Euromaidan: The Eastern European Spring?

Euromaidan: The Eastern European Spring?

5 views

What began in December as peaceful protests against Ukraine’s decision to remain detached from the intimate economic relationships of the European Union has escalated into a series of violent conflicts and riots that have now resulted in two deaths as of January 22. President Viktor Yanukovych was able to delay the December angst for a few weeks via the appeasing force of a kind of financial bailout package from Russia that totaled $15 billion. While Russia’s financial aid eased the economic woes of Ukraine’s citizenry, the pro-EU forces revived their passions in January, only to be met with government backlash directed by President Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Approving a series of laws that seriously infringed upon the fundamental civil liberties guaranteed by democracy such as the freedoms of speech and of assembly, the Ukrainian government directed its legislative action to put an end to the Kiev protests. However, the legislative measures were a total failure, inciting the strengthening of the opposition and creating new purpose for the protest movement. Through the use of authoritarian-style measures of force, both physical and legal, the Ukrainian government can no longer be considered democratic. If Ukraine’s protests were to escalate further, the ensuing violence would threaten the long-term stability of the present governance system and would ring of Arab Spring chaos by a people dissatisfied with the heavy-handed leadership.

Kiev’s Independence Square and the protesters within have been the targets of the President’s legislative restrictions on key civil liberties. Baited by the near two-month-long demonstrations refusing to budge from the square, the government’s recourse was the extreme limitation of the protesters’, the media’s, and active nongovernmental organizations’ activities. Repelled by the tents that have cropped up in the country’s capital, the government enacted an anti-tent law that seems the reaction of the leadership, keen on protecting its own power at all costs—those costs being fines and jail time for its citizens if they fail to comply with the new legislation. However, the government’s undemocratic measures extend further than their recent legislation. Harnessing the power of technology, the government sent warning text messages to those within close geographic proximity of the protests, portentously declaring their dislike of the protesters’ presence. President Putin of Russia, the friendly comrade of President Yanukovych, seems more than invested in the outcome of the Ukrainian protests. Many Ukrainians fear that his economic involvement in December and his influence upon President Yanukovych signal the commencement of an authoritarian era in Ukrainian governance. Reacting against the possibility of a Big-Brother-esque shift in their governmental structure, the protesters have demonstrated their recourse to violence—a signal of the deterioration of Ukrainian democracy.

The weakening of the democratic principles of the Ukrainian government has been swift. A mere two days after the passage of the anti-protest laws, peaceful protests resumed on January 19th. Interestingly, the course of events has vaguely resembled the June 2013 protests in Turkey—where violence escalated in the face of government oppressiveness by Prime Minister Erdogan. Reminiscent of Turkish calls for adherence to democratic principles, the Ukraine protests call into question the emergence of a similar, more large-scale movement inspired by the Arab Spring.

Due to Russia’s involvement in the region, Ukraine is a potential harbinger of future Eastern European instability. However, the Ukrainian protests have not grown to nearly the size of the Arab Spring protests—they remain concentrated at a much smaller scale at the moment, for Ukraine is one country as opposed to the many that quickly joined the Arab Spring bandwagon. While the term Eastern European Spring seems a premature label for the instability caused by Ukraine’s protests, the term may not be so far off. Russia’s assertiveness and creeping aggression in the region demonstrate that the potential for further violence remains a possibility. The unlikely possibility of a wave of uprisings in Eastern Europe seems a far-off prediction. However, the similarity between the catalyst of disgust with the government’s disregard for key civil rights of the Arab Spring movement in mid-January 2011 and the present Ukrainian protests in Eastern Europe in mid-January 2014 is just too striking to ignore. An Eastern European Spring? Probably not, but the resemblance to the Arab Spring protests is there. Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and with the ruling party will be awaited with hesitancy as Ukraine’s protests become increasingly violent. As quoted in a New York Times article, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “It seems someone is interested in this chaos.” That someone, very likely, is none other than Russia and President Putin, eager to solidify his influence in the Eastern European region. Euromaidan, as the Ukrainian protests have been dubbed, tests the democratic principles of the nation and calls into question the extension of the Arab Spring ideals into Eastern Europe.

[Image Credit: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/22/us-ukraine-idUSBREA0L0B520140122]

About author

Emily Stewart

Emily is a senior from Charlotte, NC double majoring in Political Science and Spanish.This summer, she worked at the Department of Justice in the Office of International Affairs. Additionally, she was the Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Latin American Public Opinion Project here at Vanderbilt. She is interested in international politics and American foreign policy. This year, she is serving as the Managing Editor for VPR.

Comments
  • Marvel#1

    April 22, 2019

    Exactly how could I create blog sites or articles and earn money for it?

    Reply
  • Vasiliki#2

    April 19, 2019

    What websites and blog sites do the browsing neighborhood interact most on?

    Reply
  • Tractor Workshop Manuals#3

    April 18, 2019

    I am curious to find out what blog platform you have been utilizing? I’m experiencing some small security problems with my latest blog and I’d like to find something more safe. Do you have any suggestions?

    Reply
  • Genny#4

    April 13, 2019

    What is an excellent totally free blogging site that I can react to blog sites as well as others will react to me?

    Reply
  • Orlando#5

    April 10, 2019

    If you are writing on a newspaper’s website on a specific issue are you considered a website columnist or a blogger? What separates the two?.

    Reply
  • find out this here#6

    April 8, 2019

    How hard is it to import a custom made Joomla template into Joomla?

    Reply
  • John Deere Technical Manuals#7

    April 7, 2019

    Regards just for the excellent knowledge right here component web-site, can be found in tiny little ask weblog tv audience. Just who mentioned this excellent provide? . . . .Relationship are mindful, want should be type. That doesn’t be jealous of, but there’s more brag, boastful. It’s not necessarily obnoxious, it is not self-seeking, many years merely angered, this can carries not at all all time high of most errors. Real love ceases to appreciate hateful rejoices utilizing specifics. This method automatically safeguards, ensure you trusts, continually wishes, be sure you perseveres.

    Reply
  • John Deere Technical Manuals#8

    April 6, 2019

    Needed to send you this little remark to help give many thanks over again for all the remarkable knowledge you have shown here. It was certainly pretty generous of people like you in giving openly exactly what some people would have offered as an e-book to earn some dough for their own end, principally since you might well have done it if you considered necessary. The creative ideas as well acted to become a fantastic way to fully grasp the rest have a similar dreams just like mine to realize great deal more with reference to this matter. I am certain there are some more enjoyable situations in the future for individuals who see your site.

    Reply
  • pop over to this website#9

    April 2, 2019

    I simply want to say I’m newbie to blogging and site-building and seriously liked this web site. Very likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You definitely come with beneficial writings. Thanks a lot for revealing your web site.

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *