President Yanukovych is widely seen as living in symbiosis with Ukraine's tycoons. Initially that was largely true, but after becoming president in 2010 he quickly concentrated not only power but also wealth in the hands of his family - turning the big businessmen against him.
The surviving tycoons now see Yanukovych as the greatest threat to their survival, which has made most of them supporters of the European Association Agreement that the president shelved last month.
The scenes from the Ukrainian capital are extraordinary: Lenin's statue toppled, hundreds of thousands of flag-waving protesters, police raids on media outlets and opposition parties. But they are a sideshow to the big picture: the collapse of the European Union's efforts to integrate its ex-Soviet neighbors in the face of an audacious bid by Vladimir Putin's ex-KGB regime to restore the Russian empire.
In the evening of December 10th, Ukraine’s president commanded internal military forces and riot police to fight off peaceful anti-government protesters in Kyiv’s main square, known these days to the world as Maidan. As of early Wednesday the struggle continued.
Come what may, the events in Ukraine are historically irreversible and geopolitically transformatory. Sooner rather than later, Ukraine will be truly a part of democratic Europe; later rather than sooner, Russia will follow unless it isolates itself and becomes a semi-stagnant imperialistic relic.
The latest apparent victim of efforts to stifle anti-government protest is a lawyer – Viktor Smaliy, who was defending Road Control journalist Andriy Dzyndzya. In present circumstances, the charge should send a shiver down the spine of many a lawyer. This, presumably, is the desired effect.
Smaliy is accused of attempted murder, with his alleged target being the judge hearing the application to detain Dzyndzya in custody. The crime under Article 379 of the Criminal Code carries a sentence of 8-15 years or life imprisonment.
That late summer day, the crowds were joyful. They cheered as the flag they had come to loathe was lowered. In its place, the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine rose above parliament. As the demonstrators sang in celebration, some showed mouths filled with gold teeth, the masterpieces of Soviet dentistry.
FOR THE past week, the message from all sides in Ukraine’s ongoing protests over the government’s preference for closer ties to Russia over the European Union has been: We don’t want more confrontation. After a violent police crackdown Dec. 1, government officials promised not to try to oust by force the tens of thousands of demonstrators occupying Kiev’s City Hall and Independence Square. Women protesters, dressed in traditional Ukrainian garb, have passed out warm tea and flowers to riot police assigned to guard government buildings. Protesters and police each took turns playing a piano, in the blue and yellow colors of both Ukraine and the EU, that was placed against police cordons. There was reason to hope that the current unrest could pass as peacefully as the country’s 2004 Orange Revolution, the massive protests that led to the ouster of a pro-Russian government following a rigged vote.
Ukraine didn’t sign the association agreement with the EU at the Vilnius summit of the Eastern Partnership, stating that it was necessary to develop economic relations with Russia. Today President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich will discuss the established situation in the country with his predecessors who headed the country in the post-Soviet period – Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, and Viktor Yushchenko. Director of the Institute of the Caspian Cooperation, Sergei Mikheyev, commented on the events which are taking place in Ukraine and what can be expected in the future for Vestnik Kavkaza, ahead of the meeting between Ukrainian presidents.
Almost 25 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and almost a decade after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine’s economy remains unreformed and stagnant. Outside observers often point to a divide between ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and ethnic Ukrainians in the west, and suggest that the country is in danger of splitting apart on ethnic lines. However, many ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language but identify as Ukrainian, as do many ethnic Russians. Most Ukrainians I have talked to see themselves as Ukrainian citizens, be they ethnically Russian or ethnically Ukrainian.
The hundreds of thousands of protesters who poured into the streets of Kiev this weekend, tearing down a statue of Lenin, believe their country’s future is under threat from Russia. They are right. They also need to get off the streets.
UKRAINE ON Monday appeared to be teetering between a violent government crackdown and the political negotiations that are the only solution to its ongoing crisis. While President Viktor Yanukovych said he would take up an offer by three former Ukrainian presidents to negotiate an end to his standoff with a mass protest movement, he also dispatched riot police to confront encampments in the center of Kiev, the capital, and security forces to raid the headquarters of the main opposition party.
The protesters who toppled Lenin in Kiev joined the ancient tradition of angry crowds attacking figures of rulers. Beyond rage, what is behind this fatal attraction?
As Ukrainians brave snow and riot police for their belief in the EU, do their fellow Europeans hear their cry?
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Ukraine and toppled a statue of Vladimir Lenin as they protest the government’s decision to suspend talks with the European Union. Sophia Opatska, CEO of the Lviv Business School, explains how the people of Ukraine have become disenchanted with the ruling political party and how they are taking action.
Ukraine's anti-government’s protest, sparked by president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to halt the country’s European integration, continued for more than two weeks and shows no signs of winding down. The movement continues despite the government’s ongoing threat to enforce Martial law in the capital, Kiev; people’s general skepticism regarding the opposition’s ability to handle the situation, and the increasingly frigid weather.
On Human Rights Day, Dec 10, the Kyiv Court of Appeal will be examining cases with direct significance for human rights and rule of law in Ukraine. A search carried out the day before with serious procedural infringements only fuels concern.
Ten people, including 2 journalists, were last week remanded in custody for 2 months over the disturbances on Bankova St on Dec 1.
The first nine men, including journalist Valery Garagutz, were very badly beaten during the storm by Berkut riot police. Amnesty International has reported that one, Yury Bolotov, urgently requires an operation, however most of the men need major medical treatment.
When I posted an article last week about the importance of the current Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, I was surprised by how many comments posed the situation in terms of East-West relations, as if the Cold War was still a serious consideration. Then, as the story gained traction in western media, it seemed that many so-called experts saw it the same way.
Finally, the statue of Vladimir Lenin is gone from central Kyiv. It should have been taken down years ago, tucked away in a museum of Soviet-era relics. Kyiv's good fortune is that the Lenin monument was small enough to be pulled from its pedestal and destroyed with a sledgehammer.