February 20, Kiev: New Maidan or Build Up to Civil War?
On February 16th, Zoryan Shkiryak, an adviser to the minister of internal affairs of Ukraine, appealed to block Odnoklassniki and VKontakte social networks in the country.
In his opinion, this is necessary to defend the Ukrainian info-field. Parallel to this, Anton Gerashchenko, an assistant to the minister of internal affairs and a Verkhovna Rada deputy, accused Russia of preparing to blockade railway lines with the republics of Donbass, which is actually being carried out by members of neo-Nazi gangs headed by Rada deputy Parasyuk.
These statements by “Avakov’s clowns” (the words of Mikhail Pogrebinsky, a leading Ukrainian political analyst) were, without a doubt, coordinated and focused on one goal: preventing the recurrence of a new Maidan in Kiev. More precisely: not allowing a Maidan created by competitors.
A number of Ukrainian organizations intend to hold protests on February 20th, the third anniversary of the Maidan’s victory. In particular, the NAZHDAK movement which is positioning itself as an “anti-oligarch association of the common people” is set to protest. The Radical Right Forces movement has also stated its participation, as have the “federation of small businesses,” an association of failed banks (headed by the leader of NAZHDAK, Nikolay Dulsky), and the military wing of the neo-Nazi Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense.
Nikolay Dulsky has appealed to his followers and other potential protest participants with the call to bring officially registered weapons. The aim is the overthrow of the treacherous Poroshenko and Groysman government. Characteristically enough, the organization’s VKontakte page speaks in detail of its relations with Azov, whose leader is Verkhovna Rada deputy Andrey Biletsky. Azov, in Dulsky’s opinion, is nothing but a pet of Avakov in his service.
In this regard, the statements of Shkiryak and Gerashchenko are not random, but are aimed at (1) competitors’ organizations (not associated with the interior ministry like Azov and its offshoots) and (2) Russian social networks. The current Ukrainian government, and especially the interior ministry, remember the massive organizing role played in the Euromaidan by social networks, and first and foremost VKontakte. During the days of the Maidan, the Right Sector group grew to number as many as 600,000 people. But the call to close Russian social networks is being sounded now, not three years ago, for an obvious reason: the government is afraid of a repetition of the events of three years.
Appeals to go out onto the Maidan on February 20th are essentially an announcement of plans to overthrow the new government. However, it is by no means evident that this overthrow will happen on February 20th, since the Ukrainian neo-Nazis opposed to the current internal minister simply lack sufficient resources. But as a training and mobilization all, this action fits perfectly. On the other hand, the government will also have a wonderful opportunity to practice dispersing a new Maidan.
Already now, based on "Avakov’s clowns’” statements, it is obvious that the ruling regime has chosen an easy formula: declare militants striving to overthrow the legal government “agents of Putin” operating with the help of Russian social networks.
The West “does not notice” violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine or the literally bloody dispersal of protesters. Therefore, I am skeptical of the possibilities of a new Maidan in Ukraine. More likely is a second scenario in which the disease will be pushed deeper and, as a result, protest energy will later explode into a civil war. The fire of civil war has already been smoldering for three years. The bloody suppression of rallies in Kiev, the dispersal of “blockade” participants in Donbass, and a number of related operations, might ignite this. And then the war against Donbass will spill over into Ukraine and turn into a civil war.