News / Europe

Ukraine Protesters Warn Against Trade Pact with Moscow

  • Portraits of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov are seen at a barricade during a rally in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • A woman passes by Interior Ministry personnel as they block pro-EU demonstrators near the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • Ukrainian pro-EU demonstrators warm themselves by a fire during a rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • A pile of garbage bags left by pro-European integration protesters lies in front of riot police officers in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • A Pro-European Union activist guards an entrance to the tent camp in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 19, 2013.
  • A man reads a newspaper with a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the front page during a pro-European Union rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 19, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists warm themselves sitting in their shelter inside a barricade during a rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Dec. 18, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists pass through a police line as they march against the government in Kyiv, Dec. 17, 2013.
  • A pro-European Union activist stands while warming himself near a bonfire at a heavily fortified tent camp in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 17, 2013.
  • A man stacks wooden bars showing names of Ukrainian cities and settlements that are hometowns of demonstrators, during a rally in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 16, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters eat free meals near a barricade during a rally in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 16, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Dec. 15, 2013. 
James Brooke
Ahead of a visit to Moscow by Ukraine’s president, protesters filled central Kyiv, warning him not to sign a trade pact with Russia.
 
Ruslana Lyzhychko, the pop singer who is the muse of the pro-Europe movement here, gave the core message: “Ukraine wants to be part of Europe.”
 
President Viktor Yanukovych says on Tuesday in Moscow he will only sign economic agreements that restore normal trading relations with Russia, Ukraine’s largest trading partner.  But Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told a pro-government rally on Saturday the government is finalizing negotiations with the Kremlin on a new strategic partnership agreement.
 
Protesters worry Yanukovych will sign a secret treaty that will bind Ukraine to joining President Vladimir Putin’s new Moscow-centered Customs Union.

On Sunday, Stanislav, a 56-year-old businessman from Poltava, was on the edge of a sea of protesters estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.
 
“It is the restoration of the Soviet Union, the same Soviet Union that I lived through,” he said of President Putin’s economic group, formally called the Eurasian Union.
 
At every entrance to the barricaded encampment, volunteers handed out flyers, urging people to keep up protest numbers during the president’s Moscow visit.  The flyer warned: “On the 17th Yanukovych flies to Moscow to sell out Ukraine and to ask Putin for money to save his skin.”
 
US senators lend voice
 
U.S. Senator John McCain (C) waves to pro-European intergration protesters during a mass rally at Independence Square in Kyiv December 15, 2013. Flanking hi, are U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (L) and one of Ukraine's opposition leaders, Oleh Tyahnybok.U.S. Senator John McCain (C) waves to pro-European intergration protesters during a mass rally at Independence Square in Kyiv December 15, 2013. Flanking hi, are U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (L) and one of Ukraine's opposition leaders, Oleh Tyahnybok.
x
U.S. Senator John McCain (C) waves to pro-European intergration protesters during a mass rally at Independence Square in Kyiv December 15, 2013. Flanking hi, are U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (L) and one of Ukraine's opposition leaders, Oleh Tyahnybok.
U.S. Senator John McCain (C) waves to pro-European intergration protesters during a mass rally at Independence Square in Kyiv December 15, 2013. Flanking hi, are U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (L) and one of Ukraine's opposition leaders, Oleh Tyahnybok.
Moral support came from two visiting American senators, one a Democrat and the other Republican.  Senator Chris Murphy, the Democrat, told the crowd: "Ukraine's future stands with Europe, and the United States stands with Ukraine.”
 
Senator John McCain, the Republican, also spoke from the stage.  “To all Ukrainians, America stands with you,”  the senator said, pausing for the translation into Ukrainian.  "We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe."
 
In return, the crowd chanted English: “Thank you, USA. Thank you, USA.”
 
George Woloshyn, a Ukrainian-American from Virginia, was walking through the crowd at the time, carrying an American flag on a long pole.
 
“Everyone was very enthusiastic,” he said of Senator McCain’s reception. “People were greeting him. They were thanking him. Everybody was saying ‘thank you, thank you.’ So I think you have an enormously impressive response on the part of Ukrainians to Senator McCain.”
 
Europe frustrated too
 
Adding to the American pressure, the European Union said Sunday that it was indefinitely suspending talks on association pacts with the Yanukovych government.
 
European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele tweeted: "Words & deeds of President & government regarding the Association Agreement are further & further apart.  Their arguments have no grounds in reality."
 
Last week, as protests mounted here, Yanukovych sent a negotiating team to Brussels. But Fuele tweeted Sunday that he saw no commitment by Ukraine’s president to sign a deal.
 
Ukraine’s ruling Regions Party had intended to stage a mass rally on Sunday to compete with the pro-Europe rally.  But plans were cancelled after turnout was thin at a warm-up rally on Saturday.
 
That rally was composed largely of groups of workers sent by bus or train from eastern Ukraine, where the economy depends heavily on Russia.  One man told VOA that he was paid 200 Ukrainian hryvnia - about $25 - to attend.
 
Another protester, Andrei, a fur-hatted retired coal miner, said he came to support Ukraine’s unity.
 
“We are for one, unified nation,” he said. “Not East, not West.  We are Ukrainians, Belorussians, Russians - we should all live together in a friendly way.”
 
But only 500 meters away, barriers of snow and steel protected the pro-Europe encampment.  Volunteers served sandwiches and hot tea for thousands.  And one of Ukraine’s top rock bands was about to take the stage for another free concert.  The pro-Europe protesters showed every sign of camping out for the long haul.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs