It has been almost two months since the people of Ukraine went on the streets protesting against the government. The protest, which spread to many cities, is criticizing the decision of the Ukrainian government to reject European Union’s Association agreement in favor of improving trade and traditional relations with Russia. Since then, the government has failed to cool down the tempers. The situation became even worse recently when the government of Ukraine made a law that sums up protesting as illegal. Protests which were gradually becoming mild, turned violent with protesters fighting the police and raiding government buildings.
While Ukraine is in the midst of a crisis, foreign media have been doing their best to propagate their own propaganda. Western media came out to the full support of European Union and the protests, whereas Russian media did their best criticizing the protests and supporting the Ukrainian government.
There was always this belief that Eastern Ukraine is more pro Russia, and western Ukraine is more tilted towards Europe. This division became prominent when pro-government rallies were organized in eastern parts of the country such as Donetsk. Though autonomous republic of Crimea is a part of Ukraine, people consider themselves as Russians and hold Russian passports. Crimea, along with rest of eastern Ukraine came out with strong support for the government.
At the time when divided media is dividing public opinion, it is very important to understand what actually is happening in Ukraine. For this reason, we surveyed native Ukrainians asking their opinion on recent protests and we got mixed responses as we had expected.
The survey was done asking a set of questions in person, on website and on social media from people belonging to different age groups, genders and regions of Ukraine.
We asked people, if given a choice between European Union and Russia, what would they choose? 60% of Ukrainians said they will prefer European Union, 33.33% said they want to align towards Russia or Customs union and 6.66% people said they want a free country, neither towards European Union or Russia.
We then asked the same people if they think Ukraine may have a better future with European Union. 33.33% percent people said no. whereas 53.33% said yes and 13.33% people were unsure. This statistic gives an interesting insight when compared with the one above. A significant number of people who wanted Ukraine to incline towards European Union were confused and unsure if it is good for Ukraine, assuming that those who want Ukraine to incline towards Russia will always deny the possibility of a better future with European Union.
European Union itself has been undergoing a financial crisis and the new member states, especially the countries of East Europe have in a number of times blamed EU of discrimination (take for example Bulgaria and Romania that are kept out of Schengen area). There are countries like United Kingdom who want to leave the European Union and there are countries like Iceland, Switzerland and Norway who do not want to join European Union. Greenland has left the European Union at its will. At this juncture, will Ukraine find a respectful position if it completely joins the European Union? Or bringing Ukraine to EU is just a plan to embarrass Russia? We asked the same question from the people we surveyed and we got mixed response: 40% people said yes, Ukraine may become a victim of discrimination, and 40% people said no.
At the moment Ukraine is having a political crisis where protesters have been so far successful in getting the Prime Minister of the country resign. There are clashes between principles. Protesters are raising their voice and demonstrating because they have every right to do so. However, the government believes they are elected majority, brought by the majority of the people of Ukraine, therefore they have every right to govern and do not want to give up.
As we were analysing the survey results, we could clearly see the east and west divide among Ukrainian population, where east supporting the government and west against it.
Ukraine political crisis
It is difficult to accurately determine which side has more supporters. In every democracy people have the right to elect their leaders and if they are not happy with the government then they have the right to make the government fall. Nevertheless, if the number of people who elected the government is more than the number of protesters, then is it democratic to force the government to quit? In any democracy, the party that has the largest support group should be the winning one… right? Considering the split of opinions between East and West dividing the country, it looks like one has the majority. I asked this same question to my Ukrainian friend who had come for a visit to India and he said that many west Ukrainians had boycotted the elections and did not cast their votes, thus president Viktor Yanukovich was put into power by easterns. So things might not be so simple after all.
European Union and Customs Union trying to gain Ukraine, made Ukrainians fight with each other, which is a sad reality. Now the question is not whether Ukraine will chose European Union or customs union, the question is whether Ukraine will let Yanukovich govern or not. He is serving one of the toughest times. After the resignation of Prime Minister Azarov, the President remains with less power. However, under the new constitution introduced in 2004, most of the power remains in the hands of the president. And the government can work for another two months without the Prime Minister.
The chaos in Ukraine started when the government refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. An association agreement is different than permanent membership of European Union. Such an agreement facilitates the cooperation between European Union and signatory countries in areas that include development of political, trade, social, cultural and security links. This agreement does not ensure better jobs, better lifestyle, access to Schengen region and other facilities and benefits which EU member states might enjoy. However, this agreement may make it easier for Ukraine to join European Union in the future, requiring an approval in the parliament or a public referendum.
