Last night was “not a quiet night in Kiev,” reports The Interpreter on its valuable liveblog of events on the ground in Ukraine. Protesters, some of whom are fascist “ultranationalists,” gathered to demonstrate outside the Rada (parliament) in the capital. The Interpreter:
[…] earlier there were protests which turned violent outside of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. Ultra-nationalists in the crowd appeared to be demanding that the Rada recognize a controversial group, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), as “heroes of Ukraine.” However, journalists like Christopher Miller and photographer Stefan Huijboom say that some in the crowds have admitted that they were paid to be there and do not belong to a political party, despite waving Praviy Sektor (Right Sector) and Svoboda flags. At the same time, Right Sector earlier denied that they were behind the protests, though they called for their own rally later in the day.
There were other protesters as well, a number of whom were reported by Russian state media (so at least somewhat dubiously) to have been national guardsmen demonstrating against the conflict in the east. Still more are just members of any number of groups of other disaffected Ukrainians. Kiev was not the only city to see protests overnight; Kharkiv had its share, too.But the turbulence in Ukraine isn’t confined to protests. In the eastern region, the violence is ongoing despite the nearly month-and-a-half-old ceasefire. The fighting and shelling around Donetsk airport is increasing, and errant shells are finding their ways into civilian neighborhoods. In Lugansk to the north and around Mariupol on the coast, anti-government forces have Ukrainian military units pinned down. The OSCE reports on the latter:
At 14:23hrs on 14 October, the SMM – in Mariupol (113km south of Donetsk city) – heard what it assessed to be heavy GRAD shelling to the northeast of the city. A Ukrainian military officer attached to the Joint Control and Co-ordination Centre in Mariupol and the Liaison Officer at the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” based in Mariupol later informed the SMM that the shelling had been directed towards a Ukrainian military checkpoint 1km east of the village of Sartana (19km northeast of Mariupol). Another source told the SMM that seven people had been killed and 10 to 15 injured in the shelling.
It is unclear how much of the military violence can be attributed to the Kremlin’s string-pulling, but it would be consistent with Putin’s MO to assert his dominance and remind everyone who is in control. Regardless, it should remind Ukrainians just what the stakes are here. If another round of political instability and lawlessness grips the country, and if the upcoming parliamentary elections end up being contested on the streets of Kiev, Putin is not likely to pass on the opportunity to dismember Ukraine further.