As many northern climes are still reeling from the harsh snowstorms of 2014 - the Ukraine is no exception. Yet, today's report has more to do with a climactic versus climate change. Like the Arab Spring that also commenced in the dead of winter [December 18, 2010] and spawned dozens of revolutions throughout Africa and the Middle East, similarly, news of the Ukrainian uprisings are now being conveyed by digital technology, social networks and citizen journalism.
Occupied or Occupation?
Whether the 'Ukrainian Spring' will be as successful in uprooting rulers and establishing a democratic foothold [as witnessed previously in the nation states of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen] -- is yet to be seen. Protests considered to be inspired by the Arab Spring have taken place around the globe with varying degrees of success. Who does not remember the "Occupy" movement (the demonstrations against income inequality) that came in like a lion (inspiring protests in 950 cities in 82 countries) and dissipated like a whimper, almost as quickly? The carnage in the Ukraine, however signals something much more severe and inhumane.
Freedom from Tyranny
The people protesting in the Maidan of Kiev have genuine grievances as they demand a closer integration with the European Union. In this heartfelt YouTube video submitted by Whisper Roar and currently garnering over 5 million+ views, a Ukranian woman appeals as a representation of "everyman." Not disclosing her identity (but now be referred in social media circles as the "Viral Heroine of the Maiden") -- her intent was to explain in English why her fellow protestors have legitimate grievances with their government.
“I want you to know why thousands of people in my country are on the streets,” she said. “There is only one reason. We want to be free from a dictatorship, we want to be free from the politicians who work only for themselves - to live a normal life," she asserts.
Faces of Ukraine
Like the visuals that made such an impression with us during the Arab Spring and cyberventillated the Internet via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, so too, will the Ukrainian Spring leave a mark. While parties on both sides are often masked in many of the photos arriving in our Twitter and Facebook streams, others are using social media to provide a closer look at how normal citizens are being affected.
"Yes, this is the face of Ukraine right now," writes freelance photojournalist Vlad Sodel, who has been posting dramatic photos of the protests in Kiev's Independence Square, also called the Maidan.
Viktor YanukovychThe core reason for Ukrainians to take up arms against the government was predicated on the actions of President Viktor Yanukovych when he rejected the opportunity to pursue free trade with the European Union. Euromaidan, or “European square” was the name coined for the revolutionary movement after Yanukovych formally announced he wouldn’t sign the EU-Ukraine agreement last November.
Word spread quickly in real-time, throughout the Ukraine via social media, and protests were organized under the hashtags #euromaidan, according to the news website Global Voices. In addition, a Euromaidan Facebook page was rapidly assembled to communicate locally and globally.
The Euromaidan demonstrators have learned from both social media and the Occupy movement as to how to digitally organize themselves. Using Facebook, Euromaidan has created an interactive map that provides detailed information on everything from where to grab a bowl of soup to the location of the nearest portable toilet.
Social Media Works on Both Sides
Unfortunately, digital tools can be used to arm the Ukrainian government as well. As an example, last month, some Euromaidan demonstrators received an ominous message on their smartphones from Ukrainian authorities. Its import was threatening: “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” As marked dissidents, one knows historically, from other police states, what often happens to those who choose to criticize their governments.
We are Global Citizens. We are all Ukranians.
So as the images from Kiev flickr and tweet their way into our zeitgeist – and you feel to urge to cry out against the outrage perpetrated against humanity - use the distribution tools at your access to alert, inform and share often and widely. This is our obligation as global citizens, to not only observe but also to become part of the dialogue. Forbes' Tom Watson summed it up best, when he talked about the similarities between this uprising and those that occurred previously. "It’s not deja vu – you really have seen this before, and not that long ago. And it’s my guess you’ll see it again."