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The nature of Euromaidan


Euromaidan. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov.

29th November 2013 should have become a historic date for Ukraine, as on this date this country planned to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. It took years to get prepared to this event! But, on November 21 (i.e., 8 days before the event) the Ukrainian government suddenly made a decision to postpone the signing… This ended up with massive protests all over Ukraine, which got the name Euromaidan (translated as “euro-square”).

They say, that people on the Euromaidan stand for a faster integration with the European Union… But, it’s not so simple! No one officially refused the integration, actually – it was just postponed. And even if the integration was started right away, it would take years to give the real effect… So, what’s the point?

The backstory

EU set multiple preconditions for the Agreement to be signed. All they were related to reforms, that EU believed were needed to be made in Ukraine. Mostly these were laws, which should have been passed before the Agreement can be signed. These laws were aimed, mostly, to improve the democracy in the country. And most of them were passed long before the Euromaidan started. One of the preconditions was about the selective justice. No law was required for this one – EU just wanted political prisoners to be released (yes, we have political prisoners in Ukraine)! And one of these prisoners – former Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko – was actually released. But not the other one…

Yulia Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of the Orange Revolution (which is often named Maidan), that took place in 2004. After that she served as a Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Back in 2009, at the beginning of the year, while she was the Prime Minister, the gas for Europe got cut off by the Russian company Gazprom. The official reason for the cut-off was declared, that Ukraine was stealing gas, which was intended for Europe and which passed through the Ukrainian gas transportation system. In fact, this happened because Ukraine had not yet negotiated the price for the gas with Gazprom and the latter stopped supplying gas for Ukraine. Yet still Ukraine needed to withdraw a part of the gas (so called “technical gas”) to be able to pass the European gas through the transportation system (i.e., Ukraine had no other choice)…

Anyway it became a huge political scandal. The problem was especially complicated because Gazprom requested a groundlessly high price for Ukraine (the highest for Europe, actually, while Ukraine is the closest country of the Europe). It was clear, that this was a political price – the answer of Russia to the Orange Revolution, which did not let the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych (yes, the Viktor Yanukovych) to become the president. So, under the high pressure from both sides – from EU and Russia – Tymoshenko was trying to negotiate the price for several weeks and, finally, gave up by accepting the price, Gazprom wanted. Certainly, probably, due to the pressure, she did this with some minor infringement of the procedure (what just happens sometimes to everyone). And this infringement was later used to file suit against her.

I, personally, don’t believe, that Yulia Tymoshenko is a good opposition politician. I also don’t believe, that she did nothing, that worth taking her into prison! But this particular case is definitely political. So, naturally EU requested to release her for the Agreement to happen.

The theatrical case of Yulia Tymoshenko

But, she has not been released… No, this did not become the reason for the Agreement signing to be postponed! But this witnesses, that people, who controlled the process of Tymoshenko release, most likely, did knew, that the Agreement could be postponed. At least, this would explain the theatricality of the release process.

From the very beginning EU wanted Tymoshenko to be amnestied, but Ukrainian statesmen were finding many reasons, why they could not do this. Thus, Viktor Yanukovych (the president) claimed, that his electorate would not forgive this to him. So, for a long time Ukraine was looking for the “best” way to do this…

Being in prison Tymoshenko got a severe disease. She was receiving treatment in the Ukrainian health care system for more than a year with no (or not enough) result… Having understood, that Tymoshenko would unlikely be amnestied, EU decided to ask just to let Tymoshenko get treatment abroad – somewhere, where she can recover (e.g., in Germany). It was, in fact, much more easy to achieve and Yanukovych as well as many other Ukrainian statesmen promised to do this. This required passing an additional law, that would allow prisoners to take treatments abroad. Simple as that! But it appeared to be impossible too…

The majority of deputies in the Ukrainian Parliament (named Verkhovna Rada) belongs to the Party of Regions – the party of Viktor Yanukovych. During weeks till 21 December 2013 this party refused to accept any such law! The opposition suggested up to 10 different revisions – the Party of Regions was always finding “something wrong” while they had not suggested a single own revision.

The “work” on the Tymoshenko law attracted the attention of many Ukrainian people, which were eager about signing the historical Agreement with EU. All of them got the feeling, that Yanukovych and his party did not actually want to sign the Agreement. But till the last day many of them hoped, that this was just a game to release Tymoshenko in the very last moment. Finally, on November 21 the government made the decision to postpone the signing and the “work” on the Tymoshenko law got stopped right away…

The economic crisis

The prospects of signing the Agreement with EU produced a negative reaction from Russia. Ukraine is historically within the interests of this country. Thus, the Russian president Vladimir Putin is believed to plan reuniting former USSR countries into a new union. So, Russia did not want to let Ukraine go for EU. Therefore, as the signing became closer Russia decided to limit the export of Ukrainian products to it, explaining this by preparations for protecting their market against EU products (they claimed to believe, that EU companies would try to sell their products as Ukrainian ones to Russia). Certainly, this struck the Ukrainian economy. The commodity circulation between our countries went down dramatically causing severe financial issues…

Also, long before Ukraine decided to postpone the signing of the Agreement, Russian mass media started to allege, that Ukraine is going for a severe economic crisis by joining the EU market (as Ukrainian manufacturers would not be able to compete with European ones). Naturally, the Ukrainian government refuted this… It was also known, that Ukraine was negotiating with IMF about receiving a financial aid. The Ukrainian government claimed, that they don’t expect the EU Agreement to help them receive this aid…

Finally, on 21st November 2013 plans to sign the Association Agreement with EU in Vilnius were postponed by the Ukrainian government due to severe economic issues experienced by Ukraine at the moment. Officially, Ukraine took a pause to improve the economy! Among the reasons for the pause the Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov named: a) trade issues with Russia (which were made by Russia) and b) inability to receive the financial aid from IMF!

This way it was suddenly revealed, that Ukraine is about to enter the economic crisis and Ukrainian people had no idea about this till November 21!

So, what caused Euromaidan?

Having read the above do you still believe, that Euromaidan stands just for a faster integration with EU?.. To some extent people of the Euromaidan do stand for this!.. They do this despite the statement of the government claiming, that this will cause severe issues to the Ukrainian economy! Isn’t it odd?.. But, on the other side, what are reasons to trust the government?!. Remember, some time ago the government assured, that the economy is ready for EU? Later, they say it is not! Some time ago they assured, that they did not expect the Agreement to help them gain the IMF aid! Now they claim, that inability to get the aid is one of the main reasons for the pause! They promised to let Tymoshenko get the treatment abroad… But they did not!

In fact, the Tymoshenko story indicates, that far before November 21 Ukrainian statesmen were aware, that they could refuse to sign the Agreement in Vilnius! This means, that they just did not want Tymoshenko to be released while they are unsure. This story also proves, that the government and the president were “playing” with people and EU. It demonstrates, that neither the government nor the president can be trusted! And that’s the thing, which made Euromaidan!

People on the Euromaidan just want to be sure about the future of Ukraine! They want to be able to trust the government and the president of their country! They want to be sure, that Ukraine is going for EU! And at the moment no one in Ukraine can be sure about this… So, the real reason of Euromaidan is the loss of confidence!



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