For yet another weekend the Maidan has witnessed gigantic meetings attended, by well over 1/4 million people maybe many more, on both Saturday and Sunday. Watching the emotional speeches on a live video link, it felt like a historic event. And it is likely Maydan will maintain its existence for weeks to come.
Observers consider it to be the "last battle, the last stand of Ukraine's middle classes...'; if it fails Ukraine could become another Belarus.
All Maidan can do is sit tight and settle down for the long haul. Opposition parties, although in good heart, do not have the necessary power to influence the country's future, unless they win a future elections.
So, in the next few days the fate of the country will be decided by a handful of the richest oligarchs, the Akhmetovs, Pinchuks, Kolomoyskys and Firtashes, and the several dozen Party of Regions parliamentary deputies they control.
For these mega-rich oligarchs money is never enough. Reputation and status abroad, rubbing shoulders with the world's richest people is most important. Pressure by the USA and the EU on them - the possibility of losing access to these countries really hits them hard, hence their recent statements calling on peaceful conflict resolution in Ukraine.
Yanukovych is caught between a rock and a hard place. He cannot go meet Putin on Tuesday with his head held high whilst is Maidan in place...any major deal the pair make will not have much validity if the president Yanukovych's chair is wobbling under him.
But Maidan can only be removed by extreme force. When a heavy-handed previous unsuccessful attempt was made to do this three normally 'fire-proof' loyalists have been jettisoned and have had to pay the price, even though everyone knows orders came from the very top. Others, therefore, will be more reluctant to do the president's dirty work in future as a result. And if Yanukovych does try to solve his problem using extreme force and declares martial law he knows the assets of major oligarchs, of which he is now one, located in western banks will be under significant threat. Similar warnings have been expressed by the USA.
General strikes and further chaos would inevitably follow. There would be a risk to the integrity of the country itself.
The oligarchs, and Party of Regions deputies have some big decisions to make. They are to attend an extraordinary party meeting Monday - there are credible rumours that over 100 are now willing to approve the sacking the cabinet of ministers..
On Tuesday, one likely outcome of the Putin/Yanukovych meeting will be some kind of deal on gas...and Ukraine's gas transport system transferred to a [Ukr/Russian/EU?] gas consortium.
An [over?] optimistic prediction could follow this scenario: Several dozen PoR deputies could support a campaign to dump PM Azarov, and perhaps the Minister of the Interior. A cabinet of national salvation could be formed and perhaps even a parliamentary vote could achieve a constitutional 2/3 majority to curtail the president's powers back to those of 2004 .
Armed with these changes, the country could turn to the IMF for an emergency, much needed loan, and the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU could be wrapped up as quickly as possible.
Yanukovych's decision making has been dangerously haphazard these last few weeks. So maybe wiser heads in PoR will rein him in..we will see..
p.s. The anti-maidan organised by PoR was a rather pitiful sight. But the few who agreed to speak to reporters did make valid points. It will be they, workers from factories in the eastern part of the country, who lose their jobs if the Kremlin continues its embargo on Ukrainian produce. Only Petro Poroshenko mentioned this on Maidan today. He considered the probable 'hit' to the Ukrainian economy by Russia's embargo was exaggerated, and that Ukraine/Russian trade would inevitably pick up and return to previous levels.
And only one speaker, firebrand journalist/activist Tetyana Chornovol, bothered to mention Yulia Tymoshenko...good for her. Without Tymoshenko there would have been no Yushchenko victory in 2004, and Ukraine could have looked completely different to what it looks like now..Chornovol herself is facing criminal charges and arrest. Like Tymoshenko, the brave Chornovol said she will not run and hide....
p.p.s. Scott is absolutely correct - corruption is rotting Ukraine from within. If the country joins the Eurasian Customs Union and Yanukovych joins its club of dictators there is no hope of the situation improving. If Ukraine does choose a western vector, then at least there is a little hope, maybe just a little, that the corruption problem can be tackled. I guess this is what motivates the brave guys on Maidan. Its the last hope.