Euromaidan, Kyiv, protests – January 24

FROM MY PAL IN KYIV (who is not the writer of the above tweet). The strong views of what he thinks will happen are his.

January 24, 11pm:

Pretty sure this weekend will decide it. People are flooding into Kyiv and more people in the city than ever are saying they will demonstrate, so there will be big/moderate turnout.

Many people are prepared for battle, there are large stocks of bulletproof vests, petrol bombs around conflict areas.

About 1,000 men must now win or face at least 15 year prison by new laws, but they believe the govt will kill them.

They are prob directly supported by 5,000 activists who are not really violent.

Yanukovych has started handing out medals to militia while resignations by officials have started.

Government is threatening martial law and state of emergency, but it is a bluff as army will refuse to mobilise.

There is a risk of a pre-emptive strike by armed Berkut tonight, as it is probably their last chance, but I do not think that will happen.

On Saturday, or more probably Sunday, I think there will be attacks on all key government buildings and deaths, but I think the opposition will win and govt will collapse.

One thing to think about is that entire Lviv Berkut and interior ministry police have now resigned from duty.

Given that they have weapons and their main skill is fighting, it is worth wondering where they are now – there has been total collapse of government in Lviv and they have no real reason to stay there.

Let’s hope shooting does not start but logic of serious violence now in place. All talks have broken down.

January 24, 3pm:

The ‘truce’ is still in place, with a standoff on Hrushevskogo. Seems to be more camera crews around now, with all major news operations in evidence.

Took a couple of pics from the second line of defence.

There is black grime everywhere from the tyres which were burning for a couple of days, and large sections of paving have been stripped – for the bricks.

You would find it a bit hard to recognise the arched entrance to the Lobanovski football stadium – covered in scorch marks, graffiti, holes punched in it.

Protesters in Kyiv on Friday
Protesters in Kyiv on Friday

A lot of people are saying that some of the Berkut units can’t understand Ukrainian, so must be Russian.

Not sure the Russians would do anything so risky though – imagine the furore, if some hard evidence of it got out.

Perhaps they are non- Ukrainian-speaking Crimeans, or similar.

A lot of the protesters also think that Azarov (the prime minister) is some kind of Russian stooge.

No evidence of any kind of good strategies going on, the recent talks did not produce anything.

If you watch some film you can see that Yanukovych’s body language is absolutely non-compromising, he looks furious.

It might in the end just be a case of Yanukovych and cronies keeping on making mistakes until it sinks them, rather than the Opposition coming up with anything especially good.

You’d hope, though, that evolutionary pressure would push the Opposition into getting faster, more efficient and more creative.

Jan 24, morning

Was talking to some cops last night, some of the ones blocking the streets leading to the Rada, near Bankova.

They are the ones dressed in black riot gear – they are Interior Ministry ‘militia’.

A couple of them spoke a bit of English.

I just said ‘good evening’ to them and they responded, so we started talking.

Tyres in the centre of Kyiv today
Tyres in the centre of Kyiv today

I told them I was against dictatorship and they more or less agreed; asked them how they felt about events and they were saying ‘hope for peace … not very happy …’ etc.

Shows lack of resolve and loyalty, doesn’t it?

I actually started feeling a bit sorry for them in the end, if you put yourself in their shoes they are in a pretty thankless position.

Also cements my idea about the fundamental weakness of Yanu and pals – there are very few people they can rely on; maybe just Berkut (who will realise they are in serious straits if the government falls) and a few people around Yanukovych.

If the Opposition were operating smartly they would be pushing on these weak points – engaging and undermining support for Yanukovych offering clemency to Berkut except for using due process to follow up on reports of live rounds being used to kill demonstrators/abductions and killings (you probably know a few activists have turned up dead in forests).

Once a few Party of the Regions deputies defect or a few groups of cops disobey an order, the government will crumble.

Was talking about engaging with the other side to some of the activists at Maidan.

There might be a bit of a danger that the whole thing will start following the momentum of violence and conflict, which does not need to happen at all and might actually strengthen existing Yanukovych support.

I still think a likely outcome is for Yanukovych’s lot to have collapsed within a week – this weekend might be a big turning point.

Everyone in Kyiv is now interested, and talking about it all the time.

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One thought on “Euromaidan, Kyiv, protests – January 24

  1. Dear foreign journalists! Please make a pressure upon your governments and state authorities. Unfortunately we can see that interest in Europe to the events in Ukraine is decreasing. In case of sanctions against at least one of Ukrainian oligarchs or ministers our way to freedom and democracy will become irreversible. A lot of powerful persons in Ukraine just wait for external signal. Ask (or demand) your governments to provide sanctions!

    Please, we really need your help!

    Free Ukrainian citizen.

    Like

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