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Revolt in Ukraine: Uprising Challenges Yanukovich Kleptocracy

  dec police

2013-12-28 03:45:38


Audio- Protester  Lyuba City Hall  Dec1 - 21s mp3 Kiev : Updated Dec 25   Did big article on the genesis of this protest here, where I predicted Yanukovich wouldn't sign EU deal- for 3 weeks all signs were bad- apparently he was just playing Russia, EU, and his downtrodden people the whole time.


KIEV:  Ukraine at crossroads between East and West: join the Russian Eurasian Customs Union or sign the EU Association Agreement  and Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) in Lithuania. Incredibly, after 15 years of negotiation, Pres. Yanukovich scotched the deal a week before.'   Maidan Nezheleznesty (Independence Sq) - Nov 24 MH  

-- SECOND TRY AT DEPOSING YANUKOVICH GOVERNMENT     New   Kiev: According to Arseniy Yatseniuk, Opposition forces arrayed against President Victor Yanukovich may be poised for another attempt to remove his Prime Minister and Government in a No Confidence vote in the Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament. The last time on Dec. 3rd, they received only 189 votes, far short of the 226 needed to succeed. - Scoop   Dec 18   NOTE: After the DEAL w Putin, of course, the Communists reneged. ex-Rada Speaker + protest leader Yatsenuk--   -- festive protesters by toppled Lenin ; Kiev is a joyful place; like long-abused wife who finally gets the courage to fight back Dec 8

I predicted the Dec 11 crackdown Tues night-Wed morning to my friends here- it was obvious the Yanumen were fed up with the takeover of Kiev by people whose main purpose was his removal- he will quit when pigs fly, and sadly he has corrupted every authority in the country within his first 8 months in 2010.  Lately he appointed new heads of Constitutional Court and Central Election Commission- who are now 30 year crony's from his time as a Donetsk transport manager. 

Here are some exc. pics of Dec10-11 action from a friends brother.


All following photos + first 2  Copyright 2013-Michael Hammerschlag   Immense barricades to Maidan  5M high Dec13- rebuilt 3 times bigger after police attack destroyed them Dec 11

- Kiev City Hall- occupied since Dec 1 by protesters- Kreschatuk St. Dec 1

Can't see Yanukovich resigning, and he can't use excessive force cause the whole world is watching- EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton lectured him for 4 hours Tuesday, and Assis. Sec. State Victoria Nuland showed the flag and gave breas to the protesters Wed, after Kerry had petulantly snubbed Ukraine + the protesters to send a message to Yanuman on his recent visit. I must say I was impressed with the crazy Svobody fighters holding their own fighting with fully armed riot police, throwing giant paving stones  and wielding bars and cans of tear gas- never ever seen that in any protest anywhere. In America, protesters doing that would probably be killed.      Protesters on Institutskaya who want a clean sweep 12-8 MH UPDATE 12/15: Due to a number of factors, I now believe that attack was staged by gov thugs, so-called provocateurs, because of the extraordinary armament, organization, lack of gov response and fact police run and don't fight back (video), then the savage pounding journos got later. In the video on that page, one guy breaks a long pipe over police heads over 12 blows, and doesn't even get a 1 Mace in the face or baton stroke for his efforts. I first thought they were hard-core Svobody guys (some of whom are thugs), but experiences seeing a Titushki attack (read down) and and fact there are now thousands of these rent-a-thugs in the capital swayed me. NPR report

I interviewed the Vice-Speaker of the RADA (Parliament) Svobody Party Ruslan Loshinsky for 10 minutes, who said violently breaking up these demonstrations "would lead to civil war"- see radio report soon. After protesters resisted police tearing down the Maidan tents + the special forces retaking of the City Hall, protesters rebuilt the torn down barricades, bigger  and better than before, huge 5-7M high triangles of junk, snow bags, frozen water. City Hall was blocked and covered with ice from hoses.