European Union has certain membership criteria, and among them some criteria where Ukraine fails as of today are:
- stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
- a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU;
On the other hand, Russia has assured that it will not review its earlier signed agreements if the new government comes to the centre. Putin reiterated that the political crisis in Ukraine must be solved without any foreign interference. He further added, the international community, which has been calling on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to act in a civilized way amid the crisis, should urge the opposition to do the same.
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Unforgettable trip in Malaga, Spain
If you are wondering what is the best option to spend your next holidays the answer you are looking for is Marbella. The Spanish Costa del Sol, with its 320 sunny days and an average temperature of 19 degrees throughout the whole year, has everything you could ever need to have the most spectacular holidays.
Marbella is a destiny that has much to offer, it’s where sun, beach, party and luxury meet to give you the best experiences. If you want your Marbella holidays to be unforgettable you can’t miss these activities.
Sun, Sea and Beach Parties in Malaga
Yacht charter in Malaga: If you are in Costa del Sol you can’t miss the experience of renting a boat to enjoy the bay, from motorboats to luxury yachts. The sea is the perfect way to spend the day. There are many options to choose from and packs to meet your needs.
Party is a synonym of Marbella but there is nothing like a Costa del Sol boat party to enjoy with your friends and have the time of your life.
Beach day: No matter what time of the year you visit Marbella you can always count on a beach day. One of the most attractive features of Costa del Sol is its amazing beaches, awarded with the blue flag, which represent the gold standard for hygiene and public facilities, you can have a great day in one of its many beaches weather is having a drink at one of the typical chiringuitos or practicing different water sports like paddle surf, windsurf or diving in the Mediterranean the beaches in Costa del Sol are always a great option.
Party in Puerto Banus: from the famous Nikki Beach club to the many nightclubs in Marbella, there is no excuse not to party. And if you want to have a different experience you can always spice things up with a special guest, in Marbella, cheeky butler parties are always a fun way to spend the night or to celebrate a bachelorette party. It’s a different experience and you don’t have to worry about anything except enjoying yourself.
Cultural Options in Malaga
Enjoy the historic centre: If you are looking for a more relaxing way to spend your time, Marbella’s old town is an excellent option for you. Get lost in the city and discover all the magical places this typical Andalusian town has to offer.
From Dalí’s art display to its many restaurants there are many ways you can make the most of your time in Costa del Sol. Visit Marbella’s many beautiful squares, and its Alameda park or even take a quick field trip to Torremolinos. Whatever you choose Costa del Sol will never let you down.
Sports in Malaga
Practice your swing: Costa del Sol, also known as Costa del Golf has more than 70 golf courses almost all of them located next to the ocean which adds a beautiful scenery while you practice that swing.
These and many more are the activities are waiting for you to discover, so don’t wait any longer and visit Costa del Sol
UK Attempts To Bypass European Commission On Brexit Blocked By Brussels
As the UK and EU draw deeper and deeper into uncharted waters, Brexit negotiations are becoming increasingly erratic. As negotiators from both states met this week to discuss items such as the Northern Ireland Border, the rights of EU citizens currently residing in the UK and the notorious ‘divorce bill’, there have been numerous reports of frustration within the British camp.
Recently it was revealed that Prime Minister Theresa May, believing talks to be at an impasse, intended to go over the heads of the EU’s Brexit negotiators and appeal directly to world leaders such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. When questioned about this, however, Brussels officials close to the negotiations intimated that Mrs May would not be able to circumvent the negotiations process.
The officials pointed out that both French and German leaders had agreed prior to the talks that negotiations would come “as a single package” where “individual items cannot be settled separately” and that no member state would abstain from negotiations in favour of individual agreements.
One year on…
It has been over a year now since the UK referendum in which the country voted (at a rate of 52% to 48%) to leave the European Union in an unprecedented political and economic chain of events, the repercussions of which will take years to fully realise but which the world glibly knows as Brexit. It’s a small name for such a political leviathan. Many of the world’s leading bankers and economists still aren’t sure what to make of. Recently CEO Lloyds Bank Antonio Horta-Osorio (who has been lauded for restoring the bank’s profits to pre-financial crisis levels) expressed doubt and uncertainty over the long term economic effects of Brexit. It’s somewhat telling that former Prime Minister David Cameron resigned shortly after the vote, claiming that his involvement in the ‘Remain’ campaign put him at odds with the will of the people but it’s possible that he had the prescience to realise that he had no hope of taming this wily and unpredictable beast. One year on, the beast only seems to have become further enraged by the negotiating process.
Theresa May has gone into Brexit negotiations with some questionably aggressive negotiating tactics. The first round of talks were mired by her strangely audacious assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The frustration has clearly been felt on both sides with chief negotiator Michel Barnier urging Mrs May to begin negotiating “seriously”. The French government also demonstrated an unwillingness to circumvent negotiations earlier this week, stating that it “fully supports, on the substance as well as on the method, Michel Barnier’s negotiating mandate” and asserting that claims that Mrs May can somehow bypass the procedure “are founded on absolutely nothing and do not reflect reality”. Brexit Minister David Davis, however, retains an optimistic tone, stating;
“Our goal remains the same: we want to agree a deal that works in the best interests for both the European Union and the United Kingdom and people and businesses right across Europe. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work once more…”.
