The political conflicts in Ukraine are not something new. They didn't come up on the radar of American media until they reached a serious level of violence. However, the political dynamics of a tug of war between East and West have been going on since the Orange Revolution of 2004. There are indications that one factor of increasing significance in the escalating violence is the organizing influence of far right militants.
The Ukrainian authorities and their allies in the Kremlin identify the source of the increase in violence as extremists and terrorists, the young militants of sometimes sinister, far-right political affiliations with ideologies formed in the struggle against Polish and Soviet domination. They have provided much of the front-line muscle in increasingly bloody clashes with the police.Revolutions are not logical, orderly and stable processes. History has many instances of movements which began with democratic aspirations being taken over by authoritarian radicals. The most famous instance being the takeover of the Russian revolution by the Bolsheviks. More recently we saw something similar in Eygpt. The movement to oust Mubarak seemed to be initiated by western oriented secularists. Yet the Muslim Brotherhood was able to gain control of the new government and it all fell apart.
But there are thousands of other protesters who, like Mr. Chontorog, are late converts to militancy, who say they believe that the government has left them with no other choice by deploying so much lethal violence itself. On Thursday, a few antigovernment protesters could be seen carrying weapons. But with reports that the police have killed more than 70 demonstrators, most of the gunfire clearly came from the other side of the barricades. The interior minister reported that 29 police officers had been taken to the hospital and 67 had been captured by the protesters.
Nonetheless, the murky nature of the opposition gathered in Independence Square, at least on its fringes, is causing problems for the United States and the European Union, which would prefer a neat apposition of peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators versus the thuggish kleptocracy of President Viktor F. Yanukovych. But that line of thinking often blurs in the streets.
Putin has been actively meddling in Ukraine politics for the past 10 years. The present crisis was triggered by his attempt to disrupt an affiliation with the EU. The nations of the EU and the US have made their attempts to influence internal political events. It is a situation that has been messy for a long time. It is not a nice made for TV easy plot.
As of today there is a new deal between the protesters and the existing government with a promise of early presidential elections. There was also a deal earlier this week which fell apart. There are definite indications that the violence is not being initiated solely by government security forces. Will the new deal hold? That remains to be seen. Ukraine has made repeated attempts to create a stable elected government. It hasn't worked so far.