent on economic, minority rights and ecological issues during the year. The ruling Communist Party moved to forestall major public unrest by forcing the resignation of its long term leader, Todor Zhivkov and adopting a number of resolutions on political and economic reform. The Party also agreed, after public protests mobilized by an opposition coalition demanding democratization, to hold negotiations on a new constitution. Initially, however, the Party (renamed the Bulgarian Socialist Party, but a still unreconstructed old-style party machine) was able to maintain political dominance, although it legalised private property. Bulgaria experienced a number of unstable coalition governments in the early 1990s, but in 1994 the Socialist Party returned to power and tried to promote a ‘Bulgarian third way’. between state socialism and western neoliberal capitalism.

The main opposition to the Bulgarian Socialist Party was the Union of Democratic Forces (soon effectively a right wing party with strong backing from conservative parties and groups in Europe), and the final triumph of the UDF in the 1996 presidential election, and especially in the April 1997 parliamentary elections, was more clearly a victory of the ideological right than in most of the countries covered in this Section. Bulgaria was also under strong pressure from the IMF. But two factors make it relevant to include Bulgaria here: 1. the significant role of public protests, by workers, pensioners and students (organizing brief strikes, occupying buildings, threatening to block roads and using street theatre) in forcing the Bulgarian Socialist Party to hold early parliamentary elections; and 2. the role of Bulgaria in the transmission of protest tactics – learning from the Serbian protests of 1996-97, and providing advice to the Slovak campaigners of 1998 (see below). The Bulgarian demonstrations were primarily centred on economic discontent, rather than on civil rights and democratization, but by January 1997 daily peaceful rallies in the capital (now led by the UDF) drew also on high school students and ordinary citizens, and were portrayed by parts of the Bulgarian media as ‘the conscience of the people’ opposed to the government.

Daimov, E., The Awakening: A Chronicle of the Bulgarian Uprising of January-Feburary 1997, Sofia, Democracy Network Program: Centre of Social Practices NBU, 1998, pp. 127

Notes that Bulgaria maintained a stable Soviet-style system until the collapse of the Soviet Union, but has made a surprisingly effective transition to parliamentary government and a market economy.

Dimitrov, Vesselin, Bulgaria: The Uneven Transition, London, Routledge, 2001, pp. 132

Charts transition to multiparty democracy and a market economy from 1989, with a focus on party coalitions and alignments.

Ganev, Venelin I., Bulgaria’s Symphony of Hope, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 8, issue 4 (October), 1997, pp. 125-139

Petrova, Tsveta, A Postcommunist Transition in Two Acts: The 1996-7 Antigovernment Struggle in Bulgaria as a Bridge between the 1989-92 and 1996-2007 Democratization Waves in Eastern Europe, In Bunce; McFaul; Stoner-Weiss, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments), New York, Cambridge University Press, pp. 107-133

A clear summary of developments from 1989-1997, that also lays emphasis on the role of popular mobilization and protests.

The public campaign to defeat the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party in the January 2000 parliamentary and presidential elections was strongly influenced by the success in Slovakia of OK’98 (see below). But the mobilization also built on a growing internal opposition by civil society groups engaged in anti-war activity, aid to refugees and human rights (which had begun to develop under the Communist regime) and public discontent, shown by opposition success in local elections in Zagreb in 1995 (although the regime barred the opposition from taking office) and falling support for the HDZ in parliamentary elections that year.


Franjo Tudjman, who dominated Croat politics from 1990 to his death in 1999, and his HDZ party, promoted an extreme form of nationalism. The Croatian government was regularly condemned by international organizations for its role in the wars that fragmented Yugoslavia and for its treatment of the Serb minority in Croatia. Isolation also led to unemployment and high inflation.

The public mobilization to overthrow the HDZ in 2000 was led by two key organizations: Citizens Organized to Monitor Voting (GONG ) and the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Glas 99) (both of which received significant external western aid). Campaigners targeted youth, women (women’s NGOs were very active), pensioners and environmentalists. Political parties formed two separate opposition coalitions, which defeated the HDZ, and Tudjman’s successors, in both parliamentary and presidential elections.

Bellamy, Alex, Croatia after Tudjman: The 2000 Parliamentary and Presidential Elections, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 48, issue 5 (September/October), 2001, pp. 18-31

Fisher, Sharon, Political Change in Post-Communist Slovakia and Croatia: From Nationalist to Europeanist, New York, Palgrave McMillan, 2007, pp. 272

Analyses rise of nationalist movements, how the regimes in newly independent Croatia (1991) and Slovakia (1992) promoted nationalism and the subsequent decline of nationalism and rise of democratic civil society and opposition movements.

Irvine, Jill, From Civil Society to Civil Servants: Women’s Organizations and Critical Elections in Croatia, Politics and Gender, Vol. 3, issue 1 (March), 2007, pp. 7-32

Georgia inherited a legacy of widespread corruption from the Soviet era and immediately after independence suffered two bitter ethnic conflicts: in 1990 the Ossetian region tried to break away and in 1993 Abkhazian separatists claimed the strategically vital area on the Black Sea. The first elected president of independent Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was overthrown by the military in 1992 and Gorbachev’s former Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze took over. He won an election in October 1992, but faced continuing civil war with supporters of Gamsakhurdia based in western Georgia.

Georgia had strong economic and political links to Russia, but the USA took an increasing interest in the region after 2001, both because of desire to extend its strategic reach and because of planned gas and oil pipelines to run from Baku through Georgia and Turkey.

When parliamentary elections were held in November 2003 opposition parties and foreign observers claimed that they were rigged. Thousands blocked the streets of the capital and then occupied the parliament building. After intensive negotiations, Shevardnadze resigned as president, and Mikhail Saakashvili, the main leader of the protests, won a landslide victory in the presidential elections of January 2004. The protesters had learned from Serbia – the activist youth group Kmara (‘Enough!’) had been in contact with their counterparts in Otpor – and the demonstrators stressed nonviolence and held red roses (hence the ‘Rose Revolution’).

