Ukrainian Revolution

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Ukrainian Revolution

Postby Summerlander » 31 Mar 2016 18:12

Ukrainian Revolution

Ukraine, that country lying somewhere between the East and the West, declared its independence from the Soviet Union over 25 years ago, but made the mistake of agreeing to destroy its nuclear arsenal three years later when it joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) – around the time when I fled Portugal for the United Kingdom. By relinquishing this safety net, Ukraine left itself open to attacks by Stalin-worshipping tyrants. The recent civil unrest and chaos in this former Russian state speaks for itself and was provoked by none other than Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy in case you bought into their defamatory propaganda that Ukrainians don’t know how to look after themselves. As recorded in Stuart Prebble’s Secrets of the Conqueror, even Nikita Khrushchev – the former leader of the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War – would beg to differ from the Russian jingoists who wreaked havoc in Crimea, as the socialist statesman spoke highly of the Ukrainian people in his memoirs:

‘I’ll say that the Ukrainian people treated me well. I recall warmly the years I spent there. This was a period full of responsibilities, but pleasant because it brought satisfaction … But far be it from me to inflate my significance. The entire Ukrainian people was exerting great efforts … I attribute Ukraine’s successes to the Ukrainian people as a whole. I won’t elaborate further on this theme, but in principle it’s very easy to demonstrate. I’m Russian myself, and I don’t want to offend Russians!’

But the wily Kremlin’s plans to reclaim Ukraine were marked by patience and careful calculation as the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych would only be elected a decade after the nation had joined the NPT. The election, of course, was found to be rigged, but even so, the earliest protests were peaceful as witnessed during the ‘Orange Revolution’ that was co-led by Yulia Tymoshenko, who was incarcerated and freed in the aftermath of the Euromaidan Revolution. The protesters were successful and the results of the election were overturned. As a ‘Plan B’, the Russian enemy did everything it could in the following years to thwart Ukraine’s efforts in finding economic stability – even today, the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk wants to see Russia’s Nord Stream-2 pipeline project cancelled as it will further increase energy dependence on Putin’s Russian Federation throughout Europe – and by 2010, Yanukovych returned to regain full control. This thug promised EU membership to the public whilst secretly negotiating a competing alignment with Russia. Just a year before the revolution, Yanukovych appeared to be ready to sign an association with the European Union when, out of the blue, the then Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykola Azarov, announced that no agreement would be signed. The people were furious as they had worked so hard towards that goal and looked forward to it – and I shan’t fail to recall and reiterate here on their behalf that it had been promised to them. There was widespread fear that Ukraine was about to regress to the days when the USSR ruled. (Vladimir Putin still fondly reminisces the days when his father used to cook for ‘uncles’ Lenin and Stalin.)

Just days after their disappointment, the Ukrainian youth went to Maidan, Kiev, to protest. Many were not even interested in politics and just wanted Ukraine to be part of Europe – as the opposition party leader Vitali Klitschko discovered when the concourse forced him to remove his banner and drive away in his politically publicised vehicle. The majority there demanded that Yanukovych sign the agreement. Youngsters were inspired and having fun as the protest gradually started to resemble a festival with music and mirthful chanting. There was an incredible – if not somewhat quixotic – sense of togetherness about the concourse. Reasonable demands were made in unison and they really seemed to believe that the people ultimately have the power. Alas, it was declared that EU leaders and the Ukrainian government had failed to sign the historic free trade deal and that the last-minute flip-flop was final. ‘Shame!’ the protesters shouted, as some chanted, ‘Convict out!’

Police began to encircle Maidan. During the day, people felt that the Berkut Special Forces had been preparing for something. These are a type of riot police and paramilitary force born out of the Soviet OMON in the ‘80s, and have a history of brutality, abuse and torture. An objector with a microphone pronounced, ‘Revolution!’ and a girl was heard screaming, ‘Take down the regime!’ For this perceived insolence, the troops decided to start what had been planned all along – the clobbering of the defiant throng with iron truncheons instead of the typical plastic batons. A few protesters tried – in vain – to persuade the implacable police force to join them. Amidst the mayhem and the horror, a man who was simply searching for a lost little girl – and tried to explain this – was mercilessly thrashed until he bled. Yanukovych’s government had brutally demonstrated that it was strongly opposed to protests, however, this did not deter the defiant crowd who understood all too well that ‘if we can be beaten today, anyone can be beaten tomorrow’. A nationwide strike was organised to hamper the government’s moves and the ‘March of the Millions’ was nascent. Multitudes intoned, ‘Together we are strong!’ and they hoped to be heard through their rallies. Protesting crowds were immediately blocked in Bankova Street on their way to the Presidential Headquarters as some of them wanted revenge for the beatings. In the protesters’ defence, it is safe to say that the bulk of their crowd wanted to make a peaceful demonstration and attempt to convert the police. The guileful Yanukovych, however, was ostensibly one step ahead as his masked agents had already infiltrated the dissenting throng in order to defile their magnanimousness. The ruse was that once the protestors were observed to apparently attack the authorities, the police would have enough reason to employ brutal force. Once the Berkut’s provocateurs provided that reason, the officers used their stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd – subsequently storming and beating everyone.

