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Color Revolutions

Updated: Jan 27

The Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place between November 2004 to January 2005.

A color revolution is a type of political movement or upheaval that utilizes nonviolent civil resistance in order to bring about change in a government or regime. This type of revolution usually uses a combination of civil disobedience, strikes, demonstrations, and other forms of moral and physical pressure in order to achieve its goals. he term "Color Revolution" started back in the 1980's as America and the Soviet Union battled out the final years of the Cold War. It is the name given to CIA-led regime change operations and has become an increasingly popular way for people to bring about change in oppressive regimes.

Color revolutions are typically funded by a variety of sources, including grassroots donations, grants from international organizations, and private donations from individuals and businesses. The sources of funding vary from revolution to revolution and can include a mix of private, public, and international sources.

"War is the continuation of policy with other means." – Carl von Clausewitz


A revolution is an insurgency with plans to overthrow a government and transform its society and government from one form of government to another. Typically, revolutions take the form of organized movements aimed at effecting change, such as economic change, technological change, political change, or social change.

What is a color Revolution?

Traditionally a military coup uses direct military intervention to effect regime change, as seen in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A Color Revolution (CR) is a new type of coup strategy that mobilizes anti-government marches and protests in a coordinated effort to contest the electoral legitimacy of a target nation while simultaneously instigating acts of civil disobedience, and leveraging media contacts to propagate favorable coverage that support the agenda.

‘Moscow and Beijing share almost indistinguishable views on the security threats posed by color revolutions, and view these revolutionary movements as being orchestrated by the United States and its Western democratic partners to advance geopolitical ambitions. Russia’s foreign sponsored regime change are among the main threats to public and national security’ (Bolt and Cross, 2018)

The Chief Characteristic of a Color Revolution are as follows:

1. Engineered contested election scenario

2. Massive mobilized protests

3. Complicit press and propaganda arm to push the narrative

Examples of Color Revolutions

1. The Rose Revolution (Georgia, 2003): This revolution was sparked by a peaceful protest against the fraudulent Georgian parliamentary elections of 2003. It was led by Mikheil Saakashvili and the opposition coalition, the National Movement. The protesters used the symbol of a rose, and the revolution ended with the election of Saakashvili as president of Georgia.

2. The Orange Revolution (Ukraine, 2004): This revolution was sparked by the fraudulent Ukrainian presidential election of 2004. It was led by Viktor Yushchenko and the opposition coalition.The protests were centered around the color orange and the revolution ended with Yushchenko becoming the president of Ukraine after a successful re-election.

3. The Tulip Revolution (Kyrgyzstan, 2005): This revolution was sparked by a peaceful protest against the fraudulent Kyrgyz parliamentary elections of 2005. It was led by Kurmanbek Bakiyev and the opposition coalition, For Reforms. The protesters used the symbol of a tulip, and the revolution ended with Bakiyev being elected as president of Kyrgyzstan.

Some Chinese Leaders Claim U.S. and Britain Are Behind Hong Kong Protests

Chavez Accuses U.S. of a “Soft Coup” Attempt in Venezuela

21st Century U.S. coups and attempted coups in Latin America

The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere

The success of a color revolution is determined by a variety of factors, including the degree of popular support for the movement, the ability of activists to mobilize and organize, the level of repression by the state, and the effectiveness of the opposition’s messaging and media strategies. The success of a color revolution is also impacted by the broader political and economic context in which the movement is occurring, as well as the broader geopolitical dynamics of the region. Ultimately, the success of a color revolution is determined by the ability of the activists to build a strong social movement and to secure tangible political reforms and changes in government.

Michael McFaul: Professor of political science at Stanford University and former ambassador to Russia under the Obama Administration identified the seven pillars of successful political revolutions common in Color Revolutions:

1. A semi-autocratic rather than fully autocratic regime

2. An unpopular incumbent

3. A united and organized opposition

4. An ability to quickly drive home the point that voting results were falsified

5. Enough independent media to inform citizens about the falsified vote

6. A political opposition capable of mobilizing tens of thousands or more demonstrators to protest electoral fraud

7. Divisions among the regime's coercive forces (military and police).

The impact of color revolutions on the region in which they take place can vary greatly. In some cases, color revolutions have led to positive outcomes such as increased democracy, freedom of expression, and improved economic conditions. In other cases, however, color revolutions have resulted in increased violence and instability, as well as a decline in economic development.In general, color revolutions can be a powerful tool to bring about political change. They can also be a source of disruption and instability if they are not managed properly. It is important for governments to be aware of the potential risks of color revolutions and to ensure that they are prepared to manage them if they arise. Additionally, countries should ensure that their citizens have access to free and fair elections and that their rights are respected and protected.

Overall, color revolutions are a powerful tool for bringing about change in oppressive regimes. They are characterized by nonviolent civil resistance and can be successful in bringing about democratic change. However, the success of a color revolution depends on the commitment of the protesters and their ability to remain nonviolent.

See also: Chinese Communist Party: unrestricted warfare

Unrestricted warfare is a strategy practiced by both state and non-state actors, seeking to gain advantage over stronger opponents to compensate for weaker military forces.


Bolt, P.J. and Cross, S. (2018). China, Russia, and Twenty-first Century Global Geopolitics. [online] Google Books. Oxford University Press. Available at: [Accessed 24 May 2022].

E-International Relations. (2013). Explaining the Color Revolutions. [online] Available at:

Shane, S. (2018). Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too. The New York Times. [online] 17 Feb. Available at:

Tharoor, I. (n.d.). Analysis | The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere. Washington Post. [online] Available at:

‌Ukraine - The Orange Revolution and the Yushchenko presidency. (2019). In: Encyclopædia Britannica. [online] Available at:

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