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It's just been announced that the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov and his government have tendered their resignation to President Viktor Yanukovych.

This follows the Parliament annulling recent legislation that outlawed protests. Over the past week protests about these laws have become the main focus of demonstrations that spread from the capital, Kiev, to other cities, including in the east of the country where ethnic Russians predominate as a result of policies by Stalin and later Soviet leaders.

The protests were initially sparked by the refusal of Yanukovych to ratify an Association Agreement with the EU in favor of short term loans and the promise of cheap gas from Putin. In geo-political terms both Ukraine and Belarus are now the only buffer states between Russian and the rest of Europe. Putin has been active in interfering with the governments in both former states of the USSR.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hey Mitt, more Putin policy success! nt (14+ / 0-)

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:28:43 AM PST

  •  Impressive. Most impressive. n/t (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, elwior, mrblifil, sap, JVolvo, TofG
  •  they should do this now, with putin on good (27+ / 0-)

    behaviour in anticipation of the olympics in sochi.  No tanks rolling or gas shutoff until mid february

  •  Success, I think. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    Of course, we'd all like to see peaceful, organized, legal transitions of power, but some times that's not available.
    Congratulations to the people of Ukraine, I hope it doesn't turn out (like most revolutions) to be worse for the revolutionaries than the previous status quo.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:07:41 AM PST

  •  Go Ukranians! (5+ / 0-)

    This is a more important story than Justin Beiber's latest antics.  I wish it got more coverage.

  •  out of the frying pan... (6+ / 0-)

    exchanging a corrupt autocrat for neo-fascists and ultra-nationalists with Western corporate backing.

    If there's anything characteristic in this era, it's that one is often forced to flee the devil one knows for a devil one doesn't.

    Heart hopes it ends well; head says it won't. But our media won't tell us if and when it doesn't.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:25:02 AM PST

    •  i happen to have many friends in ukraine who (10+ / 0-)

      oppose the thuggish yanukovich and his putin-balls-licking cohorts...guess what? none of them are neo-fascists or ultranationalists!

      i'm convinced you don't know much about ukraine

      •  Of course (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero

        but there are some nasty elements on both sides in this battle. Who will win is anyone's guess, but I would put money on it being ugly and hard for the citizens of Ukraine as it flushes out.

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

        by kimoconnor on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:00:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed, and the USA had been pushing for this (3+ / 0-)

      type of instability in the Ukraine for years, trying to pull that region away from Russia (taking advantage of natural affiliations of the western side with Europe) for economic and even geomilitary (i.e., nuclear installations by Russia and USA surround the region) reasons, I feel.

      I don't see this as a win or a loss: while Putin is not the most reliable deal-maker around, the incoming Ukranian administration has more than enough on their hands to accommodate EU and USA manufacturing and trade expectations at the cost of their citizens (i.e., shale development, EU union-mandated austerity measures which don't impact the local oligarchs - only the workers, post-independence debt, worsened deals with Russia's Gazprom for cheaper energy, etc.).

      The far-right in Ukraine and groups in the USA such as Heritage Foundation supported a break from Russia and embracing of the EU, which exemplifies how there is no clear "win" in this change, IMHO.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:58:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pat bunny, native, martini, erichiro
        Ukraine is a priority partner country within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1998 provides a comprehensive framework for cooperation between the EU and Ukraine in all key areas of reform.

        A new Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), was negotiated in 2007-2011 and initialled in 2012. On 10 December 2012, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted the Council Conclusions on Ukraine . These affirmed the EU’s commitment to signing the Agreement (including the DCFTA) as soon as Ukraine takes determined action and makes tangible progress towards achieving the benchmarks set out in the Conclusions.

        http://eeas.europa.eu/...

        An important part of those Foreign Policy Council Conclusions is (.pdf):

        The Council recalls the importance of the jointly agreed Association Agenda in preparing for
        a possible future entry into force of the Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Electoral, judiciary and constitutional reforms in line with international standards are integral parts of it and commonly agreed priorities. The Council looks forward to necessary reforms to prepare for establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Sustained efforts are also required to take forward the fight against corruption and public finance management reform, including the broadening of the remit of the Accounting Chamber. The Council calls upon Ukraine to take determined action
        to improve the deteriorating business and investment climate, and in this context welcomes the European Union’s and Ukraine’s intention to launch an informal dialogue with Ukraine on business climate. The Council also stresses the importance of inclusive reforms through
        constructive engagement between Government, parliamentary opposition and civil society.
        So rather than protecting the oligarchs, the Association Agreement and the required steps towards its implementation would have tackled the rampant corruption (and by the way the imprisonment on dubious charges of the opposition leader which has resulted in the factioning of the opposition). It's the oligarchs who wanted the deal with Putin, especially now he is flush with money from the Sochi Olympics kickbacks.

