Home | World | What the hell is going on in Ukraine?

What the hell is going on in Ukraine?

By
Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
 Ukrainian protester among burning car tyres. Source: Getty Images
Ukrainian protester among burning car tyres. Source: Getty Images

THE Ukraine capital, Kiev, is burning. Five protesters have been shot dead. There are calls for calm amid the escalating hell on the street.

What is going on?

Protesters throw molotov cocktails at police during clashes in the centre of Kiev on January 22, 2014.

Protesters throw molotov cocktails at police during clashes in the centre of Kiev on January 22, 2014. Source: AFP

The protest movement in Ukraine has been simmering for months. This weekend, violent street battles erupted with protesters hurling fire bombs and stones. Police fired back with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. Dark smoke from burning tyres, used as barricades, billowed in the air.

Helmeted riot police moved in on hundreds of protesters, dismantling the barricades, beating many with truncheons and firing shots at some.

Oleksandr Turchynov, one of the opposition leaders, called on Ukrainians to rush to the centre of Kiev to defend their country. "Ukraine will not be a dictatorship, it will be an independent, European country. Let us defend Ukraine!"

Ukrainian protester throws a molotov cocktail in front of burning car tyres during a mass protest.

Ukrainian protester throws a molotov cocktail in front of burning car tyres during a mass protest. Source: Getty Images

Why is it happening?

Protesters are fighting against President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign a political and economic association pact with the EU after pressure from Russia.

The Ukrainian government had been working for years on a landmark trade deal with the European Union. In a sudden change of heart, Yanukovych backed out last November.

Eventually it was admitted, Russian pressure led to the turn around.

Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.

Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Source: AP

The deal would have seen Ukraine citizens allowed to travel through the EU without visas; in return the Ukraine would adopt hundreds of laws and regulations, and a program of sweeping reforms.

To activists, the choice between Russia or Europe is a symbol of the plans for the future of Ukraine.

Protester throws a molotov cocktail on Grushevsky street on January 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.

Protester throws a molotov cocktail on Grushevsky street on January 22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Source: Getty Images

Why didn't the president sign?

The pressure from Russia on the Ukraine can be extreme - and create economic pressure on an already struggling economy. There have been previous cases where the Kremlin have cut off gas exports into the country and banned Ukrainian products in Russia.

 Several people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital.

Several people have died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital. Source: AP

What does Russia want?

Russian President Vladimir Putin would like to see the former Soviet states realigned. He wants to form an alliance to give the EU a run for its money and without Ukraine this dream is impossible.

He also believes the protests in Ukraine are led by western forces, referring to them as "pre-planned" and not like a revolution. He is splashing cash to put the pressure on, with deals to cut the price of gas in Ukraine and buying billions of dollars worth of government bonds.

Ukrainian protesters among burning car tyres.

Ukrainian protesters among burning car tyres. Source: Getty Images

What are the two sides?

The country has a 50/50 split between the Russian supporters and the European supporters. The industrial workers in the eastern half favour closer ties with Russia, they speak the language and have the same religion. In the western half, they have closer ties with Europe. Many are Roman Catholic and they speak Ukrainian. These are the ones who want to leave Russia in the past and create stronger ties with their European friends, they are led by the three main opposition leaders - Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleg Tyagnybok.

Ukrainian protesters shoot with a help of petards.

Ukrainian protesters shoot with a help of petards. Source: Getty Images

Why are the protests intensifying now?

Last week, President Yanukovych pushed through anti-legislation laws which ban most forms of protest in the country. Demonstrators can no longer wear masks or helmets and anyone who blockades public buildings will be given a five-year jail term. Over 200,000 supporters of the opposition took to the centre of Kiev to protest against the new restrictions.

Protesters throw molotov cocktails at police during clashes in the centre of Kiev on January 22, 2014.

Protesters throw molotov cocktails at police during clashes in the centre of Kiev on January 22, 2014. Source: AFP

What next?

With both sides not looking to back down, and the death toll rising, the opposition has given the president a timeline to call an election - two days.

If this doesn't eventuate, they claim there will be more bloodshed. At this point, the next days are crucial and anything could eventuate.

After speaking with President Yanukovych, the Opposition Leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said: "Tomorrow we will go forward together, and if it's a bullet in the forehead, then it's a bullet in the forehead, but in an honest, fair and brave way."

A pro-European Union activist stands near a barricade on Independence Square during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukra...

