Ukraine Fails to Overthrow Government, Struggle Continues

Protesters in Ukraine
Ukraine is in the midst of a revolution after protesters take to the streets.

Ukraine has failed to overthrow the government after a no-confidence vote in its parliament to remove the government and President Viktor F. Yanukovich failed, but the struggle continues as protesters have once again taken to the streets. Occupying Independence Square and blocking off City Hall and Trade Unions building, they have setup shop, constructing barricades, forming a large perimeter around the area.

The protesters claim that their tent city, equipped with first-aid stations and canteens, won’t be moving anywhere until the President steps down from office.

The protesters say in the wake of the Ukraine Parliament’s failure to address the grievances of the people, they will “close off access to the headquarters of the presidential administration”, a move which could bring the city’s governmental functions to a halt. Riot police officers remain heavily guarded in front of the presidential administration’s headquarters.

The three political opposition parties, civic organizations and student groups have formed an alliance to oust President Yanukovich, disrupting Ukraine’s political stability.

Protesters who have been demonstrating since November 22nd, say they have taken to the streets in response to President Yanukovich’s failure to sign a deal that had been underway sometime between the European Union and Ukraine. The political and trade agreement is said to strengthen the bond between the emerging former communist state and the European Union.

“Our demand is impeachment of the president and dismissal of the government,” said Oleksiy Ivannikov, a 35 year old construction engineer who has been demonstrating in the streets.

The street demonstrations have only grown, and since then demonstrators have not only taken control of the large Trade Union building, but the television screen mounted on the front of the building, providing protesters with a medium to transmit messages, speeches and musical performances happening in the crowd.

A violent crackdown by police has only worsened the situation, adding fuel to the fire of a country that is already enraged with its political class.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov apologized for the police brutality on Saturday, saying his government would investigate claims and hold those responsible to account.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Azarov’s voice was drowned out by chants from opposition lawmakers in the chamber, melodically pounding their fists against their tables shouting “Resignation! Resignation!”

Stipulations in the agreement call for an overhaul of Ukraine’s justice system, which has a history of corruption and abuse. Prime Minister Azarov proposed that he may be willing to negotiate with European leaders on finalizing an agreement on previously agreed-upon conditions.

By all accounts, President Yanukovich isn’t budging, insisting that he will not sign onto any agreement with the European Union. Instead, President Yanukovich has turned to Russia, who has urged Ukraine to reject the accords.

President Yanukovich’s attempts to draw Ukraine closer to Russia and further from Europe is the cultural tug of war much of central and eastern Europe has dealt with since thawing out of communist rule in the 1990’s. Protesters say a majority of Ukraine’s citizens would prefer modeling themselves after a western-European style democracy, and move further away from the decaying remnants of a post-Soviet Union communism as displayed in Russia.

The U.S. made their voice heard in a symbolic cancellation of a visit from Secretary of State John Kerry to Kiev. His arrival was to follow a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

Protestors have formulated strategies to occupy three of the most important buildings in Kiev- the government building, the Parliament, and the presidential administration. In doing so, they would forcibly shut the government down.

Yuri Levchenkpo, a member of the nationalist Svoboda party, stands with the protesters.

“This is our plan,” said Mr. Levchenko. “By tomorrow, it should all be in place.”

Today, Ukraine may have failed to overthrow their government… but tomorrow?

by John Amaruso

New York Times
Kyiv Post

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