Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Everyone is talking about the dawn of democracy in the Arab world. But the same trend may be underway in the former Soviet Union as well:

The peaceful street revolts that recently brought democratic change to Georgia and Ukraine could spawn copy-cat upheavals against authoritarian regimes across the former Soviet Union, experts say.

Waving orange scarves and banners - the colors of Ukraine's revolution - dozens of Uzbeks demonstrated in the capital Tashkent last week over the demolition of their homes to make way for border fencing.

According to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the protest compelled the autocratic government of Islam Karimov, widely condemned for human rights abuses, to pay compensation.

In Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, hundreds of pro-democracy activists rallied on Saturday to demand that upcoming parliamentary elections be free and fair.

From Kyrgyzstan on the Chinese border to Moldova (see map), where Europe's only ruling Communist Party faces elections next month, opposition parties are eagerly studying Georgia's "Rose Revolution" and Ukraine's "Orange Revolution," which led to the triumph of pro-democracy forces. Opposition groups are even selecting symbols for their banners when the moment arrives - tulips for the Kyrgyz opposition, grapes for Moldova's anticommunists.

As communism was falling in eastern Europe, democrats also ousted communists in Nicaragua and elsewhere. Democratic contagion can jump over regional boundaries.

There were also, in 1989, pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. But unlike the European Communists, the Chinese held firm.


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