James Sherr, in his "KyivPost" interview today proposes five possible outcomes to the current stand-off between the protesters in Maidan and president Yanukovych.
The third of these, Yanukovych' "preferred option" would be to restore his authority "by apparent coexistence with a diminishing Maidan, by creeping repression and by return to an apparent normality".
Yanukovych's strategy is to play the long game, hoping that the cold and inclement weather, combined with the seasonal holiday period, will cause the Maidan to wither. Even some supporters question its proposed restructuring, considering this to be a partial, harmful hijacking by existing opposition parties.
There is plenty of evidence the authorities have been systematically targeting individual civic opposition activists, arresting them and locking them up on flimsy, fabricated charges, hoping to frightens off others.
Some observers, including your blogger, consider that some of the video clips showing peaceful demonstrators being viscously assaulted by Berkut special forces early morning 30th November in the Maidan, and on the following Sunday outside the presidential administration, were leaked onto YouTube by law enforcement officials themselves in order to deter further protests. This, of course, backfired spectacularly and lead to the gigantic peaceful demonstration on the next Sunday, and Sundays following these violent events.
Targeting individuals for persecution now will also cause even greater indignation.
Many of those who have been wearied by their days on Maidan will return home for holidays. But they will rest, meet other friends and family members, and will return re-energised, perhaps more organised, in even in greater numbers to Maidan. It has to be remembered many Ukrainians work in agriculture...for them winter is a quieter season. And with the country in recession for many months, industrial workers have been working short time or have even been laid off for long durations. Traditionally, these workers are not made redundant as would be the case in factories in the West...but remain 'on the books' despite there being no work for them.
The Maidan organisers know that they simply must have to have several thousand people there constantly...but they can confidently assume that many tens of thousands will turn up every week or two to support them, as they have over the last month for mass meetings and rallies, especially if Yanukovych makes any more blunders..
The holiday period will also be used by some disgruntled PoR parliamentary deputies [some allege there could be more than 60], as well as some of the three dozen or so non affiliated deputies, who are unhappy about Yanukovych selling out to Putin, to weigh up their options..
p.s. There were some rumours including in 'Segodnya', that Yanukovych may have been taken ill today on the eve of his visit to Moscow...Hmm...
Some joke that in order to become president in Ukraine you have to have spent time in prison, and preferably also have survived an assassination attack..It must be a worry when your predecessor nearly died of poisoning...if you ever get a tummy upset.. or anything like that...
p.p.s. "I once asked a man whom I trusted why on earth he thought those men already in possession of power and riches beyond anyone's wildest dreams, never stop trying to accumulate. First, he replied, because they only feel their power in the moment they exert it. Second, because you can't take your wealth with you when you die (death is the great equaliser, every act of self-empowerment is a futile protest against death..."