Civil unrest has taken Ukraine on a whirlwind ride over the last few months beginning with President Yanukovych’s announcement stating that the nation will not be strengthening trade ties with the European Union (EU).
This was not good news for many members of the Ukrainian population who saw the agreement with the EU as a step away from Russia, who many believe did not truly loosen its grip on the nation. Instead, the President indicated that he wished to solidify bonds with Russia, rather than distance the nations from one another.
Soon after, approximately 100,000 citizens of the country gathered in Kiev, the capital city, to protest the President’s decision. Less than one week later, on the 30th of November, the police began their first assault on the protesters – taking 35 people into custody.
During December, a group of pro-government protesters joined the anti-government protesters at Independence Square and were separated only through sparsely distributed riot police.
Later that month, Russian and Ukrainian leaders met and agreed that Russia would offer Ukraine a total of $15 billion to reduce the national debt in exchange for a reduction in the cost of gas purchased from Ukraine.
Sometime during mid-January, the Ukrainian parliament announced that it would be implementing new anti-protest laws, this enraged the protestors claiming that government was deteriorating further rather than making positive changes. The laws were even described by some as “draconian”.
The violence escalated on the 22nd of January when the police claimed the lives of two civilians who were present during the protests. The following day an activist was found dead in the middle of a forest after he was reported missing earlier that week.
Action was escalated as the opposition began to raid government offices in Western Ukraine.
The government’s following move was to abandon the previously instated anti-protest law on the same day that the Prime Minister resigned from his post.
The Ukrainian government began to lose its footing and offered amnesty to all those who were arrested in exchange the protestors we requested to clear the occupied areas. The protestors rejected the offer.
During mid-February all the protestors who had been detained were released, shortly after the demonstrators in Kiev evacuated the occupied space and subsequently the charges against the released protesters were dropped.
Things took a turn for the worse on the 18th of February when riots began in Kiev. An estimated 18 people were killed including members of the police.
The 20th of February was a worse day still, over the next two days the death toll rose to over 75 people with a few hundred facing injuries. Videos were released showing a number of sniper rifles gunning down activists.
Over the following days President Yanykovych signed an agreement with the opposition that would bring about reform. The talks were mediated by French, German and Polish envoys. Both sides agreed to early elections that were scheduled to take place in December this year, however, the protesters were not satisfied and continued to rebel in the capital and across other cities in the country.
The following day the President fled the capital and was reported to have moved to the northern city of Kharkiv.
A few days later, a new interim president, Olexander Turchynov, was appointed by Parliament.
The country is still far from stable, with the influence of foreign nations such as Russia re-opening a divide between the Ukrainian people. However, many are hopeful for the future of the country; though views remain divided on exactly how peace will be achieved.