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:32:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't think so (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          limpidglass

          You're quoting a proposed "Free Trade" deal with EU as a rational argument against the local oligarchs gaining more advantage?

          Good grief - that's one of the primary issues I was implicitly referencing which would further bite into the working classes, but perhaps you have rose-coloured glasses about EU trade demands and how growing calls for Ukrainian austerity to meet both trade needs and financial debt obligations will hit everyone except the oligarchs.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:49:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (0+ / 0-)

            I quoted from a statement by the Foreign ministers of the EU countries which made one of the first provisions of the Association Agreement, the "Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area" as contingent on further progress. As part of this, an essential change to the legislation within Ukraine would have to be measures against corruption especially within the government sector.

            There already is a free trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine. These measures would allow further penetration of both markets by the other.  The special Association Agreements are a first step towards Candidate status and Accession (although that is unlikely to happen before the mid 2020s). The Ukrainians would also have to comply with safety and environmental standards as part of adoption of the Acquis.

            What it quite likely would do is to have a considerable effect on the factories in the east which are geared up to produce Soviet era goods for Russia.  The Ukrainians appear to believe that the immediate sacrifice is wothwhile to get from under the yoke of Putin and the Russian oligarchs.

            We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

            by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:45:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, only the western and right-wing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              petral

              Ukrainians seem to believe such - and the oligarchs.  This is a straight-up move towards the same type of EU membership path that we've seen other weakened countries facing.

              Meanwhile, you continue to ignore the debt and austerity measures also in these proposals.  Ukraine is being pulled to one side or another, with not much benefit to the people as a whole, I feel.

              There is no best result from what has come to pass, here.  Still, I did see keeping relations with Putin for energy and other economic/trade needs as the lesser evil of the two.

              "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

              by wader on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 02:20:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  The pro-Russian status quo (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader

        hasn't been great shakes, though.  Yanukovych and his crowd (oligarchs, mafia, etc) are a lesser imitation of Putin and his oligarchs and way of running things.

        The protests are successful to the extent that Yanukovych can be prevented from signing present Ukraine up to Putin's 'Eurasian Union' scheme and implementing the legal and economic conformity/subservience/dependence to Russia that Putin requires.  Caving to Putin on the EAU been the fundamental danger the Yanukovych regime has posed to Ukraine's sovereignty and growth/recovery to prosperity, good order, and competence from the start.  EAU conformity can be reversed, of course, but it would set back reforms and modernization and founding of new companies and industries in Ukraine for a significant number of years.

        The specifics of Ukraine's economic arrangements don't necessarily matter much in the big picture.  Both major sectors- agriculture in the west, coal/steel/gas based industries in the east- are shedding workers and aren't sufficient basis for the aspired to Western-type lifestyle.  
         

        •  The oligarchs have been around since Ukraine's (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          killjoy

          split from the former Soviet Union, of course, and have obviously had dealings+issues with all leaders since.

          Tymoshenko generally came off as a populist, pro-Western/EU leader, yet was caught on internal embezzlement charges.  The major industry towers are a part of their political economic reality for now, and I've seen them described as befitting from any arrangement by this point in time.

          Going fully one way or the other with EU or Russia seems short-sighted, as full-on EU involvement brings its own requirements that are not guaranteed to help a region with more strategic location and some rich lands than manufactured exports:

          . . . The problems are fixable, Ash says, but will require major support from the West, including an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund, which is backed mostly by the U.S. and E.U.

          That assistance, however, would come at a heavy price. Ukraine would need to commit to drastic reforms — slashing state subsidies and social spending while also devaluing the currency — and the effect could be catastrophic for the working class in Ukraine. Similar reforms were used in the 1990s to force the transition from communism to capitalism in Poland, Russia and across the former Soviet Union. Known as shock therapy, these reforms led in most cases to hyperinflation, wiped out people’s savings and caused a spike in unemployment as inefficient firms were forced to shut down. But whatever the damage these changes would bring — not only for Ukraine’s poor but also for Klitschko’s ratings among them — the former fighter says they are necessary. “This may be a painful period,” he admits. “But we have to speak honestly about this. Ukraine’s industry is still stuck in Soviet times, and our products are becoming less competitive every day.”

