Friday, 21 February 2014

Ukraine: Violence and agreements

Protesters beat and arrest Governor Oleksandr Bashkelano

Some 101 people both police and protesters have died from the running gun and street battles between the Ukrainian police and protesters in Maidan in Kiev. President Yanukovych has compromised considerably to halt the protesters' rage and return Kiev and Western Ukraine to normal to no avail. He has sacked a military general, recently expelled the interior minister and now has signed an agreement with opposition leaders on holding early elections while parliament is in the process of reducing presidential powers. Hopefully, the agreement will be enough to halt the violence. Some protesters have fired on police with guns on the road to the Ukrainian Parliament where police have formed a human shield to protect the building from being stormed by protesters. Police have been blamed from over hundreds of injuries including sniper fire and firing directly into protesters using homemade riot shields as they face off with the police. Injured protesters were taken to Hotel Ukraina. Protesters have also been violently attacking police, burning government buildings in Kiev and smaller towns across Ukraine and have been joined by violent nationalists and deeply anti-Russian and anti-Semitic protesters.

In Western Ukraine, where some protesters are still not satisfied with the government's recent move to avoid the Tahrir Square like removal of the Yanukoyvch government, Governor Oleksandr Bashkelano was handcuffed and beaten by protesters in Lutsk to pressure the government to resign. The rising violence by the police and protesters have made some observers wonder and believe that Ukraine might be heading to a split in the manner of Yugoslavia or Civil War. Maidan does resemble the scenes from Tahrir Square in Feb 2011 when then President Hosni Mubarak sent his thugs to crack down on thousands of protesters in the Midan. Slobadan Milosevic's overthrow by massive protests across the former Yugoslavia (Serbia) in 2000 shares similarities with Ukrainian protesters rallying against the government. But Kiev police are not thugs and President Yanukovych is not Mubarak. Disagreements and hatred against the government aside, Yanukovych was democratically elected by Ukrainians. Mainstream media and the international community aka Western Europe and Uninvited States and occasionally Japan, have been observing and reporting positively on the Maidan protests from the first day. The West has sided with the protesters almost from day one. Western media has painted Kiev police and the Ukrainian government as merciless in the same manner of a former Soviet state. Sanctions against Yanukovych has been approved by European Union, U.S and even Canada. The sanctions are against a Democratic government not a dictator or authoritarian such as Mubarak or Gaddhafi who was ousted by rebel militias.

Russia too has been watching Ukraine's protests with interest. Russian influences, culture and language is still felt across Ukraine but its the strongest in Eastern Ukraine. Eastern region looks to Russia from time to time. Russia regards Ukraine as part of its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. Ukraine is one of the few Eastern countries that is not under the EU's complete financial and political control. An American diplomat Victora Nuland has gone so far as to  curse the EU for not intervening in Ukraine's internal affairs. Both the West and Russia are playing tug of war with Ukraine hoping that the Ukrainians' commitment to join the European Union and leave Russia's influential sphere and Eursian alliance.

Is Ukraine the next Yugoslavia?

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