earthmovers’ revolution: Ukraine

I still remember a Ukrainian journalist friend telling me (and others in our circle) that the 2004-2005 Orange leaders were not trusted and the revolution was not expected to be a success in and of itself. The real democracy movement hoped to create just enough breathing space, just long enough, to be able to prepare itself for the next push (which would involve protecting the people from the rulers they had supported).

Now, the pro-European reformists have failed and the pro-Russian conservatives have returned. The state has moved away from European freedom towards Russian vassalage, and has sabotaged a deal with the European Union (EU). So, the real democracy movement has returned to the historic site of the Orange Revolution, Independence Square (renamed #EuroMaidan). They have (re)occupied the square, barricaded themselves into or blocked off government buildings and strategic streets, and called for the resignation of the government.

The government has ‘behaved like an occupying force in its own capital’. Police forces and ‘plain-clothed bull-neck thugs armed with iron rods’ have used violence unprecedented in Ukraine under democratic rule, which (as in Belgrade and Gezi Park) has caused the protest to explode in number and fervour. Some state(-aligned) tractors have helped to dismantle the physical architecture of the protest.

More impressively, hundreds of thousands ‘defied a court ban on protests‘, and ‘about 200 masked protesters commandeered a mechanical digger and attempted to break through lines of armour-clad riot police’. RFERL have published a powerful video of the Zettelmeyer tractor-digger tearing open the police barricades and slowly but inexorably pressing into the phalanx of riot police.

'masked protesters commandeered a mechanical digger and attempted to break through lines of armour-clad riot police' (c) Alexey Furman, EPA, the Guardian, 2nd December 2013

‘masked protesters commandeered a mechanical digger and attempted to break through lines of armour-clad riot police’ (c) Alexey Furman, EPA, the Guardian, 2nd December 2013

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