Hassan Sayed ’15
For the past few weeks, many have been concerned about Justin Bieber and The Winter Olympics. However, in spite of these events, more violent and critical struggles have been rocking the Ukraine. At the forefront of these protests is Euromaidan, or the “Ukranian Spring,” an Arab-spring reminiscent movement opposed to many of the Ukranian government’s actions.
The protests began this past November when then-President Viktor Yanukovych signed a trade deal with Russia instead of the European Union, angering many citizens of the Eastern European country; it was a symbol of either allegiance to the EU or to Russia. Protests began and dispersed in a continuous cycle as the government began to take more extreme measures against the protestors, including having more heavily armed riot police and instituting anti-protest laws. By January, the scope of the protests evolved from national trade disagreements to a struggle between the power of the government and its relation to the power of the people. Hundreds of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets, occupying streets and squares all over the country (but especially in the capital of Kiev) in harsh, below-freezing temperatures in spite of the enormous threat to their security that stems from both protestor and police violence. In fact 77 protestors and 13 police officers have been killed as a result of the unrest, and more than 570 protestors and 170 officers have been seriously injured.
Support for protestors is actually split about 50-50. While many do not support economic union with Russia, many still do. Throughout the crisis, Russia has offered to cut gas prices and reduce the Ukraine’s debt, though, in many cases, this has increased opposition, not reduced it. To add to that, President Yanukovych even fled the country on 22 February. Ultimately, much more fuel is being added to Euromaidan’s fire.
But the people here are standing up. They want President Yanukovych to loosen his strong hold over the country’s future and rewrite the Ukrainian constitution. They want to stand up for their rights and what they think is right. And in the end, that’s what matters.