One thing’s for sure: if you live in the US or Western Europe, and haven’t spent the last three days locked in a wardrobe, you’re probably well aware that protests against the Ukrainian government have been taking place in Kiev.Truer words were never spoken. This was also known to be true back when Western news media covered the ‘white ribbon’ protests in Moscow in glowing terms, but refused to cover the counter-protests, which drew as many if not more people than the anti-Putin ones. And what failed to be noted about these Ukrainian protesters, which drew largely regional support from Lvov and the Polish March, was that they were organised in part by the far-right racial-nationalist Svoboda movement - essentially the Ukraine’s neo-Nazis. (Small wonder they want closer ties with Germany, but I do highly doubt it’s for warm and fuzzy democratic reasons.)
That’s because western news networks and media outlets are making sure that you know about them. ‘Tens of thousands rally in Kiev for closer EU ties’ the Washington Post posts this AP article . ‘Thousands protest Ukraine’s rejection of trade ties’ says the New York Times.
Leading western media outlets have not only have deemed the protests to be a major story, but their reporting makes it quite clear whose side they are on. Here‘s the New York Times talking about two of the protestors.
“For young people, the future is brighter with Europe,” said Maria Lyskenko, 20, a student, who stood with her friend, Alyona Zorina, also 20, holding a sign that said, “Europe = Future Ukraine”. Ms. Zorina said that President Viktor F. Yanukovich was acting out of selfishness and self-interest in deciding not to sign an agreement with the European Union.
In its report on the protests, CNN quotes a Mr David Kramer of ‘Freedom House’, described as ‘a US-based nongovernmental organization’. “He (Yanukovych) has left his country vulnerable to Vladimir Putin's threats and pressure”, Kramer told CNN. “That will be Yanukovych's legacy if he doesn't reverse course.”
It’s revealing to compare the highly sympathetic, high profile western coverage of the Ukrainian protests with the way other protests have been covered in recent years.
Last summer I was in Spain, at a time when there were massive nightly demonstrations in Madrid against the government’s austerity program. I sent a text message to a friend in England to ask if he had been following events in Spain and how they had been reported back home. He said that he hadn’t seen or heard anything on British television about the protests.
It’s not just the Spanish protests of 2012 which failed to receive the coverage they warranted. There have been widespread anti-austerity protests across Europe in recent years, but none of them have gained as much attention as the current protests in Ukraine. Everyone has a right to protest, but it seems that some protestors are more equal than others.
The EU is an economic deathtrap for the Ukraine, and Yanukovych seems to have dodged a bullet for the time being, as Steve Lendman of the Progressive Radio News Hour put it. The terms which the EU provided to the Ukrainian government for accession would have placed them at the mercy of the IMF and the ECB, and essentially in the same ghetto of permanent trade deficits (and the structural adjustments, with all that implies, that come with them) to which the PIIGS and much of EU-facing Eastern Europe belong, and to which Germany must keep adding more territory in order to sustain their current economic model. Some animals are more equal than others, indeed.