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Country Watch


an adversary of former President Yanukovych, was jailed on corruption charges. However, it was widely believed that Tymoshenko’s prosecution and conviction were based on political grounds Tymoshenko has since become a symbol for po- litical unrest and the call for reform. Tymoshenko was released in February of 2014.


In November of 2013, Yanukovych, under pres- sure from Russia, chose not to sign a trade agree- ment with the EU – fully exposing his intentions to steer Ukraine away from ties with its western neighbors. Protests began shortly after. On Janu- ary 17, 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament passed an anti-protest bill introduced by Yanukovych that il- legalized blockading public buildings, disseminat- ing internet slander, and providing facilities for unauthorized meetings. This legislation, widely considered unconstitutional by Ukrainians and outsiders alike, sparked a newfound discontent among protestors.


On February 18, 2014, an estimated 50,000 pro- testors marched toward the Ukrainian Parliament shortly before it was to vote on major constitu- tional reforms. The crowd later sacked and set afire the Party of Regions Office, the party to which Yanukovych belongs. The protests contin- ued to grow, until the Ukrainian government or- dered military force to dissipate the demonstra- tion. Tensions grew quickly on both sides, as both protestors and police officers prepared for violent altercations. Protestors created a headquarters in the nearby Trade Union building, and constructed barriers in and around the square. The Ukrainian government, was allegedly combated protestors with snipers, grenades, and artillery.


In three days of bloody conflict, nearly 100 pro- testors and police officers were killed in Kiev. By February 21, opposition leaders and the president conceded to a peace agreement. The Ukrainian government agreed to re-implement the original 2004 constitution, perform presidential elections no later than December of 2014, conduct an in-


vestigation into government use of violence, and impeach President Yanukovych. Protestors agreed to forfeit illegal weapons and surrender occupied public buildings.


The Ukrainian people have shown the world that they will hold their government accountable for upholding constitutional standards. However, there still remains a large portion of the country that strongly disagrees with EU integration. East- ern and southern regions of Ukraine contain sig- nificant Russian-speaking populations. If Ukraine is to succeed as an integrated and cohesive state, it must work to unify its peoples and their political beliefs.


Days after the reorganization of the Ukrainian gov- ernment, Russia developed a military presence on Ukrainian soil. Within the span of a week, Russia deployed nearly 60,000 troops along the Ukrai- nian border. By March 17, Russia had instituted a referendum and the people of Crimea officially voted to annex to Russia. Mere days before, how- ever, Kiev had labeled the presence of Russian forces in Crimea “an invasion”.


Russian president Vladimir Putin insists that the Crimea referendum was conducted in “full ac- cordance with international law and the UN Char- ter.” Western leaders, on the other hand, do not agree. The United States and other Western pow- ers have already begun to plan economic sanc- tions against Russia and condoning its actions in Crimea.


* Submitted by Joshua Ash Voting Resumes in Thailand Despite Protests


Voting has resumed in Thailand nearly a month after protestors disrupted general elections. On Sunday, March 2, 2014, voters in five different Thai provinces cast their ballots in a re-run elec- tion. Voting was originally scheduled to take place on February 2, 2014 but could not be completed due to protests affecting nearly 20 percent of vot-


ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 4 » May 2014


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