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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Scenarios for Maidan: options are open

The year begins with the question: who is going to use, if at all, the wonderful viability of Ukrainian protest actions?
14 January, 2014 - 10:58
Photo by Artem SLIPACHUK, The Day
Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day

New Year festivities did not make them break up. On the contrary, they celebrated all together cheerfully right on Independence Square. Kyiv’s Euromaidan is still on.

But, in reality, people are perplexed. What next? They see no mechanisms to get their demands met, nor do they see a leader or leaders capable of winning at least some victory.

Many rank-and-file protesters are very well aware of this, but they keep on standing. Why? Firstly, they know they are defending their rights and will have to do so till the end because nobody will help them, and, secondly, they are saying there is no place to retreat to – for fear of repressions.

It is really a dead end. We heard this from a Euromaidan participant who maintains, together with some Afghan war veterans, order in the encampment (he asked not to disclose his name).

“What is to be done? What is the way out of this situation? We have no answers to this question,” the participant says. “People rose up after students, in fact children, had been beaten up. We also came out on Independence Square. We’ve been standing for more than a month. And what is the result? Nothing. All the opposition has managed to do is to get the law on amnesty for protesters passed. But even this has proved to be a hoax.”

“It is easy to say anything now,” our interlocutor continues. “Some oppositionists would visit tents from the very beginning to tell us that this law was a fake. Too much falseness. People want real changes, but they are being made fools of. Those who really keep the Maidan going – Afghan war veterans and students – are not heeded at all. Party leaders have taken advantage of public discontent to pursue their own goals. They say one thing on the podium but take a totally different attitude to us. Incidentally, Turchynov, whom many just can’t stand, strictly controls who can speak on the podium.”

The opposition must have felt inner discontent and thus reacted. “We are going to offer a solution in the shortest possible term to which you will applaud. There will be a single pro-Ukrainian and pro-European team, a team of the Ukrainian victory. There will be unity between the opposition politicians,” Batkivshchyna leader Arsenii Yatseniuk said from the podium the other day.

But there is no unity so far. UDAR leader Vitali Klitschko reacted immediately: “Everybody on the Maidan is talking about a complete change of power and asking if the opposition is able to nominate a single candidate. How can we speak about a single team if there are several candidates?”

MPs Pavlo Petrenko and Andrii Ivanchuk failed to explain to us what the statement about a “single pro-Ukrainian and pro-European team” means. “It is difficult for me to comment on the further actions of the opposition,” Ivanchuk says. “Like anybody else, I listen to what the Maidan council announces, and I have no queries about its resolutions – everything is clear and easy to grasp.”

“There are never-ending consultations between the opposition forces,” UDAR MP Pavlo Rozenko comments to The Day. “Our position is well known – we must begin with choosing a single presidential candidate and then not only draw up a list of the people who may assume one office or another, but also set the principles to be adhered to during the presidential elections. There are different approaches, but, after all, I think the opposition will nominate an agreed-upon candidate. Society demands this.”

As we can see, the situation remains the same. There is no unity in the opposition ranks. Each of the parties is padding its own canoe. The opposition is so far unable to offer society a concrete plan of actions.

“The Maidan is still standing and is not breaking up – I can see no uncertainty among the people there,” Rozenko says. “Everybody knows why they are there, why they support this action, and what the main demands and the ways of fulfilling them are. Obviously, this action will last until there are some noticeable results. The Maidan is not just standing in an incomprehensible situation – it is a living organism that includes daily actions, speeches, motorcades, and picketing. It is a dynamic process.”

But the abovementioned Euromaidan participant is in a different mood. “In reality, many of us have fallen hostage to the situation. We can’t leave because Euromaidan activists are already being victimized all over Ukraine. But to openly come out against the opposition would mean to discredit Euromaidan. Of course, if need be, we, Afghan war veterans, will manage to stand up for ourselves. But we feel pity for many other people whose expectations and hopes have been dashed.”

We wrote from the very beginning that all the protesters should make demands not only to the government, but also to the opposition. Then it would have been difficult for the opposition to use people for their own purposes because slogans and money do not help in such cases. Now Euromaidan protesters will have to find the ways out of the situation on their own.

“People are very well informed now,” political scientist Kostiantyn Matviienko comments to The Day. “The latest announcements of the opposition leaders can evoke, at best, sympathy and, at worst, the understanding that those who are standing on and under the Maidan’s podium are people who pursue different goals. Unfortunately, the Maidan is in for dull smoldering. If no extraordinary events occur, this will smoothly turn into the presidential campaign, and the Maidan will be an instrument of political manipulation in the course of this campaign.”

But will the people allow themselves to be manipulated after they have established the Maidan of Dignity?