Ukraine demonstrations have stark differences

Apr. 27, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

These days some people are arguing that what happened in Kiev, on Maidan, this past winter and what is happening in eastern regions of Ukraine are the same things. If what happened on Maidan was OK, why not let people in Eastern Ukraine copy the methods to accomplish what they want? But there is a big difference between movement in Maidan and movement in Eastern Ukraine. The differences are in purpose, methods, numbers, leaders, etc.


The purpose

The purpose of Maidan evolved over the 100 days. It started as a small protest of students against the president’s decision to not sign EU association. But it grew to 100,000 after students were brutally beaten by riot police on Nov. 30. Maidan demanded justice, demanded that those who had given orders to attack students would be held responsible. In January after dictatorial laws were passed by parliament, making all the protests in Ukraine illegal, Maidan demanded freedom, demanded to cancel those laws. After the first protesters were killed, Maidan demanded resignation of government; after a hundred were killed and thousands were injured, Maidan demanded resignation of the president.

In eastern regions, the demands of pro-Russian rallies are referendum and separation from Ukraine. Maidan wanted a better future for the whole of Ukraine, freedom from corrupt government, change of corrupt systems. Eastern separatists want to divide Ukraine, to give part of it to Russia.


The methods

For 60 days, Maidan was peaceful protest. From time to time, government organized anti-Maidan and brought people from eastern regions. There were never violent clashes between Maidan and anti-Maidan.

When Maidan radicalized in January, the clashes were between protesters and riot police. Police used rubber bullets and later firearms. In Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov, participants of pro-Russian meetings are aggressively attacking and brutally beating up participants of meetings for united Ukraine. Police have to protect pro-Ukrainian protesters from pro-Russian protesters who are armed and aggressive. Separatists in Lugansk just announced that if the building they had taken over will be stormed by police, they are ready for radical actions: they would use women as live shields!

Does this remind anybody of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s promise to use women and children as a live shield for his troops in Crimea? These people have no shame, no honor, no courage, no conscience! They are blinded by greed — or are they zombies?

When a building of Kiev City Administration was taken over by protesters, it became a place for people to warm up during the coldest months of the winter, to sleep during the night, to care for wounded. When Donetsk Regional Administration building was taken over by protesters recently, they announced themselves a new regional government and pronounced an independent Donetsk Republic.


The numbers

Maidan in Kiev gathered up to 500,000 on some days, and it lasted day after day for more than three months. People from different regions of Ukraine participated in this protest. If you look at the list of those who were killed by riot police in February, you will see that there were as many protesters from eastern and southern regions as there were from western and central. The separatists do not have broad support even in the Southeast.

Look at the number of participants in the pro-Russian rallies — they rarely exceed 1,000 people, which is not a lot for cities with populations of a million – Donetsk and Kharkiv — but also for Lugansk, which has a population of almost half a million. Therefore, the “massive” pro-Russian rallies in Donetsk on average attract 0.1 percent of the population. In Donetsk, one could speak of a massive movement if 100,000 people came out on the street, or even 50,000. However, protests numbering 1,000 to 1,500 participants point to large-scale provocations rather than a broad popular movement. Even among these people, “tourists” from a neighboring state are widely represented. 


Desired outcomes

As the result of Maidan protests, President Yanukovich fled the country. The level of his corruption and the amounts of money he had taken from Ukraine impressed even Putin, who commented on that in his press conference. Now Ukraine has a chance to clean its systems from corruption and get free from Russian influence. What separatists in Eastern regions are demanding is to divide Ukraine and give parts of its territory to Russia. They are accomplishing Putin’s agenda. They have betrayed Ukraine already and have no right to influence the future of the country they so passionately hate.


What: Nick and Maia Mikhaluk of Ukraine, founders of International Partnership, a church-planting ministry, speaking about their experiences in Ukraine and their ministry.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Turner’s Chapel, located at 1344 Colon Road in Sanford. The public is invited; no admission will be charged.