Deadliest Day: Ukrainian Protesters Remain Defiant After Dozens Killed
Reports indicate that another bloody battle broke out late Thursday, February 20, between the anti-government protesters and Ukrainian police in central Kiev's Independence Square. In the last few days, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have spent significant time advising Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, who was elected in 2010, under whom police have been given permission to use combat weapons against the protesters in order to keep "law and order." Obama has urged Yanukovych to remove forces from Kiev, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European Union foreign ministers have enacted sanctions against Ukraine for its regime's brutal actions against its own people. Currently, Ukrainian officials will not be granted access to any of the 28 EU countries, and Ukrainian assets in EU countries have been frozen indefinitely. Merkel and Obama have made their disapproval clear to Yanukovych, and have encouraged him to establish an interim leadership in Kiev so he can focus on negotiating peace with opposition factions. The protesters assembled in mid-February after Yanukovych chose to accept Russia's economic bailout of $15 billion, instead of pushing forward with EU long-term trade agreements. Ukrainians of all backgrounds have come out with deep resentment towards the president for reneging on the EU talks because they feel the Russian bailout ties them, again, too closely to the former USSR. The fighting over the past week has claimed the lives of approximately 75 people and has injured 570+ individuals, according to the Ukraine's Health Ministry.
Over the last few days, I have heard tidbits of information regarding the protests-turned-warfare from news segments my mom listens to in the evening, headlines on papers in kiosks on the street, etc. Like the header of a chapter in a fantasy novel, the promise of gory detail in the title, and my background, though limited, on the Kiev bloodshed prompted me to read further the content. As anyone could have guessed from the opening lines, blood, blood, and more blood. The Ukrainian people seem very disenfranchised, disillusioned by their president who fell short of their expectations, their desire to be led by a man who shared their vision of an independent, self-determined economy.
I wholeheartedly support the EU and American leaders who have made their cases to Yanukovych, in the hopes that he will negotiate with his opposition and come to some kind of agreement for national peace. Overall, as a believer in every people's right to self-determination, and the right to overthrow a regime that does not accurately, honestly represent the will of those individuals, I see the Kiev protests as a necessary act of political efficacy in a healthy, democratic nation. I hope to see the bloodshed end as soon as possible, but I also desire an outcome that satisfies the Ukrainian masses.
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