Back in 2004, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians filled Kiev’s Independence Square, successfully challenging the widely disputed results of the country’s presidential election. At the time, the popular uprising — which came to be known as the Orange Revolution — seemed to put Ukraine squarely on a democratic path while also raising hopes for its economic renewal. Yet nine years since the Orange Revolution captured the world’s attention, Ukraine continues to struggle with its transition from authoritarian rule.
Ukraine’s progress on its democratic reforms over the past decade has been uneven and inconsistent, analysts say. Most recently, parliamentary elections in October 2012 were marred by widespread allegations of irregularities. Citing deteriorating press freedom as well as government hostility toward opposition gatherings and foreign groups, the U.S.-based Freedom House downgraded Ukraine in 2011 from “free” to “partly free” in its annual assessment of civil liberties worldwide.