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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hundreds Cheer Fallen Queen

APPeople cheering Tymoshenko late Thursday on Independence Square.
KIEV -- Hundreds of people crowded Kiev's Independence Square to support the fallen queen of the Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko, on the eve of weekend parliamentary elections.

The scene Thursday evening at first glance resembled a repeat of last year's protests against vote falsification that brought the pro-West duo of Tymoshenko and President Viktor Yushchenko to power. People waved flags and danced to live concert music, and the tents that symbolized the people power of the Orange Revolution were back out on the square.

This time, however, amid widespread disillusionment over the revolution's results, the numbers paled in comparison with the thousands that thronged the square last year, while the flags were of different colors and the tents were too. For Yulia, as she is fondly known here, the tents and flags were white with a red heart emblazoned across them. Interspersed with them were the orange flags and tents of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc.

Some, however, were there to stick it out. "We wanted democracy, and we got it," said Zinaida Petrovna, a stout woman in her 50s, as she pointed at the plethora of various colored flags. "Now, we're continuing our fight for democracy."

The duo that led the 2004 Orange Revolution split acrimoniously last year amid increasing infighting over economic policy and a slew of corruption allegations. Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko as his prime minister, and since then the diminutive blond firebrand many have compared to Eva Peron has been out in the cold, while Yushchenko has been floundering amid a worsening economy, a gas dispute with Russia and one Cabinet crisis after another.

The split appeared to have turned the Orange Revolution sour along with hopes for democracy and clean government. But as people gathered on the square Thursday evening, it seemed some were prepared to do it all over again, even if it meant supporting just Tymoshenko or hoping she would join forces with Yushchenko once again.

"We're not disappointed with the Orange Revolution," Petrovna said, clutching a Yulia scarf. "We stood for democracy, and we did not lose out."

The split has also helped open the way for a resurgence in popularity for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russia rival the duo displaced in the bitter dispute over falsified election results. Yanukovych's Party of the Regions currently leads the polls, with 30 to 34 percent. Tymoshenko's and Yushchenko's blocs are vying for second place, with polls placing Yushchenko at 17 to 20 percent and Tymoshenko at 14 to 20 percent.

The race for parliament has become even more important because constitutional changes mean that whoever wins a majority gets to appoint the prime minister, who will have greater powers than the president.

Still, some Ukrainians said they would not be attending any demonstrations this time around. "What was it all for?" said Volodya, a taxi driver who gave out sandwiches to frozen demonstrators in 2004. "Yushchenko turned out to be very weak. They said that the elections were falsified, but there's no one sitting in jail.

"Instead, he's now doing deals with Yanukovych like he did when he needed to get [Prime Minister Yuriy] Yekhanurov appointed," he said. "He was just out to win power."