Monday, 06 January 2014 17:42


UKRAINE’S anti-government protests are lumbering into their seventh week, with no breakthrough in sight. The crowds on central Kiev’s Independence Square, dubbed Maidan, have shrunk. Participants insist that that is just because of the Christmas holidays (Orthodox Christmas falls on January 7th). But fatigue and a sense of futility are surely also part of the reason. Viktor Yanukovych, the president, is sitting on a comfortable parliamentary majority and a financial assistance package from Russia that will last him through to the 2015 elections with no need for painful reforms.

Put like that, the situation seems rather bleak. But wander around the protest area and you are swiftly reminded how astonishing, enchanting and also perplexing it all is. Whatever the eventual outcome, this is an event that has marked the lives of thousands of people and transformed Ukrainian civil society.

Hundreds of anti-government activists are still sleeping in tents on Maidan and Kreshchatyk Street. There is a constant supply of wood for heating. Many of the tents were provided by opposition-run local authorities in western towns, who...Continue reading

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