Viktor Yushchenko vs. Viktor Yanukovych (then Prime Minister)
The campaign could have been something out of a James Bond movie: Clash of the Viktors. On one ticket: Viktor Yanukovych, a powerful, Kremlin-backed candidate handpicked by the country's outgoing, Soviet-era president. On the other: Viktor Yushchenko, a charismatic challenger left pockmarked and disfigured by a poisoning attempt on his life a month before voters went to the polls.
The first round of voting, held on Halloween, ended in a dead heat, with the prime minister taking 39.88% of the vote to Yushchenko's 39.22%. The runoff, according to Ukraine's Electoral Commission, went to Yanukovych but not so fast. Immediately after the commission's Nov. 23 announcement, more than 100,000 people poured into Kiev's Independence Square to protest the results. Wearing orange, the color of the opposition party, demonstrators claimed that voters had been intimidated and assaulted, ballot boxes had been stuffed, breached or burned and that the entire process had been rigged. For more than two weeks Yushchenko's supporters stood out in the bitter cold of a Ukrainian winter, prompting the prime minister's wife to accuse opposition leaders of handing out oranges laced with drugs: "People who take the oranges become addicts," she declared. "They keep standing there with their eyes glazed over." In the end, though, the Orange Revolution worked. On Dec. 3, the nation's Supreme Court invalidated the earlier results and called for yet another runoff, which Yushchenko handily won by more than 2.2 million votes.