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Ukrainian Revolution

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So things are escalating. People unhappy. Peaceful protests. Then a mass text message saying that protesting is illegal. Then people die.

All because of deciding whether to do trade deal with Europe or Russia. Why not both?

 

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=8ba_1390672201 Government building invaded.

 

Live stream. looks almost like they are trying to set fire to a building.

 

Anyone from there or other insight?

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/understanding-euromaidan-2014-1#ixzz2rS2lCHZM

 

I'm also not sure if classified as revolution yet or if it will.

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I haven't followed the news until recently, it seems like the situation had been bad for some time, but after the New Year holidays it deteriorated really fast.

The unrest is primarily located in the Western part of the country, with government buildings having been captured by militants of uncertain political affiliation, but apparently they're very likely right-wing extremists. Several officials in those regions (city mayors IIRC) were forced to resign from their posts, but later claimed they were forced to compose their resignation papers while under pressure from the militants.

Personally I have very little understanding of why the government and personally Yanukovych remain inactive in this situation. Several days ago Yanukovych participated in negotiations with the leaders of the opposition, and he ordered to release those who had been arrested by the police in Kiev for causing unrest. In return, he was promised a "cease-fire" from the protesters, however the situation gradually worsened instead.

Ukrainian police report that the protesters are in possession of firearms and explosives (some shipments of which had been intercepted), but to the best of my knowledge they haven't used that actively yet. It's hard to tell what's really going on there just from the news though, except that the whole situation seems like spinning out of control.

I've looked up RIA Novosti right now, it turns out that the most recent event that resulted in further escalation of this conflict was the introduction of several laws by the Ukrainian Rada that were aimed to restrict the actions of the opposition, such as harsher punishment for picketing and other forms of public protest without governmental permission. Another law effectively introduced political censorship of Internet websites.

It should be noted though that this current crisis is not only a result of the dispute between those who wish Ukraine to join the EU and those who don't, or the general discontent of the populace with Yanukovych's rule. Modern Ukraine is comprised of territories that historically were included into spheres of influence of different neighbouring powers (brief historical outline). This created a significant cultural, religious and political diversity, and this continued until the fall of USSR even though officially the Soviet policy and ideology proclaimed equality and brotherhood of all peoples and nations. This is no coincidence that most areas affected by the unrest are located in the Western part of the country. It seems like the Ukraine of today is being torn apart by its historical legacy, and this already complicated situation became worsened by about a decade of home policy that created much discontent among the population.

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So, why does the country simply not divide up? It is almost as if it is a violent version of the Belgian problem.

 

Of course there are new problems when splitting up.

But I think it is still better then fighting over what the one and only politics are going to be.

 

1 part wants to be European and another part wants to be Russian. So why not let them?

 

The part that wants to be Russian could become part of Russia. And their troubles are "over".

And the part that wants to be with Europe, could keep the name Ukraine. And get financial help immediately. Whether or not they are part of the European union. And their troubles are "over" as well.

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So, why does the country simply not divide up?

History has abundant examples showing that one does not "simply" solve problems like that. Even if there is a referendum on the separation of Ukraine and the majority votes for it, who will guarantee that this is carried out in a fashion beneficial for the population? The Soviet Union referendum of 1991 is one more or less recent event that provides evidence how things may turn into the exact opposite of the desired direction.

 

1 part wants to be European and another part wants to be Russian. So why not let them?

 

The part that wants to be Russian could become part of Russia. And their troubles are "over".

And the part that wants to be with Europe, could keep the name Ukraine. And get financial help immediately. Whether or not they are part of the European union. And their troubles are "over" as well.

There are economic reasons among others in this. In the East and the South of Ukraine, there remain many important industries built during the Soviet times which provide goods for export and thus support Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia. The industries in the Western part of the country are unable to compete with the East and the South in terms of exporting goods. Also, local budgets in Western regions receive most significant subsidies from Ukrainian government (this map from 2010 shows the size of subsidies per capita and as GDP percentage in all regions of Ukraine).

In the view of this, I think there's no way EU is going to accept Western Ukraine alone, they already have enough trouble with Greece.

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I never said that splitting up would be easy. But instead of total impending chaos, it might be the better one out of the 2 evil choices.

 

How come the West side is exporting less? Is it because the directly attached countries on the West side have less money to buy?

Maybe if they have special things for export. Then economics would go better.

