The government's new laws are medieval, and so are Euromaidan's weapons
Protesters in Ukraine have been at it for three months, and had to face subzero temperatures over the weekend, but that hasn’t stopped them from finding inventive ways to battle the police.
“On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship,” writes Yale professor Timothy Snyder, referring to the new laws passed by the parliament aimed at centralizing President Viktor Yanukovych’s power and disbanding the Euromaidan protests that have filled Kiev’s streets since November.
If it all sounds a bit medieval, that’s also reflected in the tools demonstrators used the last few days: sticks and stones and wooden shields versus the tear gas and water cannons sprayed by riot police. It’s like a recreation of Braveheart, built in a DIY store.
This protester takes aim at his target with a slingshot—setting up a modern-day David versus Goliath showdown in Kiev. You have to admire his tenacity in the face of Ukraine’s emboldened and armed-to-the-teeth riot police.
The Molotov cocktail, a simple but effective poor man’s grenade, is a staple of the grassroots arsenal of some protesters.
Of the hundreds of thousands of protesters in Kiev, one group broke off and attempted to storm the parliament in open defiance of new, stringent anti-protest laws. Shields bearing crosses protect protesters from stun grenades lobby by the riot police.
Protesters also “used the charred shells of police vans” that were burned in the riots both as shields and to make barricades.
They don’t look like much, but Gazeta.ru reported that 40 cops were hospitalized and 70 were wounded by this makeshift band of protesters.
Brick-hurling, thus far, is not listed as an Olympic event at next month’s games in Sochi, Russia. This protester gets extra points for his old-school forearm guard.
Sticks are useful, but some protesters showed some flair by launching fireworks at the police. The chaos was overwhelming: Even though he’s an opposition leader who supports the demonstrations, former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko was himself nailed with spray from a fire extinguisher by a protester when he tried to calm the crowds.
Petrol bombs were also thrown—the fights have intensified to the point that Klitschko doesn’t “rule out the possibility of a civil war.” President Yanukovych said Monday that he is assembling a commission to try and reach an agreement to appease all parties, but given his track record, and the passion of these protesters, the situation doesn’t look like it will be resolved anytime soon.
Enter the trebuchet, a catapult from the Middle Ages: a short-range answer to a long-term problem.