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Monday, December 9, 2013

Ukraine: Million-man march was held in Kyiv and all over the country

Massive anti-government and pro-European protests in
(Image: Gazeta UA)
Between 500 thousand and 1 million people (according to different estimation) have attended Sunday’s million-man march “People’s Council” in Kyiv with tens of thousands of Ukrainians protesting also in other Ukrainian cities as well.

After failure of Vilnius Summit and refusal of Victor Yanukovich to sign Association Agreement with EU, violent dispersal of peaceful protesters on 30 November and terrible beating of demonstrators and journalists by special security forces in front of Presidential Administration on 1 December people continue their massive protests and strikes during the second week. Protesters also continue blocking of the administrative district in Kyiv where most of the governmental buildings are located.

Sunday was marked by the unprecedented numbers of protesters gathered in Kyiv downtown in order to voice their demands to the current government and to support the path of Ukraine towards the fundamental changes in the country as people demand the fall of regime and total reloading of the political system of the country.

Massive protests in Kyiv
(Image: Gazeta UA)
Million-man march called by the oppositional forces has started at 12 p.m. when the columns of people moved to the central square of Kyiv – Independence Square, the main venue of the protests. The entire square and the streets leading to it including the neighboring areas and the slopes of Kyiv Park have been packed with demonstrators. Their numbers were obviously higher than during Orange Revolution in 2004.

The rally has started with the collective prayer for Ukraine and its future and with the signing of the national anthem. Then Yury Andrukcovych, prominent Ukrainian writer, has read in front of the protesters joint petition and statement of Ukrainian intelligence summarizing the demands of the people and addressed to the oppositional leaders. This statement is already signed by more than 6,500 people.

The key demands of the protesters expressed in the statement are the following: release of all the people unlawfully detained after clashes near President’s Office, investigation of the situation and punishing of those responsible for the violent beatings, no political repressions and repressions against the participants of Euromaidan, removing the troops of special forces form Kyiv streets, renewal of the 2004 Constitution, signing of the Association Agreement with EU, lustration in judicial system, prosecution and police.

Video of the massive protests in Ukrainian capital, by Radio Svoboda:

Oppositional leaders Arseny Yatsenyuk, Oleg Tyagnybok and Vitaly Klichko fully support the demands of the people and stated that they are ready for the national dialogue and negotiations with the current government in order to prevent the further escalation of conflict threatening the division of the country. But they stated they will start the negotiations only with the following conditions: released of the detainees, investigations of the recent events with violent beatings and dispersal of protests and punishing those responsible for it, resignation of Minister of Interior Mr. Zakharchenko, resignation of Mykola Azarov and his Cabinet, stepping down of President and early presidential and parliamentary elections.

Protests in Lviv
(Image: TVi)
If to summarize the demands of the protesters there are three main demands: Victor Yanukovich must step down, the persons responsible for the violence should be held accountable and government must resign, all the detainees must be released.

In addition to that protesters declared their ultimatum to Victor Yanukovich: Victor Yanukovich is given 48 hours to arrest Minister of Interior Zakharchenko, to oust current government of Mykola Azarov and to release the detainees and political prisoners. If these demands won’t be met, residence of Victor Yanukovich in Mezhygirya (near Kyiv) will be blocked by protesters.

The area of the protests has also became bigger and wider with the entire governmental quarter being blocked, including Administration of President, Cabinet of Ministers, Parliament, Kyiv City Council and all the streets leading to these buildings. Protesters do not break into the building and do not attempt to storm them, they just block them. Tens of thousands of people are patrolling the area of the governmental district and remains there with the tents erected in front of the administrative buildings.

Oppositional leaders are calling for the continuous strikes and protests with blocking of the governmental buildings until the demands of protesters won’t be met, but all the protesters must remain peaceful.

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of European
(Image: With the Voices)
Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymosheko, currently imprisoned, has addressed the nation calling for the people not to give up and stand till the victory and to achieve all the goals of the revolution. Yanukovich must step down and all the system of the government must be changed, stated Mrs. Tymoshenko.

Meanwhile Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich, who just arrived in Kyiv after his official visit to China and meeting with Russian President, seems not to hear the demands of his citizens. There was no official statement of the President regarding the current situation and no reaction. Almost one week has passed since the dispersal of the sit-in on Independence Square and the violent beating of the protesters and journalists near President’s Office, and there are no results of investigations and no steps of the government to resolve the situation.

It’s worth mentioning that numerous Western politicians and diplomats including representatives of USA, Canada, EU have called on the government to listen to the demands of the citizens and to resolve the crisis organizing negotiations with the opposition and avoiding use of violence against its own people.

Official delegation of European People’s Party representing European Parliament is currently in Kyiv and aims to help the government and the opposition to find the solution if the deepening crisis. Elmar Brock, one of the members of the mission, has stated on Saturday, that official resolution of European Parliament regarding Ukraine and Ukrainian situation will be presented in one week.

Ukrainians protests on Independence Square in Kyiv
(Image: Gazeta UA)
Victor Yanukovich has had on Sunday an official phone talk with José Manuel Barroso, President of European Commission, who reminded Ukrainian President about the necessity to respect citizens’ freedoms of Ukrainians, show the restraint and to find the peaceful and political solution of the current crisis with the help of the dialogue with Ukrainian opposition.

Mr. Barroso has offered Victor Yanukovich help of EU with the political dialogue and mediation, and Ukrainian President has accepted its offer. Thus Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policies for EU, is expected to arrive in Kyiv next week in order to mediate in the dialogue between Ukrainian oppositional forces and current government in order to resolve the crisis in the country and to avoid escalation of conflict.

In addition to that Victor Yanukovich had also an official phone talk with Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, who also called to Yanukovich to respect the freedoms of Ukrainians and to listen to their demands and stated that special consultations will be started next week in order to resolve the crisis.

Governmental district, the streets blocked by the protesters
(Image: Hromadske TV)
Though Ukrainian opposition claims that Victor Yanukovich isn’t’ ready for the peaceful solution of the crisis. They stated that Mr. Yabukovich had secret deal with Russian President Vladimir Yanukovich during his recent visit to Sochi, when Mr. Putin allegedly promised financial aid to Yanukovich in exchange of “order” in the country, declaring state of emergency and following joining of Ukraine the Custom Union. Oppositional leaders claim they have credible sources proving this version and demand Victor Yanukovich and his press-service to publish the texts of the documents signed during the latest meeting with Russian President. Official spokespersons of the both, Russian and Ukrainian, Presidents state no agreements have been signed during the meeting as the Presidents have only discussed further cooperation and the terms of the future Agreement of Strategic Partnership.

Thus the situation in the country remains tense as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians continue to protests in the squares and streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities as well, and no political solution or step is made by the government or opposition. Meanwhile protesters remain on the Independence Square and continue to block the governmental district.