Colour revolutions: Symbols of change

A series of largely peaceful popular uprisings have brought dramatic political change to several former Soviet block countries.

The Georgian uprising was called the "Rose Revolution"
The Georgian uprising was called the "Rose Revolution"

Dubbed the “Colour” or “Flower”  revolutions, in reference to the symbols that were often used by opposition movements, these upheavals saw the ouster of Soviet-era leaders whose rule they considered characterised by political stagnation, corruption and unduly close relations with Russia.

In many cases, a new generation of leaders were brought to power whose politics have steered their countries away from Moscow and closer to the West.

Critics of the revolutions say the US aided and funded these movements in order to achieve their own foreign policy goals in former Soviet countries.

Some observers say the uprisings were influenced by what they consider the first Colour revolution, the “Velvet Revolution” against Czechoslovakia’s communist government in 1989.  

Serbia, October 2000.

Massive street protests in Belgrade forced Slobodan Milosevic out of office after he rejected a claim of victory by the opposition in presidential elections. The protestors involved did not use any symbol.

Milosevic now faces trial at The Hague for war crimes that he is accused of committing in the Kosovo conflict and the former Yugoslavia.

“Rose revolution” Georgia, November 2003.

In the capital Tibilsi, protestors bearing roses as a symbol of non-violence stormed the first parliament session held after polls the opposition said were rigged. Former Soviet foreign minister and the then Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze was forced to resign.

New presidential elections were then held and US-educated lawyer Mikhail Saakashvili won with a large majority.

“Orange Revolution” Ukraine, November 2004-January 2005.

Protestors wearing the colour orange camped out in freezing temperatures to protest the parliamentary election results which returned Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to power.

Opposition pressure continued until parliament announced that a new election would be held. Viktor Yushchenko was declared winner of the polls despite claims to the contrary by Yanukovych. 

“Tulip Revolution” Kyrgyzstan, April 2005.

Protestors across the country seized government buildings after presidential elections accused by the opposition of being fraudulent. Political pressure on President Askar Akayev intensified until he fled to Moscow.

A newly formed parliament then declared Kurmanbek Bakiev as an interim president and prime minister. Bakiev won a landslide victory in presidential elections in July.

The event was dubbed the Tulip revolution although protestors from different regions in Kyrgyzstan adopted different colours and symbols.

Source : Al Jazeera

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