Thursday, January 23, 2014

The revolution starts now

After watching hours of live-streamed reports and press agency reports, a few observations in no particular order of importance from your humble blogger:

Ominously, many hundreds of youths of sporting/criminal appearance, so-called 'titushky' seem to be being shipped into Kyiv. This is causing great consternation amongst ordinary citizens as they roam around the streets. Self defence groups are being organised.

Military personnel or military equipment are unlikely to be employed at the moment, perhaps because loyalty of the army is not solid. Storming and scattering of EuroMaidan will be difficult without heavy military equipment on account of large barricades and also icy road conditions.

Following his meeting with the opposition leaders it's clear Yanukovych is not prepared to make any concessions at all.

Violent protesters seem to be an almost random mix by age and status - check out the videos. Some are well dressed in high quality skiing/motor cycling gear, others are obviously labourers/farm workers or similar - and everything in between. Many middle-aged and even elderly women bringing food and sandwiches...offering verbal support. A front line of 'fighters', but a many, many just behind them, a reserve of some sort, offering moral and material support.

I suggest this is most significant because those who are prepared to resist come from a wide spectrum of society..Many are from Kyiv, but there are many from all parts of Ukraine..some are probably adrenalin junkies...But agents of some mystical 'foreign power? Hardly...No-one does this sort of thing except out of idealism.

Younger people, those born just be fore or just after Ukraine's declaration of independence, even those from Eastern Ukraine seem to have some sympathy with the protesters, maybe it's just a generational rebellion thing, perhaps anti-authoritarianism of the young, even if they are, in principle pro-Yanukovych...

Protesters captured by the police or Berkut have been systematically severely beaten by groups of law enforcement personnel, and in a couple of cases, killed. There have been dozens and dozens of victims. Some observers explain this as follows: Joint participation in such dreadful activities cements police solidarity. These is a classic tactic of criminal and mafia gangs for guaranteeing loyalty.

Many of the hundreds of injured protesters are being denied medical treatment or are being systematically whisked away from hospital wards by Berkut troops. They are then maltreated, locked up or released. Hospitals are surrounded by Berkut troops in buses waiting to pounce. Doctors are being ordered not to sign in the injured for treatment.. The field hospital on EuroMaidan with its red cross flag markings was trashed by Berkut today and volunteer medical staff  injured. One doctor was shot with rubber bullets.

Civic activist Ihor Lutsenko and a colleague who has subsequently been found dead were kidnapped  from a clinic by a by a 'death squad' of about 10 law enforcement personnel in front of hospital staff yesterday. Lutsenko was beaten up, a bag placed over his head..and he was left in a forest near Kyiv after being told 'to say his prayers'.. His colleague was murdered. Many injured protesters are refusing to go to clinics and hospitals because they fear the consequences.

Shell cases scattered over the ground on Hrushevsky Street indicate that weaponry banned by international conventions is being employed.

In credibly, 42 journalists have been injured so far on Hrushevsky Street, many working for foreign mass media. Some have been shot or beaten up by 'titushky'. It is pretty clear they are being singled out for special treatment. Some no longer bothering to wear hi-viz press jackets for safety.

With all the talk of sanctions and seizure of foreign bank accounts belonging to Ukraine's leaders, there are rumours that not that much cash is actually stashed abroad. The Lazarenko case makes Yanukovych and his pals wary. There are probably huge stashes of cash/gold/gems etc. in Ukraine - which partly explains the extreme paranoia of Yanukovych and co. Most bribes are paid in cash...there have been credible reports over the last years that car loads of cash are being regularly delivered to Kyiv from the provinces and from customs crossing points..Yanuk just loves his gold bathroom fittings and toilet, vast chandeliers, marble massage tables..

There is no sign that violence will subside any time soon. Both sides of the conflict are resolute in their positions. Social media are filled with names and addresses of Party of Regions leaders. I shudder to think what will happen if more protesters are killed. This is the start of a revolution... Is it legitimate? Will it succeed? I'll leave the reader to decide because no-one knows..

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