Ukrainian Riots of February 2014

The fires are still burning through the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, following violent protests towards the government that began earlier in the month.

 

In November 2013, Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych refused to signed an EU trade agreement to strengthen ties between the country and the union. Minor protests followed that turned violent into the New Year.

 

On February 18th of 2014, a planned protest by Right Sector (a group of right-wing, government opposing young men and women) took place, initially intended to be a peaceful affair.  Police cordons were put in place, and angered by the government’s seemingly unnecessary barricade, Right Sector fought back with force. Almost 50,000 people lined the streets of Kiev, attacking police in order to gain control of the area. It resulted in a violent uprising in the country, as protesters threw Molotov cocktails, the police have begun to retaliate with live ammunition.

 

Some protesters claim that Russia’s heavy handed attitude of assisting Ukraine has led to the country being inadvertently under Russian rule. After giving a loan of $15 billion to Ukraine, as well as a discounted use of Russian oil, the Russian government has pressurised the Ukrainians not to give in to EU support. As a result, Ukrainian’s right-wing activists are reacting in the only way they know how.

 

Viktor Yanukovych has fled to the east of Ukraine, escaping the mayhem that ensues in the capital. The former government that last ruled ten years ago, headed by Vitaliy Zakharchenko has stepped in to take over and help to bring peace back to the country. As the government in power’s chairs sat empty, Zakharchenko won by a vote of 386-0.

 

It’s hard to condone the acts of the Ukrainian Government, Police or the right-wing protestors. All are acting instinctually by resorting to violence. Whilst the protestors have almost been driven to this, it seem Ukrainian officials are acting in this way due to pressure from Russia’s officials. It’s an understandable looming pressure, but when it compromises the demands of its people, it jeopardises Ukraine’s future as the conflict only grows between Ukraine and its citizens.

 

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