Daily Video

January 27, 2014

Protest Riots Spread Across Ukraine

The anti-government protests and riots in Ukraine have spread from the capital Kiev to nearly half the nation. President Viktor Yanukovych offered concessions to protesters, but the opposition movement declared they won’t stop until he steps down from office.

The rallies started more than two months ago, after the president rejected a deal that would have created closer ties with the European Union. The move strengthened ties with Russia, angering those within the country who think Ukraine should break ties with its old Soviet partners  and modernize.

The protests also signal an internal political schism, as protests are only active in the part of the country that did not vote for President Yanukovych in the 2010 elections. Ukraine has a strict dividing line that separates political alliances, as seen in the map created by the Washington Post’s Max Fisher.

Max Fisher/Washington Post

Max Fisher/Washington Post

Over the weekend, President Yanukovych tried to appease protesters by offering to make two opposition leaders prime minister and deputy prime minister, vowing to change the country’s harsh anti-protest laws and amend the constitution to give more power to parliament.

However, the opposition summarily rejected the offer via Twitter in what the Washington Post said, “has to be one of the first (the first?) time[s] an opposition leader in high level political negotiations responded to an offer from the country’s head of state with an “@” post on Twitter.”


Warm up questions
  1. Where is Ukraine?  Which countries surround it? What are some differences between eastern and western Europe?
  2. Demonstrators are currently protesting the government, demanding that President Viktor Yanukovych step down from office. Barricades have been built up and violence has raged on for months: how might Ukraine solve this problem with a diplomatic solution?
Discussion questions and writing prompts
  1. Outline the turmoil in Ukraine. Specifically who is on what side, what do they want and why do they want it?
  2. Why do you think that the protesters refused Yanukovych’s offer to include opposition leaders in his government?
  3. What role has Russia played in Ukraine’s internal affairs both now and before the protests began?
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