Have you ever played that old Nintendo game, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a timeless game that is bound to expand your knowledge of the world. The game revolved around chasing a criminal mastermind named Carmen Sandiego across the world based on clues about her last whereabouts. Its a game that I’d recommend everyone, especially children to still play today. In fact, I’ll be kind enough to post a link to it right here.
The reason why I bring up this game is because it is very similar to the situation currently unfolding in Ukraine. On February 21st, President Viktor Yanukovych disappeared, and he is still nowhere to be found. A great deal has unfolded since my last post regarding the protests in Ukraine. So before I make more references to video games from the last century, let me go back in time and explain how we got to this situation.
In my last update on January 31st, I had discussed how President Yanukovych had taken a sick leave while anti-government protesters battled against the Ukrainian winter. The following couple of weeks remained relatively calm as EU and Russian officials were reportedly close to agreeing on a deal to financially aid Ukraine. Minor incidents of violence were reported across the nation but nothing major to effect the general situation.
However, the entire landscape changed on February 18th. When protesters in Kiev advanced on the Ukrainian parliament with the goal of changing the constitution, the police started firing back with both rubber and live ammunition. The violence escalated across the city as the police stormed the main square of Maidan in Kiev and as protesters responded with make-shift weapons. In the ensuing clashes, at least 1,100 people were injured and 26 people, including 10 policemen, were killed. This proved to be the most violent day since the protests started in November. Warning. All the jokes aside, the following pictures and videos are not for the faint of heart. However, they do present the unfortunate reality of what occurred on that day.
My heart goes out to everyone who lost loved ones on that day…
The bloody clashes continued for two more days and it seemed as if Ukraine was on the course of a civil war. Roughly 60 people are thought to have lost their lives over the period. Thankfully, Yanukovych finally turned back from his decision to end the matter with violence and on February 21st, Yanukovych and opposition leaders agreed on a truce and decided to hold early elections in the coming months. Many, including myself, assumed that that would be the end of the protests. I assumed that the opposition got what they wanted and that Yanukovych would gradually secede power. However, the story did not end there.
One of the most important outcomes of Yanukovych’s decision to attempt to end the protests with excessive force was not the protesters response but rather the response of his fellow party members. On February 21st, the army’s second in command resigned, stating that he was outraged that the government had commanded the army to put down the unrest. Then, on February 22nd, parliament released Yulia Tymoshenko, a long-time political rival of Yanukovych, who had been in jail. To finally bring us full circle to where we find ourselves today, on February 22nd, Viktor Yanukovych fled his presidential palace in Ukraine to an unknown destination and on February 23rd, Yanukovych’s Regions Party announced that they would no longer be supporting Yanukovych as he was solely responsible for the tragic events. After Yanukovych bailed and ran for the hills, protesters rushed to his fancy estate in Kiev. The premise was just what you would expect the estate of a corrupt politician with ties to oligarchs to be; overflowing with cash and luxurious goods. My personal favorite is the golden taps in the toilet. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Ukrainian version of Cribz.
Finally, on February 24th, Ukraine’s acting government issued an arrest warrant on Viktor Yanukovych, charging him with the deaths of civilians. This makes the whereabouts of Yanukovych even more interesting as he might now have to evade the very police he was using not so long ago to brutally crack down on protesters gathered to oust him. Reports have stated that Yanukovych might be in Crimea, which lies on the Black Sea coastline of the country and is still one of Yanukovych’s regional powerbases. However, my experience in playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? tells me that he will soon be caught by the police making a dash in a dinky car.
Now, Ukraine must reform and rebuild. The country’s finances are in shambles. Support will now most likely come from the EU or the US as the Russians will not be too fond the new pro Western government that is likely to form in Ukraine. However, Ukrainians must also make sure that this revolution isn’t just a seat change between two parties that are equally corrupt but that it is rather a long lasting message to future governments. The next government of Ukraine must know that acting against the will of the people in favor of personal gains will not be tolerated. Many other countries can learn an important lesson in resilience from the Ukrainians. I commend them for their efforts and urge them to not stop working for more freedom and greater representation.
“The demonstrators in Ukraine will persevere and succeed, or grow tired, cold and fade.”