People took to the streets to demand Yanukovych sign the agreement for trade and cooperation agreement with the EU at the end of the week so the country might continue with European Integration.
Ukrainians throughout the country – from Lviv in the West to Kharkiv in the East, with thousands of protesters in the capital, Kiev – want stronger economic and political ties with Europe.
How have Ukrainian authorities responded, realizing that the pro-European movement is stronger than anyone expected and refuses to fade?
In some regions they responded creatively: in order to keep crowds out of the streets and squares, local administrations declared massive flu outbreaks and prohibited any public gatherings.
In Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine bordering Russia, the mayor signed an illegal ban on all public gatherings in the city because of the phantom pandemic.
Needless to say, citizens are not fooled and recognize the decree as an attempt to keep the Euro virus under control.
In Kiev police clashed with protesters, hurling tear gas into the crowds.
According to media reports and live coverage by Radio Svoboda, the government hasn’t unleashed tanks in the streets at this point.
The European Parliament has been very clear that it will not tolerate Ukrainian authorities using force against peaceful pro-European protesters.
So, the flu pandemic seems like a safe way to tame mass outrage, at least in the regions, where local governments have practically absolute powers and people seem more passive and obedient.
However, in Kharkiv, despite the ban on protests due to the phantom flu, European fever continues, quietly.
Judging by YouTube videos and online news, some people remain in the streets while wearing flu masks and distributing them to others.
Mainstream national media, controlled by pro-Yanukovych oligarchs, keeps the protest coverage to a minimum, downplaying the scale of the indignation in the populace.
Kiev’s decision to abandon the EU path and turn to Russia has outraged a majority of Ukrainians who showed growing support for EU integration, according to various opinion polls, and people say they feel that the future of their country has been stolen.
In protest, a wave of peaceful rallies with Ukrainian flags and pro-democratic slogans spread around the globe, from Europe to Asia.
President Yanukovych got too caught up in his gambling—maneuvering between the EU and Russia and trying to see who’d offer him a better deal.
The Euro virus has spread even among his own supporters and members of the ruling party (47% of his Party of Regions supports the EU Association Agreement, according to a GFK survey) Ukrainians don’t want Putin and Yanukovych to decide their future – they proved it by voicing their opposition to the government’s actions.
They are indeed ready to live in a free society, accept democratic norms and the rule of law, and do business with western partners.
Their government, surely, is not.