Freezing temperatures, armed riot police, water cannons, and threats of fines and imprisonment. Civil rights activists faced this in the United States, but now Ukrainian protesters are the ones with the fire hose turned on them. The Ukrainian government is using deadly tactics to attempt to disperse the protesters, but so far it has been to no avail.
On November 21, 2013, Ukrainian citizens started protesting against the Ukrainian federal government because President Viktor Yanukovych declined to sign an association agreement with the European Union.
Today’s protests are completely anti-Yanukovych because on Dec. 17 he signed a trade pact with Russia. These protests are called EuroMaidan because the first protests took place in the Maidan Square in Kiev.
As an American resident who has visited Ukraine and has family and friends living there, it is terrifying to see what extreme measures the Ukrainian government is willing to use to try to disperse the protesters.
The government has made threats of shutting down methods of electronic communication for citizens. This could leave people around the world with loved ones in Ukraine without a way to communicate with them.
Even after the dismantle of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has not attempted to stand alone without the support of Russia. An agreement between Ukraine and the EU would just replace its dependency on Russia with the EU.
Ukraine needs a chance to be independent from any foreign entity. This is why it’s crucial for other countries to stay out of the situation and let the citizens and government resolve the issues, and let Ukraine have a chance at true independence.
While visiting Ukraine I had the pleasure of talking to a wide variety of Ukrainians. Everyone was kind, warm, welcoming and eager to help.
To see these people being put through so much pain and hardship by their government is terribly unsettling. They staged peaceful protests, but when the police forces attempted to clear the protesters with force, they had no choice but to respond with violence.
Police forces including the Ukrainian Special Units, Berkut, were given permission to disseminate and attack the protestors on Nov. 30. According to the Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Anatoliy Pryshko, there were 79 people injured in these initial attacks.
The government and the police forces are suspected of mass corruption by most of the Ukrainian population.
The extent the wealthy are able to get away with by just throwing money at their problems is unheard of in most first world countries. The middle and lower-class are left with almost no way to improve their financial situations.
To be accepted to the top universities or hired into the largest companies usually requires paying the “proper” people and having connections in the right places. Unfortunately, the judicial system hasn’t escaped the same fate.
Since the authorities are unwilling to change their practices, Ukrainian citizens enforced their right and responsibility to take action against the government.
The current government is fighting to maintain its status-quo of shady practices while the protesters are fighting to live in a society that isn’t ruled by the corrupt.