The Ukraine is resolving the political crisis that has gripped it since November of 2013—so it would seem. As to what kind of resolution; that is fairly uncertain. Those protesting the Viktor Yanukovych government want no less than his resignation and have even refused invitations to become part of that government. Independence square is still filled with the tent cities and open kitchens of the protesters. In places like Odessa, the police have taken to using cranes to lower concrete blocks into position to prevent protesters from storming government buildings. Back in Kiev protesters raised barricades higher with bags filled with fresh snow.
However, even with that activity and still high tensions, might there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned just hours before he would have garnered a vote of no confidence from the parliament, which would have ousted him anyway. Add to that the coming together of pro-government and opposition lawmakers that eventually led to the repeal of 10 of the 12 anti-protest laws that had been recently put into place, fuel for a political fire that was already burning out of control.
One woman in Independence Square was overcome with relief from Azarov’s resignation and another protester claimed it wasn’t enough. Azarov had been a staunch supporter of Yanukovych. The embattled President also signed a decree to dismiss the rest of the parliament. Azarov’s opponents claimed he resigned to save his own neck as it was largely his cabinet that was responsible for inciting the protests.
Meanwhile in the streets of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, nowhere near where the protests are taking place, a policeman was shot and killed by an opposition splinter group who claimed responsibility through a facebook post. A number of right-wing factions and new opposition groups are now acting without any sort of political leadership.
Is a resolution to the Ukraine political situation in the making? It started with Yanukovych refusing a trade deal with the European Union to accept what amounted to a bailout for his country from Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. Since then, what started as peaceful demonstrations quickly turned violent, resulting in clashes between riot police and the opposition. This would also lead to abductions and torture of protesters by the riot police, who also went out of their way to target members of the press. Curiously, the military as refused to get involved, refusing to help the government.
Amidst the protests, the EU drew scathing criticism from Putin for sending high level delegates during the crisis, comparing their actions to the equivalent of him coming to a country of the EU to support an anti-government rally. He claimed that the more intermediaries there are, the more problems arise. It is no secret that Putin supports the Yanukovych government and has promised a bailout of $15 million which may still be in place where none exists from the EU. That is if the Yanukovych government survives.
The protesters had three goals in mind when they started: trade with the EU, the resignation of Yanukovych and his government, and free elections. Since the events that followed, those goals have distilled down to merely early elections. So perhaps one way or another, Ukraine is moving towards a resolution to its violence strewn political crisis.
Editorial by Lee Birdine