My uncle was born at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in what was then the Tsarist Russian town of Pinsk [now in Belarus]. Even though he died many years ago the stories which told me of his adventurous life during the Russian revolution and during its Soviet aftermath remain vivid in my memory; they provided me with an insight into the minds of Russians and neighbouring nationalities particularly in a Soviet, Stalinist environment.
One tenet he held was that any person in authority at that time would, by default, inevitably use his status to bully underlings; anyone showing weakness would be mercilessly exploited or crushed. To survive in such a system one has to stand up rigidly and act tough, stone-faced, whether you are the master or the underling, no matter what..or be swept away.
President Yanukovych acted in this way when he imprisoned his greatest political rival Yulia Tymoshenko and has grabbed vast assets for his 'family' and closest associates.
In recent days has ordered raiding and stealing the computer servers from the country's opposition party headquarters in order to curtail its activities.
Has tried to clear peaceful demonstrations by brutal force from the streets even whilst European and US top bananas are in the country.
Called a round table with three former Ukrainian presidents, two of whom are political corpses in hock to the president, the third, Kravchuk a cuddly old teddy bear: then conduct an cringe-making, stilted round-table 'discussion' on television about what to do to solve the current crisis.
Oh, and then, on the next day, called upon the opposition and civic leaders to attend a round table meeting 'for the good of the country'.
The MO is stereotypical - give your opponents a good kicking, then say, 'now lets have a friendly chat'.
The opposition know all of this too, so have a hard decison to make because they have to play by different rules. Their first reaction has been to decline Yanukovych's invitation and not attend Wednesday's round table....but great pressure will be applied for them change their mind by Western leaders.
Seasoned journalists allege unnamed Regiony bosses nearly 'shit their pants' when they saw the gigantic crowds in Kyiv these last two Sundays. They thought the crowds would dismantle their offices brick by brick and tear them apart...The PoR talking heads I have seen and heard are nowhere near as cock-sure as they were a week or two ago.
It is your blogger's belief that if Yanuk digs in and does not compromise in the days to come the ever-more determined crowd in the end will win out...but if he does weaken, he is finished in any case...and he knows it.
Opposition leaders should sit at the round table..they have less to lose..they should feel confident because the protests are strengthening, not weakening; the majority of Kyivans and the rest of the country are behind them..
p.s. Former president Yushchenko says he will not go to the Maidan, even though he would like to, because if he did it would look like 'self-promotion'.
Without the Maidan, and without Yulia Tymoshenko's constant support nine years ago he would never, ever have become president.
He testified against Tymoshenio in the kangaroo-court trial which sentenced her to seven years in prison for allegedly 'exceeding her authority' as prime minister...The European Court of Human Rights are currently assessing whether Tymoshenko's rights were abused at this trial.
Everyone knows if Yushchenko went to the Maidan he would be booed off the stage..because he is a total dickhead...[sorry for lowering the tone of the blog]