 

And which parts of Ukraine are protesting? I am curious about that. Is it just a small part? Or do the people come from all the corners of the country?

 

According to the news here, things are escalating more and more, with each passing day.

An important person got shot?

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According to the news here, things are escalating more and more, with each passing day.

An important person got shot?

I haven't watched any more news about the events in Ukraine. I checked RIA Novosti briefly right now, there are no reports about shootings. Last week, two people were killed in Kiev and Ukrainian police was blamed, however police officials say that the shots were made from guns that have nothing in common with standard issue police firearms.

 

How come the West side is exporting less? Is it because the directly attached countries on the West side have less money to buy?

Maybe if they have special things for export. Then economics would go better.

Apparently they do not have advanced enough industries to produce quality products that would be competitive on the export market.

 

And which parts of Ukraine are protesting? I am curious about that. Is it just a small part? Or do the people come from all the corners of the country?

Well, at this point you need to specify what you mean by "protesting". There are nationalist-flavoured militant radical groups that clash with police forces, build barricades and take over government buildings. On the other hand, there are regional powers that criticise the central government for not being active enough in dealing with the crisis.

Nationalists are most active in the Western part of the country.

From the news headlines it seems that the police have become more active, they have cleared at least some of captured government building from militants, and arrested those responsible. Yanukovych has begun yet another round of negotiations (which seem to be going on right now) with the leaders of the opposition, but somehow I'm not sure of they (opposition leaders) really control the situation in the streets.

In other news, the government of Crimea has banned the radical nationalist party "Svoboda" (whose members take part in clashes with police) and is urging to expand this ban over the whole of Ukraine.

One more thing I wanted to say about the crisis. You said earlier that it would be a solution to divide the country between the "pro-Europe" and "pro-Russian" parts, and everyone would be more or less content with that. However, the violent protesters (radical militants) are far from being "pro-Europe". I watched a news report a few days ago when a Russian journalist was able to take an interview from a self-proclaimed "commander" of "opposition quarters" that was established in the captured building of the Ministry of Agricultural Policy in Kiev. The journalist asked the commander (a young man in early-mid twenties): what do you think would happen if someone did a similar thing (i.e. captured a government building) in a European country? The commander replied that he didn't care about Europe, and that he was Ukrainian, not European. He also added that he did what he thought was the right thing to do.

These militants, as said above, belong to an extreme right-wing, nationalist movement. There was also footage in the news of large masses of people marching in a city in Western Ukraine (forgot which one) and chanting "Ukraine for the Ukrainians!". In this respect, I doubt that even if the EU would accept them it would change anything.

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"Ukraine for the Ukrainians!"

 

I find it odd that they are fighting without a clear goal. At least, its not entirely clear to me what their goal is:

What do they hope to achieve once the people have their country back?

What economy do they want? Better Industries?

What kind of leadership do they want?

What kind of relationships with other countries do they want?

 

Those are important questions that their leaders need to think about and stand ground for it.

 

Another thing that was unclear in the (Netherlands) media was:

Did the radical groups start the fights after the "banishment of protesting"?

Or is the "banishment of protesting" the consequence for the radical/violent behavior?

It is an important difference. Because it shows what kind of people are acting.

 

Moreover, I don't think either that the protest leaders have proper control over their people.

That might lead to unwanted escalations. And thus puts regression on the negotiations. Which in turn leads to more unwanted escalations. A vicious circle that has been shown in most recent revolutions.

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I find it odd that they are fighting without a clear goal. At least, its not entirely clear to me what their goal is:

What do they hope to achieve once the people have their country back?

What economy do they want? Better Industries?

What kind of leadership do they want?

What kind of relationships with other countries do they want?

 

Those are important questions that their leaders need to think about and stand ground for it.

I'm afraid that whoever stands behind these events had the goal of destabilizing the situation rather than anything else in mind. Nationalist ideas are good for rallying discontented youths (and those are quite numerous given the economic and political situation there) and then directing this force towards whatever destructive activities that create chaos.

 

Another thing that was unclear in the (Netherlands) media was:

Did the radical groups start the fights after the "banishment of protesting"?

Or is the "banishment of protesting" the consequence for the radical/violent behavior?

It is an important difference. Because it shows what kind of people are acting.

