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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs