Monday, December 02, 2013

Ukraine pro-EU protests: ‘It’s not a rally, it’s a revolution’

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Kiev on Sunday, calling for the resignation of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his government in the biggest demonstrations in the capital since the “Orange Revolution” of nine years ago.

An estimated 350,000 people from all over Ukraine had come to Kiev for what was supposed to be a peaceful opposition rally calling on President Yanukovych’s government to stand down and for new elections to be held. Dozens were injured when riot police used tear gas and truncheons to repel several hundred protesters who tried to storm the presidential administration building with a bulldozer.

Tensions had been building in the capital all week following his refusal to sign a free trade and political integration agreement with the EU. The Association Agreement would have seen Ukraine take a historic step closer to the West and away from Russia. It was due to be signed at a crucial summit in Vilnius on Friday, but the Ukraine backed out at the last minute after what EU leaders described as “Russian pressure”. Mr Yanukovych’s U-turn has highlighted an old East-West tug-of-war over Ukraine, which shares borders and ethnic ties with Russia and four EU countries.


Vitalii Klitschko, heavyweight boxing champion of the world and candidate for Ukraine’s 2015 Presidential elections, told the crowd: “We want a normal Ukraine without corruption, with a police force that protects rather than beats people, and good salaries. If the authorities are not ready to provide us with rules, we will change the authorities.” Full story...

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