“Ukraine Sets Deadline for Militias to Surrender Illegal Guns”

March 21st, 2014

I usually avoid commenting on matters of foreign affairs, though I will highlight this story as it relates to several interests of mine:

In an effort to stabilize Ukraine and extend its authority, the interim government has set a deadline of Friday for turning in the illegal firearms that are now carried openly by so-called self-defense groups in Independence Square, the politically important plaza in the center of the capital.

The order was seconded on Thursday by the French ambassador to Ukraine, Alain Rémy, who said the disarmament of the militias that helped overthrow the former government is a central requirement for the European Union to begin disbursing financial aid, along with the government fighting corruption.

Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, who was a staunch supporter of the protesters but never condoned violent tactics, set the deadline for Friday, the day Ukraine is scheduled to sign the political articles of an association agreement with the European Union.

“For those who want to defend their country with an assault rifle in their hands, welcome to the National Guard or the Army,” Mr. Yatsenyuk said in a speech this week.

Members of the self-organized defense groups that formed to defend Independence Square and other protest sites during the uprising have been reluctant to comply. Like gun owners in countries like the United States and Switzerland where ownership of firearms is widespread, they contend that the weapons are needed to defend the country against a possible foreign invasion and to defend their freedoms from potential government abuse.

Maybe Justice Stevens can help draft their law limiting ownership of arms to those in the militia?