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Authorities warn of further crackdown on protesters in Ukraine

Authorities warn of further crackdown on protesters in Ukraine

Authorities in Ukraine issued further warnings to protesters Thursday, coupled with sharp criticism from the prime minister, amidst continuing protests there that initially triggered a brutal crackdown and sparked broader anti-government sentiment.

From Reuters:

Ukrainian police on Thursday warned pro-Europe protesters they faced a “harsh” crackdown if they did not end their occupation of public offices in Kiev, while President Viktor Yanukovich’s prime minister denounced them as “Nazis and criminals”.

The authorities issued the tough warnings as foreign ministers held a European security conference in a city seething with unrest over the Ukrainian government’s U-turn away from Europe back towards Russia.

[…]

A court ordered the protesters on Thursday to quit the Kiev mayor’s office, where they have set up an operational hub, and halt their four-day blockade of government buildings.

In perhaps the strongest signal yet that the authorities are contemplating action to reclaim the streets, the head of the Kiev police, Valery Mazan, said: “We do not want to use force. But if the law is broken, we will act decisively, harshly.

“We will not try to talk people round. We have the means and capability laid down by the law,” he added.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs was in Ukraine today amidst the protests.  In her remarks at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial council meeting, Victoria Nuland seemed to offer cautious support for the vision of the protesters who support integration with the European Union, while urging a constructive solution.

From the Associated Press via Yahoo News:

Western diplomats urged Ukrainian authorities on Thursday to respect the massive protests gripping the country against the government’s decision to freeze ties with the EU and turn to Moscow instead.

Several thousand activists kept up the demonstrations at a central square in the capital Kiev and besieged government meetings as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s ministerial council began its meeting on the other side of the river. The meeting had been scheduled long before the protests that have been dominating the country.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland challenged Ukrainian authorities to meet the protests constructively.

“This is Ukraine’s moment to meet the aspirations of its people or disappoint them,” she told the OSCE meeting. “Democratic norms and the rule of law must be upheld.”

Britain’s Minister for Europe David Liddington called on authorities to respect the right of citizens to “peacefully assemble.”

“The eyes of the world are on Ukraine today,” he said.

The protests have rattled Ukraine since last week, after its president backed out of signing an association agreement with the European Union.  Such an agreement is important to those in Ukraine who want to see more integration with the EU rather than closer ties to Russia.

(Featured image credit: DW.de video)

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Comments

It has the hallmarks of NSZZ Solidarność.

The difference, one of many, is the President of the United States at the time spoke of freedom on the world stage, and this President speaks of community agitation to a group of hand selected millennials on a high school stage.

The Ukrainian Government fears Putin far more than it’s own people. They know neither Obama or the E.U. would do anything substantial to stop Putin from punishing them. The Ukraine would stand alone while the West would just wring the hands. This could be the beginning of Putin’s new empire.

We’ll be lucky to keep England by the time Obama’s fools are through.

Just remember how this administration left Poland high and dry [the missile shield comes to mind] and other countries [Israel] as well – and you will know exactly what help Ukrainians will get from us.

The Ukraine is split east to west along ethnic lines. East of the Dnieper (which goes through Kiev) ethnic Russians are a large minority or majority depending where you go. The Crimea is almost entirely Russian. West of the Dnieper ethnic Ukrainians dominate. The Russians want close ties if not actual union with Russia, and they helped elect the current pro-Russian government. The demonstrators are Ukrainians who want into the EU. The most rational solution is partition, like what happened to Czecho-Slovakia. Otherwise you might have another Yugoslavian fiasco.

A partition is not the best solution because it would give Russia exactly what it wants… the Donbas area with all the coal and other minerals and probably control of the Dnieper (a major river used for transport) and of the trade via the Black Sea. Why should Ukraine have to give up half its territory, particularly since ethnic Ukrainians were removed from the East and replaced by Russians in a concerted Russification effort going back decades?

The Ukrainian government has every right to negotiate trade deals as it sees fit, without threats of government shutdown from leftist agitators. The idea that a small group of agitators can direct the actions of a duly elected government is ludicrous and undemocratic. If the people of Ukraine really don’t like the direction their government is taking economically, then they can remove it during the next election.

I’d also like to take issue with the general notion that a ‘new deal’ with some financially strapped economic union is somehow preferable at this time to maintaining a preferred trade partnership with an independent sovereign nation with whom they share a common language and cultural history.

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