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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora