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Insane Ukraine: Dissecting the Madness
What is happening?
"You know what the Ukraine is? It's a sitting duck. A road apple, Newman. The Ukraine is weak. It's feeble. I think it's time to put the hurt on the Ukraine." — Cosmo Kramer
Weak? Tell that to the guy standing over there holding the Molotov cocktail wearing the bandanna and a bad look on his face, Kramer! Jokes aside, things are really heating up in the Ukraine right now. It's been going on for about two months and there's no sign of anything stopping , or even slowing down for that matter. It's a classic protest scene: Burning smoke, improvised munitions, riot police, and a bunch of angry protesters. Two people have been confirmed dead with hundreds of others wounded. It's getting to the point where there has been talk of civil war if this calamity isn't quelled. The fire is rising and there's no one there to put it out. The reason why this tension has spilled over into violence is because of a misguided decision by President Viktor Yanukovych to put in place an anti-protest law designed to end demonstrations. More on that later. For now, lets review the facts.
They want to join the European Union
Higher living standards
Removal of President Viktor Yanukovych
Better trade with and access to the Western World
Riddance of Corruption
A removal of both the Prime and Interior Ministers
Why the Riots?
The root of the problem lies in the fact that the president and its people have two separate agendas and plans for the future of their country. The protestors want the Ukraine to join the European Union. According to their official website, "The EU is a unique economic and political partnership between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent. The EU is based on the rule of law: everything that it does is based on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by all member countries." It then goes on to crow about mobility, growth, stability, and a single currency. "The EU has delivered half a century of peace, stability and prosperity, helped raise living standards, and launched a single European currency, the euro." The message and promises the European Union is selling is exactly what the Ukrainian protestors are demanding for: Higher living standards, growth, stability, and better trade access with other countries. What really ruffled the feathers of many Ukranians is the fact that Yanukovych pulled out of a deal to join the union suddenly when it looked as if he was just about ready to sign the treaty. The deception by Yanukovych and the hard stance he has taken has done enough to turn the tension into real violence. Protestors feel that had Ukraine joined the Union it would have benefited ordinary people and helped to redistribute the wealth. Shades of the Occupy Movement that swept across our nation, as well as internationally, come to mind in the context of "redistributing the wealth" and "battling corruption." Further exacerbating the problem is the installation of new anti-protest laws by Yanukovych designed to end the protests. The laws banned protests from taking place without the government’s permission and threatened those who disobeyed with up to ten years in prison. But...that doesn't even scratch the surface of the audacity demonstrated by this Ukrainian president who has tried other ways to censor the public. The legislation also introduced hefty fines for wearing masks or helmets to demonstrations, as well as driving bans for convoys of more than five cars. Internet media outlets have to register with authorities and no amplifiers are allowed in public places! To me, it sounds like the beginnings of a totalitarian state ruled by a fascist! What started out as a pro-EU protest has turned into an anti-government riot. Let's now take a look at President Yanukovych.
The feeling around Ukraine is that Yanukovych is a champion for the interests of the rich. How else could they explain his decision not to have Ukraine aligned with Europe? What the president is afraid of is the dislocation of Ukrainian industry simply from joining a market with more competitive European industries, but he also saw the threat which the Russians have demonstrated over the last four months of perhaps economic sanctions and cutting off of the Russian market to Ukraine. These factors played into his decision not to sign the agreement with the European Union. I guess his reasoning behind the decision to keep lying in bed with the Russians is simple...he needs them. The country imports most energy supplies, especially oil and natural gas, and to a large extent depends on Russia as its energy supplier. While 25 percent of the natural gas in Ukraine comes from internal sources, about 35 percent comes from Russia and the remaining 40 percent from Central Asia through transit routes that Russia controls. At the same time, 85 percent of the Russian gas is delivered to Western Europe through Ukraine.Perhaps he made a misguided hasty decision fearing the consequences of breaking away from Russia. That Putin's a pretty scary guy after all! I doubt the next guy I'll be speaking about is intimated by Putin in the slightest and his name is Vital Klitschko.
It doesn't hurt to have one of the toughest heavyweight champions to ever step in a boxing ring on your side in a fight. The 6' 8" heavyweight champ who owns the second best knockout-to-fight ratio of all time with 47 fights and 41 knockouts and aptly nicknamed, "Dr. Ironfist", is not the kind of guy you want to oppose. He's never even been knocked down in his boxing career, what makes you think this guy will be knocked down in the political realm by greedy politicians? This is also not your average pug. He is the first world champion to have earned a PhD and also serves as the Leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform better known by its Ukrainian acronym, UDAR, which means “punch.” It's cool to see Vitali right in the thick of things, side by side with protesters and venting his frustrations because he is one of the most highly respected and popular figures in the entire country. There are whispers going around that he could make a run for the presidency in the near future. The lionhearted champ is even ready to lay down his life for the country he loves. He continues to urge Ukrainians to come out and protest, assuring them that he is prepared to “face bullets” with them if it comes to that! President Klitschko certainly has a ring to it, don't it? Let's now take a look at where we are headed in regards to this issue.
Will Vitali become Ukraine's next president?
Where we are headed
The unrest in Ukraine still lingers. There are fears that the riots could spread beyond Kiev(Ukraine's capital city), with protesters reportedly besieging or storming government buildings in at least four cities in western Ukraine. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned President Yanukovych in a phone call that the European Union may take action if he doesn’t end his crackdown on protesters, and ambassadors have discussed the possibility of sanctions. President Yanukovych has recently called an emergency session of parliament to discuss the protests. Let's hope Ukraine can settle their disagreements peacefully and put an end to the riots and destructive chaos. I have faith in the opposition party leaders such as Vitali Klitschko to come up with a peaceful solution to this conflict. That being said, things aren't getting any better and we must watch what happens in the coming days and stay informed on this pressing issue.