Playing Chicken in Kiev
December 9, 2013 10 Comments
Why you should pay attention to Ukraine–and the surprising resolve of protesters–who have been resolute in the largest protest there since the Orange Revolution:
The true surprise — and one that should inspire democrats around the world — is the spontaneous and spirited resistance of Ukrainian civil society to this about-face. For more than a week, Ukrainians have been protesting in the Euromaidan, and in front of government buildings throughout the capital and across the country. They have done so in miserable winter weather and in the face of police brutality.
What is important about the demonstrators is their certainty that democracy matters, and that it can be made to work. That’s remarkable, because this is 2013, not 1991, or even 2004, when the Ukrainian Orange Revolution prevailed, and then sputtered.
Democracy and independence are no longer shiny imports. Ukrainians have enjoyed some version of both for more than two decades; nine years ago, starting with protests in the same square, they succeeded in getting the democracy and the independence-minded president they wanted.
At the same time, by forcing Ukraine to chose between Russia and Europe, Nicolai Petro argues that this essential country weakens its ability to play the “bridging” role that it inherently possesses and has performed in the past.