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In Kiev, It May Be The Moment To Dismantle Maidan

Barricades and tents at Maidan Square in Kiev, on July 14, 2014.
Barricades and tents at Maidan Square in Kiev, on July 14, 2014.
Yanina Sokolovskaya

KIEV — Representatives of the new Ukrainian government are convinced: It is time for Maidan Square to be free of tents.

The only question is how to get rid of the protestors from the site that became the center of the pro-democracy movement. The police think Maidan should be cleared with force, as if it were occupied by criminals. Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev, and a number of national politicians all think that the protesters need to leave on their own.

Earlier efforts have started by trying to first clean up Kreshchatyk street, which leads up to Maidan. But taking down the first two tents led to an uproar, and traffic couldn’t be opened on the street anyway.

Now Klitschko thinks he can come to an understanding with the residents of the tent city. “A forced clean-up is an extreme measure. I am not considering it and will never consider it,” the mayor said, as he was announcing the first steps towards cleaning up the square.

The government is holding negotiations with the protesters, but the only concrete step that has been taken is moving some of the tents out of Kreshchatyk street and into another neighborhood of Kiev.

Boots on the ground

“The mayor has offered us options for temporary lodging. But we aren’t refugees, we are monitoring the government, which isn’t carrying out the wishes of the people. They want us to leave, because they don’t want to free Donbas and they don’t want to fight corruption,” said Nikolai, sitting in the summer heat in full camouflage and new army boots.

Seeing the activist's shiny footwear, one passerby sneered: “You would be better off sending those new boots to the front, where our soldiers are fighting in sneakers.”

Nikolai answered right back: “We also need equipment here, we are also on the front-line.”

Maidan Square on June 21, 2014. Photo: Flickr/Mighty Travels.

But the Ukrainian government considers the present Maidan a criminal camp, not the front line. Both the prosecutor general, Vitaly Yarema, and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov have made statements to that effect. Yarema said that there have been 158 crimes committed in Maidan Square since February, four of which led to fatalities. He said there were investigations into “14 cases of armed assault, 79 robberies, and 18 beatings as well as drug use, illegal weapons and fraud.”

“It’s best to avoid the Maidan area,” explained employees of the city television channel, whose studios are near the camp. “There have been times when someone finished filming, and then was attacked, beaten and robbed. Today Maidan is not the center of the civil society, like it was during the winter.”

Interior Minister Avakov says that he has a plan to deal with the tent city, and feels sure that Ukrainian society will look kindly on “the use of force to deal with criminals.”

Maidan representatives have responded to the threats of security forces by holding “people’s assemblies,” although they weren’t particularly well-attended. The speakers warned that all efforts to clear Maidan will be for naught - they simply won’t leave.

Newly installed Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has called on the government to proceed carefully. In his opinion, Maidan is “more than just a symbol.”

Viktor Hebozhenko, a political scientist in Kiev, says that trying to unilaterally clean up the square would be a major mistake for the new government, which he notes was “brought into power by Maidan.”

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Why The U.S. Lost Its Leverage In The Middle East — And May Never Get It Back

In the Israel-Hamas war, Qatar now plays the key role in negotiations, while the United States appears increasingly disengaged. Shifts in the region and beyond require that Washington move quickly or risk ceding influence to China and others for the long term.

Photograph of U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken  shaking hands with sraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

November 30, 2023, Tel Aviv, Israel: U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Chuck Kennedy/U.S State/ZUMA
Sébastien Boussois


PARIS — Upon assuming office in 2008, then-President Barack Obama declared that United States would gradually begin withdrawing from various conflict zones across the globe, initiating a complex process that has had a major impact on the international landscape ever since.

This started with the American departure from Iraq in 2010, and was followed by Donald Trump's presidency, during which the "Make America Great Again" policy redirected attention to America's domestic interests.

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The withdrawal trend resumed under Joe Biden, who ordered the exit of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2021. To maintain a foothold in all intricate regions to the east, America requires secure and stable partnerships. The recent struggle in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that Washington increasingly relies on the allied Gulf states for any enduring influence.

Since the collapse of the Camp David Accords in 1999 during Bill Clinton's tenure, Washington has consistently supported Israel without pursuing renewed peace talks that could have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While President Joe Biden's recent challenges in pushing for a Gaza ceasefire met with resistance from an unyielding Benjamin Netanyahu, they also stem from the United States' overall disengagement from the issue over the past two decades. Biden now is seeking to re-engage in the Israel-Palestine matter, yet it is Qatar that is the primary broker for significant negotiations such as the release of hostages in exchange for a ceasefire —a situation the United States lacks the leverage to enforce.

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