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Color Revolutions

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

Color revolutions are defined as civilian uprisings that are covertly funded and orchestrated by private groups motivated by political objectives. The 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 developed by RAND Corporation under the banner of democracy' NGOs, and other special interest government groups.

"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

In History

The term Color Revolution was coined in the early 2000’s when countries like the Republic of Georgia and Ukraine had spontaneous revolutions with color related nicknames. In 2003, the Georgian opposition protested the new session of parliament based on fraudulent election results. They protested while carrying roses which became known as the Rose Revolution.

In Ukraine, the Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place between November 2004 to January 2005. Thousands of Ukrainians poured into the streets of Kyiv to protest a contested presidential election between Victor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych, rejecting the claim that the government-backed candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, had won the presidential election run-off.

Candidate Victor Yushchenko’s campaign branding was orange, everyone from shopkeepers, taxi drivers to bank presidents adopted Yushchenko's orange campaign color and the movement was subsequently known as the Orange Revolution.

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

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

Successful Color Revolutions

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).

In summary

Color Revolutions advance their movement by appealing to the civil population by Posing as organic grass-roots campaigns. Using the arm of the media, competing power structures disseminate engineered propaganda via social movements to create an atmosphere of discontent that promote distrust of established institutions in order to create instability.

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: https://books.google.com.mt/books?id=F49HDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA278&lpg=PA278&dq=kremlin.ru%20russia%20china%20infosec%20agreement&source=bl&ots=trSq3SXiae&sig=ACfU3U1CAlTnsv4QDRUCiUPZVx24Bv6vhw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwivhuqu2szyAhWU_rsIHZgLCywQ6AF6BAgUEAM#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed 24 May 2022].

E-International Relations. (2013). Explaining the Color Revolutions. [online] Available at: https://www.e-ir.info/2009/07/31/explaining-the-color-revolutions/.

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: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/sunday-review/russia-isnt-the-only-one-meddling-in-elections-we-do-it-too.html.

Tharoor, I. (n.d.). Analysis | The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere. Washington Post. [online] Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/13/the-long-history-of-the-u-s-interfering-with-elections-elsewhere/.

‌Ukraine - The Orange Revolution and the Yushchenko presidency. (2019). In: Encyclopædia Britannica. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/place/Ukraine/The-Orange-Revolution-and-the-Yushchenko-presidency#ref986649.

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