Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tire fires replaced by votive candles in Kyiv

In my last post, I expressed my fear that Euromaidan would not survive the onslaught of Berkut and militsia troops that had overrun Hrushevskoho Street and surrounded Maidan.  I thought it was over, and was grieving inside for the lost chance for Ukrainians to overthrow a thug government.

I was wrong to be so pessimistic.  I'm watching streaming video right now of Yulia Tymoshenko speaking to the crowd at Maidan, sitting in a wheelchair.  Even though I can't understand much of what she is saying, it's an incredibly powerful and moving scene.  Who could ever have thought, on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, that we could be watching this on Saturday?  They stood their ground when their government labelled them terrorists and vowed to use any means necessary to clear Maidan.  The people standing in Maidan Nezalezhnosti stared down troops itching for sustained violence on Tuesday.  They stood their ground even as they saw their peers being shot and killed randomly by snipers on Wednesday.  In the end, they won, and now it's back to 2004 again:  Yulia Tymoshenko on the stage addressing people willing to give up their lives for basic rights. 

At this moment, Yanukovich has been stopped at Kharkiv airport as he was trying to flee to Russia.  His Interior Minister--the one in charge of the Berkut and militsia--has also been stopped at the border trying to flee.  Yanukovich's house has been invaded, and the public are seeing how he lived (including a gold toilet).  The police have disappeared from Kyiv.

It is a remarkable outcome, determined by incredibly brave men and women.  I hope that, this time, Ukraine will not slip backwards to the kind of government Yanukovich created in 2010. 

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