International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Major Revolt in Ukraine and Livestream

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As part of a wider wave of protests and civil unrest called Euromaidan, for the past two days opposition leaders and a flood of demonstrators met at Independence Square to protest recent government measures in Ukraine. Some sources put the number of protesters at over a hundred thousand, but the exact number is uncertain. Since November, the country has been divided over the government’s choice to decline a trade agreement with the European Union, and instead join one with Russia. Geographically, the state is fairly split between pro-European regions in the west and pro-Russia regions in the east. Ukraine has been suffering from an anemic economy for a while now, and with an already discontent people, the January 17th measures passed by the government curtailing free speech and peaceful protests ignited bitter protests.

Here’s a useful infographic of the new legislation. Not only do the protesters see such legislation as highly undemocratic, but the government is being condemned for bypassing Parliament and passing the laws themselves. And because there’s no independent judiciary, there’s no legal recourse to rescind the laws. Here it becomes apparent why an independent judiciary is crucial to a stable, democratic state, and how not having an independent judiciary to keep the government’s laws in line seems to leave people to the whim of the regime.

What’s especially interesting is the way in which the protests are being covered: for several hours, they’ve been livestreamed on both Ustream and Youtube. This is in addition to the live footage already available on Youtube. Due to the high amount of transparency, I wonder if the government will act in a particularly cautious manner, or at least in a more cautious manner than they otherwise would have in the absence of such prevalent live footage. The whole ordeal is incredibly surreal and reminds me of the Arab Spring protests, but at the same time I don’t recall them being live streamed, and it’s not entirely clear if people want to do away with the current regime entirely. Ukraine appears to be in a turbulent period, and a transition to a new regime seems very possible, perhaps soon, or perhaps quite some time later–but whatever the case, the violent protests and condemnation of the current government demands some sort of response from the regime. But what if the government responds violently? Should other democratic states or the UN step in? At what point? While waiting too long could leave many innocents defenseless, how can we tell if the government is truly acting against the will of the people–do the people protesting represent the will of the majority? If the government acts violently towards its people, what’s the threshold at which we can justify intervention?

Here are some more great sources:
A livefeed of the protests
Live footage of policemen set on fire from protestors’ molotov cocktails
A short video explaining the situation
A video put online by WhiteRa, a famous StarCraft 2 progamer and personality (this is actually how I first learned of the protests)
A protestor’s explanation for the revolts

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One response to “Major Revolt in Ukraine and Livestream

  1. gracen0te5 January 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Putting a spotlight on police and government officials through Livestream is definitely worth some notable mention throughout the Kiev protests. I’m sure there are regulations not yet enacted due to the mismatched pace of technology vs. pace of government.

    It’s ironic that protests are continuing because of new laws regulating protests. It’s only been since last Thursday that the government of President Viktor Yanukovych (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4038803.stm) prohibits protestors from various protest schemes, but I suspect that there will be more regarding technology.

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