Originally published on http://www.grahamwphillips.com, 14th December 2013 – see below – by Graham
As EuroMaidan goes on, kind of, it’s time to have a look at the media, with the proverbial media storm having for weeks swirled around the inchoate protest. If much of the media has been reading from a script, it’s looked a lot like this –
1. Everyone from the west of Ukraine is a brave, pro-European idealist.
While indeed there are those types out on EuroMaidan, the whole thing is rather being powered along by far-right wing party Svoboda, whose policies have frequently seen them labelled ‘neo-Nazi’. And there are even more extreme right-wing groups attached to them.
2. Everyone out demonstrating in favour of the President is a ‘paid provocateur’.
One of the most popular lines recycled in the media – the EuroMaidan demonstrators are brave campaigners, the pro-government all on the payroll. With over 6 million having voted for the Party of Regions in the 2012 election, you really think none of them are out there of their own volition?
‘Big Vik’s’ approval rating is certainly not that high – around 20%. But it’s nowhere near as low as former President Viktor Yushchenko got – he was down at below 4%.
4. President Yanukovych is the most unpopular he’s ever been.
It’s practically lofty compared to the 11% it was a couple of years back.
5. Everyone in Ukraine wants to join the EU
A survey by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology showed support at 39% in November 2013, down 14%
6. The Ukrainian police have been ruthlessly beating innocent protesters
Of course there have been instances of that. But any contact by police is both being milked for all it’s worth, and often in self defence. Look at this poor wounded soldier, looking sorry for himself –
That would be Andrey Illenko then, even in a neo-Nazi party, one of Svoboda’s more right-wing members. Also spotted several times spraying tear gas at police. Now, relishing his role as victim.
7. Ukrainian people like Tymoshenko, who should be freed immediately.
Ukrainians are at best indifferent towards Tymoshenko, regarding her time as Prime Minister generally as disastrous. As for whether she should be in prison, making no mention of the gas deal, she’s also got her fingerprints over at least two murders.
Let’s say Russia are playing hardball. But the EU – demanding Tymoshenko’s release, a move which would make an immediate mockery of the Ukrainian government and judicial system. A move which may undermine the government to the extent it couldn’t go on.
9. Joining the EU is without doubt, good for Ukraine
The EU is simply not offering the cash Ukraine needs – $25 billion to tide things over with a debt set to rise to $60 billion by 2015. The EU sees the situation as Russia or it, so does Russia, and Ukraine has a lot more riding on Russia right now, who are offering a much better deal. Ukraine‘s time for Europe will come, but now, the numbers just don’t add up.
Take the number the opposition give you, divide it by 4. Take the number in most media, divide it by 2.
11. Europe is waiting for Ukraine.
Lithuania would have loved Ukraine to come on board during its tenure of the EU Presidency. Lithuania itself has a particularly difficult relationship with Russia – dragging Ukraine out of Russia’s clutches would have been a real biggie. But, as of 1 January it’s Greece up – think Ukraine will be on their radar?
Many are, but increasingly going along has become a tourist attraction and photo opportunity. And as top Ukrainian bands like Okean Elzy put concerts on there, it’s taking on more the atmosphere of a festival than incipient revolution.
Slightly edited for length. Original publication confirmation here –