One way or another, we appear to be headed for some kind of climax in Ukraine fairly soon. Though Yanukovich had said he would speak to opposition leaders yesterday, his announcement was accompanied by a heavy buildup of security forces around Kiev. The offices of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko’s party were raided, and police started to tear down protestor barricades around town. The language coming from government officials was anything but conciliatory:
In a possible precursor to action by law-enforcement authorities, Ukraine’s prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka warned in a statement that the protests had turned into “blatant aggression” and were preventing government bodies from operating normally.“Do not test the patience of government. Do not provoke law enforcement. Lift the blockades of premises and of transport,” the statement said.
But much of the real discussion is taking place offstage as the oligarchs who seized the riches of the country during the chaotic era following the collapse of the Soviet Union debate whether their ill-gotten wealth will best be preserved by an alliance with Putin or with the EU. Much like during the Orange Revolution, if the oligarchs switch sides, Yanukovich could once again be out of a job.