The revolution in the Ukraine is almost complete as of today. The former president Yanukovych has fled his opulent presidential palace, where today curious citizens wander through the grounds, and an interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has been appointed.
Yanukovych left in the middle of the night by helicopter, as moving trucks grabbed everything that wasn’t strapped down in the former palace and fled. The Palace itself sits in an area of land half the size of the Monaco and was excitedly explored by Ukrainian citizens who wished to see how their president had lived. He lived well, with gold fittings and monogrammed towels in every bathroom. In the centre of the presidential grounds is a lake with a series of ornate duck houses, not to mention that close to this is also the president’s personal zoo, complete with emus and other animals. Indeed, there is also a statue of a horse, a boxing ring, a sauna, and a tennis court that is shielded from the cold. It is unlikely he will be enjoying these luxuries again, and instead orderly crowds of Ukrainian onlookers wandered through the grounds of the palace, checking out the chandeliers.
The death toll from the up rising in the Ukraine is now known to be at least 88, with the vast majority being protesters. There were terrible scenes on the streets of the capital, as security force snipers cut down demonstrators in the last few days. Now there are candle-lit vigils being held in their memory.
However, the actions of the protesters appear to have led to an almost complete revolution in Ukraine. An interim president, Oleksandr Turchinov, has been sworn in, and he immediately paid tribute to the Ukrainian heros who had died in the protests. He said: “This fight gave us unity and strength of a modern political nation.” Ukraine now looks set for much closer links to the EU, which was the stimulus behind the original protest movement.
The US National Security Advisor Susan Rice has also been in contact with the Russian government and has publicly stated that it would be a grave mistake for Russia to intervene militarily in the Ukraine. Clearly the international mood on the crisis is one of a major standoff with the Kremlin over what power it can exercise in the countries that border Russia. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has also been speaking to Vladimir Putin on the phone, was making sure that the Ukraine’s territorial integrity will be safe guarded. The international power struggle over the Ukraine is now eerily similar to cold war confrontations over Hungary and other states from more than half a century ago.
Ukraine’s finances are also being discussed at a G20 meeting in Sydney, Australia. The US Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, spoke with his Russian counterpart, on the subject of a $2 billion payment to the Ukraine that was soon coming due. It has been suggested that this may now not happen, and the US and EU will be needed to support the Ukraine’s economy as it completes its revolution.
By Andrew Willig