          The economic model he looks to for guidance is not Russia, which fell back toward an authoritarian command economy in the wake of its shock therapy in the early 1990s, but Poland, which came out of them to become a thriving E.U. member.

          Read more: Ukraine: Vitali Klitschko Leaves Boxing to Focus on Politics | TIME.com http://world.time.com/...

          I never saw sovereignty being threatened by economic deals with Putin - much of that concerned seemed a product of recalling their history.  Of course with Putin, anything goes.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 04:10:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The more I see of the Ukraine revolution... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrismorgan, TofG

      ...the more I suspect that rumors of fascists leading the Ukraine revolution are actually the product of Putinista shills.

      •  if the oligarchs affiliated with Putin (0+ / 0-)

        had seen fit to cut Western corporate oligarchs in on the deal, this revolution would not be happening. Everyone would be just hunky-dory. And instead of our media trumpeting yet another "democratic" revolution, we wouldn't even be hearing about it. It would be mentioned as a local disturbance by a few malcontents on page 20, if it were mentioned at all.

        This has become a battle between two groups of oligarchs--Western and Eastern--over who will exploit the Ukrainians, and over geopolitical advantage. There may be quite a bit of genuine anger at the current regime--that I don't deny. But like the Syrian civil war, this very quickly stopped being local and became a proxy conflict waged by outside forces with a larger agenda. Nothing in this global age remains local for long.

        It's ironic that many people who are staunchly against free trade treaties when the US is a party (e.g. TPP and TIPP), and are very quick to denounce the dangers such treaties pose to American workers, are totally blind to what is going on here.

        The EU and European corporations are salivating at the prospect of concluding a free trade treaty with Ukraine. You don't hear a lot of talk about ensuring political freedom, building sound and lasting institutions of good governance, or ensuring human rights. It's about getting that trade agreement, first and foremost; worry about all that other shit later. I wonder why that is.

        Given the EU's often spotty track record of integrating new members, why are they pushing so hard to quickly integrate a country with political, legal, and environmental standards so different from those of many EU members? And just what kind of integration are they pushing?

        They're again being hasty, and it behooves us to think about why.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:48:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you don't give culture (0+ / 0-)

          and average people enough credit.  There is a very real split along ethnic lines into pro-EU and pro-Russian.

          I'm not fully up on the cultural anthropology, but it doesn't seem to me that ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians are as different as groups of people as the present split has them appear to be.  What I think it's really about is an quite old phenomenon in the Slavic parts of Europe- anti-Westernism.  Ethnic Ukrainians and other ethnic minorities in the western part of the country have- to appearances- substantially concluded to set it aside.  Ethnic Russians in Ukraine are probably a lot more moderate about it than they once were, but it's still real and in part strong among ethnic Russians in Russia.  Ethnic solidarity remains very real in that part of the world, and so Ukrainian resident ethnic Russians feel obligated to assemble under that banner.  And ethnic Ukrainians under the opposite banner.  This although their real difference on the matter as groups probably isn't very large at all.

  •  Is this enough for the protesters? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrismorgan, Heavy Mettle

    I thought they wanted the president gone.  And he's still there.

    ------RM

    •  I highly doubt it. (0+ / 0-)

      Yanukovych pushed too hard, especially with those draconian anti-protest laws.

      If I were in the Ukraine, I'd want him gone.

      And now, with the anti-protest laws repealed, and people resigning, there's blood in the water. I'd keep pushing until Yanukovich is out.

  •  I'm amazed that all of this is happening... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Thinking Fella, martini

    on the eve of Sochi.

    •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thinking Fella

      I'd have a hard time believing the protestors did not take the increased attention into account when they timed their efforts.

    •  it's no surprise; the high-priced Western PR firms (0+ / 0-)

      "advising" the protesters surely know how to stage events for maximum media impact.

      There's a lot of money to be made, and a lot of lucrative business deals to be made in a Ukraine with trade ties to the EU, but without any of the human rights protections the EU (ostensibly) extends to its members. A cheap workforce in an impoverished country with no tradition of unions, with no welfare state, no tradition of democratic governance--in short, a ready-made nation of serfs.

      It's far harder to impose austerity on a populace accustomed to a strong social safety net than to impose uber-austerity on an already destitute populace.

