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You're reading: The good, the bad, and the ugly: What the litmus test of Euromaidan says about Ukraine

This Nov. 30, the country, still mourning
the loss of our European hopes, woke up to the shock of brutal violence used
against peaceful protesters on the Maidan (Independence Square). It was Ukraine at its worst: in the
early hours, hundreds of innocent people sought refuge from well-armed riot
police in a sanctuary. The president and the government were implicitly
understood to have sanctioned the attack. The police cynically defended its
actions against “aggressive protesters,” and it took the president 16 hours to
come up with a cowardly statement, meekly attempting but utterly failing to
shift the blame for the violence.

Ironically, it took just that to wake us up
from the lethargic sleep of indifference. After nine years of apathy, between
500,000 and 1,600,000 people, according to various sources, joined the peaceful
rally in Kyiv on Dec. 1 – symbolically, 22 years to the day since
Ukrainians voted for their country’s independence in a national referendum.

Again, this spectacular day brought out the
worst in some of us. More blood has been shed – exactly the thing we all came
out to protest. For some of us, the lure of bloody revenge seemed like a more
attractive option. I was horrified to witness packs of masked youths, mostly
teenagers, wield pieces of iron fittings while running towards the Presidential Administration on Bankova Street. Not surprisingly, what ensued was tear gas,
Molotov cocktails, a bulldozer pushing on to the police-erected barriers, and
more violence in the streets. The leaders of the opposition were unwilling or
unable to prevent bloodshed. Despite the valiant efforts of various self-styled
negotiators, including politicians, rock stars and journalists, people got
hurt, among them innocent bystanders. Were these militant men specially hired
provocateurs or overly eager hot-blooded men, remains to be determined. What
matters, though, is that the idea of a peaceful, lawful protest was nearly

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