The end of the criminal Yanukovych mafia regime may be nearer than we think. Three developments in the last week mark sea changes that favor the democratic opposition.
First, the regime’s elite guards—the Berkut riot police—shot and killed several demonstrators. Another man was disappeared by a death squad, tortured, and killed. These actions were criminal, but they were also profoundly stupid. In killing at least five young men, the Yanukovych regime has provided the democratic revolutionaries with something every revolution needs: martyrs and symbols. The Ukrainian revolution of 2014 now has its Nathan Hale (hanged by the British in 1776), its Medgar Evers (killed by white racists in 1963), its Benno Ohnesorg (killed by the West German police in 1967), and its Steve Biko (killed by the apartheid South African regime in 1977).
As Yanukovych will soon learn, you can’t fight martyrs, and you definitely can’t fight symbols. They will remain permanently alive, inspiring the struggle and promoting implacability and irreconcilability. In martyring five men, the regime made them into invincible enemies who will hasten its end.