Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Disturbing day in Kyiv

As I write this, police ("militia" and Berkut) have overrun the barricades on Hrushevskoho Street, and taken control of Ukrainian House on European Square once again.  The protesters had taken control of both in late January.  The convoy of buses carrying hundreds of Berkut troops is staged to move through the "checkpoint" established on Sunday on Hrushevskoho.  The Minister of Interior Affairs has promised to "clean up" Maidan tonight.  Euromaidan PR reports that police have surrounded Maidan on all sides.  It's hard to see how the Euromaidan movement will survive through the night.  If Euromaidan falls, Viktor Yanukovich and his police state win.

The script has played out exactly as some feared.  The opposition leaders agreed to clear Hrushevskoho for traffic to move again, and return four state buildings, including the Kyiv City Administration building.  One fear voiced at the time was that opening up Hrushevskoho would make it possible for Berkut buses to eventually drive down Hrushevskoho in large numbers and threaten Maidan.  The process of clearing the street included clearing huge piles of debris and the large ice field that had formed in the no-man's land between the police and the protestors.  As an obstacle, it was formidable.

The small opening that was created through the barricades Sunday was about 4 meters wide, but that was all the police needed today.  I watched a webcam live this morning as the police overran the barricades, using sheer numbers to push through the Euromaidan defense.  Control of Hrushevskoho also meant that the police had a clear path to Ukrainian House, and the manpower to capture it.

As it stands right now, a large crowd has gathered in Maidan, and from the stage the opposition leaders have urged Ukrainians to come to the Square.  Meanwhile, the Kyiv metro was shut down earlier this evening, making it difficult for people living in suburbs like Nivky and Sviatoshin to get there.

And if Maidan fails, what's next?

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