Again I did not follow the events from the start, a quick look (again at RIA Novosti*; I don't know Ukrainian so I won't attempt to try and get through Ukrainian news sources; also Ukrainian sources certainly aren't necessarily free of bias or present unaltered eyewitness accounts so there) suggests that peaceful protests against the dampening of EU integration on the part of the country's Cabinet of Ministers started in November 2013 (around November 21), however violence broke out on January 19 when militant protesters started throwing stones at the policemen, construct barricades, burn tires to create smokescreens etc. Three people were killed.

It should be noted however that on November 30, 2013, protesting students were driven away from Maidan by the Berkut, and since then police forces were being concentrated in the streets of Kiev proportionally to the masses of protesters, although there were no orders to drive protesting citizens away. Tensions were growing and the situation worsened when on January 16 it was announced that the Rada introduced a number of laws that increased the severity of punishment for unauthorized public protest actions. Here's an article (not sure about the English version) that lists punishable transgressions:

  • creating columns of more that 5 cars during a protest event (a fine of 680-850 hryvnia and driving license suspension)
  • wearing a helmet and/or a mask while protesting (a fine of 4250-5100 hryvnia or up to 15 days of arrest)
  • setting up tents, makeshift stages and/or audio equipment without prior permission from the police (a fine of 4250-5100 hryvnia)
These were the new limitations imposed on public protesting; in addition, punishment was increased for instigating unrest and violence against the police, attempts to capture government buildings, blocking the streets and disrupting the work of government offices.

The Rada also increased punishment covered by anti-extremism laws, such as a fine of 3400-13600 hryvnia for the dissemination of extremist materials (including those that propagate a civil uprising), and introduced punishment for public denial or glorification of Fascist/Nazi crimes, and/or for nationalist propaganda (a fine of 8500-17000 hryvnia).

A separate batch of laws increased restrictions concerning general spread of information, and government control over information/news sources (including a right that was granted to a government commission to limit access to Internet websites suspected of containing extremist materials, or news websites operating without a license).

All these laws were introduced on January 16 and came in effect as of January 22. This greatly enraged the protesters and is thought of (or at least, presented in the news sources as) the main reason why violence broke out.

 

Moreover, I don't think either that the protest leaders have proper control over their people.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

*BTW, you can check the English version of the RIA Novosti website and take a look at some articles in detail. I'm not sure if every article is translated, but many of them are.

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Very informative.

Thanks.

 

In my opinion, and the way how you described it: The "protesters" sure are over reacting.

But then again. We aren't there to be witnesses of first class.

 


  • creating columns of more that 5 cars during a protest event (a fine of 680-850 hryvnia and driving license suspension)
  • wearing a helmet and/or a mask while protesting (a fine of 4250-5100 hryvnia or up to 15 days of arrest)
  • setting up tents, makeshift stages and/or audio equipment without prior permission from the police (a fine of 4250-5100 hryvnia)

 

1, Never heard of that kind of protest before. I do understand that it could pose threats to the police who often are just on foot.

2. I consider hiding ones face without proper reason; a potential crime enforcer. NO matter what country of religion you have.

3. I don't see a problem in that one. You should allow protesters to camp. But if you want to reduce the number of protesters. Give them a box to sit in. And say, no more extra protesters. A maximum of 50?

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Yes, that was reported in the news. It was also reported in the news that the militant radicals have again attacked and occupied government buildings, this time using firearms. In Kiev, an unarmed government worker was shot by the extremists when he was trying to negotiate with them the evacuation of personnel from an attacked building.

The governor of Volyn Oblast, according to a Ukrainian news source, was captured by the militants, brought to the central square in Lutsk where a protest meeting was taking place, beaten and chained to the stage with handcuffs. The extremists demanded that he resign from office.

In the Western regions, radical militants are raiding government arsenals for firearms which will then be used in Kiev against the Berkut.

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Yes, that was reported in the news. It was also reported in the news that the militant radicals have again attacked and occupied government buildings, this time using firearms. In Kiev, an unarmed government worker was shot by the extremists when he was trying to negotiate with them the evacuation of personnel from an attacked building.

The governor of Volyn Oblast, according to a Ukrainian news source, was captured by the militants, brought to the central square in Lutsk where a protest meeting was taking place, beaten and chained to the stage with handcuffs. The extremists demanded that he resign from office.

In the Western regions, radical militants are raiding government arsenals for firearms which will then be used in Kiev against the Berkut.

