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December 2, 2013

Ukrainians Blockade Government Buildings to Protest Failed E.U. Deal


Demonstrators have taken to the streets of the Ukranian capital Kiev to protest the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, who they see as blocking progress.

Yanukovych recently walked away from a free trade agreement with the European Union (E.U.) under pressure from Russia. The agreement would have been an essential milestone towards full E.U. membership. While the Ukraine has long been pulled between western and eastern influences, polls show more than 50 percent of citizens would now like to get closer to Europe.

The protesters intend to paralyze the government by blockading the Cabinet of Ministers’ headquarters, an effort that so far seems to have worked.

“We have to block entire streets, the streets behind us also, to make sure that not even one official will get to their office,” said one protester.

These demonstrators have been empowered by the memories and failed promises of the Orange Revolution, which led to Mr. Yanukovych’s ouster from office and a rerun of suspect elections nine years ago.

The already toxic situation has been made worse by heavy-handed police, who have used tear gas, baton charges and stun grenades on protesters, who have responded by throwing rocks. The clashes have caused dozens of injuries on both sides, with no solution in sight.

Warm up questions
  1. Where is the Ukraine located?
  2. Who are its allies?
  3. What is the European Union (E.U.)? What are the risks and benefits to being part of the E.U.?
Discussion questions
  1. Why do you think Russia has put pressure on the Ukraine not to join the EU?
  2. Based on the role of the police in the protests what kind of freedoms do you think the people of Ukraine do or do not have? *Hint: Think of the Amendments to the Constitution.
  3. Do you think that Russia’s President’s plan to scold the Ukrainian protesters by placing economic sanctions on the country will work?  Why or why not?
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