Why Are There Protests In Ukraine?

by
Owen Poindexter
The protests in Ukraine, which claimed their first lives on Wednesday, began with a straightforward demand: that Ukraine join the European Union.

ukraine, ukraine protests, european union
The protests in Ukraine have lasted over two months. PHOTOS: Wikimedia Commons

The protests in Ukraine, which claimed their first lives on Wednesday, began with a straightforward demand: that Ukraine join the European Union.

The Backstory

The E.U. and Ukraine had been gradually sidling up to each other, preparing for Ukraine to eventually join the European Union. A large step was achieved in this in 2012, when Ukraine and the European Union signed a deal that would allow for free trade between them and codify certain political relationships. However, before that treaty was ratified, Ukraine had to address certain humanitarian concerns to win the E.U.’s approval. This included changes to Ukraine’s electoral system and the release of political prisoners.

The Trigger

Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych pushed the Ukrain parliament to meet the E.U.’s demands, but they refused, rejecting six motions to allow imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to receive medical treatment. That happened on Nov. 21, 2013, and Ukranians reacted with spontaneous protests, centered in Kiev, the capital.

The Protests

The Ukraine protests have since expanded, with many calling for the resignation of President Yanukovych. The government has cracked down on protestors, sending in police with riot gear on many occasions to disperse. On the weekend of Dec. 1, Kiev had between 400,000-800,000 braving the cold to call for European integration and a new government.

Recent reports state that at least 4 protestors have been killed in clashes with the police. A leader of the opposition met with President Yanukovych on Tuesday. The two sides may be anxious to make a deal before the protests turn into an all-out civil war.

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