Notching of this was mentioned in the news here.

Only 25 death.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DxkDiAcSF8

Video of protestors being shot. Warning blood and possible dead. Though vid quality isn't the best and taken from afar.

 

Police captured:

https://twitter.com/yarotrof/status/436422021421879296

 

From what I'm reading and seeing at reddit, even the medics that are treating the shot victims are getting shot.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPR/status/436510085720727552

 

some livestreams:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/spilno-tv-live/theater

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Just read a post in some Russian-language blog, the author argues that the protesters on the Euromaidan do not possess any firearms and are fired upon by unidentified snipers (allegedly the government's special forces) from the roofs of nearby buildings.

I'm afraid that at this point it's impossible to determine the reliability of any source on the situation.

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The main problem here is that no one can point to the real bad side. At this point. Did the president order to shoot?

Perhaps there is no bad side. Only 2 sides entangled in a vicious circle of confused violence. That naturally slowly escalates. The people. The president.

 

The people:

Some extremists use violence.

Other protesters do not.

Both get shot? The peaceful unarmed protesters are clearly the victims in that.

Shooting medics? In my opinion. the shooter should be put on trial immediately.

 

The Ukrainian president:

Should be clear to other countries about what is happening. Are there indeed 2 groups of protesters? What exactly is happening.

But since he does not do that (On purpose or by accident). He clearly is at fault. It is almost as if they want to keep it secret?

Democracy? Then with that amount of protesters, he should have withdrawn immediately (temporary) and let the people vote again. If there was only a smaller group in the beginning, he should have asked them what they wanted. Talk until he would come to a solution. A president should comfort his/her people, not shoot them.

 

China actually has a good point in that last artical. "Stop violence, lets talk". Unfortunately they are ignored as usual.

All the other factions act like little children as usual. One always says yes, the other one always says no on purpose against that yes.

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Both get shot? The peaceful unarmed protesters are clearly the victims in that.

Shooting medics? In my opinion. the shooter should be put on trial immediately.

There are also reports from the police/Berkut who say it was them who were shot by those unidentified snipers. This could very well be a provocation, although it's not clear who's behind this.

The Ukrainian president:

Should be clear to other countries about what is happening. Are there indeed 2 groups of protesters? What exactly is happening.

But since he does not do that (On purpose or by accident). He clearly is at fault. It is almost as if they want to keep it secret?

Democracy? Then with that amount of protesters, he should have withdrawn immediately (temporary) and let the people vote again. If there was only a smaller group in the beginning, he should have asked them what they wanted. Talk until he would come to a solution. A president should comfort his/her people, not shoot them.

Absolutely no idea why Mr. Yanukovych behaved that way. It is very clear that at least part of the blame for the whole situation spiralling out of control lies personally on him.

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Yesterday all the news was that a deal was made.

 

Now I just check and it looks like a coup and the president has fled.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/22/ukraine-crisis-uncertainty-after-yanukovych-signs-deal-live-updates

 

Pics of president house that was overtaken. EDIT: replaced with imgur gallery so loads faster. according to reddit the toilet pic is fake.

http://imgur.com/a/DHGmb

reddit thread on it

http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1ymor9/viktor_yanukovychs_residence/

  • Upvote 1

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Andrew, that is a good link you have given us.

 

That looks more like a reliable source.

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Here in the news it was said that Yanukovuch is now in Kharkiv. It probably doesn't matter anymore though. Several key ministers like the Minister of the Interior were replaced.

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Funny how EU supporters are from the west of the country while Russia supporters are from the east: West Ukraine was Poland before Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.

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Russia supporters are from the east

They're not exactly Russia supporters per se: rather, the majority of Russian-speaking population lives is the East of the country (which is a situation that formed during the Soviet times), and naturally they would hope to be supported by Russia, because otherwise they risk to become a language minority - a large part of the population, but still a minority compared to native Ukrainians.

For example, I've heard in the news that yesterday the new Rada (after Yanukovych's displacement) annulled a certain language policy law that had been passed in Summer 2012. This law granted the status of a regional official secondary language to any minority language with a community of speakers that constitutes more than 10% of a region's population. By this law, Russian achieved the status of a secondary official language in 13 out of 27 regions in Ukraine. With the law void, this status is lost.

There are also rumours of a new language policy law being in development in the Rada, which will probably grant the sole status of the official language to Ukrainian only.

