For the past few months, I’ve been watching the events in Ukraine with interest and growing horror. What started out as fairly tame set of demonstrators, protesting President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to abandon an Association Agreement with the European Union and move closer to Moscow, grew into violent suppression by the police against protesters, progressed into shooting of demonstrators after the Rada (Ukrainian parliament) passed a law banning most forms of protest, making thousands into criminals overnight, and culminated with more than 100 dead over the past few days.
It looks like a war zone, even though most still describe the events there as mass protests and demonstrations.
And now, the rest of the nation mourns the events in Kyiv… the deaths… the blood… the corruption.
This is the city in which I was born. Lviv.
The situation in Ukraine is complicated. It isn’t as easy as Yanukovych is a thug. He is a corrupt goon, as is most of his administration and his inner circle. He saw his authority swirling the drain, and instead of displaying some accountability to the will of the people who put him in office, this dumb bastard decided to outlaw dissent.
In an era of the 24 hour news cycle and social media, this douchetard thought the news about his tyrannical oppression wouldn’t get out? He thought bloody suppression of dissent would somehow allow him to hold on to his power – power he would probably not have gotten without the support of the Russians.
Yanukovych was indebted to and feared Moscow. Not only did the Russian support help his Party of Regions win elections, but the Russians hinted they would cut prices on natural gas – prices that Kyiv complained were exorbitant – and would help Ukraine service its debt. Additionally, Moscow screwed with Ukraine (and other former Soviet states that were considering closer relations with the European Union). Last August, Russia blocked nearly all imports from Ukraine in an attempt to pressure Kyiv into rejecting an association agreement. Plus, the Russians and Ukrainians share historical, cultural and religious roots.
It’s a complicated relationship, and one I somewhat understand. During the Cold War, no one differentiated between Ukraine and Russia. They were both part of the USSR. I spoke Russian at home. I spoke Russian in school. I was considered Russian.
Cultural and religious ties aside, Ukraine is economically dependent on Russia. Russia is Ukraine’s largest trade partner. Loads of Russian tourists visit Ukraine every year. Ukraine buys its natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom, and Russia has been holding gas prices over Kyiv’s head for years.
Additionally, even though an association agreement with the EU would have helped the Ukrainian economy, the EU was demanding reforms, to include the release of imprisoned former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko. And Yanukovych, being the tyrant and coward that he is, was afraid to release her for fear that she would run against him, AND win, especially as unpopular as he is.
Yanukovych doesn’t care about the welfare of his country. Yanukovych cares about Yanukovych. He tried to suppress the very people who elected him to office, to keep his competition locked up and to cozy up to the very nation that manipulated him into turning away from an agreement that could have improved and modernized his nation’s economy.
But I guess he didn’t exactly count predict the insanity that ensued. Bloody suppression during the Olympic Games. Hundreds of people dead or wounded. Yanukovych forced to sign an agreement with the opposition that vastly dilutes his powers, as well as institutes a caretaker government until a special election can be held. The Rada passed a law that would free Timoshenko, and the Minister of the Interior has been booted for ordering his thugs to fire live rounds at protesters.
In other words, everything Yanukovych was trying to do to avoid losing his power has happened…
…but only after a lot of bloodshed, trauma and heartache.
Yeah. This is where I come from.
Is it any wonder I love this country as much as I do?