Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
June 19th’s meeting at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine turned into clashes with law enforcement bodies. Miners, military pensioners, Chernobyl victims, and Afghan veterans gathered outside the parliament and demanded the adoption of social laws.
The miners also demanded the allocation of 6 billion hryvnia for the development of the coal industry. Speeches were made by representatives of public organisations and the People’s Deputy Sergey Kaplin.
“The truth lies in the fact that over 27 years you – Afghans, Chernobyl veterans and other ordinary people – as is said in slang, are being shafted,” said the deputy.
He called for a protest according to the “Armenian scenario” – the main roads in the country must be blocked, headquarters should be created in regions, and a tent town should be established in front of the Verkhovna Rada.
The protesters gathered a delegation, which entered the parliament, but from standing on spare a part demanded more active actions.
They broke through the cordon, then clashes with the police begun. The police managed to restrain the protesters, but several people received slight injuries.
According to the member of the “OUN” group [a Banderist formation similar to “Right Sector” – ed] Bogdan Osinsky, the protest action of veterans of the Afghan war and victims of the consequences of the catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is a “separatist sabbath”. He stated this on his blog. The militant called them soldier-internationalists, separatists, and “pig-old farts”.
“And why aren’t these separatist bastards of Kaplin beaten with truncheons and sprayed with gas, as they do to nationalists? Or it is permitted to use truncheons and gas only against nationalists, and not for their own pig-old farts? Why don’t they disperse this sabbath of KGB members and Soviet occupiers (so-called soldier-internationalists) outside the Verkhovna Rada?” wrote Osinsky.
The President of the Center for System Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko commented on how the protests will develop before the presidential elections in Ukraine and what line of behavior the government will choose.
About the connection between the protests and the presidential elections…
“The presidential elections are still far away. If to consider these protests as the threshold of the presidential elections, then the elections should be held ahead of schedule. In any case, 9 months must pass if not to take into account that a second round is possible. That’s why I wouldn’t link these protests with the eve of the presidential elections.
If we talk in principle about the situation that developed in Ukraine, so there is a struggle for power regardless of the presidential elections. It is clear that the protests of different segments of the population will be stimulated in the first place by Poroshenko’s opponents — after all, he is the current President. It is clear that this is not in his favor, but in favor of his opponents.”
About the measures of the authorities in relation to the protesters…
“What measures will the authorities take in relation to the protesters? I think this will depend on the protests themselves, because of course there will certainly be attempts to to drag them into a standoff and harsh quelling. But this isn’t beneficial for the authorities, because they are unpopular. Dispersing the marginals with truncheons when the people support you is one thing. But when you yourself are marginalised and the people are against you, then acting with force becomes risky.
I think that firstly the government will try to ignore the protests — ‘well, they came, expressed their outrage, and dispersed’. In some places the will use use force if it is justified, from the point of view of if the meeting went beyond what is reasonable (when windows start to be smashed, for example) — where it is clear to the layperson.”
About the influence of the number of protests on the government’s actions…
“This will depend on the number of protests. If there will be 1000, 2000 or 3000 people, then it’s not a protest. You understand yourself that such protests in Moscow would lose on Tverskaya Street. Kiev, of course, is smaller, but nevertheless they will still lose. They can create some kind of crowd outside the Verkhovna Rada or the Cabinet of Ministers, but this is not a protest in terms of the stability of the government.
If stronger protests take place exponentially, and at least tens of thousands of people will come to the streets, then I think that the government will try to stop these protests with some concessions and negotiations, to cede something or promise something.
When the electoral campaign starts – approximately since the winter – these protests should fade to zero, because the main political forces will switch to a specific election campaign. At this time they will need to win in the elections, and not stage fight in the streets.
But there is almost almost 6 months ahead during which it is possible to try to shake the authorities and to do some damage with the help of technologies. I don’t know to what extent they can gather a big a crowd on the street. If to rely on Ukrainian labor unions, then these are guys who are just names on a list.”
About the composition of participants of rallies in Ukraine…
“The mass protests that took place in Ukraine were paid by this or that side. I.e., roughly speaking, the main mass of extras at the meeting was hired, which was joined by interested persons or just passing gapers. But it is the paid extras who always occupied the main place.
This depends on a financial resource and on whether your extras will be re-hired, because in 2010-2012 in Ukraine it often happened that at first there were extras who protested against the authorities, and then they handed back the flags and banners, crossed the road, took other flags and banners, and started supporting the authorities. So here everything will depend on the financial resource that will be thrown at these protests.”
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