News / Europe

Ukrainian Protesters Settle In as Western Diplomats Gather

People sleep in a protesters' tent camp in the early morning hours, during a rally to support EU integration in Kyiv, Dec. 5, 2013.
People sleep in a protesters' tent camp in the early morning hours, during a rally to support EU integration in Kyiv, Dec. 5, 2013.
VOA News
Thousands of Ukrainian protesters are keeping up their vigil in Kyiv, where western diplomats have gathered for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Demonstrators have been calling for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, after he backed out of a trade deal with the European Union.

On Thursday, several western officials attending the OSCE meeting challenged the Ukrainian government to consider the demands of protesters.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland attended the meeting and said this was "Ukraine's moment to meet the aspirations of its people" or to disappoint them.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced Western criticism of Ukraine's handling of the demonstrations.

  • Ukrainian police officers stand in line during protests in Kyiv, Dec. 6, 2013. 
  • Kyiv's City Hall is now an organizational hub for protesters who have occupied the building, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Protesters rest inside Kyiv's City Hall building, Dec. 6, 2013.
  • Supporters of Ukrainian EU integration sing and wave flags during a protest in front of the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers building in Kyiv,  Dec. 6, 2013. 
  • Protesters eat at their tent camp in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • Protesters drum on empty barrels as they rally in front of a government building in Kyiv, Dec. 5, 2013.
  • A man wrapped in a Ukrainian flag distributes tea to protesters at Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 4, 2013.
  • A man carrying a Ukrainian flag gestures as he stands on top of a bridge overlooking Independence Square, Kyiv, Dec. 4, 2013.
  • Protesters clash with police during a demonstration in support of EU integration in Kyiv, Dec. 3, 2013.
  • Police stand guard over protesters in front of parliament during a demonstration in support of EU integration, Dec. 3, 2013.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told the group his government was "ready for dialogue" with the protesters.  

Yanukovych is visiting China.

On Wednesday, three former Ukrainian heads of state - Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko - issued a joint statement, endorsing the anti-government protests.

The protests erupted last week, after the Yanukovych government refused to sign the EU trade deal, announcing instead that it would seek to preserve and strengthen its economic lifeline with Moscow.  

Russia - Ukraine's largest foreign investor, trading partner and chief natural gas supplier - has in recent months exerted strong economic pressure on cash-strapped Kyiv in an apparent effort to derail the EU deal.    

Earlier this year, Moscow imposed restrictions on goods from Ukraine, forcing a 25-percent drop in Ukrainian exports and dragging the Ukrainian economy into recession.

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Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
December 06, 2013 4:49 AM
Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko are three losers. We called them the losers because they failed to boost Ukraine's economy. Instead, they turned their country into the state of chaos and disorder. They were denied by their own people. Their time was far over. Of course ther are some thousands who sympathize with them because those are the ones who benefited most during the three persons' rule whereares millions were in poverty.

by: Anonymous
December 05, 2013 12:57 PM
Hey VOA, whats the point of having the option to comment if you don't display the comments...??

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