… And thank goodness for that, because I’m a total chicken.
On Friday night, out for dinner with the usual crew, someone told me, “Oh. Did you know Ukraine is on the verge of a civil war? Apparently.”
Well, apparently I didn’t know. And my experience of Ukrainians is that they’re enjoying the premature summer a little too much to get their feathers ruffled about a potential civil war.
But, as it turns out, there was quite a bit happening in political circles. So much so, that when I logged on to my usual (Australian) newspaper sites on Saturday, lo and behold! There are articles about Ukraine’s burgeoning civil war. In Australian papers. And as the lead story on BBC.
Hmm. Obviously I wasn’t seeing this action, despite walking, on Saturday, through Maidan Nezaelezhnosti (ooohhh, sound familiar?), AKA Independence Square, which is the favourite place for protesters to gather.
So. Let me just sum up what’s been happening in Ukraine in recent months.
- President Viktor Yushchenko dissolves Parliament, claiming MPs who are switching parties to the PM Yanukovych’s government are doing so unconstitutionally. Calls a snap election
- The Constitutional Court spends quite a few weeks, after a couple of false starts, trying to decide whether the President acted constitutionally
- Meanwhile, protesters from around the nation gather in Kyiv, the capital, and wave lots of different coloured flags. Some support the President, some supports the PM
- Oh yeah, the PM and President are from totally opposing parties
- In the end, the Constitutional Court decides that Yushchenko was acting constitutionally (I think) and agree to elections
- Oh, they forget to set a date for elections
- Then things get confusing – I don’t really know what happened. The President sacked someone, the Police didn’t agree and so reinstated him, then the President seized control of the Interior Ministry, which runs the Police, then the Army tried to storm Kyiv or something… I don’t know, it all happened in the space of 48 hours…
- And now Yushchenko has come out and says the international media was creating a beat-up of the whole thing.
Meanwhile, what was I doing today while the political crisis played out? I got on a super-crowded metro train, went across to the island, got caught in a thunderstorm and got chatted up by a 16 year old musician. Whose loves are beer first, and Ukraine second. Cute.
PS: Doing the rounds, here are some other people’s versions of events, and I’ll add more as I see them…