Because the Georgian opposition received considerable funding and support directly and indirectly from the US Administration, and Saakashvili himself leaned strongly towards the west, the Rose Revolution is often seen as a victory for western states. Detailed studies suggest, however, a more nuanced analysis of events in November 2003. Saakashvili’s policies since he achieved power have failed to meet western official standards of civil liberties and the rule of law and have created foreign policy crises (as over his attempt to re-establish control by force over the breakaway province of Ossetia in 2008).

Anable, David, The Role of Georgia’s Media – and Western Aid – in Georgia’s Rose Revolution, The Harvard Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 11, issue 3, 2006, pp. 7-43

Also available online as Joan Shorenstein Center Working Paper no. 3, 2006.

Boers, Laurence, ”After the Revolution”: Civil society and the challenges of consolidating democracy in Georgia, Central Asian Survey, Vol. 24, issue 3, 2005, pp. 335-350

Analysis of the ‘revolution’ including some mention of role of nonviolence.

Collin, Matthew, This is Serbia Calling: Rock ’n’ Roll Radio and Belgrade’s Underground Resistance, 2nd edition, London, Five Star, 2004

Updated story of Radio B92 to 2004.

Coppierters, Bruno ; Levgold, Robert, Statehood and Security: Georgia After the Rose Revolution, Cambridge MA, MIT, 2005, pp. 406

Fairbanks, Charles H., Georgia’s Rose Revolution, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 15, issue April, 2004, pp. 110-134

Explains background to the demonstrations, and elaborates on role of the US government in relation to the elections, and of the George Soros Open Society Foundation in funding opposition and promoting nonviolent prkotest. Comments also on the role of TV stations owned by private entrepreneurs.

Hash-Gonzales, Kelli, Popular Mobilization and Empowerment in Georgia’s Rose Revolution, Lanham MA, Lexington, 2012, pp. 180

Jawad, Pamela, Democratic Consolidation in Georgia after the “Rose Revolution”?, PRIF Reports No. 73, Frankfurt Main, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, 2005, pp. 48

Jones, Stephen, The Rose Revolution: A Revolution without Revolutionaries?, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Vol. 9, issue 1, 2006, pp. 33-48

Argues that the role of civil society bodies was important, but not vital. He suggests that key factors were popular attitudes to the ideal of Europe, the impact of the global economy, the appeal of western models and the implications of the soviet legacy. See also Jones, Stephen , Georgia’s ‘Rose Revolution’ of 2003: Enforcing Peaceful Change In Roberts; Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)New York, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 317-334 .

Kandelaki, Giorgi, Georgia’s Rose Revolution: A Participant’s Perspective, Special Report no. 167, Washington DC, US Institute of Peace, 2006, pp. 12

Account by student leader and founder of Kmara. Discusses background of Shevardnadze regime, comments on why protesters and the government avoided violence, assesses role of internal media (especially Rustavi-2) and argues that the role of foreign support was limited by lack of information and by caution. Summary and full report available online.

Karumidze, Zurab ; Wertsch, James V., Enough! The Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia, New York, Nova Science Publishers, 2005, pp. 143

Features interviews with a number of Georgian political figures. Most of the contents are reproduced from the Spring 2004 issue of Caucasus Context.

Lansky, Miriam ; Areshidze, Georgi, Georgia’s Year of Turmoil, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 19, issue 4, 2008, pp. 154-168

Argues there was domestic crisis in Georgia before the war with Russia. Flawed elections, a ‘superpresidency’ and arbitrariness towards the constitution marked politics after the Rose Revolution.

Welt, Cory, Regime Vulnerability and Popular Mobilization in Georgia’s Rose Revolution, Working Paper No 67, September, Stanford CA, Center on Democracry, Development and the Rule of Law (Stanford University), 2006, pp. 60

Discusses US involvement and assesses the ‘Serbian factor’ in diffusing strategic ideas. See also: Welt, Cory , Georgia’s Rose Revolution: From Regime Weakness to Regime collapse In Bunce; McFaul; Stoner-Weiss, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments)New York, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 155-188 .

Wheatley, Jonathan, Georgia from National Awakening to Rose Revolution, London, Ashgate, 2005, pp. 252

Mostly on the period 1989-2002 and the nature of the Shevardnadze regime, but chapter 6 covers ‘pressure from below’ and chapter 7 the ‘Rose Revolution’.

See also:

The protests in March 2005 (the ‘Tulip Revolution’) were (as in Georgia) at least partially a response to rigged parliamentary elections. But the demonstrations, which erupted in the southern city of Osh before spreading to capital Bishek, also appeared to be a protest against presidential nepotism and economic hardship. The protesters were more violent than in Georgia and the Ukraine, looting and rioting as they attacked the presidential and parliamentary buildings. Some observers have queried how far the uprising was spontaneous or was organized by opposition leaders seeking power. The immediate outcome was that President Akayev fled to Russia and an opposition leader, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, became interim president and prime minister, but agreed to work with the newly elected parliament. He won a landslide victory in the presidential election in July 2005, in an election approved by OSCE monitors. In Spring 2006 there were protests demanding further reforms and in early November 2006 mass demonstrations called on the President to sign a new constitution limiting his power. He did so, but tension between pro- and anti-government demonstrators indicated continuing instability.

President Bakiyev was faced by another unarmed uprising in April 2010, sparked by economic hardship and anger at presidential corruption. Like his predecessor he fled the country as protests turned into rioting, but has been accused by the new government (and UN observers) of fomenting serious ethnic violence against Uzbeks in the south (2,000 were killed).

