Unrest in Ukraine


There is unrest in Ukraine. The president of the country has fled to Russia, and a temporary government has been put in place.

The problems in Ukraine started in November. This is when Ukraine and the European Union (EU), a group of 28 countries in Europe that collaborate with each other, were expected to sign an agreement to improve relationships between the two. However, Ukraine’s government decided not to go ahead with the agreement, and instead, decided to further improve its ties with Russia, one of its already big trading partners. Many Ukrainians became upset because they believed their country would benefit from having closer ties with the EU countries. (Russia is not a member of the EU.)

Many gathered and protested in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, to convince their government to focus on improving ties with the EU. That didn’t happen, and the protesters refused to give up. The government started using force, and when the Ukrainians fought back, many were hurt. The government then passed laws which took away people’s freedom of speech and the right to protest. Many Ukrainians became furious, and demanded that the government step down. As time went on, the fight between the government and protesters became more violent. The protesters took over some government offices, and the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia. Now a temporary government has been placed in Ukraine until elections will be held in May.

There is a twist to the situation. Some Ukrainians prefer closer ties to Russia instead of the EU, especially in a southern region of Ukraine named Crimea.

Ukraine and Russia used to be part of the same nation called the Soviet Union (USSR) until 1991, when the Soviet Union split into fifteen separate countries. Crimea is an autonomous region of Ukraine, because it has its own parliament and controls some of its own services. Many people living in Crimea consider themselves as “Russians”. The Russian government has sent its troops to Crimea claiming that it is protecting people who consider themselves Russians. Crimea is legally part of Ukraine, and many other countries (including the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States) blame Russia for illegally entering into Ukraine’s land. Crimea is going to hold a vote for its citizens scheduled for later this month to decide if they want to be part of Ukraine or Russia.

A landmark of Crimea is the Swallow’s Nest. It is a 100-year old castle built on a cliff facing the Black Sea. Crimea was listed as one of the “Best Trips for 2013” by the National Geographic. You can view a video about the Swallow’s Nest here.


Did you know?

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a British lady who became famous because she cared for and treated wounded soldiers during a war based in the Crimea region. She was called “The Lady with the Lamp”, as she would go around at night to check on her patients. Here is a video about her.

Image Credits: J29 for Swallow Nest’s image, Krim 2014 de.svg: Don Alessandro and Schwarzorange for map of Ukraine, Amakuha for Ukraine revolution’s image
Sources: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/, BBC, http://www.aljazeera.com/