     Vitaly + Volodimir Klitschko on Maidan stage midnight Dec 8 - Questioned Dr. Ironfist Vladimir Klitschko, the great clean hope of Ukraine, but he was doing another interview, then bolted. He is always in a violent scrum, and must fight to get near him, but he is the one guy who might unify this country- he speaks 4 languages, has a doctorate, a clean reputation, knows how to kick ax, and would crush Yanu, but the Rada ruled a nonresident ineligible. He was a German resident for 13 years, Ukr for last 6, but as long as you don't change your propiska (residence permit) in passport, you are an Ukr resident. He has 1 heavyweight championship belt (just gave it UP! -D16) + has never even been knocked down, his brother has 4. If he runs though, with Yanu's total control of all judges and election officials, he'd have to win by 2 to 1 to actually win, why this crowd wants Yanu gone!!!! Klitschko, Tymoshenko Party former speaker Arseny Yatsenyiuk, and Svobody's Oleg Tyagnibok rallied the protesters admirably all night and morning of Dec 11 as thousands of troops converged on the square from 1:30am- temp 10F (-12C)

  - pounding on Lenin statue, Dec 8 - 1 hour after toppled Caught up with the action a half hour after the toppling of Lenin statue Dec 8th (22 years late), where I bulled my way up to concrete wall above it and got great video of guys beating it with sledgehammers, and handing out slivers. The Communists have been guarding it for years, since someone decapitated it, and Vlad needed serious repairs. One city in Ukraine incredibly erected a Stalin statue a few years ago, Zaporizhna, which is just (D14) sending Kiev a special train of 1000-1500 paid gov thugs! If this is happening in the big eastern/southern Russified cities- Donetsk, Kharkiv, Lugansk, Sevastopol, Odessa...  Kiev could become the scene of bloody end of the Wiemar street fights. Protesters in the occupied City Hall Bldg, apparently w aid of some City Councilmen -- Incredible food table in City Hall- unlimited free sandwiches, tea, cookies, cakes. At the occupied Trade Union Bldg on Maidan, where the Press Center is, even at 3am, people are hurtling out the door every minute with full platters of sandwiches, tea, cakes, cheese for the protesters in 10 deg F (--12C) snowy weather. Everywhere the spirit is incredible- festive, congratulatory, open, generous- everything is free. On Wed I almost stopped to buy gloves but didn't want to spend the time- coming out of Metro on Maidan within 10M there was a kiosk with warm clothes- coats, hats, scarfs. "Got some gloves?," I asked and guy threw me a new pair of beautiful warm cloth  gloves sealed in plastic. Price? Nitchivo! Total opposite and I think a joyful counter-reaction to normal dour cheap uncooperative Slavic personality (normal customer service here is: NO!, a packet of McD ketchup is 40c, no free water or milk for tea or coffee in restaurants).  It is similar to the best hippie spirit of the 60's-70's, minus the sloppiness and drugs. Never seen such generosity and good will since we (foreigners) were rich near-gods in heyday of early independence '91-93. "Now you think differently about Ukraine?" said my local friend sarcastically. The organization of the food supply and medical services is better than any military could manage- apparently 30% of the mothers of Kiev are cooking for this protest too and several doctors volunteered, but they admit spending about $80,000 as of Dec 8.   medical supplies in City Hall  The painless takeover may have been helped by insiders on the 120 member City Council- I questioned one of the bigwigs in control of the building- a Deputy of UDAR, who is in charge of the impressive medical services- I got my astronomical BP checked and rapped drug combos. There were only a couple of security guards at the door when the crowd barged in- why defend against a threat that's never happened.

They even brought food, many times to the militsia- police are militarized here under the Internal Ministry; other girls stuck flowers on their shields, to their amusement. It probably helped minimize broken heads. After the vicious battle between police and masked militants Dec 1 in front of Pres. Admin Bldg, Berkut, the fiercest riot police, savagely attacked journalists, sending 40 to the hospital and deliberately breaking their equipment. Maybe 500 paid ($50-62/day) Government thugs, called "sportsmen"  cause of their penchant for cheap Soviet-era tracksuits and Titushki after an identified member,  have been congregating in Marinsky Park near the RADA (Parliament)- they roughed up a few journalists in Nov. On Dec 8th a huge contingent of Svobody fighters (500-800) went to fight them but they reportedly fled. When they attack reporters, police stand by and do nothing, and they are given gov. assistance. Latest reports (14th) are of well over a thousand of them being sent to the capital in a private train from the smallish city Zaporizhna- if they come from Donetsk, Kharkiv, Sevastopol in  sizable numbers- Maidan could see end of the Wiemar-style street fighting; a desperate Yanukovich may do anything to hold power.

