In November, protests began in the Ukraine after President Viktor F. Yanukovich “negotiated a financial aid deal with Russia” and “declined to sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union.”
The protests intensified in Kiev after “new laws against public assembly” were passed last week, according to Andrew E. Kramer of the New York Times, but there may be more to these laws.
Jonathan Luxmoore of NCRonline reported today,
“Violent clashes erupted Sunday after new laws criminalized ‘slandering’ of government officials and the wearing of masks or helmets at demonstrations.”
The accompanying photo was taken only two days ago, illustrating how violent these protests have become.
Protesters in the vicinity of a clash on Tuesday received a text message from the government saying,
“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”
Kramer wrote that the government has resorted to “telephone technology to pinpoint the locations of cellphones in use near clashes between riot police officers and protesters…”
Sounds creepy. Evidently, the protesters were not intimidated.
Three hours after the text was sent to protesters, “riot police pushed past barricades of burned buses on Hrushevskoho Street near Parliament but were nonetheless met by a crowd of protesters in ski masks and helmets carrying sticks and ready to fight.” The police got as far as a “cobblestone-throwing catapult built by protesters” before dismantling it and retreating.
Unbelievably, the opposition leaders allege that the government has been busing in “soccer hooligans and unemployed men” to wreak havoc amongst the protesters
“to provide a proxy force of street muscle to intimidate protesters and darken the image of the movement by inciting violence.”
Of course, one must consider the source. It is unlikely that “opposition leaders” would embrace violent thugs in their own movement, just as the Occupy movement distanced themselves from the violent “black bloc” within their movement.
Luxmoore wrote that Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych pleaded with protesters to “stop the bloodshed.” Shevchuk said Ukrainian Catholic bishops and priests should “watch over the souls entrusted to them” and “proclaim the gospel of Christ’s peace.”
On Friday, it was reported at BosNewsLife.com that Ukraine’s government has “threatened outlaw the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) for holding prayer services with opposition protesters.” Priests, according to the Ministry of Culture, had been “‘breaking the law’ by holding religious services outside a place of worship.”
Twenty-five years ago, religious services were again made legal in the Ukraine. Fortunately, the government backed down. At least for now.