Knowing what is truth and what is not in our Information Age is not easy. To find out what is factual today, and what is not, takes persistence and time. Two qualities in short supply in our sound-byte and convenience-loving society.
In the Information Age now dominated by 144 characters-or-less Tweets by Twits rushing to prove how clever they are....thoughtful examinations of what is actually true, about virtually anything, no longer seem to carry much weight in a society that appears, more than ever, prepared to make snap judgments based on pre-conceived biases.
I do not claim to stand outside of this new paradigm. I too have biases....just like everyone else.
The key here, however, if there is a key, is not to allow one's biases to overwhelm truth as it is systematically revealed.
With all that in mind, let's look at what we know about the Ukraine-Russian "event."
On November 21st, 2013......Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's government announces it is abandoning an agreement that would strengthen ties with the European Union. It seeks closer cooperation with Moscow. Protesters take to the streets.
December 1, 2013 marked the beginning of protests, ostensibly in reaction to the president's decision. Protests continued, often massive, for the next two months.
On Feb.16th, 2014....in response to persistent protests....Yanukovych met some of the demands of protesters in an attempt to end the standoff which had been moving ever-closer to full-blown violence. As a result.....
Anti-government demonstrators in Ukraine's capital ended their nearly three month occupation of Kjiv city hall on Sunday as promised in exchange for the release of all jailed protesters.
...protesters handed over control of city hall to international mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who were then supposed to hand it back to city authorities. The compromise was reached after the last of 234 jailed protesters were released in the past week under an amnesty that also called for opposition activists to vacate government buildings in Kjiv and elsewhere.
BUT.....hundreds of angry protesters, clad in protective gear, amassed outside the building, saying they would seize it again if charges were not dropped.
Anti-government demonstrators in Ukraine's capital ended their nearly three-month occupation of Kyiv city hall on Sunday as promised in exchange for the release of all jailed protesters. -
The release of protesters was as a result of this legislative action.....Jan 29: A bill is passed, promising amnesty for arrested protesters if seized government buildings are relinquished.
And yet, less than 48 hours later, the worst violence of the months-long, thought-to-be-ending standoff took place.....
More street clashes leave at least 18 dead and around a hundred injured. Violence begins when protesters attack police lines after the parliament stalls in passing constitutional reform to limit presidential powers. Protesters take back government buildings.
It was during this short period of renewed violence when it was reported that government "snipers" or "police" on rooftops began killing protesters wholesale.
That account.....still lacking verification....is what led other national leaders from Western countries to side with those who had instigated the protest movement in the first place.
...the sniper fire has been cited by the U.S. government and major U.S. news outlets as evidence of Yanukovych’s depravity, thus justifying his violent removal from office....
Ylad Putin's take...."...my assessment of what happened in Kiev and in Ukraine in general. There can only be one assessment: this was an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of power. Does anyone question this?"
Perhaps Vlad was stating the truth. Do Western democracies support and defend violent overthrows of legitimately elected leaders...or not? Is "regime change" by violent and unlawful means now an accepted policy of "free" nations? Do international agreements between democratic countries now allow for the violent overthrowing of elected governments outside of ballot-box means? Tough questions, I think, without clear-cut answers in the 21st century.
Finding out the truth must include even inconvenient information. Inconvenient information like this....
According to an intercepted phone conversation between Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, Paet reported on a conversation that he had with a doctor in Kiev who said the sniper fire that killed protesters was the same that killed police officers. As reported by the UK Guardian, “During the conversation, Paet quoted a woman named Olga – who the Russian media identified her as Olga Bogomolets, a doctor – blaming snipers from the opposition shooting the protesters.”
If rooftop snipers were Yanukovyvh soldiers or police.....why that account? Yes, there is the possibility that that account is part of some vast Putin conspiracy. It's possible. But why would Yanukovyvh forces purposely kill so many of their own police officers?
Snipers firing powerful rifles from rooftops and windows shot scores of people in the heart of Kiev. Some victims were opposition protesters, but many were civilian bystanders clearly not involved in the clashes. Among the dead were medics, as well as police officers. A majority of the more than 100 people who died in the violence were shot by snipers; hundreds were also injured by the gunfire and other street fighting.
There are reports that 15 police officers were included in the total number of murdered.
One has to believe that President Yanukovych ordered the willy-nilly slaughter of even his own rescue and police forces.....that he actually, because of the 15 police killed, targeted his own security forces and less than 2 days after he thought he had reached an agreement with dissenting protesters....in order to embrace the version of events coming from Obama, Kerry and scores of others.
The alternative would be that anti-Yanukovych elements did the snipering in a renewed attempt to obstruct a peaceful solution and overthrow the elected government in Ukraine. Also a possibility.
Our job as bystanders is to take all of this information....and try to make an informed estimate of what is true and what is not.
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