The latest iteration of the Ukrainian crisis started late last year when the country’s quasi-legal President Viktor Yanukovych, in violation of the country’s constitution, decided that Ukraine would be better served allying itself with the Russian Bear rather than follow Brussels' diktats buried in European Union offers of financial aid. This proved to be the spark that led to non-violent protests, which turned violent when the president, with the aid of Russian military thugs advising him, decided to push back against them.
One of the leaders of the protests, Dmytro Yarosh (a questionable character with a shady history of communist affiliations), gathered to himself an estimated 5,000 hard-core nationalists in an organization called Right Sector. The group viewed itself as a continuation of Ukrainian “partisans,” such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought against both the Axis powers and the Soviet Union during World War II. Yarosh's group was the best trained and organized among the estimated 50,000 protesters gathered in downtown Kiev in February.
After much bloodshed (and credible suggestions that Russian snipers had been picking off both protesters and police forces in the center of the cauldron in order to escalate the violence), Yanukovych was ousted unanimously by the Ukrainian Parliament and replaced (temporarily the world was told) with another equally squalid politician, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Promises for real elections to be held in late May were sufficient to quell, at least temporarily, the protesters who wanted a restoration of the constitution that Yanukovych had ignored for the last three years.
Once in power, Yatsenyuk announced last week that all citizens were to be disarmed, in order, he said, to help maintain order and assure a peaceful transition to a new government once the elections were held. The deadline for turning in all weapons was set for the very next day, the same day Yatsenyuk was to sign an agreement with Brussels to obtain desperately needed financing. Part of that agreement is that the citizenry — the protesters who had forced the resignation of one dictator and unwittingly had replaced him with another — be disarmed.
But for now the citizens are still allowed to keep their weapons, on one condition: that they join the country’s National Guard or the Army. As Yatsenyuk expressed it, tongue in cheek: “For those who want to defend their country with an assault rifle in their hands, welcome to the National Guard or the Army.”
This condition is being opposed by the protesters, who according to the New York Times enjoy “widespread ownership of arms” and believe that such arms are necessary not only “to defend the country against a possible foreign invasion [but also] to defend their freedoms from potential government abuse.”
Right Sector leader Yarosh complained about the order, saying, “It’s not normal to ask people to hand in their weapons in the situation we have now”; however, he then admitted that while his organization opposes the “request” from Yatsenyuk, he will be urging his followers to comply with the edict.
The Times found a member of the Ukrainian Parliament who supports the confiscation, even though it was never considered by the Parliament. He insisted, “Arms out of control of the state are of course a factor in instability and should not be allowed to drift by inertia.… Guns are a catalyst of disorder. Arming the population is not our policy.”
However the Ukrainian situation is resolved — a dictatorship heavily influenced by Vladimir Putin and his thugs, or one strongly committed to similar thugs running the European Union — one lesson from history is crystal clear: Repressive governments fear armed civilians.
Adolf Hitler knew that lesson. He declared, "The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms."
So did Mao Tse-tung. He stated, "All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns. That way, no guns can ever be used to command the party."
History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.
Yatsenyuk and Yarosh and their enablers know their history.
A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at