No event has done more to spook the Kremlin, over the last decade, than the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004. Now Vladimir Putin’s worst moment looks like turning into a recurring nightmare as demonstrators once again fill Kiev’s Independence Square, demanding that their country move closer to the EU and further away from Russia.

The demonstrations in Ukraine are both a humiliation and a threat to Mr Putin. While the Russian president may laud the deep cultural and historical ties between Ukraine and Russia, he is discovering that tens of thousands of Ukrainians would prefer to brave freezing temperatures and flying truncheons rather than be drawn closer into the Russian sphere of influence.

What is more, if a popular uprising can once again threaten to topple a corrupt and intermittently despotic government in Ukraine, then the potential lesson for Russia is clear. After all, it is less than two years ago that demonstrators filled the streets of Moscow to protest against the Putin restoration and to label his United Russia party as the “party of crooks and thieves”.