Ukraine demonstrations grow larger each day as more demonstrators show up at the “OccupyWall Street” type encampment. A two-month occupation on Independence Square in Kiev grew by many thousands Sunday as protesters gathered to add their voice of discontent to the months long opposition to the ruling party. The current leaders of the Ukraine are not the only ones causing frustration. Many of the speakers in the square, as well as protesters, expressed their growing frustration with the opposition for failing to have a practical strategy and clear leadership structure.
President Viktor Yanukovych is responsible for the massive demonstration. Yanukovych signed a slate of legislation that restricts fundamental freedoms. With one swipe of his pen, Yanukovych restricted free speech, the right to assemble, the free press and Internet use. People started pouring into the streets in protests, with many of them putting up tents in a park usually occupied by business people on lunch break and lovers at night.
Ukraine demonstrations grow daily as the president’s actions have stirred anger throughout the opposition and sent demonstrators supplied with baseball bats into the avenues and boulevards around the parliament. Cherry bombs, fireworks and other explosives, possibly flash grenades, were ignited. Disregarding one brief push into the crowd, the police have remained behind their blockade of buses.
One speaker, nationally famous boxer Vitali Klitschko, spoke for a public ballot seeking speedy presidential voting. He also promised that groups aligned against Yanukovych’s governing party would start immediately to establish a substitute government. Klitschko, along with many of the demonstrators feel that the restrictive laws were illegally rushed through parliament without sufficient time to be addressed by citizens.
The three political parties, UDAR, Fatherland and Svoboda, which make up the opposition, have stated a desire to work together. Many of the demonstrators feel that the parties are fragmenting and starting to watch after their own best interests and forgetting about the movement of reform.
Trying to alleviate these fears, Klitschko said that he, along with the other two party leaders, will be meeting Monday to develop a cohesive strategy that will address the concerns of the demonstrators and provide reassurances.
Some feel that Monday will be too late. “Yesterday the police took our licenses,” one protester said. “Tomorrow they will take our cars. The day after tomorrow, they’ll probably take us.”
Leaders of the encampment posted a video of the last moments of Martin Luther King’s famous final speech in which he speaks of his visit to the mountaintop. In the speech, King also spoke with power about not surrendering to law enforcement or leaders and officials when freedoms are at stake.
Watching the video, one protester said, “We need such a leader.”
Others aren’t quite so positive that a single leader, however strong, would solve the movement’s problems. The demonstrators are growing tired of the politics.
Ukraine celebrates its independence in July. Marking July 16, 1990, as the date the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine, the document established the idea of self-government within the Ukrainian nation. Also defined along with its economic independence was its democracy and political ideals.
The new laws have not yet been published, so they have not taken effect. Many people at the encampment mocked the laws. Some wore kitchen strainers and cook pots on their head as a stab at the portion of the law outlawing helmets.
As Ukraine demonstrations continue to grow, Europe, itself, is seeing a opposition to oppressive regimes spread.
By Jerry Nelson