Pat Buchanan

Richard Engel of NBC, reporting from Maidan Square in Kiev, described what he witnessed as the Feb. 19 truce collapsed.

Police began to back away from their positions in the square, said Engel. And the protesters attacked. Gunfire was exchanged and the death toll, believed to be in the dozens, is not known.

In short, the reality in Kiev is more complex than the black-and-white cartoon of Vladimir Putin vs. the freedom fighters drawn by our resident Russophobic elite. Perspective is in order.

First, though portrayed as a tyrannical thug, Viktor Yanukovych won the presidency of Ukraine in 2010 in what international observers called a free and fair election. He may not be Marcus Aurelius, but his remains the legitimate government.

Second, high among the reasons Yanukovych chose Russia's offer to join its custom union over the EU is that Putin put a better deal on the table.

Moscow put up $15 billion in loans and cut-rate oil and gas. The EU offered some piddling loans and credits, plus a demand for reforms in the Ukrainian economy monitored by the IMF, but no commitment to full membership in the EU.

As for the "protesters" who came to Maidan Square in November, not all came simply to protest. Many set up tents and shacks, threw up barricades, seized government buildings, burned the headquarters of the ruling party, battled police and demanded the overthrow of the regime.

How many Western countries would permit a planned putsch in their capital city?

Still, after weeks of protest, Yanukovych offered to negotiate.

He fired his prime minister and tendered the post to the leader of the opposition Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He offered to make Vitali Klitschko, the ex-heavyweight champion and the head of another opposition party, the deputy prime minister. His offer was rejected.

Yanukovych then had parliament repeal the tough laws against protests he had had enacted and delivered a full amnesty to those arrested during the months of occupation. In effect, Yanukovych offered peace and a coalition government with his opponents until new presidential elections new year.

Does that sound like an unyielding tyrant?

Why was this unacceptable? Because the protesters want Yanukovych out, new elections now, and Ukraine reoriented toward Europe.

While the opposition has every right to urge this course, is not next year's presidential election the place to decide the future of the country? What kind of democracy is it where a democratically elected president can be forced out of office by mobs?


Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
 
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