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Leonid Bershidsky

Ukraine's Protesters Show Its Leaders How to Govern

The protesters' camp in Kiev serves as an encouraging experiment in communal living.

Whether or not the throngs of protesters in Kiev succeed in ousting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, they have proven one thing: Their civic sensibility is in many ways more mature than that of the political establishment.

Demonstrators occupying the city center have created what is possibly the largest self-organizing, self-sustaining revolutionary commune the world has seen since the 1968 riots in Paris. The Euromaidan -- as the protesters' camp in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, is known -- is increasingly looking like a nation within a nation.

The protests began on Nov. 21 after the Ukrainian government backpedaled from signing an association and free trade deal with the European Union. Now they have swelled into a movement that attracts hundreds of thousands on weekends, and EU integration is no longer the central issue. The Euromaidan wants the president to go and the constitution amended to turn Ukraine into a parliamentary republic.