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As signs of peace. They could simply keep that law?

No problem there, right?

 

They also could keep giving the language in schools for economic reasons. Just like how we in the Netherlands have to learn German(Deutsch) and/or French besides of English and Dutch.

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As signs of peace. They could simply keep that law?

No problem there, right?

Well, the fact alone that the language policy law was made void just a few days after the, uhm, "change" of the government kinda suggests that not keeping it any longer was a priority issue, right?

Also heard in the news that the previous mass media/censorship law that punished nationalist/fascist propaganda was annulled as well. Can't find online sources on that right now though.

[Edit] In another forum, there are several people from the Ukraine posting their experiences. One is apparently a Maidan activist, another just lives in Odessa. Here's what the Odessite posted yesterday:

First, a small anecdotal story from the previous day.

We had two demonstrations in the city. Both maydan and anti-maydan, both comprising of several thousand people.

I walked out to greet the maydan activists.

We stood on the sidewalk and watched the column pass. I was surprised to see many people wearing black masks and carrying baseball bats. I pointed it out to some bespectacled fellow who was standing near me with his gf. Why are they still hiding their faces, didn't we win?

As we were talking they started shouting "Glory to Ukraine" and raising hands in an unmistakable "sieg heil" gesture. The dude in glasses said something like "What? Are they nazis?"

Immediately one of the masked kids shouted "Titushki! They're titushki!", jumped towards us and pepper-sprayed the bespectacled fellow in the face. He then promptly retreated and we saw a group with baseball bats moving towards us. The crowd quivered, some older women started shouting "What are you doing? Why are you provoking the people?" They hesitated for a moment and then an older man without a mask appeared and commanded them to move on, which they thankfully did.

The whole incident left a bitter taste in my mouth. But it was also an eye opener.

Later that day the two groups had a run in. Basically, right now fighters touring around the country do nothing more than legitimize in people's eyes the local ultra-right movements who take up arms to "protect" people from those tourists. And let's be clear there are ultra-rights on both sides.

So yeah. Masks should go. Bats should go. Ultra-rights should be checked and from now on we should work on rebuilding a functional society.

Now for a quick recap of recent events which I deem important:

- Maydan politicians suggest to create special anti-corruption departments comprising of maydan activists in each ministry. I want to hear surnames and political affiliations (I'd rather they had none) of the candidates before forming a more educated opinion on this move.

The new head of SBU (Nalivaychenko) has used the magic word I've been waiting for for ages (lustration!). SBU too plans to hire new people in leadership positions, many of whom are supposed to be maydan activists.

- EU is still ready to sign the papers on Association but only after a new legitimate president is elected. A very decent stance.

IMF is willing to provide financial aid. The sum is huge and if mishandled will destroy us. I would rather see some binding agreements to ensure the money goes where it's meant to (most importantly - reforms).

- Russia withdraw their financial aid. A predictable and probably correct decision. Medvedev says there will be no sanctions though and the dialog will be renewed when Ukraine has a legitimate government again. Russian ambassador left for Moscow for consultation.

Recent polls in the news show that ~73% of Russians think they should not intervene in our internal affairs, which is also good.

- Tyagnybok suggests to change gun control laws. This is bad bad bad! I was so glad we had reasonable gun control laws, god knows what the death toll would be if a sizable amount of protesters had firearms.

Another questionable lawmaker decision - abolishing the law on local languages. When Yushchenko started forced ukrainization he basically destroyed his base in eastern and southern regions (which was significant, btw) and paved way for Yanukovich to assume his place. The local language laws were actually very reasonable, they alleviated ethno-cultural tension on the periphery to a large extent and let people finally unite on really important social issues. Why make the same mistake again?

Concerning Yanukovich, I sincerely hope they let him leave the country and be forgotten.

I don't want him anywhere in Ukraine, especially in a Ukrainian jail as a political prisoner.

If he is to be tried, this is a job for the International Court of Justice, no less. I don't want ex-opposition to turn him into a martyr, but will be fine with international court's decision.

[Edit] A more recent post by the same person, in a much lighter mood:

In other news, so called anti-maydan and maydan activists in my city had a constructive parley and decided to ditch masks and bats. They've agreed on important issues like fighting corruption. Now both forces peacefully piquet regional council demanding governors resignation. Maybe things are looking up.

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