At least two protesters were killed this week in clashes with police, and protesters seized government offices in scores of cities in the pro-Western part of Ukraine. The two-month-long crisis turned violent after the passage of anti-dissent legislation.
“That obviously did not sit well with those that have been spending many cold nights out protesting,” says Rebecca Cruise, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies and an expert on international security and political participation. “These things often feed upon themselves. We hear stories of old men handing rocks to protesters that are then throwing them.”
At a meeting with religious leaders Friday, President Viktor Yanukovych vowed that a special parliament meeting next Tuesday will push through changes to the Cabinet, grant amnesty to dozens of jailed activists and change harsh-anti-protest legislation, the Interfax and other news agencies reported.
Cruise says European Union leaders and the United States have condemned the violence, even though deeper-seeded unrest stems from Ukrainian leaders looking away from the West, and more toward Russia.
“The U.S. has in fact said they're going to take away some visas from Ukrainian citizens,” Cruise says. “Russia on the other hand has said they'll come in and stabilize the situation. And it's anyone's guess right now where this is going to go.”
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