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Survey: EuroMaidan is grassroots movement, in danger of being 'radicalized'

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Dec. 10, 2013, 5:44 p.m. | Ukraine — by Mark Rachkevych

Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives director Iryna Bekeshkina.
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Mark Rachkevych

Mark has been a reporter for the Kyiv Post since 2006, but joined full-time in 2009. A native Chicagoan where he was the co-founder of the now defunct Glasshouse Magazine, Mark currently is an editor of business news and still contributes stories on an ongoing basis. He is a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, a graduate of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, and fluent in the Ukrainian and Russian languages.

EuroMaidan is a purely “people’s” movement that foremost wants protesters freed from custody, and for President Viktor Yanukovych to resign along with his appointed government headed by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, a poll of protesters found. 

An Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation survey of 1,037 protesters on and around Independence Square conducted on Dec. 7-8 found that of those who came from other regions in Ukraine, only 8 percent said they were there because their visit was organized by a political party of civil society organization.

The remaining 92 percent said they came on their own initiative, the survey found.

As a whole, 70 percent of respondents said that the main reason why they came to protest was because of the Nov. 30 beating of demonstrators by police. Nearly 54 percent said they are protesting because Yanukovych didn’t sign the association agreement with the European Union.

Calls from the political opposition only compelled five percent of respondents to join the protests.

Ten protesters remain in police custody as of Dec. 12.

“If the government will radicalize the situation, it is likely that the Maidan will be radicalized because we observe that there is a significant number of people ready for more drastic methods,” said Iryna Bekeshkina, director of Democratic Initiatives. “There definitely will be consequences (of the forcible dispersion of the Maidan). People are radically-minded, and if they act – and you don’t need the majority of people for the situation to get worse – just a critical mass (is needed) and that mass is there.”

Among their main demands, some 82 percent said they want protesters who were taken into custody freed. Another 80 percent want the government to resign, while 75 percent want Yanukovych to resign and for pre-term presidential elections to be held.

 

Only 38 percent are calling for imprisoned ex-Prime  Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to be freed.

 

"You see, it is possible to measure the temperature, but no one knows what cause it to rise (or fall). No sociologist could have predicted such a completely stupid government action as the brutal beating (on Nov. 30) of defenseless, unarmed students in the area and we can see that the main motive was to do exactly that," noted Bekeshkina.

Protesters, according to the survey’s demographic information, are younger than the national average with 36 being the average age. Forty nine percent of demonstrators are aged 30-54, while 38 percent are aged 15 to 29. 

Among which demands put forth on the Maidan do you support? (Mark each demand that is important to you)

Freeing protesters who were arrested, stop repression

81.8

Resignation of government

80.1

Resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and hold pre-term presidential elections

75.1

Sign the association agreement with the European Union

71.0

Press criminal charges on those guilty in the beating of demonstrators

57.6

Dismiss parliament and call for pre-term parliamentary elections

55.6

Launch criminal cases against those who were involved in corruption

49.6

Raise the general standard of living

46.9

Revert constitution before it was changed in 2004 when the president’s power was limited

37.9

Free Yulia Tymoshenko

37.8

Other (what exactly?)

3.4

Difficult to say

0

 Source: Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation survey of 1,037 protesters on Independence Square taken on Dec. 7-8 and conducted together with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

Kyiv Post editor Mark Rachkevych can be reached at rachkevych@kyivpost.com. 

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