Ukraine’s “Days of Rage”
By Andriy Kohut, Kyiv-based Activist
May 14 in Kyiv did not see its regular undersized “Day of Rage” protests – the number of policemen exceeded the number of protesters by nearly fourfold.
Since the recent chain of revolutions across Arab countries, social and political activists, political scientists, and politicians have all entertained the chief question as it pertains to Ukraine: all have asked “when?” and not “is it possible?” Yet despite the period of “orange transformation” after 2004, the vast majority of analysts and activists seem to have completely forgotten about their own “revolutionary” experiences.
Ambitious leaders have argued that they are able to bring millions of citizens to protest, while others earnestly took to organizing the next “Day of Rage,” but completely ignoring the fact that the key issue is not in fact when it happens, but what will come afterward. It’s no secret that the main problem for today’s Ukrainian “dissendents” is the dilemma of a nonexistent alternative.
Above all, most ordinary Ukrainians are disappointed in the past and current administrations and do not believe present-day political parties or their declarative, populist programs. An alternative agenda for any serious opposition movement remains unknown, because no one knows exactly what changes are needed in Ukraine.
Anyone who had followed with interest the news from Arab countries in the past few months may have naively decided that simply creating a Facebook group is enough: people just need to be organized and assigned time out in the streets. Sadly, however, history seems to have taught us nothing.
In order for Ukrainians to have taken to the streets in 2004, there were years of foundational hard work by activists since as early as 2000, and especially during spring and fall of 2004. Local groups don’t seem to be prepared to organize successful “Days of Rage” because they have neglected the need of national networks whose “nodes” could become the cores of national protest.
Most Ukrainian political experts agree that without a system of positive and constructive ideas or a shared system of values and goals, social protests in the form of “Days of Rage” easily become a hasty and unorganized Russian riot, such as those seen in the past on Moscow’s Triumphal’naya Square. Revolt is aimed solely at destroying. As a result, all who are involved suffer, while improvement remains far off. Protesting for protest’s sake has no real meaning.
The failure of the widely announced “Day of Rage” on May 14 gives the impression that the numerous attempts to coopt and exploit Arab trends has so far been unsuccessful. Yet this is encouraging because it gives us time to plan and prepare for the changes that would come after, finding answers to many unanswered questions.