Friday, February 28, 2014

Ukraine in Flames



AP Photo/Sergei Grits

AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman

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AP Photo/Serfgei Grits

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I did not blog about Ukraine because the calamity that the citizens were experiencing are becoming a little too familiar in many parts of the world. As in other places, the people are rising up against dictatorships. There were protests and killings and even more protests and killings.

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Ukraine, a former Soviet republic is caught between Europe and Russia. The trigger point for the crisis came in November last year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin (photo above, right)  talked the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych (same photo, left), into walking away from a trade deal with the European Union. It was an obvious move because Russia clearly wanted Ukraine to stay within its broad sphere of influence.
But a protest against Yanukovych’s decision to abandon this partnership deal morphed into a mammoth – and violent – campaign to push him from power. He himself has become unpopular and opponents accuse him of having enriched himself, his family and cronies.
Besides, Viktor Yanukovych has the rare distinction of having been ousted twice from Ukraine's presidency after giant street protests. Anyway, it was the deaths of at least 88 civilians, many of them protesters shot dead by uniformed snipers in 48 hours of bloodshed in Kiev – between February 18-22, 2014 – that ultimately brought him down. The killings sent shockwaves around the world.
Under EU pressure he signed a deal to transfer powers to parliament and hold early elections. But within hours he had fled the capital and his administration collapsed.
As Ukraine's protest leaders and opposition moved to fill the power vacuum, Yanukovych stubbornly maintained he was still the lawfully elected president. He sought Russian protection and meanwhile, Kiev's new rulers have issued an arrest warrant for his role in the "mass murder of innocent civilians".

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