The Ukrainian acting interior minister has announced that the riot police shall be dissolved. Arsen Avakov announced on his Facebook, “The Bekrut is no more”. The infamous riot police, Bekrut, were hated for their repressive and violent methods. They have delegitimised the regime, especially in light of last week, when 70 protesters were killed in Independence Square. Not an unusual story in the current political anarchy, except these protesters were shot by snipers directly in the head; suggesting a planned operation. The interim government has also announced that they will unveil the new government on Wednesday, ahead of a parliamentary vote on Thursday. Such actions are all attempts by the interim government to pull Ukraine out of their divided and violent state of affairs, and begin progression towards a more unified future.
However, unification may not come so easily. There is a common misconception about the Ukrainian Revolution, which is that it is aimed at overthrowing the political system. Previous uprisings, like the Orange Revolution of 2004, was aimed at undemocratic elections. However, the current state of affairs have a far more economic motive. The protests begun in Kiev after President Yanukovych declined a historic trade deal with the EU over greater affiliation with Russia. On the 24th of November, 100,000 people turned out in Independence Square in protest of the President’s actions. Events and violence have culminated since then, resulting in the President’s disappearance on the 22nd February 2014.
…the current state of affairs have a far more economic motive…
The bitter divide in the Ukraine is between pro-Russia and pro-European supporters. Russia used to be an economic powerhouse, which easily supported the ex-soviet state. However recent falls in gas prices and stagnation of oil prices mean, that for many people, affiliation with the EU is preferable. The International Monetary Fund, for example, has offered to support Ukraine and its economic collapse, with a potential bailout of $35 bn. The revolution marks a defiance at Russian intervention in the country and a demand for unilateral independence. However, matters are complicated in areas such as Crimea, with strong ties to Moscow, and a large ethnically Russian population. Pro-Russian militias have begun forming, threatening to remove any newly elected local officials. Also, the port town of Sevastopol a Russian National, Alexei Chaliy, has been appointed Mayor. In an open letter last week, the three previous presidents of post-independence Ukraine, accused Russia of “directly interfering in the political life of Crimea” and producing propaganda “aimed at strengthening” Crimean separatism.
The international community, and the interim government have asserted that they will not allow separatism too form. In a press conference recently, John Kerry and William Hague both dispelled fears of an East-West divide forming in Ukraine. Kerry stated that “this is about the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians making their choices about the future and we want to work with Russia and other countries, with everybody available, to make sure this is peaceful from this day forward.” What is key for the future of Ukraine is the formation of the new government. The biggest threat to the new government however is not interference from Russia, the EU or America. Its biggest threat is internal, whether from the old oligarchs and their tendency for pocket-lining corruption, or the new revolutionaries who may be offered little support from existing politicians. Whatever government is formed, it is important to remember that too many bright, young lives have been lost in this conflict for Ukrainian politicians to continue to follow self-satisfying policies.