Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
“Oh, but it is not Maidan at all… Don’t even compare it to Maidan… What Maidan? In 2013 it was a people’s protest, and now a small bunch of paid activists gathered”. You can now hear similar mantras from the lips of Ukrainian experts on various TV channels in both Ukraine and Russia.
Yes, when you now watch the footage in Kiev from autumn 2017, you involuntarily start comparing it to the almost identical footage from December, 2013. Well, just maybe back then there was already snowfall, and now the autumn foliage still turns yellow. At first sight the comparison is not in favor of the current protest action — it is smaller, there isn’t such enthusiasm, and there are no regional actions in support of the one in Kiev. But this is only at first sight.
Those who try to underestimate the level of the present Maidan compare it not to the initial stages of the actions that occurred 4 years ago, but to their apotheosis. And by the way, nearly word for word the theses that sounded from the lips of supporters of Yanukovych are repeated. After all, they also at first condescendingly mocked the thin opposition rallies and also had the basis for this. Especially considering that fact the fact that the actions back then were even less crowded than the present ones.
Many simply already forgot that Maidan in 2013 started not with mass meetings, but with the modest action of activists in the night of November 22nd. They gathered on the appeal of the then journalist Mustafa Nayyem. Yes, yes, the same one who, according to the same textbooks of methodics and the same templates, gathers also the current protests being a Deputy.
And then there were some tents on the central square of Kiev. Moreover, they were also much less than now. And the first test of forces of “activists”, who then became the “Maidan self-defense force”, happened on November 24th, when an unsuccessful attempt to storm the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine was made. It is now that endeavours are made to not mention this episode, starting the story of violent clashes from the night of November 30th, when “Berkut“ dispersed the already absolutely-thawed protest action and removed those 5–6 tents that still remained on Maidan. And after this the action already started accruing.
Like now, already during the first hours of the protest action of 2013 guys with spears with shields appeared. They had yellow bandages around their arms with the characteristic “wolfsangel” — a symbol of neo-Nazis, which is now quite officially flaunted on the banners of the “Azov” battalion…
As you can see, there is a lot in common. And now we will talk about the differences.
The essential difference is in the fact that it’s not the youths from the fan club of “Dynamo” Kiev – who have behind their shoulders only the experience of street fights or training in sports centers of the neo-Nazi organization “Patriot of Ukraine” – who came to the current Maidan. Now the “Maidan self-defense force” are the militants of the “Donbass” battalion [a UAF formation; not related to the Republics in any way – ed], who passed through war and who obviously have not only spears and pots on their heads. Moreover, judging by what statements are made by some field commanders, who nowadays have the certificates of People’s Deputies, it isn’t excluded that also a number of other battalions, which are well armed with the help of these same authorities that they are ready to overthrow, will also join the protests.
And the tasks of the current Maidan includes precisely the overthrow of the power of Poroshenko. However, talk about the eternal topic connected with the cancellation of parliamentary immunity and anti-corruption courts, as you understand, is just a smoke screen, just like the talk about the need to sign the Agreement with the EU in 2013.
The former speaker of Rada Vladimir Litvin was right, who stated: “The main aim of the action is obvious — early elections. There is only one question — in what format: firstly parliamentary, and then presidential, or integrated. In another case the events, unlike 2013-2014, will develop quickly and bloodily”.
The current authorities perfectly understand this. Otherwise it wouldn’t be afraid of such actions. When Maidan-2013 started, Yanukovych didn’t pull together such a number of law enforcement officers in the center of Kiev and didn’t especially reveal a howitzer near the building of parliament (when someone tells you that in such a special way the arrival of the President of Malta was celebrated, simply try to find footage of any cannons during the arrival of any world leader to Kiev — you won’t find any). And the fact that Poroshenko instantly introduced in parliament two bills in pursuance of the demands of this Maidan also says that all of this is perceived by him not so lightly as it is presented by his speakers on the airwaves. If these actions of the President aren’t connected with a Maidan, what prevented him from introducing these bills earlier?
No, of course, it doesn’t follow from this that the arising Maidan is doomed to success and Poroshenko will surely lose. One more essential difference from the events of 2013 is the absence on the streets of ambassadors of western States, allegedly protecting “the freedom of peaceful assemblies”. If back then they nearly walked at the head of the columns, angrily declaring that the authorities “must remove law enforcement officers from the city”, then now we don’t see them there, just like we don’t hear appeals aimed at Poroshenko to clear Kiev of the National Guard. If the current protest actions don’t receive from the West at least moral support (Soros will take care of the material one), the organizers will hardly be able to count on success.
And the West is obviously confused. With the presence of the mass of western correspondents at the place of events (this is visible in their photos on Twitter), the main media, which nearly conducted direct reporting from the first hours of Maidan-2013, bide their time. There are neither bright photos on the front pages of European newspapers, nor angry headings stating that the President of Ukraine must go. At best – little notes about new protest actions in Kiev are made, and the majority of newspapers didn’t even pay attention to them.
The reserved silence of Yulia Tymoshenko, who always tries to adjust her sails to the wind, testifies to the fact that the action that started this week near the walls of the Verkhovna Rada isn’t yet doomed to success nor to defeat. She doesn’t hide her presidential ambitions, she has long tried to achieve and prepare for early elections, her slogans don’t differ in anything from the slogans of Maidan-2013. However, the attempt to come to an agreement with Saakashvili, undertaken by her during his epoch-making “border breakthrough”, wasn’t crowned with success. Tymoshenko bides her time and in the event of a successful development of the protest, will try to do everything to use it in her own favor.
Finishing this comparison, it is possible to draw the following conclusions. Yes, the Maidan of October-2017 still didn’t reach the level of the Maidan of January-February, 2014, and it’s not a fact that it will reach it. Nevertheless, the initial stage of Maidan-2017 looks much more prepared and serious than it was at the initial stage of a Maidan-2013. And that’s why it can end also with a new coup.
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