Adrian Karatnycky’s article, “Orange Peels: Ukraine after Revolution,” was written about six months too late. Had it appeared back in February 2010, Karatnycky’s analysis—and his suggestion that Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych “deserves the benefit of our doubt”—would have been right on target.

Indeed, what Karatnycky fails to mention is that Yanukovych was given the benefit of the doubt by most Western and Ukrainian analysts (me included) and a significant portion of the Ukrainian electorate. Recall that some 4.5 percent of voters (most of whom were from the Orange camp that supported former President Viktor Yushchenko) voted against both Yulia Tymoshenko and Yanukovych in the final round of the presidential ballot, effectively giving their vote to the latter and providing him with the margin of victory he needed to win.

The rationale employed by those of us who gave Yanukovych the “benefit of the doubt” was precisely that outlined by Karatnycky. We believed that five years of opposition would have led Yanukovych and his authoritarian Party of Regions to shed their authoritarian inclinations and embrace democracy. We also believed Yanukovych’s promise that he would be a moderate, promote the unity of the country, appoint only professionals, and pursue economic reform. After all, with such a narrow margin of victory, how could he do otherwise?

Boy, were we ever wrong.

The vast majority of democratically inclined analysts and Ukrainians have now turned against Yanukovych—and with a vengeance. Why? Karatnycky suggests that “such overheated analysis … stems from three sources: the myths and realities of the Orange Revolution, Leonid Kuchma’s authoritarian rule, and the myths surrounding the emergence of vast fortunes in Ukraine in the late 1990s. And aside from these three sources, there is also the Grand Guignol mudslinging style of Ukrainian politics.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that Yanukovych has violated every single one of his promises. And those of us who gave him the “benefit of the doubt” feel betrayed.

Yanukovych and his party have proceeded to dismantled democracy—violating the Constitution in order to acquire a parliamentary majority, transforming the Parliament into a rubber-stamp institution, encroaching on freedom of assembly and speech, passing a law on local elections that guarantees a Party of Regions monopoly of power, encroaching on academic autonomy, and activating both the Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In addition, Yanukovych has launched a full-scale assault on Ukrainian language, culture, and identity—thereby negating his own claims of wanting to promote the unity of the country—and turned Ukraine toward Russia, so much so that he tolerates the revival of Stalinist rhetoric and Russian revanchism in Ukraine, as well as the return to the Crimea of the Russian security service. And all of this—the assault on democracy, the assault on Ukrainian identity, and the turn toward Russia—have been accomplished in just a few months. So much for moderation! Not moderates, but radicals act this quickly, this comprehensively, this fundamentally. Indeed, the comparison with Hitler’s Gleichschaltung in 1933 comes to mind. Recall that he too came to power in a fair and free election…

Worse still, as Karatnycky implies, most of Yanukovych administration consists of Soviet-style managers at best and incompetents at worst.  The people in Yanukovych’s supposed inner circle—Serhii Lovochkin, Irina Akimova, Hanna Herman, and Serhii Tihipko (even if the wonder boys and girls that Karatnycky implies they are)—are only four individuals compared to a retrograde cabinet of ministers consisting of just under 30 anti-professionals. Lovochkin and Herman, moreover, are widely considered to be opportunists, while Tihipko is rumored to be on the verge of quitting or getting fired as the fall guy for the government’s economic failures. That leaves, perhaps, Akimova as the sole member possibly having lasting reformist credentials on Yanukovych’s putative team.

Then there’s the question of economic reform. One could argue, I suppose, that dismantling democracy might be the price one has to pay for bold economic change. Alas, the simple fact is that, after almost half a year in office, Yanukovych has delivered absolutely nothing. True, he’s signed a deal with the IMF, but so would have Tymoshenko or Yushchenko. The government’s budget is widely considered to be a sham. The economic plan consists mostly of generalities. Corruption is as rampant as it used to be: indeed, Yanukovych acquired his own estate in a questionable manner.

Most telling is the Tax Code, which absolutely everyone—even members of the Party of Regions—agrees is a disaster. In the meantime, the government has begun extorting taxes from small and medium enterprises. All of this retrograde behavior was perfectly predictable when Yanukovych appointed the notorious Mykola Azarov as prime minister. Azarov, after all, is known for his inability to think in market terms and, back in the days of President Kuchma, squeezed entrepreneurs in the same manner that he is doing today.

Last but not least, there’s Yanukovych himself. Karatnycky believes in his make-over. True, Yanukovych often says the right things. But more often than not, he also says the wrong things—like defining democracy as “order”—and, of course, engaging in more gaffes than even George W. Bush. But his statements, like his new haircut, and his having mastered Ukrainian are neither here nor there. Politicians should be measured by what they do—not what they say.

And Yanukovych’s record is quite clear: he’s done nothing constructive, while accomplishing an enormous number of positively destructive things. If one cares about democracy and the market in an independent Ukraine, that is.

A politician with that kind of record no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt. He deserves our prayers. And so does the country he’s misruling.

Alexander J. Motyl (Ph.D., Columbia University, 1984) is a Contributing Editor at the Atlantic Council, and a professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark.