Before an agreement was brokered Friday, the standoff in Kiev between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government and the loose coalition of anti-government forces was bloody and telegenic. Bob examines what those gripping images tell us, and what they don't.
CORRESPONDENT: Kiev is burning tonight, flaming tires, fireworks –
[FIREWORKS GOING OFF]
- the stench of teargas.
BOB GARFIELD: Before an agreement was brokered Friday, the standoff between President Viktor Yanukovych’s government and the loose coalition of anti-government forces was bloody and telegenic - riot police shooting from rooftops at protestors on Kiev’s Independence Square, protestors hurling Molotov cocktails and paving stones. As the death toll mounted, the cameras recorded a conflagration.
CORRESPONDENT: And look at it now, a plume a black smoke coming off the big burning tires that form the barricade which are now the front line between the riot police and the protectors that are still holding the stage….
BOB GARFIELD: But while insurrection makes for great TV, complexity do4s not. American news mostly defaulted to cold war mode, characterizing the upheaval as a confrontation of East and West, with Yanukovych cast as a client of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, in a country whose citizens prefer to look toward the European Union.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Ukraine is really the latest and the most dramatic illustration of the tensions, growing tensions between Vladimir Putin and the US. It seems to be a replay of the Cold War in many ways because of what many experts see as Putin’s Soviet era world outlook.
BOB GARFIELD: Indeed, some protesters were warriors for western integration, but some, including the most organized and violent elements, were ultra-right-wing nationalists, and some just angry about the government thuggery they were seeing on YouTube.
Even as the smoke cleared and a liberalized coalition government beckoned, the simplistic narratives and old remember soon will you because the smoke cleared of a liberalized: government beckoned simplistic narratives and die-cut archetypes did little to clarify “the who, the what and the why.” As we shall hear in the next segment, not only can we not be sure of what we witnessed, we cannot be sure of the outcome. People of goodwill can agree, people of ill will can betray.
But one thing is not in doubt. What the world watched was the result of the world watching. A hemisphere away in Venezuela, the government this week escalated a crackdown against citizens protesting against the crumbling economy and brutal political repression of leftist President Nicolas Maduro. Videos of marauding paramilitaries and photos purportedly of military snipers shooting at unarmed civilians have leaked out via social media. Amid a near total news blackout, chances are you didn’t even know about it, until right now.