Everything was going just fine – the opposition agreed to leave Kiev City Hall and other key buildings in exchange for the amnesty law being enacted to release prisoners. The prisoners are men and women who were demonstrating for democratic change in Ukraine, not anarchists or terrorists. The opposition withdrew peacefully on Monday, and the government was supposed to respond.
Leaving the buildings was a big concession, because Ukraine remains in the grip of a bitterly cold winter, and those buildings gave more shelter than the tents on Maidan Square. It was a sacrifice, and an act of trust. The Rada was to vote on restoring the 2004 Constitution which is a much more democratic one and which would limit the president’s power. Everything was going great.
Putin agreed to buy $2 billion in Ukrainian bonds, and Yanukovych felt strong enough to crush the opposition with violence. At this writing, 15 are dead, including six policemen. The protesters on Maidan were viciously attacked, and they called on people with guns to come and defend them, and civil freedom. Hunting rifles against Kalashnikovs carried by the police! It is an uneven battle in terms of weaponry. And it is uneven in terms of rights – autocratic dictatorship versus European democracy.
I have been listening to the church services being sung after midnight on the square, by Greek Catholic and some Orthodox. The Greek Catholic Church has been in the forefront calling for respect for people made in the image of God and the granting of civil rights to the population. If this repression continues, the Church is going to suffer. Roman Catholics, Baptists, Ukrainian Orthodox have also participated and called for freedom. The Moscow Patriarchate Church has a mixed record. But Yanukovych already threatened the Greek Catholic Church. Now he will surely come after her if he wins this battle for the future of Ukraine! At 2 am, the Rosary was being recited for a peaceful outcome.
Channel 5 was taken off the air because it broadcast the truth. The Metro was shut down – that traps the protesters on the square. The airport is closed. Cars coming to Kiev are being stopped, searched, turned back.
The Kyiv Post http://www.kyivpost.com/ has a page of current updates from the square in English, and from the political leadership. http://espreso.tv/ has a live camera focused on the square. What will Wednesday bring in Kiev, in the western and northern provinces which have been rising up? What will the West do? What will our government, which seems to have no strong foreign policy, do? God help Ukraine.