Ukrainians gather in commemoration of Orange Revolution

Crowds of Ukrainians waving orange flags descended on Kiev's main square Tuesday for anniversary celebrations marking the start of the Orange Revolution - the weeks of mass protests over election results that ushered opposition leaders into power.

The festivities have been muted by disappointment among Ukrainians at the failure since last year's upheaval to achieve rapid progress in eliminating the poverty and widespread corruption.

But Yushchenko, promising to bring Ukraine closer to the West, told just hours before the event that there was much for Ukraine to be proud of.

"There is no disappointment, and there could not be. It is difficult to change a country in 10 months," he said, wearing a tie in the shade of bright orange that was his campaign's emblem.

His one-time Orange Revolution ally and now a chief political competitor after bitter rivalry drove them apart, Yulia Tymoshenko, also was expected to address the crowd.

A column of hundreds of Yushchenko's supporters from western Ukraine marched down Kiev's main street, temporarily snarling traffic. Yushchenko's party representatives handed out orange scarves in Independence Square.

As evening fell, the square began to fill with people although numbers were far short of the massive crowds that rallied in downtown Kiev a year ago.

Last November, millions jammed Kiev's streets to protest against election fraud in the bitter election. They chanted "Yu-shchen-ko!" and set up a sprawling tent camp, bringing life in this capital city of more than 2 million people to a halt.

A repeat runoff ordered by the Supreme Court ultimately resulted in Yushchenko's election.

Officials worried that leftists and those who opposed the Orange Revolution will try to disrupt Tuesday's celebrations.

More than 1,000 police were on guard Tuesday. Last year, few police were visible.

The mostly peaceful preparations were slightly shadowed by police arresting up to 10 Russian Orthodox believers on their way to the stage where Yushchenko was expected to address the crowd.

Some 25 faithful, mostly elderly women singing church songs, carried church flags, icons and the blue-and-white flags of the presidential campaign of Yushchenko's main rival last year, then-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Police surrounded them and shoved them into the police van, the AP reports.


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