Is Ukraine headed toward another Orange Revolution? In Kiev, large crowds are protesting the government’s decision not to forge closer ties with the EU. But the protests are not just about Europe: They’re an expression of people’s anger over corruption and lack of democracy.
Metro spoke with Maksym Butkevytch, a veteran human rights campaigner in Kiev who’s participating in the protests.
Metro: Who are the protesters?
Butkevytch: It’s a wide range of groups, including a large contingent from [far-right party] Svoboda. The others don’t mind Svoboda being there, but they don’t agree with them. The government’s decision not to form closer ties with the EU was seen as the government giving in to Russian pressure, and there are many pro-Europeans in the protests. But the overarching theme is really that people are tired of the corruption and lack of democracy here.
I’m told that legislators often don’t even show up to vote, instead letting their colleagues press the vote button for them. Are Ukrainians fed up with politicians in general?
There’s a lot and anger and contempt over MPs who don’t even turn up to vote. And when they vote, it’s often just because the government has told them to. The ruling party has developed a lot of authoritarianism. People are fed up with the social and economic conditions as well, but the protests are about justice.
What will happen next?
There’s a lot of division in [President] Yanukovich’s party. Yanukovich will either try to get more power or resign, which is what the protesters want. People see him as a strongman but also as very corrupt. The scariest option is that he’ll use force against the protesters.