Riots rock Ukraine

Josh Jenkins
Staff Writer


Have you ever heard of Kiev, or more importantly, the riots going on there? The capital city of Ukraine, once named “the next Prague” by the New York Times, is now home to riots and government protests. Fireworks, burning tires, Molotov cocktails, and stones darken the once sunny skies of Kiev these days.

These riots stemmed from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to put a hold on ties with the European Union and accept a bailout from Russia instead. For a little history lesson, Ukraine used to be a part of the Soviet Union and still maintains close political ties with Russia. The Western half of Ukraine, which looks towards Europe as an example, wanted the president to join the EU; while the eastern half, which looks towards Russia, wanted the president to remain with the Russians. This sparked numerous protests throughout the country.

In the beginning, the riots were relatively peaceful and mainly consisted of Ukrainians expressing their dissatisfaction with the direction their government seemed to be heading. Then, with the passage of 10 anti-protest laws on January 16 by the Ukrainian Parliament, affectionately named “dictatorship laws”, the riots turned violent. The laws included outrageous provisions like prohibiting rioters from wearing helmets and masks. The passage of the laws provoked a mass demonstration consisting of 10,000 people in the streets of Kiev, which ended in violence. To give you a better idea of the corruption there was even a text message sent to protesters in the streets reading “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance” When asked what he thought about the Ukrainian government Marvin Schmiege said, “They’re extremely corrupt, we should be blessed we all live in the countries we do”

In late January, Dymtro Bulatov, a protest leader, was kidnapped. A little over a week later he was found covered in blood. Bulatov said that his captors kept him blindfolded while he was held hostage, mutilating him and even crucifying him while he was being held in captivity. When many thought things couldn’t get much bloodier than a crucifixion, violence reached a summit on February 18 after more than a week of relative calm. The restart of clashes between Ukrainian protestors and police resulted in the death of at least 26 people and the injury of 425 others. Tucker Stephenson said, “I think we should stop complaining about the small things our government does, like listening to telephone calls. They could be murdering us in the streets”

Recently, hostilities have cooled off with the fleeing of Viktor Yanukovych, but people are understandably hesitant to believe all conflict is over. Many believe there is still more to come.