Dec 03 2013
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian protestors gathered in Independence Square, in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, this weekend, demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych. The public anger was a response to the rejection by Yanukovych of a pact with the European Union which he had spent months publicly intending to sign but then balked at the last minute from signing. On Saturday riot police responded to the gathered crowds with force but largely backed off on Sunday. Some protesters have taken over government buildings including Kiev’s City Hall.
Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has become a galvanizing figure for protesters. Tymoshenko, who has been in prison for two years, launched a hunger strike over the rejection of the EU-association deal.
Meanwhile, a Parliamentary confidence vote against the current Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, who is aligned with Yanukovych, failed to pass today.
At the heart of the political crisis is whether Ukraine will remain tied to Russia, given its history as a Soviet state, or whether it will transition into a European state. Polls of the public show a geographic and generational split with Western and younger Ukrainians preferring to align with Europe.
Meanwhile Russian President Vladmir Putin has dismissed the mass demonstrations saying, “to me they don’t look like a revolution, but rather like a pogrom.” He added “it has little to do with Ukrainian-EU” relations.”
GUEST: David Marples, Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Stasiuk Program for the Study of Contemporary Ukraine at the University of Alberta in Canada
Read David’s blog at ukraineanalysis.wordpress.com