editorial

Chornobyl veterans 1 Berkut special forces 0

14.11.2011 | kyivweekly.com.ua

Population crackdown in the works?

Shame. Shame. Shame. Angry veterans got the last word against the police forces called in to keep the protesting veterans away from the front doors of the parliamentary building this week. The world, via the Internet, and Kyiv residents taking the #62 bus past the VR, were once again treated to ordinary citizens getting out-muscled by highly trained special units of the Interior Ministry. But there was something very disturbing about the pictures of frustrated old men in their 70s, who helped clean up the radioactive mess of the Chornobyl disaster back in the 1980s, being shoved around by far younger - albeit stronger - men, who were probably born long after the radiation subsided. These Chornobyl veterans and others like senior citizens and Afghan war veterans, who sacrificed for the common good and who endured unforgiving soviet authoritarianism, are now having their paltry few privileges revoked by the authorities. They are calling on the government to resign. Like other unhappy groups - students, small business owners and supporters of 50 year old female Tymoshenko - the arthritic veterans too have frightened the authorities into calling out several busloads of fully-outfitted special ops forces, snipers and plain-clothes agents to keep lawmakers safe. This now-familiar state reaction to its disgruntled citizenry makes three unequivocal statements: The state wants to make the public fearful of the long arm of the law. The public airing of grievances will not be tolerated. The state has no intention of listening to demands of the socially downtrodden. So desperate are the authorities, its top brass wasted over an hour in the VR arguing that mass weapons caches were being readied for a coup. Shocked opposition called this ridiculous. Popular politicians like heavyweight champ Vitaliy Klitschko called on the enforcers to be responsible and detail the threats or to step down. While police claim they have evidence which they cannot reveal for security purposes, the insinuations simply provide a convenient excuse to crack down on the entire people Belarus-style once the authorities tire of protest rallies. A very ugly situation could erupt soon an exasperated population with nothing to lose versus intolerant and scared state authorities. Ka-boom!

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