- Posted January 27, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
SHORT HISTORY OF MAIDAN
Ukraine is, perhaps, the first European country that pays blood for entering the EU.
Right now in the center of Kyiv the real battles with police and internal arms are taking place. Protesters throw Molotoff cocktails, bricks and fireworks for already a week. Special troops Berkut reply with aiming fire towards activists and journalists (those ones in particular) within traumatic arms, preferably shooting into head and eyes. On January 22nd two persons died here. Some people lost their eyes. That was how the first blood shed in Ukrainian revolution.
No one was ready for how the evens turned on. For the few years Ukraine was preparing to sign to off an Agreement of Association with EU and Free Trade Zone. With a President Yanukovych - corrupted, badly educated and non-democratic man – euro intergration for country went even faster. Many were wondering, how come that the man who prefers to enrich himself and his greedy family with a country’s budget money, building palaces and developing business of two sons, how can he aim into EU, where all this would be a crime. Nevertheless, everyone was sure that on November 29 2013 in Vilnius the Agreement with EU will be signed off.
But one week before the summit Yanukovych by the hands of own Prime-minister Mykola Azarov terminated the eurointergation process. In the evening of November 21 about a thousand of people went to the Independence Square (Maidan) to manifest their protest. Still, this protest was started not by opposition, but by the leaders of social movements. The most well-known journalist of Afghan origin Mustapha Nayem called out people to gather there via Facebook. Leaders of the three opposition parties, presented in the Parliament: Vitaliy Klitchko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnybok – came to Maidan not among the first ones. At the beginning journalists and activists were standing alone, and politics 200 meters next to them on the European Square. They joined on the November 29.
That day the «Eastern partnership» summit took place in Vilnius. Until then Ukrainians were looking forward to Yanukovych to change his mind and sign off the agreement. But he didn’t. When opposition leaders addressed to the crowd on the meeting and dismissed, everyone thought that protest is over. People were disappointed. But that same night police with unprecedented cruelty dispersed the ones who left on the Maidan for night, majorly students. They were beaten by batons, haunted down the streets of Kyiv, and finished with the batons and legs. The next evening outraged people of Kyiv rose, coming to the square by the tens of thousands.
Police by the order of authorities used force twice more. Firstly it was near the President administration’s building. Radical activists attacked police. And police responded with even bigger cruelty. During the dispersion there were crippled and arrested tens of peaceful citizens and journalists. It looked like journalists were one of the main targets: neither helmets, nor vests with «Press» on it helped them.
Second time in the night of December 11 police tried to dismiss the Maidan. Thousands of people are here days and nights. They did not apply violence towards police just built barricades on the perimeter and set up self-supply with the food and security. They are financed by people of Kyiv and businessmen, not by western funds, like many think. Special thing about that night was that at the same time in Kyiv were Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Victoria Nuland and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. Both diplomats came for resolving of the political crisis, but Yanukovych gave an order to disperse peaceful protesters right in their presence, which shocked the whole world. And again it was explicitly brutal. But he didn’t manage to banish people from the square. Only threats of sanctions which were announced by US Congress senator John McCain who came to Kyiv, rein in Yanukovych dictator’s manners for a time.
However as Maidan wasn’t going to dismiss without victory, on the 16th of January Parliament, braking all the legal procedures, voted for the set of laws which limit the freedom of speech and movement. For instance it was banned to walk in helmets, move in the raw of 5 cars and strengthen responsibility for defamation, which struck the press. Ruling party with raising up the hands, which no one counted, strengthen responsibility for braking the new laws, and thus many in the country are threatened by prison terms.
January 20th, when it looked that further protest is not perspective, activists which disabused in oppositions ability to get the main – retirement of the President, termination of arrests, beatings, kidnaping of people – came face to face to the police frontiers and used the weapon they had – bricks from street. Police responded with a fire. 22nd of January it was found out that in the fights it was killed two more people. Three more were found dead after kidnaping and tortures. Ihor Lutsenko, one of the kidnapped who survived, told that government uses following scheme: kidnapping, take to the forest, tortures, and giving to the police. Kidnapping is still in progress right now. Until now it is unknown what’s up with Dmytro Bulatov, leader of the AutoMaidan. It’s civil movement of the automobilists which arranges piquets, including ones under country palaces of the Yanukovych, minister of the internal affairs Zakharchenko and oligarchs. Another activist of the AutoMaidan Oleksiy Hrytsenko literally points out that kidnaps are done by bandits by the order of authorities.
People who are standing day and night on the Maidan after two rounds of the negotiations with Yanukovych forbid opposition to continue negotiation process, reasonably thinking that current President is cheating everyone, as he did it not once. On the past week leaders of the opposition, afraid of their decision, under pressure from the electorate, agreed to head the protest movement which radicalized without them and expands through the country with a great speed (in a few regions citizens captured government administrations). But who really heads the protest through the country nobody knows, we can only claim that people rose.
At the moment no one sees way out of present situation. That could be voluntary retirement of the President and Parliament elections, but President isn’t going to go for it now. Which means that stand will only be stronger. In the meanwhile, US and EU, likely moderators in the conflict arrangement, left themselves roles of the silent observers, while the President of Russia Vladimir Putin is that man and that factor who impacted Yanukovych’s decision to refuse EU association, blackmailing Ukraine by the closing Russian border for Ukrainian goods. Now Putin can think of himself as of winner in the war for the spheres of influence in Europe. And Ukrainians extremely aren’t satisfied with it.
Ukraine wasn’t a country that took independence from USSR by the price of protests and human lives. Compared to the dramatic events in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 1990 Ukraine`s way out of Soviet Union was less conflict. But without a doubt, Ukraine is the first country on the eastern EU border that so long and so hard gets rid of its soviet past, trying to become part of the European society, not only former USSR republic. Here many put equality sign between EU membership and independence from Russia as a guaranty to never go back to the communist past.
And Europe should know that Ukrainians go on the certain death (no exaggeration) with two flags in hands, Ukraine and EU. But it seems like it is not clearly understood in EU.
Andrey Chernikov, Kyiv.