Protest in Ukraine Drags On

Ukraine on the brink of civil war as protestors take to the streetsProtest in Ukraine Drags On Image source: Wiki Commons By Jun Il Hwang The protestors are holding up wooden shields and swords, wearing helmets, and setting up catapults. One of the protest leaders, Dmytro Bulatov who had gone missing for a week, walked out of a frozen forest and told his friends that he had been abducted and crucified by Ukrainian authorities.  Some say the protests resemble medieval battles. The protests in Ukraine started when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych decided to walk away from association and trade agreements with the European Union to form closer ties with Russia. This past November, protestors captured the City Hall of Kiev.  Since then, the protest has been going on for over four months and neither side seems willing to back down. Yanukovych declared an anti-protest law last month, which increased tensions between the protestors and the government.  Ukrainians are referring to Yanukovych as a dictator. Drawings of Yanukovych with a Hitler mustache and a flag of the former USSR in the background hang at college campuses across the country. As a result, protesters are being arrested under the charges of crimes against the state. In an attempt to appease the protestors, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykola Azarov resigned this past January.  Referring to this incident, Krzysztof Zanussi, a famous polish filmmaker who recently visited Columbia University, said “When a boat is sinking, people know when to jump out of it.” The ruling party offered the leader of the opposition the prime minister’s old position, but the opposition rejected it. The opposition, which is made up of the protestors, will not compromise. They want to witness the resignation of Yanukovych, who was sworn in as President of Ukraine in 2010. Ukraine’s first president, Leonid Kravchuk said, the country is “on the brink of civil war,” but the protest in Ukraine is affecting international relations of its neighbors as well. Representatives from the EU, the US, and Russia gathered in Munich to discuss the matter in January. While representatives of the EU reminded the protestors that its arms are still open to Ukraine, Russia has accused the US and the EU of meddling in the country, breaching the 1994 agreement over non-intervention. President Vladimir Putin’s advisor noted that  if the US intervenes, Russia will intervene as well. Russia is in control of many economic sectors of Ukraine and has a long history of influencing politics in Kiev. President Yanukovych met Putin in Sochi a few days before the Olympics. Although both sides were reluctant to confirm what they discussed, many speculate they conversed about  Russian giving a financial package to Kiev. Citizens of Ukraine remain angered by Ukraine’s close relations with Russia.   They believe the government is not willing to listen to them. Despite the very cold weather in Ukraine, protestors continue to fight for their cause. One can only speculate what the spring will bring. Jun Il Hwang is a first-year Master of International Affaris student This Story first ran in the print edition of The Morningside Post on February 19, 2014

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