One of my friends shared the above video on Facebook and it jolted me awake to what is going on in Ukraine. I’ve been following the headlines, but haven’t gone deep into the news reports of the protests. I did a bit of research to catch up on what’s happening. Things are getting serious—even deadly. It’s time to pay attention and do something, if we can, to support Ukrainians.
If you’re like me and need a crash-course on what’s going on in Ukraine, here’s my attempt at a summary based on news reports. Links to published articles where I retrieved this information are below.
Protests began in Ukraine after President Yanukovych decided not to sign a partnership deal with the European Union, several years in the making. Thousands of pro-EU Ukrainians protested on the streets of Kiev, primarily in the central square near Parliament being called “Independence Square.” It began as a peaceful protest, with songs, poetry, and celebrities handing out warm soup. On the 30th of November riot police took action and dozens were injured.
On Dec. 17, Russia and Ukraine announced a deal, which involved Russia buying a large sum of Ukrainian bonds and reduced the price of Russian gas sold to Ukraine.
Understandably, Ukrainians are concerned about their government’s growing partnership with Russia and decreasing connection to the European Union and the West. With Ukraine’s history of oppression under the Soviet Union, it’s no wonder people are fearful of a future that includes Russian partnership.
Protesters are now calling for the resignation of the president and his government, due to government corruption, abuse of power, and violation of human rights in Ukraine. Activists are calling for constitutional reforms to transfer more power from the presidency to the parliament.
On Tuesday (Feb. 18) morning, 21 people died in violent clashes between government forces and activists. Riot police used water cannons, stun grenades, and other forceful ways to get through the protesters. Some protesters fought back with baseball bats, Molotov cocktails, and throwing bricks and rocks over barricades. The protesters have built a wall of fire between themselves and police in the square. Unrest has also spread to parts of western Ukraine.
There is much more to the situation than I have time to outline here. Here are some excellent articles that detail the recent violence against the protesters, as well as more context and background for the protests.
CNN article “Tensions high in Ukraine after at least 21 die in fiery clashes.”
BBC article “Why is Ukraine in crisis?”
Wikipedia page “Euromaidan”
I lived in Lithuania for four months in college and made some Ukrainian friends. I’m going to try to find someone to interview about what’s going on there, to get a personal perspective on the revolution.
To my Ukrainian friends: Please feel free to pipe in here and set the record straight if I have misinterpreted the news articles I have been reading about the civil unrest. Send me a note through my contact page or on Facebook if we’re connected there if you’d be willing to share your perspective with me for this blog.