Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Sochi Olympics Are The Only Thing Standing Between Ukrainian Protestors And Putin’s Thugs

KIEV, Ukraine -- Less than a week before the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russian president Vladimir Putin must decide how tough to get in order to keep Ukraine from quitting Moscow and allying formally with Europe.


Kiev protestors standing guard.

Given the stakes to Russia’s—and his own—international prestige, the normally bullying Putin will want to refrain from open threats or other harsh measures as opposition protesters challenge the rule of pro-Moscow Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Until Feb. 23, when the Olympics conclude, the Russian leader will have to restrain himself.

But he also will not easily surrender Ukraine, which Russia historically treats as a satellite nation.

The US is pushing moderation.

“We would… say to our friends in Russia this does not have to be a zero (sum) game,” US secretary of state John Kerry said today in Berlin.

“This is not something where Ukraine should become a proxy and trapped in some kind of larger ambition for Russia or the United States.”

But there is already some baring of teeth.

Putin’s decision to withhold a $2 billion tranche of economic aid due Friday hit Ukraine’s currency hard, pushing the hryvnia to its lowest value against the dollar since the global financial crisis more than four years ago.

Ukrainian goods are being held up at the Russian border.

More darkly, Dmytro Bulatov, a leader of Ukraine’s opposition protests, surfaced yesterday, eight days after vanishing without a trace, with part of an ear missing, his face a bloody mess, and punctures through his hands.

”They crucified me. They punctured my hands,” he said.

“They cut off my ear, slashed my face. But I am alive, thank God.”

Bulatov said he does not know who the assailants were, beyond that they were Russian-speaking.

Since at least a quarter of Ukrainians speak Russian as their native language, that doesn’t help much.

The thugs could have been dispatched by political or business interests in Ukraine, Russia or even elsewhere.

But their actions speak to the calculus on both sides as they seek triumph in the days and weeks ahead.

Source: Quartz

2 comments:

Igor Skakovsky said...

Ukrainian government could conduct quick social research with participation of credible western and Russian organizations in each of its regions. For instance, total population of Ukraine is approximately 45 million people, given 27 regions in the country averaging 1.6 million people per region. If simply social survey "should Ukraine sign AA agreement now or three years from now" and "should elections be conducted now or on schedule in 2015" is conducted on 800 people per region, it will give adequate understanding of a situation. Based on that government could decide if they should conduct National Referendum or not. If referendum is conducted then government can justify any of its actions since decision will be made based on the wishes of a majority of people, in other words democratically.

Igor Skakovsky said...

Ukrainian government could conduct quick social research with participation of credible western and Russian organizations in each of its regions. For instance, total population of Ukraine is approximately 45 million people, given 27 regions in the country averaging 1.6 million people per region. If simply social survey "should Ukraine sign AA agreement now or three years from now" and "should elections be conducted now or on schedule in 2015" is conducted on 800 people per region, it will give adequate understanding of a situation. Based on that government could decide if they should conduct National Referendum or not. If referendum is conducted then government can justify any of its actions since decision will be made based on the wishes of a majority of people, in other words democratically.