Fuhrmann, Matthew, A Tale of Two Social Capitals: Revolutionary Collective Action in Kyrgyzstan, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 53, issue 6, 2007, pp. 16-29

Kulikova, Svetlana V. ; Perlmutter, David D., Blogging Down the Dictator? The Kyrgyz Revolution and Samizdat Websites, International Communication Gazette, Vol. 69, issue February, 2007, pp. 29-50

Marat, Erica, The Tulip Revolution: Kyrgyzstan One Year After, Washington DC, The Jamestown Foundation, 2006, pp. 151

Chronological collection of articles from Jamestown’s Eurasia Daily Monitor.

Radnitz, Scott, What really happened in Kyrgyzstan?, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, issue April, 2006, pp. 132-146

Stresses that the ‘Tulip Revolution’ was very different from other ‘colour revolutions’ and notes the importance of localism. See also: Radnitz, Scott , A Horse of a Different Color: Revolution and Regression’ in Bunce In Bunce; McFaul; Stoner-Weiss, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments)New York, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 300-324 , arguing that the events of 2005 better seen as a ‘coup’.

See also:

The Dayton Accords of 1995 ended the bloody wars over the secession of Croatia and the future of Bosnia Hercegovina. In this period western powers saw Milosevic as central to achieving a settlement of the conflicts. From 1996, however, the USA and Western European states began to give increasing support to opposition groups in the form of western diplomatic and economic aid and of external training and advice about the tactics of unarmed resistance. The importance of this is one of the key issues debated about the subsequent overthrow of Milosevic in October 2000.

For a much cited source on the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and of Serbia under Milosevic, see:

For resistance to Serbia’s wars see:

  • Women in Black, Women for Peace , 1994 , published in English, Spanish and Serbian since 1994.

After the end of fighting a range of groups inside Serbia (including students and intellectuals and extreme nationalists) began to rally against the increasingly corrupt and authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic. There were daily mass demonstrations in the winter 1996-97, especially in the capital Belgrade, over the rigging of town hall elections, and after OSCE intervention Milosevic conceded defeat in 13 cities and nine municipalities of Belgrade. The youth group Otpor was created in 1998 by students who had been active in the 1996-97 protests and played an important role in promoting an almost united opposition to Milosevic in the elections of 2000 and in the resistance to his attempt to rig the results. But the role of miners and other groups from the provinces was crucial in the final days of protest leading to the fall of Milosevic. The most detailed account of his fall, hard to obtain outside Belgrade, is:

  • Bujosevic, Dragan ; Radovanovic, Ivan , OCTOBER 5 - A 24 - Hour Coup Belgrade, Medija Centar Beograd, , 2000, pp. 315 , which is based on interviews with 60 people and includes photos and map of Belgrade.
Ilic, Vladimir, Otpor – In or Beyond Politics, Helsinki Files No. 5, Belgrade, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, 2001

Similar material is contained in: Ilic, Vladimir , Otpor - An Organization in Action , 2002, pp. 54 .

Jovanovich, Milja, Rage Against the Regime: the OTPOR Movement in Serbia, In von Tongeren, Paul ; Brenk, Malin ; Hellema, Marte ; Verhoeven, Juliette , People Building Peace II: Successful Stories of Civil Society Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, , 2005, pp. 545-551

Krnjevic-Miskovic, Damjan, Serbia’s prudent revolution, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 12, issue July, 2001, pp. 96-110

Lazić, Mladen, Protests in Belgrade: Winter of Discontent, Budapest and New York, Central European University Press, 1999, pp. 242

Based on interviews with more than 1,000 participants in the 1996-97 protests.

Lebor, Adam, Milosevic: A Biography, London, Bloomsbury, 2002, pp. 386

Chapter 24 – ‘Toppling Milosevic from Budapest’, pp. 298-312 – covers Otpor demonstrations in 2000, but focuses on role of outside powers in toppling Milosevic and ensuring TV coverage.

Nenadic, Danijela ; Belcevic, Nenad, Serbia – Nonviolent struggle for democracy: The role of Otpor, In Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), London, Pluto Press, pp. 26-35

Former Otpor activists assess its role and criticism made of the group. Accompanied by critical reflections on ‘Serbia eight years after’ by Ivana Franovic (pp. 35-38).

Smiljanic, Zorana, Plan B: Using Secondary Protests to Undermine Repression, St. Paul, MN, New Tactics in Human Rights/Centre for Victims of Torture, 2003, pp. 23

Specifically on Otpor’s demonstrations at police stations to mark the arrest of activists.

Thomas, Robert, Serbia Under Milosevic: Politics in the 1990s, London, Hurst, 1999, pp. 443

See especially pp. 263-318 on formation of united opposition and mass protests from March 1996 to February 1997. Account goes up to 1998.

Thompson, Mark R. ; Kuntz, Phillipp, Stolen elections: The Case of the Serbian October, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 15, issue 4 (October), 2003, pp. 159-172

(see also Thompson, Democratic Revolutions: Asia and Eastern Europe (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp. 84-97).

Analysis of Milosevic regime and reasons for the October 2000 uprising, plus brief reflections on links between stolen elections and the democratic revolutions in the Philippines 1986, Madagascar 2002 and Georgia 2003. Useful references to other literature.

