Is the Ukrainian revolution justified?
Almost half a million Ukrainian citizens want to oust President Viktor Yanukovych from his presidency. President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, imposed trade sanctions and threatened to cut off gas supplies while offering much needed financial aid to the Ukrainian economy. His hope was that Yanukovych would delay the process of integrating Ukraine into the European Union. Yanukovych conceded to Putin's request, and between Feb. 18-20, Ukrainian forces murdered 82 protesters during an uprising in Kiev, Ukraine that resulted from his deal with Putin. The right to advocate for policy change—to have your voice heard—is a fundamental right of every citizenry. Russian-controlled Viktor Yanukovych took this away.
This isn’t the first time that Russia has bullied Ukraine. In fact there is a saturated history of Russia bullying Ukraine into submission even after Ukraine gained independence in 1991 after the Soviet Union fell in Moscow. People around the world watching the protests look down upon the people of Ukraine’s decision to resort to non-peaceful acts of revolution. The Ukrainian people must protect their civil right to advocate for policy change. When Russia suppresses this right, Ukraine is justified in fighting to retake their freedom of speech.
Because of Yanukovych’s close ties with Russia, Russia has robbed the people of Ukraine of their human right to resist unfair policy. Yanukovych is ignoring the desires of the Ukrainian people and acting as a monarch in Ukraine’s fragile democracy. The people of Ukraine have natural rights, and thus an obligation to stand up for what they believe to be best for Ukraine. But, because of this heavy handed pressure upon Ukraine, the people of Ukraine cannot express their desires as majority of the country without fear of economic attack by Russia.
Former president Bill Clinton and secretary of state Hillary Clinton urged Ukraine to resist increasing Russian pressure that would contradict what is best for Ukraine’s political and economic interests. Bill Clinton said, “I would resent it if someone tried to force me to do something that wasn’t good for my people.” But the president of Ukraine did not seem interested in America’s input, as he has not agreed to integrate Ukraine into the EU.
In 2009, Russia halted steel, chocolate and agricultural imports to manipulate the corrupt Ukrainian government into stalling the policy change that would integrate the Ukraine into the EU. Even with this history of abuse from Russia, Yanukovych still didn’t commit to gaining economic, judicial and political reform by signing the 1000-page association agreement with the EU.
What do the Ukrainian people do in this situation? Sit back and let the Russian government sway their corrupt president at the people’s expense? Or are they called to retaliate?
John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Civil Government (1690), argues that legislative authority is derived from the consent of the commonwealth. Locke also says that when government becomes oppressive, the people have an obligation to alter or abolish it and institute new government.
Ukraine’s Republican form of government, which stems from Democracy, is there to protect the rights and wishes of the people. The Ukrainian government has become corrupt and tyrannical by submitting to the will of Russia and by not remaining accountable to the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian people are justified in their attempts to spark revolution because it is their human right to demand a government that will make decisions that are in the best interests of the people.