Friday, 21 February 2014

Ukraine in Turmoil

I am sitting in my office glued to the images and tweets trying to decide at what point I should load the family up in to the car and head for the Polish border.

The revolution in Ukraine has been going on since November but events escalated yesterday with up to 70 confirmed deaths and that number is creeping upwards.  Protesters and police are being shot at and people are being killed.

Earlier this week various government offices and police stations where I live had been ransacked and set on fire, the regional governor was dragged from office and forced to resign and protesters have gathered in force on the main street.

My neighbours tell me hundreds if not thousands of guns and ammunition has been stolen from police and militia headquarters which begs the question, who has them now?  Last night we heard what we hoped was the sound of fireworks but I now believe to be the sound of explosions coming from weapons and ammunition that was set on fire either deliberately or accidentally.

I drove around town last night to get a feel for the situation and its nervous and getting increasingly nervous with each day.

There are road blocks by both protesters and police, people from both sides are being detained and disappeared, many, many people have been beaten senseless, trains and buses have stopped running and the metro in Kiev has been closed for two days.

The center of Kiev is where the main battle is taking place and current photographs show a scene like something out of a film except it’s not a film. 

I was at the center of the demonstrations in Kiev last Saturday and the atmosphere while tense was calm with music, dancing, singing and cooking outside.  It’s hard to reconcile what I saw then with the images of war there now.

The rumours and stories are flying around with each hour; petrol stations are closing; people are queuing up at the banks; border crossing are blocked; titushki (hired government thugs) are breaking into private property, stealing and beating people; the internet and phones might go off at any minute and so on.

As yet the martial law hasn't been enforced but we are in a de facto state of emergency, the next big question is will the army come out of barracks and if so which side will they take; are we looking at a civil war.

Slava Ukraina!