Ukraine Reignites, Ctd

In a desperate effort to appease opposition protesters, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government resigned today, while parliament repealed a draconian anti-demonstration law passed two weeks ago. But it may be too little, too late:

“It’s more like a smoke break,” said Sergei Kononenko, who was helping to man the makeshift barricades a short walk from the Presidential residence. “We’re not going anywhere.”

Neither, it seems, is President Viktor Yanukovych. In the past two weeks, as riot police have tried and failed repeatedly to clear the streets, he has shown that he will grant practically any of the protestors’ demands – except his own resignation. “That is non-negotiable,” says Nestor Shufrich, a senior lawmaker from the President’s political party. … As for the party’s options now, he would not say whether force was the only one. “That is up to the President,” he says. But if the protesters still refuse to leave the center of Kiev, and if the President still refuses to leave his post, the stalemate will continue until someone flinches. “That’s when things could get bloody,” says Kononenko, the protester.

Half-measures are unlikely to succeed:

[E]xperts warn that historically, once a government starts making concessions, it is more likely to inflame revolution than placate its opposition. “I do not see any signs that the situation can be improved or that compromise can be reached,” says Sergei Gaiday, a political scientist who runs the Kiev-based “social engineering” agency “What is happening in parliament no longer has any influence on what is going on out in the streets. The protesters have too many demands, and these are not being met.”

Writing before the latest news broke, Gavin Weise noted how the opposition’s goals had escalated since the protests first broke out in November:

Talk of lesser aims, such as an amnesty for prisoners or opposition representation in Yanukovych’s cabinet, sounds hollow and has probably come too late. After this week’s spreading violence and last week’s Russian-style legislation limiting freedom of assembly and speech, growing numbers of Ukrainians just want to see Yanukovych and his cronies punished and exiled from the political world.

Recent Dish on the Ukraine crisis here and here.