In February 2010, Viktor Yanukovych made a remarkable political comeback. In the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, Yanukovych, who was then Ukraine's prime minister and the handpicked successor to President Leonid Kuchma, was accused of fraud and ousted by the Orange Revolution, which was led by Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko. Just over five years later, surrounded by his party's blue-and-white banners, Yanukovych became president.

When it first came to power, Ukraine's Orange government seemed like it would fulfill popular demands for radical political reform and rapid integration into Europe. But those expectations were quickly dashed. Yushchenko, as president, and Tymoshenko, as prime minister, proved incapable of working together, continually clashing and publicly criticizing each other. Soon, Ukraine's dysfunctional political system became known to Ukrainians as a durdom, or "madhouse."

Then, the global economic crisis sent Ukraine's economy into a tailspin. In 2009, the country's GDP fell by about 15 percent, exports by 25 percent, and

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.

Subscribe