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Ukraine marks three years since "orange revolution"

KIEV, November 22 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko congratulated the nation Thursday on the third anniversary of the "orange revolution", a series of peaceful popular protests that brought him to power.

The November 2004 rallies followed a first round of presidential elections that gave victory to Yushchenko's arch rival, Viktor Yanukovych. Tens of thousands of Yushchenko's supporters flooded the streets, protesting against alleged ballot rigging. The protests led to a second election run-off, which saw Yushchenko win a clear victory.

"This day of celebration dedicated to the 'orange revolution' marks the efforts of all sons and daughters of Ukraine, who fought and worked throughout our history in the name of the nation's independence - the triumph of justice and observance of human rights," the presidential press service quoted Yushchenko as saying in his address to the nation on the Day of Freedom celebrated November 22.

In the three years since the "orange revolution," Ukraine has seen a fierce struggle for power within the "orange" bloc itself - the president's Our Ukraine and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc - and also with their leading opponent, Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions.

The brief premiership of Yulia Tymoshenko, Yushchenko's top ally in the "orange revolution", dubbed the "the orange princess", ended in September 2005 with her dismissal by the president after the country was plunged into a fuel crisis.

Yanukovych, whose party emerged first in the March 2007 parliamentary elections, has occupied the premier's post since August 2006. His time in office and more accommodating attitude to the Kremlin has brought reconciliation with Russia, one of Ukraine's leading trade partners and its chief energy supplier.

The power struggle in parliament resulted in early parliamentary elections this September when five parties made it into the Supreme Rada. The Party of Regions took the lead, closely followed by the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc. Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense came third. The Communists and the Lytvyn bloc barely crossed the 3% barrier.

The new Supreme Rada will gather for its first session Friday when the "orange" parties - the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc and Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense - are expected to form a coalition.

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