Good luck getting rid of the monstrosity of a statue that graces the main square in Kharkiv, or the thousands of other reminders — embedded in architecture and, more sinisterly, in culture — of the Soviet era. Viktor Yushchenko, as president from 2005-2010, ordered the Communist-era symbols removed. In carrying out this order, Yushchenko was as effective as most everything else he did as president. He talked the right game, he just didn’t get anything done.
The hundreds of thousands of people who turned out on Dec. 8 in Kyiv — joined by thousands around the world in solidarity — have set much loftier goals than toppling a statue. As symbolically satisfying and cathartic as that public act of vandalism was, their goal of peacefully forcing President Viktor Yanukovych from power is a much taller order.
On Dec. 8, the momentum was with those on the streets. But today and tomorrow? We still don’t know. There is still room for compromise, but that room is getting smaller by the day. The rhetoric, tensions, threats and demands are all heating up.