Meanwhile, representatives from the EU and the United States met with Yanukovych in order to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. In Maidan, the Berkut attempted to crush protestors as they sang their heavenly national anthem unafraid. The scene was quite moving and almost brought me to tears. Belief and justified purpose clearly their impetus and vocal harmony conveyed group integrity; their vision of an improved Ukraine is what they held dear – one of development, freedom and democracy. The media at the time didn’t quite capture the significance of this historical event; if one wants to experience it vicariously, one is advised to check out the ‘Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom’ documentary. As I wrote before:

‘Their solidarity was amazing and they sang their beautiful national anthem as they warded off Yanukovych’s oppressive forces – the brutal Berkut and the criminal Titushky paid to kill and make protestors look bad. Once the shit hit the fan in Maidan, even Ivan Sydor, the bell ringer at Mykhaylivs’kyi Monastery was called at 1.30am and urged to do something. So, with Bishop Agapit’s blessing, he rang the bells on 11 December, 2013. They hadn’t tolled since 1240 when the Mongol-Tatars invaded Kiev! Very historical and Christopher Hitchens would have loved it!’

People from other parts of the country gathered in Maidan until there were 15,000. There was nothing the Berkut could do as fellow countrymen stood united. At the time, Catherine Ashton, an EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy paid tribute to peaceful demonstrators and condemned the use of force by the authorities. People organised themselves and helped one another. They had learned from their mistakes and constructed more massive and durable barricades in order to mitigate casualties; defence units were formed and trained by retired military men to resist the fascist forces of Yanukovych. The opprobrious president wasted no time in entering into an agreement with Vladimir Putin and distanced the country even further from the European Union. This entailed Russia buying Ukrainian Eurobonds and lowering the cost of Russian natural gas to Ukraine. This deal gave the Russian Navy access to the Kerch peninsula with strategic access to the Mediterranean and beyond. In the streets of Ukraine, however, the protesters were not about nationalities or language groups; the main thing they had in common in their sanguinary plight was the desire to extricate themselves from Yanukovych’s regime. There was solidarity even amongst different religions as they, too, joined forces in the fight for the future of their country.

In January 2014, at the Ukrainian Parliament Verkov na Rada, politicians gathered. Instead of conducting negotiations with the recalcitrant majority, the pro-Russian government of Ukraine chose to unleash ‘a bacchanalia of dictatorship’ as revolutionaries put it at the time. The following tyrannical laws were passed: hard helmets are banned; groups of five cars cannot be driven at once – even at weddings and funerals; peaceful gatherings are outlawed; and the use of the Internet is prohibited. Ukrainians remained defiant and did exactly the opposite and I applaud them – especially those who wore hard hats that said, ‘Fuck off!’

From the Independence Square in Maidan, a multitude began to expand towards Krushevskogo Street on their way to the Ukrainian Parliament. Again, they were blocked by police. Protesters attempted to persuade the officers to let them pass but the fuzz responded by cussing at them. This time, everybody lost their forbearance and the throng quickly turned obstreperous. The police had become the enemy, standing defiant even when reminded that they had pledged allegiance to the nation of Ukraine, not Yanukovych and his debasing pack. Protesters called for the release of political prisoners and were exigent over their demands for a more balanced government. They had expected to have a peaceful rally and be heard by their representatives outside the Parliament but were met by the Berkut and the Titushky instead. (The latter were allowed to do things the police couldn’t be caught doing, such as murder!) Despite the fact that people were forced to retreat back to Maidan, their dissension was adamant and relentless. As protesters vowed to go on an armed offensive if they had to endure another year of Yanukovych, this one resigned and fled to Russia and given asylum by Putin – who supported his crony’s view that Ukraine’s new interim government, which had disbanded the Berkut and signed the EU agreement, wasn’t legitimate and that the revolution was a coup d’état. Putin began a covert invasion of Crimea in southern Ukraine by sending military forces to assist pro-Russian separatists. This led to pro-Russian protests expanding as far as eastern Ukraine and escalated into a violent war (Donbass) that saw the deaths of at least 6,000 people (as of 2015).

As the War of Donbass raged on, what Russia called a ‘humanitarian convoy’ crossed the border into Ukrainian territory without permission. The Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, subsequently stated that Russia had directly invaded Ukraine. You know the rest. The Minsk Protocol, which was signed almost a year before the war, failed to establish a ceasefire and the same goes for its sequel, the Minsk II deal. No territorial changes occurred and the state of stalemate led the war to be labelled a ‘frozen conflict’.

Feel free to discuss this topic and expatiate! 8-)
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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