Wed, Dec 08, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Orange symbolizing quest for democracy in Ukraine

FASHIONISTAS Viktor Yushchenko stared using the color in campaign material last fall. Now, opposition supporters are snatching up everything orange to show solidarity


A supporter of Ukraine's opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko attends a rally at Independence Square in Kiev on Sunday, sporting the oppsition's trademark orange colors.


Orange scarves, suspenders, turtlenecks, sunglasses -- even diapers.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko have flooded the streets of the capital wearing the trademark color of the opposition to offer a political statement -- in style.

Yushchenko's supporters have been sporting their candidate's color to celebrate a Supreme Court ruling ordering that the fraud-ridden Nov. 21 presidential runoff be held again.

With the so-called Orange Revolution in full swing, anything in that shade is the latest must-have item for Kiev's fashionistas.

"Everything in orange is flying off the shelves," said Tatyana Zakrevskaya, a manager at a downtown clothing store where orange velvet pants and pumpkin-hued cotton shirts are displayed in the window. "We are already out of orange scarves."

Yushchenko's campaign color has come to symbolize the opposition's quest for democracy in this country of 48 million people, a bright shade to signify a hoped-for bright future.

Like the rose revolution in another former Soviet republic, Georgia, the color has provided a theme to rally around.

"This was one of the successes of the election campaign. People could recognize each other, and this gave everyone a feeling of support," said Vera Nanivska, head of the International Center for Policy Studies, a local think tank.

Yushchenko's campaign initially planned on using yellow, also found in the country's flag, as their campaign color. Ihor Hryniv, a chief Yushchenko campaign strategist said the initial idea was "to position Yushchenko as a warm person."

Later, he said strategists decided on orange -- "an even more bright and joyful color."

The color first appeared on banners, posters and other Yushchenko campaign material in the fall, coinciding with the change of leaves in autumn. As protests grew over alleged fraud by Moscow-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, orange became omnipresent.

"I bought myself this orange turtleneck two weeks ago and I have been wearing it ever since, no kidding," said Marina Sizonets, a 21-year-old university student, as she walked down Kiev's main Khreshchatik Street with two friends wearing orange scarves and bandanas.

"I want to live in a democratic country," she said.

As always, fashion hasn't come cheap. An average orange turtleneck wool sweater in a boutique in downtown Kiev costs about 120 hryvnyas (US$23), nearly half the monthly minimum wage.

The orange fad spread beyond Ukraine's borders, with many Europeans -- from lawmakers to students -- bedecking themselves with orange scarves and armbands in a show of solidarity.

Orange T-shirts and flags were also sold on the Internet, with the auction site e-bay offering a revolution T-shirt for US$9.99.

"Psychologists believe this is a very active and energizing color, even for people who are tired or depressed," Nanivska said. "It helps cheer them up."

Some have suggested that orange also may be associated with denial among Ukrainians. According to tradition, a girl who turns down a marriage proposal presents the unlucky admirer with a pumpkin.

All that orange puts Ukraine perfectly in step with the fashion world, say trendsetters such as Sonya Zabuga, chief editor of the fashion magazine Elle in Ukraine.

"Black is becoming no longer fashionable. People are turning to bright colors," Zabuga said.

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