Slovakia (part of Czechoslovakia since the Versailles settlement of 1919) broke away to form a separate state in 1992. Since this was motivated by a sense of a distinct historical and cultural identity and political difference, the new regime dominated by Vladimir Meciar was unsurprisingly nationalist in tone, and also relatively authoritarian. Its path towards EU membership was slowed down by its tendency to harass political opponents, ignore civil liberties and discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Meciar had won parliamentary elections in 1992 at the head of a new party, Movement for a Democratic Slovakia – he had broken with Public Against Violence (parallel to the Czech Civic Forum) associated with the 1989 ‘velvet revolution’. Although Meciar briefly lost office in 1994, during the parliamentary elections that year the opposition was divided and easily defeated by his party. But by 1996 opposition parties began to cooperate, for example to campaign for direct elections to the presidency, and also to work with a strong civil society sector. As a result by the 1998 parliamentary elections political parties from the Christian Democrats to the Social Democrats and the Greens and a party of the Hungarian minority came together in a coalition to defeat Meciar. Electoral tactics were backed by a strong public campaign to inform the public and get out the vote, including local meetings with candidates and rock concerts, and also to organize electoral monitoring. A coalition of civil society bodies ‘Civic Campaign ‘98’ (OK ‘98) was responsible for this campaign, building on earlier experiences of campaigns and demonstrations, and managed to involve trade unions in electoral activity.

OK ‘98 received advice from Romanian and Bulgarian activists – and was in turn to become an important model for subsequent civil society campaigns in Croatia and Serbia. The Slovak campaigners also received substantial financial aid and some technical advice from the US and other governments (including Bulgaria) and from unofficial external groups.

Meciar had assumed the office of President in 1998 (when the previous incumbent stepped down) as well as Prime Minister, initiated changes in electoral law and stepped up harassment of opponents, so it seemed likely that he would try to rig the elections – hence the emphasis on independent monitoring. The opposition did not expect that Meciar would try to retain power by force (despite his support within the police and security services) and in the event (unlike Milosevic in Serbia) he immediately accepted electoral defeat.

Butora, Martin ; Meseznikov, Grigorij ; Butrova, Zora ; Fisher, Sharon, The 1998 Parliamentary Election and Democratic Rebirth in Slovakia, Bratislava, Institue for Public Affairs, 1999, pp. 215

Written by protagonists and supporters of the anti-Meciar campaign. Chapters on mobilization of trade unions, Slovak churches and other civil society bodies to turn out the vote for the anti-Meciar coalition, especially among the young (10% of the electorate were first time voters).

See also: Butora, Martin ; Butrova, Zora , Slovakia’s Democratic Awakening Journal of Democracy, 1999, pp. 80-93 ; and Butora, Martin , OK’98: A Campaign of Slovak NGOs for Free and Fair Elections In Forbrig; Demes, Reclaiming Democracy: Civil Society and Electoral Change in Central and Eastern Europe (D. II.1. Comparative Assessments)Washington DC, German Marshall Fund of USA, 2007, pp. 21-52 . Butora was a founder member of Public Against Violence and a former Slovak ambassador to the USA.

Meseznikov, Grigorij ; Ivantysyn, Michal ; Nicholson, Tom, Slovakia 1998-1999: A Global Report on the State of Society, Bratislava, Institue for Public Affairs, 1999, pp. 439

Pridham, Geoffrey, Complying with the European Union’s Democratic Conditionality: Transnational Party Linkage and Regime Change in Slovakia, 1993-1998, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 51, issue 7 (November), 1999, pp. 1221-1244

Reichardt, David, Democracy Promotuion in Slovakia: An Import or an Export business?, Perspectives: Central European Review of International Affairs, Vol. 18, issue Summer, 2002, pp. 5-20

Rhodes, Matthew, Slovakia after Meciar: A Midterm Report, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 48, issue 4 (summer), 2002, pp. 3-13

NB. Materials on subsequent developments in Slovakia (in English as well as Slovak) can be found on the Institute for Public Affairs (Bratislava) website.

Ukrainian politics is influenced by divisions between those who for historical and cultural reasons desire to maximise Ukrainian independence from Russia and others who feel close historic and cultural ties to Russia (including some ethnic Russians). These deep divisions were manifested during the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005, both in the polls and in opposing demonstrations, and have marked Ukrainian politics since then, for example in controversy over renewing the contract for a Russian naval base.

After 1991 Ukraine was governed by former Communist leaders who espoused cultural nationalism. Under pressure from opposition parties, parliamentary elections were held in 1994, but the government continued to be dominated by a coalition between Communists and financial oligarchs in a corrupt and semi-authoritarian regime.

Initial protests in the Ukraine focused on corruption and lack of freedom. In 2000 journalists launched the ‘Wave of Freedom’ protests, starting in the western city of Lvov and developing in Kiev. One of its key organizers, investigative journalist Gyorgy Gongadze, was later found murdered, and secret tape recordings suggested President Leonid Kuchma had been complicit. An opposition member of parliament, who released the tapes, demanded the President’s impeachment. Demonstrators representing both right wing and leftist parties marched in Kiev in early February 2001to demand Kuchma’s resignation and set up a protest camp in the centre of the city. The government tore down the camp on March 1 and was able to suppress the relatively small protests in April. Viktor Yushchenko, who had been trying to end corruption and introduce controversial economic reforms, was forced from office, whilst thousands of supporters outside demanded the impeachment of Kuchma.

These issues came to the fore again in November 2004, when Yushchenko, despite an attempt to poison him, stood in the presidential elections against the then prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych (backed by Kuchma who was retiring). In the second round of the elections, Yanukovych was declared the winner, but Yushchenko’s supporters and OSCE observers claimed that the poll was marked by intimidation and ballot rigging. Thousands of demonstrators set up a protest camp in Kiev, which they maintained for days despite freezing temperatures. Other similarities with Georgia (and Serbia) was the role of an active youth group (Pora), symbolic branding of protests (using the colour orange), internal electoral monitoring and foreign funding.

Three western Ukrainian cities, where thousands also took to the streets, declared Yushchenko the winner, despite the official results. However counter-demonstrations in favour of Yanukovych were held in Kiev. After prolonged protests, parliamentary debates and top level negotiations (in which President Putin of Russia, who openly backed Yanukovych, was involved), and a referral to the Supreme Court, a re-run ballot was organized. Yushchenko won, although the voting was close. (Yanukovych refused to concede defeat, claiming evidence of fraud, and took his case unsuccessfully to both the Central Election Committee and the Supreme Court.)