The EU Commission seeks to ban cash: A cashless democratic sham?
Belgium, Denmark, France, Canada, the UK, Sweden and many other countries from the Eurozone and Western world are amongst the most prominent countries to move away from cash, namely due to the large availability of other types of payment. And yet, the EU Commission continues to push towards even less cash and fantasizes on killing it completely off. Why the obstinacy? Is cash giving governmental agencies an itch because it escapes their control?
In the Netherlands, 85% of transactions are cashless: transfers, debit, e-payment, etc. take the cake. It doesn’t result from a ban on cash, but a country where 98% of citizens have debit cards is bound to take it easy on currency. In Sweden, cashless transactions amount to even more. The cashless world champion is Belgium, where only 7% of transactions are carried out in cash. Cashless-support Robert Colville recently published (1) an OpEd in which he wrote: “it’s about not just cash but credit cards themselves disappearing – about paying for whatever we like with the wave of a phone or the blink of a biometrically-verified eye. That future is coming sooner than we think”. As more options opened up to the public to make their payments, the more digitally developed populations slowly adopted them, reducing gradually the use of cash. Much to their government’s delight.
India violently pushed the envelope in the end of 2016, when the Prime Minister announced overnight that almost all banknotes would be null and void within a few weeks. The BBC announced (2): “In an unscheduled televised address on 8 November Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the nation just four hours notice that 500 ($7.30; £6) and 1,000 rupee notes would no longer be legal tender. People were told they could deposit or change their old notes in banks until 30 December and new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes would be issued.”. This set off an earthquake in a country where a large share of the population has no debit card, cell phone or even access to a nearby bank.
The Indian PM announced the move was intended to fight corruption, crime, terrorism, as well as to modernize the country. However, the reason simpler, yet more complex. The Indian government, like just about any other government in the world, is trying to force its citizens under more of its control. From a governmental point of view, complete control means more taxation earnings, more powerful means to tackle crime, and better population control.
National governments, international governmental bodies and interstate agencies all want to kill cash, so as to close the loop on their control over populations. Because cash is the only true peer-to-peer payment vector, killing cash means a citizen has nowhere to hide from governmental control. This explains why, as the cash-killing pressure grows from governments, alternate currencies such as bitcoins continue to develop: citizens who see governmental hyper-power as a threat to their liberties move to the only place where they can be left alone. Bitcoin News published a 1999 interview (3) of economist Milton Friedman, broaching the question of civil liberties: “The Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government. The one thing that is missing, but will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash: a method by which on the Internet you can transfer funds from an A to B without A knowing B or B knowing A. The way in which I can take a $20 and hand it over to you and there is no record of where it came from”. Many people today see crypto-currency not as a way to commit crimes, but as a way to fight back on government control.
In all parts of the world, states struggle to acquire more control. Many Asian, South American and African states, sometimes dubbed “failed states” by the West, have very limited or non-existent control over their citizens and territory. Greece has no cadaster, many African countries have no civil registries, and almost half the world has only an approximate idea of the size of their own population. But in the West, a State knows each of its citizens and residents by name, where they live, where they work, what they drive, the names of their children, the size of their house, etc. To that existing data repository, States can add potential data: data which can be easily accessed through online investigation: whom they call (with phone registers), whom they do business with (with banking registers), where they go (cell phone tracking), etc.
But cash eludes their control, because it doesn’t rely on banks or any other intermediary. Killing cash will be the ultimate step of state control. Payment-method specialized website LTP reports (4): “Increasingly, government agencies are also feeling the need to shift to modern payment processing tools and techniques and leave the traditional formats behind. A number of companies are fulfilling the government’s needs through their payment rails”.
Public entities claim to be fighting cash, in order to better protect their citizens, but there is far more to it. If the advantages and disadvantages of cash are weighed from a citizen’s point of view, maintaining the existence of cash is obviously preferable: while other types of payment can be practical according to circumstances, why deprive oneself of an option which we use every day? But that same balance from a state’s or superstate’s perspective is very different. Be it fiscal agencies, or law enforcement, or cyber-surveillance, governmental bodies yearn to reign every citizen in the world -not just their own – into the electronic world, where national borders no longer exist and civil rights to privacy can be easily and discretely hacked into. They will apply to the 0.01 % of people who use cash for criminal and terrorist activities, and for the 99.99% of law-abiding citizens who don’t.
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