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NightWatch 20140223

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For the night of 23 February 2014

South Korea - North Korea: Family reunions continued without incident over the weekend and on 24 February, despite the start of annual Allied military training. The North Koreans published one lengthy essay denouncing the exercises, but it contained no threats.

Ukraine: Summary. Over the weekend, events in Kyiv moved quickly resulting in an extra-legal parliamentary takeover, outpacing US and European diplomacy. The protestors' behavior showed that they knew they were winning on Friday; that they also appreciated their time was running out and that they had no intention of compromising or complying with a negotiated settlement.

Yanukovych and his cronies fled to eastern Ukraine. After which, parliament took charge. It appointed new defense and interior ministers and an interim president from its own members; freed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other prisoners; revived the 2004 constitution and announced presidential elections in May.

The security situation in Kyiv calmed after Yanukovych left, but an extreme right wing group of protestors announced it will continue demonstrations.

The armed forces stayed in barracks. The police disappeared from the streets and from public buildings.

In eastern Ukraine, government devolved. Some local officials announced they have taken control of their own affairs, which apparently means they are adopting the right to refuse direction from Kyiv.

Comment: The key factor in the ouster of Yanukovych was the inaction of the security forces. Army units reportedly on trains for Kyiv did not travel. The Interior Minister ordered the police to withdraw, leaving the capital to the protestors.

The behavior of the armed forces, through inaction or direct action, determined the overthrow of every Arab Spring government, just as it did for Yanukovych. Ukraine could become a model for government overthrows in other European countries under conditions of stress.

The press reported that parliament voted unanimously 328 - 0 to impeach Yanukovych. That is curious because the parliament has 450 members with three vacancies. Possibly a quarter of the country appears to have been disenfranchised.

The eastern Ukrainians could appeal for Russian assistance, as did the Abkhazians and South Ossetians. Crimeans already are reported to have raised the Russian flag. The crisis has evolved, not ended. Ukraine shows preliminary signs of fragmentation.

Venezuela: Anti-government demonstrations continued in Caracas. Thus far the security forces are responding to the chain of command. Additionally, the Maduro government has organized counter demonstrations by its supporters. On Sunday, Caracas hosted the pro-government "March of the Seniors."

Comment: The government has vowed to crackdown on the protestors. One lesson Maduro should draw from Ukraine is to make certain the security forces are loyal and reliable.

End of NightWatch for 23 February.

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