Political divisions in the Ukraine have been demonstrated in subsequent elections, when Yanukovych managed to return to power. So the ‘Orange Revolution’ was never the result of an overwhelming majority rebelling against authoritarianism. The events illustrated the strong involvement (official and semi-official) by both Russia and the USA in funding and advising the opposed parties, media outlets and ‘civil society’ bodies. Some leftist western commentators suggested that the ‘Orange Revolution’ was closer to a western-backed coup. (See for example Jonathan Steele, ‘Ukraine’s postmodern coup d’etat’, Guardian, 26 November 2004, and host of letters representing different viewpoints, 27 November 2004, and follow-up article by Steele replying to critics, 31 December 2004.)

Aslund, Anders ; McFaul, Michael, Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine’s Democratic Breakthrough, Washington DC, Carnegie Endowment, 2006, pp. 216

Selection of essays including assessments of the role of civil society and of the youth group Pora, an examination of western influence, and a concluding analysis of the ‘revolution’ in comparative perspective.

D'Anieri, Paul, What has changed in Ukrainian politics? Assessing the implications of the Orange Revolution, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 52, issue 3 (September/October), 2005, pp. 82-91

Garton Ash, Timothy, Orange Revolution in Ukraine, In Garton Ash, Timothy , Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name London, Atlantic Books, , 2009, pp. 30-45

Places the Orange Revolution in a sequence of ‘velvet revolutions’ based on strict nonviolence.

Goldstein, Joshua, The Role of Digital Networked Technologies in the Ukrainian Orange Revolution, Research Publication No 2007-14 (Dec. 2007), Cambridge MA, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, 2007, pp. 20

Kurth, Helmut ; Kempe, Iris, Presidential Election and Orange Revolution: Implications for Ukraine’s Transition, Kyiv, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2005, pp. 152

Kuzio, Taras, Special issue ‘Kuchmagate Crisis to Orange Revolution: Civil Society, Elections and Democratisation in Ukraine’, The Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Vol. 23, issue 1 (March), 2007

Eight contributions analysing various aspects of Ukrainian society from schools to rock ’n’ roll, from politics to gender.

Kuzio, Taras ; D'Anieri, Paul, Special Issue ‘Ukraine: Elections and Democratisation’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 38, issue 2 (June), 2005, pp. 131-292

Much of this issue analyses the previous Kuchma regime and parliamentary elections in 1994, 1998 and 2002, but there are two articles on the 2004 presidential elections and impact of the ‘Orange Revolution’, one by Kuzio, Taras , From Kuchma to Yushchenko Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 2005, pp. 229-244 .

Wilson, Andrew, Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, New Haven CT, Yale University Press, 2005, pp. 232

Lively analysis by academic expert on the country, stressing the complexity of Ukraine’s regional politics and of the ‘Orange Revolution’ itself. See also Wilson, Andrew , Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” of 2004: The Paradoxes of Negotiation In Roberts; Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)New York, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 335-353 .

The 'Euromaidan' rebellion began on 21 November 2013 and ended on 21/22 February 2014, when President Yanukovytch fled from  Kiev (allegedly taking $32 billion with him). It was not, as the 'Orange Revolution' had been, a challenge to the outcome of an election achieved by electoral malpractice, but began as a reaction against Yanukovytch's sudden decision to suspend negotiations on a political and trade Association Agreement with the EU. This appeared to be a decisive turn towqards Putin's Russia, which was putting pressure on other former Soviet states to renounce ties with the EU. The initial demonstrators looked at the the EU as a symbol of freedom and democracy, and called for Ukraine to sign the EU Association Agreement. Later, the gorwing movement also attacked the spectacular corruption of Yanukovytch's Presidency since 2010, and demanded respect for human rights and a return to the Constitution as amended in 2004, which limited presidential powers and gave greater powers to Parliament, including the appointment of the Prime Minister.

Yanukovytch had been seen as both authoritarian and pro-Russian by the activists in 2004, who forced him to accept the election of the more liberal Yushenko. But, in the following years, Yanukovytch (who had always had a significant support base, especially in Eastern Ukraine) made an electoral come back, first as Prime Minister and then again as President in 2010. The conduct of the 2010 election (unlike in 2004) was not seriously criticised. But in office Yanukovytch tried to discredit a former leader of the Orange Revolution, also a former Prime Minister and his rival in the 2010 election, Yulia Timoshenko. After she was charged in May 2011 with exceeding her authority in signing a 2009 gas agreement with Russia (she used the trial to ridicule the prosecution), Timoshenko was arrested in August 2011 for 'contempt of court', and remained in prison until 21 February 2014, when Parliament voted her release. Yanukovytch also put pressure on the Constitutional Court , which in 2010 declared tje 2004 Amendments unconstitutional and restored the 1996 Constitution, which entrenched his position. There were geuine constitutional issues related to the hasty 2004 Amendments, but in both 2004 and 2010 political requirements dominated.

The 'Orange Revolution' was a disciplined nonviolent movement against electoral corruption and authoritarianism, which was peacefully resolved, although it did not lead to fundamental systematic chenge. It also had a geopolitical dimension (some left wing commentators stressed the role of Western organisations and funding), but did not result in a decisive swing by Ukraine towards the West. Euromaidan, on the other hand, although it developed into an impressive self-organised and nonviolent protest in November and December 2013, erupted into a more violent confrontation in the later stages from 19 January until 23 February 2014. The Euromiadan movement met with serious violence from government security forces, mincluding covert attacks on supporters by special police and unofficial governement-funded mercenary agents, the 'titushki'. There were brutal beatings of demonstartors, and at the end snipers shot into the crowd. By 23 February 2014, 112 protesters  were dead, over 600 injured and another 200 were still classed as missing in March 2014. An estimated 17 police mebers died in the fighting in the last three days, and nearly 200 were injured. Euromaidan was also much more revolutionary in its outcome, and threw Crimea and Eastern Ukraine into a geopolitical crisis.