      There is no way that our corporate oligarchs aren't neck-deep in this. This is no #Occupy.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:57:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do wish you would stop this twaddle (6+ / 0-)

        and actually make a comment on something you have properly researched rather than fantasized over.

        Since when does this EU statement

        The Council recalls the importance of the jointly agreed Association Agenda in preparing for
        a possible future entry into force of the Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Electoral, judiciary and constitutional reforms in line with international standards are integral parts of it and commonly agreed priorities.
        do anything you imagine.

        I think the All-Ukrainian Union of Workers’ Solidarity (VOST), the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) and the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU) might like to comment on your remark about trades union.

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:40:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  would those "association agreements" (0+ / 0-)

          be anything like the environmental agreements in the TPP? Statements of good intentions, without enforcement mechanisms?

          The provisional text is here. There's a lot of talk about "cooperation", but very little talk about how such cooperation will be realized or enforced.

          Far as I can tell, the EU and Ukraine can ignore everything stated in Title II and III. There's no consequences for violations.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:13:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh dear (0+ / 0-)

            The aim of Association Agreements of this sort and the ones which will follow formal Candidate status are intended to ensure the country's governance, regulations, environmental standards etc are compliant with the Acquis.

              For the most part the activities involved in "co-operation" are only referred to generally in the Association Agreement because they have already been set out in the Co-Operation and Partnership agreement which came into force in 1998.

            We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

            by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:06:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Might not mean much (5+ / 0-)

    Yanukovych offered Azarov's position to the opposition yesterday, though it was rejected. Its not clear to me at this point if this is a case of Azarov seeing the writing on the wall, or a case of the opposition accepting the deal.

    There really isn't a good solution for Ukraine, with a huge east-west split. Whoever wins has half a country unhappy.

  •  Protests work. That's why the American (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny, xxdr zombiexx, martini

    surveillance police state (unholy alliance between corrupt corporations and a political establishment on the take) freak out every time there is a hint of an organized and sustained protest movement.

    Here in the U.S. nothing but a sustained non-violent uprising is going to turn things around.  Unless and until that happens, the injustices, the oppression, the exploitation, are not only continue apace, but they will get worse and worse with each passing day, affecting more and more people.


  •  $15B, the EU should triple it.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny, high uintas

    ... if it was about just money, then out bid Putin.

    But I think it's more than just that. The people of Ukraine have already had a lifetime of Moscow meddling, and they're saying enough is enough.

  •  won't be enough for those protesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heavy Mettle, jayden

    They want to also get rid of Yanukovych. And they passed more than just anti-protest laws that upset the people that are still in force.

    This will be interesting (to say the least) to watch and see which groups come out on top in the long run.

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:57:50 AM PST

  •  confusing. will EU association be better long run (0+ / 0-)

    since i would seem to have better prospects for 'democracy' vs corrupt corporatization and cronyism/privatization?

    i don't know but i'd have to put my bets on a general european association going in better directions, being more respondent to public democratic pressure - i mean, if it doesn't, what chance is there?

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:37:13 AM PST

  •  Oh good (0+ / 0-)

    Now we get a lovely "pro-Western" Svoboda government?  

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:45:23 AM PST

  •  Putin playing bare knuckles foreign policy (0+ / 0-)

    has backfired on him.
       The same way the U.S. bare knuckles foreign policy backfires on us a lot.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:51:09 AM PST

  •  Good news, I think? (0+ / 0-)

    Nice to see the pro-Russian regime falling.  Now we need to see if the more leftist and moderate elements can keep the ultra right-wing factions in check.  

    "Reality has a well-known liberal bias" - S. Colbert

    by freedom fried on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:58:24 AM PST

  •  Off topic - a pet peeve: (0+ / 0-)

    Can we please stop calling it "The Ukraine"?!?!?!?!

    It's not a territory, it's a country.  UKRAINE.  No "The".  

    Thankfully, we are seeing this less and less (most responsible journalists, it seems, are getting it right nowadays).  But it's still annoying.

    "Reality has a well-known liberal bias" - S. Colbert

    by freedom fried on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:02:35 AM PST

    •  We call it (0+ / 0-)

      the United States, too, for what it's worth.  I understand the sensitivity to the generally unintended implication that it's merely a region rather than a state, but it's been common usage for generations in English, it doesn't change overnight and most of those using this usage have no idea there's any objection.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:59:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I bet when Rand Paul looks in Putin's eyes he (0+ / 0-)

    sees... Well, fortunately, it's highly unlikely that it will ever matter.

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