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World View: Ukraine Again in Crisis as Anti-Government Rioters Demand President's Resignation

World View: Ukraine Again in Crisis as Anti-Government Rioters Demand President's Resignation

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • What do Thailand’s anti-government protesters want? The conundrum is solved
  • Ukraine again in crisis as anti-government rioters demand president’s resignation

What do Thailand’s anti-government protesters want? The conundrum is solved

Thailand's PM Yingluck Shinawatra
Thailand’s PM Yingluck Shinawatra

In yesterday’s report, “2-Dec-13 World View — Thailand again in crisis as anti-government rioters issue two-day ultimatum” I indicated that I was puzzled aboutwhat the anti-government Thai-Chinese activist Suthep Thaugsubanwanted, when he said that he wants “to return power to the people.”If he meant the resignation of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, theresult would be a new election, and Thai-Thai indigenous people, whomake up the vast majority of the population, would simply elect a newThaksin Shinawatra ally.

Well, on Monday the solution to the conundrum was revealed. Suthep isdemanding that Yingluck resign, and that a new “People’s Council”select the next prime minister. Presumably, this People’s Councilwould be packed with Thai-Chinese proponents. This is the only waythe indigenous people can be defeated in an election. However, itdoesn’t seem to me that this will “return power to the people” in anyway.

Yingluck responded: “Anything I can do to make people happy, I amwilling to do… but as prime minister, what I can do must be underthe constitution.”

Thailand is in a very dangerous situation. The market-dominantlight-skinned Thai-Chinese elite do not wish to give up any power, butthey’re vastly outnumbered by the dark-skinned Thai-Thai who do mostof the menial labor. If Suthep succeeds in getting his “People’sCouncil,” and he controls the election of the next PM, then expect anew wave of anti-government protests again in a few months, this timeby the “red shirt” Thai-Thai. Bangkok Post

Ukraine again in crisis as anti-government rioters demand president’s resignation

At least 100,000 anti-government protesters packed Independence Square(“the Maidan”) in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, demanding the resignationof President Viktor Yanukovich. More than 200 people were hurt whenpolice used tear gas and flash grenades, after some marchers tried tostorm a government building. Video has emerged showing policebrutally beating protesters and journalists with clubs. The riotscontinued through the night and into Monday evening, forcing riotpolice to line up to protect the office of the president.

The riots were triggered when Yanukovich did a highly visibleflip-flop on signing a trade agreement with the European Union,evidently because of pressure by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, aswe reported two weeks ago.

The riots are reminiscent of the “Orange Revolution” of 2004, when thesame Viktor Yanukovich was forced to leave office by the same kinds ofriots, when hundreds of thousands of people demanded his resignation.(See “East Ukraine threatens secession, splitting the country in two” from 2004.)

What the 2004 riots and the 2013 riots have in common is that they area clash between two ethnic groups. The majority of the population areethnic Ukrainians, occupying most of the country, in the western partof Ukraine. The minority group are ethnic Russians, occupying theeast and south, descendants of ethnic Russians who were sent there byStalin after World War II in order to “Russify” Ukraine.

East/West Ukraine split in the 2004 Presidential vote that led to the Orange Revolution. (BBC)
East/West Ukraine split in the 2004 Presidential vote that led to the Orange Revolution. (BBC)

I took another look at my 2004 article on the Orange Revolution. Itcontains the map shown above of the results of the 2004 presidentialelection. The indigenous Ukrainian candidate (Yushchenko) won in thewestern Ukrainian provinces, while Yanukovich won in the pro-Russianeastern and southern provinces.

Yanukovich had promised repeatedly that he would sign the associationagreement with the EU, and Ukrainians were eagerly anticipating whatthey imagined (probably unrealistically) as a big economic boost fromhaving new European markets from their products. But Putin threatenedto close off Russia to many Ukrainian exports, which would have hurtUkraine more than they would have gained from the EU asociation.Putin desperately wants Ukraine to remain within Russia’s sphere ofinfluence, and particularly wants Ukraine to join Russia’s “CustomsUnion,” whose other members so far are Belarus and Kazakhstan.BBC andJamestown and VOA

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