Evolution of events

The Euromaidan protests began with a few hundred students and middle class demonstrators, but grew rapidly into rallies of around 100,000 and a tent occupation of the Maidan, Kiev's Independence Square. It also spread to other cities such as Lviv. The government escalated confrontation on 30 November, when it sent in the Berkut special police force who brutally attacked the few hundred protesters occupying the square overnight. In response an estimated 700,000 people rallied in Kiev and thousands more elsewhere. Groups, probably of agents provocateurs, fought with the police, but did not manage to discredit the main demonstration. When the government sent in Berkut again to clear the square at 1am on 11 December (joining shields and pushing demonstrators back), the protesters resisted with the mass of their bodies and began to set up barricades, but did not retaliate with violence. There were weekly Sunday rallies: on 29 December a Manifesto of the Maidan was put to the crowd, which included calls to disband the Berkut special force, dismiss legal charges against protesters, free all political prisoners, and for the resignation of the Interior Minister and others responsible for security force violence. In late December a new organization, 'Auto Maidan', used their cars to transport and provision the protesters, patrol the streets and, at times, block security forces. During January the regime stepped up covert violence against demonstrators, including the drivers of Auto Maidan, whilst the opposition developed new tactics: a widespread economic boycott of companies owned by prominent regime members, and setting up of neighbourhood watch groups. 

Yanukovytch's public response to the protests was to announce on 17 December 2013 an agreement with President Putin that involved Russia cutting the price of natural gas supplies by a third and buying up many Ukrainian bonds, thus both indicating the economic gains from ties with Russia and rejection of  the EU. Unable to quell the protests, Yanukovytch prompted Parliament (where he had a majority) to pass a stringent anti-protest legislation on 16 January 2014.  In response there were further mass demonstrations and militant protests in many other parts of Ukraine, including seizures of government buildings. An impromptu march on Parliament from the Maidan after a rally on 19 January 2014 precipitated into serious fights between protesters and police.

In the final phase of the movement there was an escalation both in the violence used against protesters (including the wounded in hospital) and in the militancy of protest.  Key buildings in Kiev and other cities were seized - often by the direct action group Common Cause, which was trying to focus attention on opposing the regime itself.  There was also a turn towards greater willingness by some protesters to use violence. In the four days of confrontation from 19 January protesters threw stones and molotov cocktails, and there were reports of home-made weapons such as slings and ad hoc rocket launchers. During the final days of 18-23 February guns were also in evidence. Common Cause had authorized members with military training to shoot if the government did so first (according to Oleksander Danylyuk in an interview with Andrew Wilson).  Police stations were occupied in Lviv, which led to over 1,000 guns going missing (it was not clear who acquired them), and the Right Sector advertised their possession of arms on stage at the Maidan on 21 February.  But the great majority of protesters were not armed.  

The Yanukovytch government adopted a dual strategy in the final phase.  It negotiated with leaders of the protesters and offered apparent concessions, for example on freeing prisoners if occupations of buildings ended, and on a possible new Constitution (although Yanukovytch refused to reinstate the 2004 constitution as the protesters were demanding).  His party in Parliament joined with the opposition on 28 January to repeal most of the laws against protest recently passed, and the Prime Minister resigned.  But the government was also making preparations to crush the rebellion by force. On 18 February there were violent confrontations between protesters and regime forces in the streets and security forces tried unsuccessfully to clear the Maidan. On 20 February riot police again tried to clear the square while snipers on high buildings shot and killed demonstrators. The regime was apparently planning to use much greater military force on 21 February, but the government was losing its parliamentary majority, as members of Yanukovytch's Party went over to the opposition, and late on 20 February parliament voted for security forces to leave Kiev. There were also military defections in the final days, both at the top and in the ranks - many summoned to Kiev stayed in their barracks.  Activists reportedly also blocked both railway lines and roads carrying troops.

The Interior Minister and other top officials left the country on 20 February, just ahead of Yanukovytch.  An interim coalition government was created - Parliament endorsed an ally of Yulia Timoshenko as a temporary president on 23 February and soon after accepted a new Prime Minister. The interim coalition was committed to holding new presidential elections in May.  On 25 May 2014 Poro Poroshenko, a wealthy businessman who had supported the Orange Revolution and become prominent during the Maidan protests, was elected as the new President. 

Important and Debatable Issues

Interpretations of both Euromaidan and the subsequent developments vary with different ideological perspectives. One especially sensitive issue is the role of the far right in the protests. For brief analysis of the different rightist groups see Wilson (2014, pp. 70-72), and Ischenko (2014, pp. 5-6 & 8), both listed below.  It is generally agreed that far right groups (though in a minority) were quite prominent in the square and in the movement across the country in the later stages, but their impact on events is less clear. Their role was highlighted by the Russian media. The far-right did have some influence in the temporary coalition government, although the leading role was played by Timoshenko's Party. For example, the far right Party Svoboda (founded in 1991), which first gained representation in Parliament in 2012, held four seats in the cabinet.  

