If you’re following the situation in Ukraine, you may be wondering about the astrology that led to the rapid turn of events that started this past Friday afternoon. Ukraine always seems to be an important place in my life — one of my closest friends, our webmaster Anatoly is there, close to Kiev. As a kid, my best friend Eric Olynik’s family came from what was then called The Ukraine, and I am still not fully comfortable dropping the ‘the’ but Amanda in her capacity as copy editor has suggested that I catch up with the moment.
Anatoly says things have quieted down considerably since president Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, abandoning the presidential palace to demonstrators. He reportedly fled to pro-Moscow eastern Ukraine but press reports say his plane was not allowed to take off.
Scenes of protesters lounging around his opulent residence were reminiscent of that infamous 1968 photo of student leader Mark Rudd with his feet on the desk of the president of Columbia University. This was more than symbolic, however. Yanukovych had “privatized” the presidential mansion, meaning that he made it his own private property. This was a taking back of collective property by the people.
What happened, in effect, was that demonstrators pushed the corrupt president out of power. Though this is an old struggle, it has been heating up since late 2013 and came to a head the past two weeks. The protests were a kind of tug of war between Moscow and the European Union with Ukraine in the middle. Some factions in Ukraine want a greater connection to western Europe; others don’t want to westernize and want to keep their main connection to Moscow.
Big Boss Putin had been treating Ukraine like we were all back in the USSR days, encouraging Yanukovych to crack down, and bribing him with huge loans that Ukraine is likely to default on. Then last week Yanukovych’s special forces started firing on protesters, killing about 80 of them. Here in the States that would have been more than enough to make everyone flee for cover. The protesters fought back against an army of paramilitary police using sticks, rocks and fireworks — and beat them back, and kicked out the president.
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