As the world focuses its attention on the Olympic Games in Sochi and controversies around the Russian government’s apparent hostility toward gay and lesbian rights, a far-reaching drama is playing out in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine.
The Eastern European country, independent since the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991, has been gripped by a series of protests that may very well determine its long-term political fate.
The Euromaidan was apparently named after the Independence Square in Kiev, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, where a major protest was held on the evening of November 21 of last year. The gathering of 1,000 to 2,000 people was staged in opposition to the abandonment by the Yanukovych government of an Association Agreement with the European Union.
Further protests ensued until a particularly violent crackdown by Ukrainian police on November 30.  From that point forward, demonstrations intensified and grew larger in number.
The protests seemed to take a much more violent turn by mid-January after the Ukrainian Parliament pushed through a sweeping 100 page anti-protest law.  The law essentially banned the installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places, all critical components of the Euromaidan up to that point.
Two and a half months later, the law has been repealed, Yanukovych’s Cabinet has been dissolved, and detained protesters granted amnesty on condition of an end to the occupations of government buildings.  Nevertheless, the protests continue and demands to end “government corruption” and the resignation of the Russian President remain unrelenting.
Complicating the situation is the role of militant fascist groups which appear to be influencing the protest movement, and are reminiscent of Hitler’s Brown Shirts and Mussolini’s Black Shirts from an earlier era.
Foreign governments appear to be influencing the situation as well. Russian President Vladmir Putin’s offer of substantial reductions in the cost of Russian natural gas and their willingness to purchase $15 billion in Ukrainian Government Eurobonds could be read as a bribe to keep Ukraine under Russian influence. 
Meanwhile, Western governments, including those of the US and Canada, are clearly expressing support for government opposition demonstrators. Following harsh crackdowns before and during the G20 protests in 2010, it is hard to imagine the Canadian government behaving much differently if faced by similar demonstrations which have included the occupation of government buildings and the use of molotov cocktails being hurled at police.
This week’s Global Research News Hour probes some of the less talked about aspects of the Euromaidan with three analysts.
University of Winnipeg Associate Professor of History Andriy Zayarnyuk is a Ukrainian national and is a specialist in the field of the Social and Cultural History of 19th and 20th Century Eastern Europe, including the Ukraine and the Soviet Union. He is also the author of the recently released book, Framing the Ukrainian Peasantry in Habsburg Galicia, 1846-1914. He helps provide an overview of the political and cultural background of the current struggle.
Eric Draitser is a New York-based geo-political analyst with StopImperialism.org. He discusses the right-wing fascist groups involved with the Euromaidan protests and threats they may pose over and above the opposition movement itself.
Finally, Rick Rozoff of Stop NATO returns to provide a thorough examination of the geo-political and geo-strategic context in which the popular uprising is taking place.