A second source of confusion concerns who started the shooting in the Maidan on 20 February, when snipers fired at and killed demonstrators.  Protest leaders continued to blame the security services and previous government, and it was also claimed that Russian security forces were involved.  But there were rumours too of a third force trying to provoke trouble, and accusations against protesters. A leaked telephone call of 4 March 2014 between the Estonian Foreign Minister and the EU foreign affairs representative, Catherine Ashton, revealed that a doctor in Kiev had suggested that snipers shooting both protesters and policemen came from the opposition (MacAskill, Ewen, 'Ukraine Crisis: Bugged Call Reveals Conspiracy Theory about Kiev Snipers', Guardian (5 March 2014). A BBC documentary a year later interviewed a man who claimed he was a protester in the square, was given a gun, and began to shoot at policemen, though he said he was trying to force them back, not to kill them. The report also noted conflicting evidence from various groups involved (Gatehouse, Gabriel, 'The Untold Story of the Maidan Massacre', BBC News Magazine, 12 February 2014: 

A third question is how to assess the formal agreement reached in the evening on 21 February by three parliamentary opposition leaders with Yanukovytch (brokered by the EU foreign ministers from  France, Germany and Poland) in the context of subsequent developments. The agreement was endorsed by Russia. It was accepted (under pressure from the Polish Foreign Minister) by the Maidan Council, which included many politicians, by 34 votes to 2.  Under this compromise Yanukovytch would (among other concessions to demands of protesters) reinstate the 2004 Constitution immediately, but could remain in office until new elections to be held by December 2014 (three months ahead of the already scheduled elections in March 2015).  Parliament voted unanimously that evening to reinstate the 2004 Constitution and to remove the Minister of the Interior. The protesters in the square had been radicalized further by the violence used against them in the preceding days, and there was booing when the terms were read out. There was also obvious support for a much reported speech of passionate rejection by a 26-year old man, who called for seizure for government buildings in Kiev unless Yanukovytch resigned by 10 am the next day. But there was no formal vote in the square on the terms of the agreement. 

Yanukovytch, whose household had been recorded by security cameras packing up for several days, left very early on 22 February for Kharkov in Eastern Ukraine (perhaps to try to rally support), and then travelled on to Russia, where he was treated as the legitimate president of Ukraine. The Kiev Parliament voted by a majority on 22 February to remove him from the presidency, but did not follow the more prolonged constitutional procedure for impeachment, and the reported majority of 328 out of 450 fell slightly short of the constitutionally required three quarters.  Moscow has continued to stress the legitimacy of the 21 February internationally endorsed agreement and accused the subsequent Ukrainian government of breaching it.  Western states have backed the new government in Kiev. 

A week after Yanukovytch and other senior government members fled, armed groups seized the Crimean Parliament and set up a pro-Russian 'government' in the Crimea. This led to Russian military annexation, given a semblance of legitimacy by a hasty referendum.  Uprisings in other parts of eastern Ukraine against Kiev (interpretation of these is also disputed) led to a state of war between the new government and breakaway areas such as Donetsk, and threatened a revival of serious conflict between Russia and the West. As a result it is now difficult to assess Euromaidan without taking account of the immediate aftermath. Some of the references listed below cover both, although others focus on the Euromaidan movement.

Bachmann, Klaus ; Lyabashenko, Igor, The Maidan Uprising, Separatism and Foreign Intervention. Ukraine's Complex Transition, Frankfurt-am-Main, Peter Lang GmbH , 2014, pp. 523, hb.

Collection of 17 essays by academics, journalists, lawyers, policy makers and activists covering Euromaidan and the election of President Poroshenko in May 2014, and also developments in Crimea, from a multidisciplinary perspective. It is sponsored by the Polish National Research Institute, but inlcudes also contributions from Germany, Sweden and the USA. Thre are chapters on post-1991 Ukrainian politics, on the Orange Revolutions and Euromaidan (focusing only on Kiev).

Bartkowski, Maciej J. ; Stephan, Maria J., How Ukraine Ousted an Autocrat: The Logic of Civil Resistance, Atlantic Council, 01/08/2014,

This work discusses the Euromaidan movement from a perspective of nonviolent strategy, highlighting the role of ‘backfire’ when the police attacked peaceful students’ sit-ins, nonviolent tactics used to combat covert intimidation and the importance of the army’s refusal to crush the protest. It also comments on the negative impact of the ‘radical flank’ that turned to violence.

See also: Ackerman, Peter, Maciej J. Barkowski and Jack Duvall, ‘Ukraine: A Nonviolent Victory’, OpenDemocracy (3 March 2004)

Chapman, Annabelle, Ukraine's Big Three: Meet the Opposition Leaders at the Helm of Euromaidan, Foreign Affairs, Snapshot, 21/01/2014,

A journalist expert on Ukraine assesses the three opposition politicians - Vitaly Klitschko, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk - who, after the 2012 parliamentary elections, created a 'united opposotion' and put themselves forward as 'leaders' of the Euromaidan protests.

Diuk, Nadia, Euromaidan: Ukraine’s Self-Organizing Revolution, World Affairs, issue March/April, 2014

Report by a Vice-President of Endowment for Democracy covering the developments of Ukraine's demonstrations until the end of December 2014. It stresses the creative and disciplined popular organisation; the unwillingness to rely on politicians; the breadth of support not only in Kiev but in other cities of eastern Ukraine; how provocateurs have been kept out of Maidan and how violence was avoided when responding to brutal attempts to clear the square. Available on line:

Fishwick, Carmen, 'We were so naive and optimistic': Ukraine Euromaidan protesters tell us what's changed for them , The Guardian, 04/03/2014,

Interviews with three protesters, two of whom were then protesting against Russian military intervention.

See also: Stelmakh and Tom Bamforth, 'Ukraine's Maidan Protests - One Year On', The Guardian, 21 November 2014

Ischenko, Volodymyr, Interview: Ukraine's Fractures, New Left Review, issue 87 (May/June), 2014

Assessment by a Marxist sociologist in Ukraine who demonstrated in 2000 against the Kuchma regime. Topics include: the role of the far right in Euromaidan (he argues that an organised and effective minority was promoting nationalist slogans); the changing of the social composition of protesters; the interim goverment; the cultural roots of the eastern Ukrainian uprisings for independence, and the election of President Poroshenko.

