OK SO WHAT’S HAPPENING IN UKRAINE RIGHT NOW??? (a summary)
Remember the Ukrainian protests from back in December? To recap, they happened because President Viktor Yanukovych stopped talks with the European Union in November 2013 (which basically meant he wanted Ukraine to have more of Russia’s influence instead of Western Europe). A lot of Ukrainians were displeased because they were scared of a return to Soviet-style repression in Ukraine. More importantly, they had hoped that the EU would bring Ukraine politically and economically closer to the west, which would open up more opportunities for workers.
BUT THEN JANUARY 16 HAPPENED, when Yanukovych backers ran some pretty serious restrictions of speech, press, and assembly through Parliament (things that we as Americans consider basic rights because of the 1st amendment). Like, you can be imprisoned for taking part in protests or “spreading extremist propaganda,” defendants are no longer required to be present in court to be imprisoned, there’s a ban on helmets during protests, libel is criminalized, and they’re censoring media and social networks along with a bunch of other freaky stuff. It’s pretty serious and there’s a lot of intense police brutality and violence going on amidst the protests. The main leaders of the opposition right now are Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former boxer Vitali Klitschko, and I think they’re in talks with Yanukovych about the future of Ukraine’s leadership as of yesterday. Basically, shit’s going down.
I recommend this for a more detailed summary (but still easy to understand) (also just fyi this was written after the december protests, so it doesn’t cover more recent events): “What the Hell’s Going On in Ukraine, Explained” (Gawker)