There are many stories of government provocateurs- causing violence to give cops an excuse to go crazy, which I always took with a grain of salt- Rukrainians think everything is a conspiracy. But seconds after I took the pic of cops above on Institutskaya, this guy (lf) ran up and punched a cop and bolted, they surged forward like an enraged school of fish (scary when you're 10 ft away), and somehow protesters chased down + tackled this guy, held him, and grilled him under extreme duress. He admits to working for Bureau for State Protection (some Police agency) in this video:  - of capture.  Amazing. I now believe the crazy masked guys fighting the police at the Pres. bldg Dec 1 were provocateurs- fake protesters.

 --police provocateur- fake protestor who does violence so police can go crazy

 One guy drove a bulldozer (video) towards the Pres. gates into the police lines, sure to set off the cops- these photos seems to show the "construction worker" clearing his path was a Berkut officer. Luckily protesters stopped him, but the savage targeted pounding journos (the worst event of this revolt) and the demonstrators received indicates it may have been a setup. According to this NPR report , the troops there were green soldiers without even shields, 1 hour later they brought in hardened Berkut goons who ran amok. From the video on the KievPost page where 100 police run into a bus and don't fight back (find video) while a guy breaks 3M pipe over their heads, I believe they were told NOT TO FIGHT BACK.           One must remember, unreconstructed killers remain in the KGB - SBU now, this is a place where the Pres ordered the "taking care of" of an Internet journalist back (2000) when the Internet was a fringe activity almost nobody had (3%?)- he was kidnapped, killed, and decapitated by high police officials... and much more incredible- the youthful good-looking future President was turned into Machete by a "security service" Dioxan poisoning, and nobody was ever punished.  I must interview one the cops serious injured by gov-sponsored "oppositionists"- they must be thrilled to have their tax dollars paying to hospitalize them. No, forgot- nobody pays taxes.

This entire protest was dying down when Yanu brilliantly sent Berkut to violently disperse the 70-200 protesters huddled around the Maidan tower at 4am on Nov 30. "They moved in like sharks.. and just laid a beating on them.. that's why this mushroomed," says Ukr-US filmmaker Richard Bachinsky Hoover, who witnessed it. With all the camera phones out there, such an outrage is impossible to keep secret or low-key, within hours, protesters were streaming to Maidan- the next day Dec 1 there were as many as 2/3 million packing every street downtown- biggest demos maybe including 2004, a week later on Dec 8th there were also maybe 200-400K people out, with +100K every day, at some point.

Protester beaten by riot police by Pres. Bldg. Dec 1 in Trade Union -- Dec 8 below

DEC 19: Well Yanukovich did it- went and signed a trade pact in Russia for $268 gas and a $15 bill loan on Dec 17-what he gave away isn't clear (maybe ownership of the pipelines, and a hard promise to join the CU, but it is a disaster. If enacted - Ukraine needs the money, it is finished as an independent country. Tragically, the EU said yesterday that they would have come up with $19 billion (then 26b?) over 6 years... but they never told the Ukrainians that. Dec 25: How this will end with a bang or a whimper isn't clear- numbers are clearly reduced, but thousands of ex-resident holiday partiers are coming to town for giant NYE (biggest Holiday where they give gifts)/Christmas (Orthodox-Jan 7) celebrations. Andrei Stranikov, City Councilman presiding over the Occupied City Hall, told me Dec 22, that he "doesn't think the Gov will use force to clear it out," in our 2nd long interview.

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Michael Hammerschlag's commentary and articles ( have appeared in NYT, IHT, Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Hawaii Advertiser, Capital Times, MediaChannel, Modern Photgraphy; Moscow News, Tribune, (more...)             
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