A pro-European Union activist stands near a barricade on Independence Square during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Source: AP

 

  1. Linda Perez fell into coma last year after having breast implants can barely move or speak (5.00)

  2. Drone captures 2,500-year-old petroglyphs on film in Utah desert (5.00)

  3. Real Housewife of Miami's Lisa Hochstein and husband demolish 1920s mansion (5.00)

  4. Ohio sheriff's deputy forces woman's mouth open for taking TYLENOL (5.00)

  5. Northern California woman who grabbed bully by THROAT 'targeted wrong kid' (5.00)

  6. Jackie Kennedy's secret lovers revealed in new book (5.00)

  7. Astronomer discovers it's possible to have a sun that hosts SIXTY habitable Earth-like planets (5.00)

  8. Moncton mourners honor three Canadian mounties killed during rampage last week (5.00)

  9. Hillary Clinton's book sales 'struggle in first week' (5.00)

  10. Incredible sight of the elephant that cried: Raju was held in chains, beaten and abused for fifty years and on the day he was released tears rolled down his face (5.00)

  11. Why was MH17 flying through a warzone? Planes in area of crash site pictured flying away from Ukraine as questions are raised as to why flights were flying over country (5.00)

  12. British lawyer killed on MH17 along with his wife and three sons: Final UK victims named as John Allen and Andrew Hoare (5.00)

  13. Miss Colorado Teen Runner-Up Kristy Althaus 'stripped of title' after it emerges she starred in porn film (4.00)

  14. Washington, DC Firefighters refuse to help dying man (4.00)

  15. Man charged with stealing 43 bikes around Boulder (4.00)

  16. Conservative Christian politician Vance McAllister caught kissing staffer at party (4.00)

  17. Scenes of the crimes: Incredible 'forensic' images dating back to 1925 unearthed for the first time from hidden LAPD archive (4.00)

  18. German exchange student shot dead by homeowner was 'garage hopping after learning it from local kids' (4.00)

  19. La Perla removes 'shockingly thin' mannequin with protruding ribs after Twitter complaints (4.00)

  20. Pro-Russian insurgents forced from building they occupied in Ukraine (4.00)

  21. 'Condor' with 24-FOOT wingspan soared across the skies 28m years ago (4.00)

  22. US nuclear bases reveal ageing weapons and low morale of missileers (4.00)

  23. Missing pregnant woman, 18, found dead in the trunk of suspected killer's car after he crashed it and committed suicide (4.00)

  24. Piece of the Middle East: For 7.5 MILLION dollars you can buy the realistic Afghanistan movie set from the film Zero Dark Thirty (3.00)

  25. Man who stabbed Denver philanthropist after meeting online sentenced (3.00)

  26. Real-life Dexter 'serial killer' Miranda Barbour reveals locations of alleged murders (3.00)

  27. Terrified pup trapped in icy river shows his boundless gratitude to man who came to his rescue (3.00)

  28. Teenage girl reveals the horrors of the sex trade in Cambodia to Marie Claire magazine (3.00)

  29. Chloe Campbell's distraught mother trapped in a 'living nightmare' (3.00)

  30. Maren Sanchez murder: Hundreds of friends in gowns and tuxedos hold beach memorial to honor girl, 16, who 'was stabbed to death by classmate for refusing to go to the dance with him' (3.00)

  31. New reality show Little Women LA hit by legal trouble before premiere (3.00)

  32. 113 year old Chinese woman marries her 70 year old toyboy (3.00)

  33. Have scientists found a way to cure peanut allergies in children? (2.00)

  34. The flying bum! 300ft-long 'airship' unveiled in Britain is the world's longest aircraft (2.00)

  35. Michael Rockefeller WAS eaten by cannibals who kept his bones as souvenirs, claims Carl Hoffman who says his years of research proves that the Dutch covered up 1961 murder in New Guinea (2.00)

  36. 'We don't want it!' More than 1,600 people sign Boston University petition demanding cancellation of concert by 'sexist' Robin Thicke (2.00)

  37. Chimp mauling victim Charla Nash makes last ditch bid to sue Connecticut for $150million (2.00)

  38. Man wanted on Colo. warrants leads Tulsa police on car chase, shoots self (2.00)

  39. Batter up! Obama pops in on Little League game (2.00)

  40. All six of virgin killer's victims now named as his two roommates, a friend who was visiting their house and three other students chosen at random (2.00)

  41. Teen mom 'bought gloves and shovel to help boyfriend bury her daughter after he stomped on toddler until she died' (2.00)

  42. North Pole, Alaska, center of sick story Satanism and serial killers after Miranda Barbour, 19, confesses to 22 murders (1.00)

  43. Grant Hackett flies to USA to seek treatment for prescription drug addiction (1.00)

  44. Jessica Alba strips in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For trailer (1.00)

  45. Tribal elder's advice to the giggling Cambridges as Kate recycles chic scarlet suit for trip to earthquake-hit Christchurch (1.00)

  46. Julie Chrisley lived in a trailer and gave birth out of wedlock before becoming millionaire's wife (1.00)

  47. Surveillance video from Santa Barbara deli shows the moment crazed killer opened fire on customers gunning down 20-year-old UCSB student during bloody crime spree (1.00)

  48. 'The heart remembers': Husband who lost memory to Alzheimer's has moment of clarity and goes on mission to buy wife flowers for Mother's Day (1.00)

  49. Richie Incognito 'admitted to psychiatric unit' after smashing Ferrari (0)

  50. Proof that men HATE shopping! Hilarious pictures from across the world show men bored out of their minds waiting for their partners (0)

  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Rate this article

0

Photo Galleries

PHOTOS: Plastic Surgery Celebrity Awkward family photos 
 
UPDATED: Faces of Meth PHOTOS: Celebrities all a-Twitter

More galleries ››