Ukraine’s protests: Praying for peace

ONLY a few weeks ago the dismissal of the Ukrainian government by President Viktor Yanukovych and his offer to appoint an opposition leader as the country’s new prime minister would have had an electric effect. It would have been cheered by protesters on Kiev’s Independence Square (the Maidan) as an important victory. It might even have persuaded them to unblock the roads in the capital.Not any more. On January 28th Mr Yanukovych at last surrendered Nikolai Azarov, a long-serving but ineffectual prime minister. But that was met with a shrug of the shoulders by those manning the barricades in Kiev. Arseny Yatseniuk, an opposition leader, turned down the offer to become prime minister. Two days later, news came that Mr Yanukovych himself was taking a mysterious sick leave. That might be a sign that the pressure has got to him; just as likely, though, he is lying low and marshalling his forces for a crackdown.Over the past ten days the barricades have grown higher and have also moved a lot closer to the government’s offices. Fortified by the remains of burned-out police vans and sandbags, they now look less like a decoration and more like the front line in a war….

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