Kurkov, Andrey, Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches From Kiev, London, Harvill Secker, 2014, pp. 272

Account by an enthusiastic Russian Ukrainian novelist, best known for his surreal Deat of a Penguin, who was a symphatetic observer of protests, and stresses popular anger at the systematic corruption of Yanukovytch regime and the spontaneous self-organising nature of the Euromaidan movement.

Marples, David R. ; Mills, Frederick V., Ukraine's Euromaidan: Analyses of a Civil Revolution, Stuttgart and Hannover, Ibidem Press, 2015, pp. 304, pb.

Collection of essays edited by two historians at the University of Alberta. Topics cover the role of nationalism, the issue of the Russian language, the mass media, the motives and aims of the protesters, gender issues, and the impact of Euromaidan on politics in Ukraine, the EU, Russia and also Belarus. The Russian annexation of Crimea, and the creation of pro-Russian republics in the east of Ukraine and ensuing wars are covered in an epilogue.

Popova, Maria, Why the Orange Revolution Was Short and Peaceful and Euromaidan Long and Violent, Problem of Post-Communism, Vol. 61, issue 6, 2014, pp. 64-70

Focuses on the lack of institutional channels to resolve the crisis and politicisation of the judiciary, and argues that the violence used strenghtened the role of the far right.

Sakwa, Richard, Frontlinhe Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, London and New York, I.B.Tauris, 2015, pp. 220

A book by long-term academic expert on the Soviet Union/Russia, which situates coverage of Euromaidan and the subsequent local rebellions in Crimea and other parts of eastern Ukraine within a context of different cultural and ideological strands in Ukrainian society, and within the wider context of Russian-Western relations. Sakwa is very critical of Western policies after 1991 and, more recently, towards Putin, and also challenges the bias of much western reporting on the evolving Ukrainian crisis.

Wilson, Andrew, Ukraine Crisis: What It Means for the West, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2014, pp. 224, pb.

British academic expert on Ukraine (author of books on the Orange Revolution) covers both the Euromaidan protests, which he witnessed (stressing variety of protesters and arguing that the far right played a minor role), and the subsequent developments in both western and eastern Ukraine. He concludes with a discussion of Russian policy. Wilson also wrote brief assessments during the course of the Maidan protests, for example: 'The Ukrainian #Euromaidan', by the European Council on Foreign Relations, 5 December 2013.

A film on the demonstration in the Maidan by Ukrainian Director Sergei Loznitsa (duration 134 minutes) was released in London in February 2015.

In this bibliography, the Russian government figures primarily as a supporter of authoritarian regimes in former Soviet states. Now it also warrants its own sub-section on the potential of internal resistance. After an uncertain political course under Boris Yeltsin from 1991-2000, Vladimir Putin (first elected President in March 2000) has promoted greater economic and political stability and an efficient form of authoritarianism, which allows degrees of individual and social freedom but represses significant dissent from individuals and from organized groups. Opposition parties are allowed to contest elections, but on unequal terms. Putin has served two terms as President, one four year term as Prime Minister (with an obviously subordinate ally as President) and was re-elected President (this time for six years) in May 2012. Putin undoubtedly has had widespread popular support for restoring stability, clamping down on some of the individuals who amassed fortunes in the 1990s by seizing the assets of the Soviet state, and appealing to Russian nationalism.

In general there was more protest, including strikes, under Yeltsin, whereas Putin has been more effective in repressing opposition demonstrations, mobilizing expressions of popular support for himself, and in channeling dissent. Key sources of opposition have been some investigative journalists – more than 20 of whom have been murdered – human rights defenders and ecological activists. It was not until the run-up to the elections of May 2012, and in their aftermath, that major protests erupted claiming the process was rigged. Hundreds were arrested. In the west considerable publicity has also been given to the feminist punk band Pussy Riot: their brief controversial protest before an altar in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow (to oppose the political support given to Putin by the Russian Orthodox) has earned two members two years in prison. It seems likely that resistance to Putin will grow, and the regime in the latter part of 2012 initiated measures to tighten control of the internet and undermine civil society groups. The references listed below include assessments of the nature of Putin’s authoritarianism as well as a few articles on the May 2012 protests.

Democracy, Journal of, Putin under Siege, special section, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 23, issue 3 (July), 2012, pp. 19-70

Comprises 5 articles: Shevtsova, Lilia, ‘Putin Under Siege; Implosion, Atrophy or Revolution?’; Krastev, Ivan and Stephen Holmes, ‘An Autopsy of Managed Democracy’; Popescu, Nicu, ‘The Strange Alliance of Nationalists and Democrats’; Volvkov, Denis, ‘The Protesters and the Public’; Wolchick, Sharon, ‘Can There be a Color Revolution?’

Dobson, William J., The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, New York, Harvill Secker, 2012, pp. 341

Former editor of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy assesses the nature of various contemporary authoritarian regimes and discusses unarmed resistance. Chapter 1 ‘The Czar’ analyses the Putin regime including its control over the media; Chapter 2 ‘Enemies of the State’ gives prominence to a campaign to preserve the Khimki forest and the effectiveness of tactics used.

Robertson, Graeme B., The Politics of Protest in Hybrid Regimes: Managing Dissent in Post-Communist Russia, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 303

Thorough study, with substantial chapter on strikes and workers’ mobilization.

Roxburgh, Angus, The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia, London, I.B. Taurus, 2011, pp. 338

By BBC and Sunday Times journalist.

Saradzhyan, Simon ; Abdullaev, Nabi, Putin, the protest movement and political change in Russia, [17 Feb 2012], Paris, EU Institute for Security Studies, 2012

Shevtsova, Lilia, Russian under Putin: Titanic Looking for its Iceberg?, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 45, issue 3-4 (September), 2012, pp. 209-216