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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

The crisis of protest genre

“The power’s tactic is having effect, the opposition does not have any strategy, whereas the civic part of the Maidan is self-organizing,” expert says
16 January, 2014 - 10:55
Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day

After recent events near the Sviatoshyn District Police Department and People’s Viche on Maidan in Kyiv, the crisis of protest movement started to be discussed more sharply. But let’s make it more precise. The crisis is not about people’s motivation, whether to go on protests; neither it is about their discontent with the situation in the country; it is a crisis of leadership, unity of actions, ability to organize and realize the demand for changes by politicians and public.

After the sentence was read to so-called “Vasylkiv terrorists” (Volodymyr Shpara, Ihor Mosiichuk, and Serhii Bevz were found guilty of intentions to blast the Lenin Monument in Boryspil during the festivities dedicated to the Independence Day in 2011 and were sentenced to six years of imprisonment) in Sviatoshyn District, the traditional picture of the previous months repeated itself. Berkut’s beatings of the people, provocations of radicals in masks, shouts “Shame!”, MPs involved in fights, blood. Blood was on the head of the former Minister of the Interior Yurii Lutsenko, whom the police beat as well. Of course, this is an inadmissible thing, but truth be said, on the video shot by The Day’s journalists Lutsenko appears in a bad light (he uses brutal language when he speaks to a police colonel and behaves aggressively). All these events add turmoil to the current situation. And not only should the government be blamed for this.

Another Viche in Kyiv showed as well that the turnout of protests is falling. The oppositionists counted about 50,000 people on Sunday, whereas hundreds thousands of people used to come previously. Even those who came did not hear anything new. Old promises, general slogans, and new calls to a mass strike. Where is the promised “united pro-Ukrainian and pro-European team” of the opposition? So far what we have are endless talks about possible single candidate. Systemic changes, demanded by citizens, so far are replaced by tactic things, often struggle behind the scenes for the right to run for president. The Maidan continues to hold on owing to self-organization of former Afghan soldiers, students, and the Automaidan. But even they think how to save neck in current situation.

Meanwhile the All-Ukrainian Forum of Euromaidans took place in Kharkiv on Saturday and Sunday. Firstly, it met immense resistance of local authorities, which refused under various excuses to give premises for the meeting (after all, the forum did take place); secondly, representatives of the opposition did not attend it. Why? Arsen Avakov from Batkivshchyna writes (blogs.pravda.com.ua): “The Headquarters received gag orders and Presidential Administration’s draft documents based on the results of the Forum of Maidans in Kharkiv.” Why is the reaction so nervous?

The government has chosen the tactic of ignoring, which it finds quite acceptable for it, and it does not respond to any demands of Euromaidan, neither to those who are standing there. It responds only in cases when it cannot avoid this. It also doesn’t forget about the use of pressure and force against the activists of the protest actions. This reaction gradually extinguishes the energy of the Maidan and spreads despair, especially in the background of weakness of the opposition. Recent protest events in Kyiv and in Kharkiv have only bared the problems of protest movement and opposition activity. On the other hand, important processes are taking place in the background of stormy events. The government, owing to its force and cruelty, and the opposition, owing to its toothlessness and cynicism, are objectively raising up the long-expected civil society in Ukraine.

By Ivan KAPSAMUN, Yulia LUCHYK, The Day