Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Protest in Ukraine: So What is it About?

        The headlines this afternoon are about the protests going on in Ukraine after they've taken a worse turn in the past couple of weeks, leaving 25 dead. There are talks of truces and negotiations leading to a fresh start, but to be able to fully understand the protests now, we have to be informed with the history of the situation.
        The protest started a couple weeks ago at the site of Ukraine's Independence Square, known as Maidan. The protesters are there to protest Ukraine president, Viktor Yanukovych's decision to not sign the agreement that had been in motion for years. The agreement would have strengthened Ukraine's ties with the European Union rather than with their neighboring Russia. Thousands of protesters have moved to the streets to call for the signing of the agreement. 
        So why would Yanukovych back out on the agreement in the first place? His own statement said that he would not sign it because of Ukraine's, "complex economic system." But there is some evidence that the cold feet have come from the pressure from Russia who threatened them with economic sanctions. The, "complex economic system," wouldn't be able to take the weight put on it if Russia were to go through with its economic sanctions. Vladimir Putin hasn't said anything on the matter, except for that he hopes Ukraine will be able to come to an agreement. 
        Another factor that would be influences Yanukovych to turn away from the agreement is the pressure from the European Union, though their pressure is of much a different tone. The EU demanded that Yanukovych free his former prime minister from jail. The former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko also happens to be Yanukovych's biggest political opponent. Coincidence? 
        Russia does have a little to say on the subject, though. After allegations were made about their pressure on Urkaine to avoid the agreement, Russia made a statement in December that the EU is trying to bully Ukraine into signing a free trade deal against the wishes of the majority of Ukrainians. All of these allegations aside, Ukraine only became independent nine years ago as a result of the Orange Revolution, so the decisions it makes are key to what Ukraine will grow to become. Obviously both sides have their reasons for wanting Ukraine to pick them, the conclusion being that whoever Ukraine decides to go with will greatly influence their future as a newly independent country. 
        The rest of the article outlines more in depth some motives behind Yanukovych, the European Union and Russia. With such influential protests going on currently, it is vital to know what they are fighting for. You can read the rest of the article here, as well as watch a more current video from behind the line of bonfires, here.

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