Exactly a month ago the Ukrainian crisis seemed on the verge of a peaceful resolution: the European Union had mediated negotiations between the government of Viktor Yanukovich and leaders of the opposition, and an agreement had been reached. The government consented to a truce in exchange for a promise of early elections, a downsizing of the President’s powers, and the freeing of opposition leader and wealthy oligarch Julia Tymoshenko, jailed on charges of corruption (and possible involvement in a murder plot).
It didn’t work out that way.
Instead, what happened less than twenty-four hours after the truce was announced was a shocking act of violence, initially blamed on the Ukrainian police: 20 protesters were shot and killed. The opposition seized on this and broke the EU-sponsored agreement, as armed activists from the ultra-nationalist Svoboda and Right Sector groups attacked police with Molotov cocktails and what had been billed as a "peaceful" protest turned violent rather quickly. The narrative was quickly picked up by the "mainstream" Western media: evil pro-Russian authoritarians murder blameless peaceful "pro-democracy" protesters – the people rise up – Yanukovich flees – the Good Guys come to power in Ukraine.