At the end of November, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of signing an Association Agreement with the EU. Pro-EU protestors took to the streets in Kyiv and around the country. (Read my post about the early days of protest here.) Two months later, protests are still going on and have become increasingly violent, especially in the wake of Yanukovych signing in laws that “severely curtail media rights and regulations on public gatherings,” which Sweden’s foreign minister called “the most solid package of repressive laws that I have seen enacted by a European parliament for decades.” This article has a clear explanation of the legislation, and this poster has begun circulating on the Internet:
New articles, essays, and editorials are appearing every day as the world keeps a close eye on the rising tensions in Ukraine. Ukrainians are taking to the streets and occupying government buildings in other — mostly western Ukrainian — cities (including Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivs’k, the two cities between which I lived during my time in the Peace Corps). Last week, two people were killed during protests in Kyiv. Here are a few particularly good write-ups on the current situation:
- If you read nothing else, read Business Insider‘s “Understanding Euromaidan: A Ukrainian Journalist Explains 10 Things the West Needs to Know About the Situation in Kiev.”
- For some background on the beginning of the protests, read Tim Judah’s great essay, “Fighting for the Soul of Ukraine,” from The New York Review of Books.
- “Ukrainian Standoff” is a nice overview by the New York Times editorial staff, calling for more strict action from the U.S. and Europe:
At this stage, however, the United States and Europe need to do more than hand out treats. They must make clear their opposition to violence, as the State Department did on Wednesday when it urged everyone to calm down, faulted the government for not engaging in serious dialogue and for approving anti-democratic laws, and criticized the extreme-right group Pravy Sektor for aggression.
Now that blood has been shed, there is a real risk that the clashes could spread beyond central Kiev, rendering a peaceful solution less viable. But the West must also make abundantly clear to Mr. Yanukovich and his lieutenants that they will pay a price if they try to use the talks simply to gain time, or if they order a bloody crackdown.
- You can find some powerful photos and video of the increasingly violent protests, in addition to a nice news write-up — in “Claims of Police Brutality in Ukraine Amid Talks to Quell Unrest.”
- “Kyiv Truce Falls Apart, and Unrest Resurges” is one of the most recent New York Times pieces.
If you want to read beyond what’s above, I’ve posted lots of good articles and editorials on my Google+ page. Please keep Ukraine and her people in your thoughts.