Ukraine Facing Uncertainty

Abbie Wade, Contributing Editor

Months of political turmoil and unrest came to a head Saturday when Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych left the capital and protesters took control of the city centre. Ukraine Parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from office, hold elections May 25, and release opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.

Tymoshenko, former Ukrainian prime minister, led the 2004 Orange Revolution that prevented Yanukovych’s first run of the presidency. Yanukovych defeated Tymoshenko in the 2010 elections and Tymoshenko was jailed in October 2011 for abuse of the office, a crime she denied and an arrest she called a “political witch hunt.”

Yanukovych, after a failed attempt to leave the country, is currently near the Russian border although no one in the government appears to know his exact location. Yanukovych, however, says he doesn’t plan to leave the country or resign because he is still the “legitimate President” of Ukraine, and that his absence is due to “vandalism, crime, and a coup.”

Citizens of Ukraine are not so easily convinced. As they mourn the lives of those lost in the demonstrations the past week, they wonder what will come of the divided nation and who will take charge. With a Pro-Russian eastern side and a Pro-European Union eastern side, many worry regions might try to break away.

In Kiev’s Independence Square Saturday night, Tymoshenko, in her signature blonde braid, told protesters, “There’ll be no Ukraine but the Ukraine you want, and I’m the guarantor of that Ukraine.”

The Health Ministry said the death toll from the police and protester confrontation has reached over one-hundred and priests have held services to honor the dead. Tymoshenko praised the protesters and the victims, telling them they are “heroes” and the “best thing in Ukraine.”

The events in Ukraine have culminated over a year of anti-government protests and have captured the attention of the world. Many sit in uncertainty with the Ukrainians, unaware of what the future may bring with the May elections.