News / Europe

Ukrainian Opposition Accuses Yanukovych of Stealing EU Dream

  • Police stand guard in front of protesters during a demonstration in support of EU integration at Independence Square in Kyiv, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • Police stand guard in front of protesters during a demonstration in support of EU integration at Independence Square in Kyiv Nov. 29, 2013.
  • A view of a rally in support of integration with the European Union, as a supporter waves a European flag from a building top in Kyiv, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • Students form a human chain from the Ukrainian capital to the western border during a demonstration in support of EU integration at Independence Square in Kyiv, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • People warm themselves by a fire in a steel drum during a rally in support of Ukraine's integration with the European Union in Kyiv, Nov. 28, 2013.
  • Ukrainian Opposition Party protesters hold posters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in front of the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • Vitali Klitschko, WBC heavyweight boxing champion and chairman of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar, raises his arms as he and another opposition leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, try to gain entry to the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • People warm themselves at fires made in steel drums after a meeting to support EU integration at European Square in Kyiv, Nov. 26, 2013.
  • Protesters demand Ukraine sign a trade deal with the European Union, European Square, Kyiv, Nov. 26, 2013. (Henry Ridgwell for VOA)
  • Protesters wear gas masks during a demonstration to support EU integration in Kyiv, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • Protesters clash with riot police during a rally to support EU integration in Kyiv, Nov. 25, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Ukraine's political opposition said on Friday that President Viktor Yanukovych had "stolen the dream" of closer integration with Europe as his supporters hailed his decision to spurn an EU free trade deal.

In a sea of blue and gold, the colors of both the EU and Ukrainian flags, some 10,000 protesters chanted “Ukraine is Europe” in Independence Square, the theater of the Orange Revolution of 2004-5 that thwarted Yanukovich's first presidential bid.
       
“Today they stole our dream, our dream of living in a normal country,” said heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, a contender for the 2015 presidential election. “The failure to sign the agreement of association is treason,” he told the roaring crowd.

Yanukovich's decision to suspend a deal that would have aligned Ukraine's economy more closely with Europe's by opening borders to goods, and set the stage for an easing of travel restrictions, was for many an opportunity lost.

“Europe was the way out of the mess we're in, the way out of
 the corruption that has overwhelmed our country,” said Andrey Dobrolet, 41, a lawyer.
       
“But now we see the real colors of the people in power,” he said, after an announcement that Yanukovych was leaving a summit in Vilnius without the free trade agreement that had been months in negotiation.

Some wiped away tears on Friday, huddling around oil barrels where wood, window frames and crates were being burned to keep protesters warm.
       
“I expected this, but the people will continue to fight and tensions will continue,” said Sergei Bandar, 61, a pensioner.

As pro-EU protesters sang Ukraine's national anthem, the slow melody was interrupted by a rival rally on another square some 200 meters away, where people cheered Yanukovych and his decision to strengthen ties with Russia.

Yanukovych loyalists

Here, on European Square, some 3,000-4,000 people, many of them bussed in from Yanukovych strongholds in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, gathered near a hastily constructed stage, where singers sang popular songs and speakers warned of the dangers of European integration.

“If we had signed, we would have opened our borders and killed our own manufacturers,” said Anatoliy Bliznyuk, a parliamentarian from Yanukovych's Regions Party.
       
The two rallies reflected the linguistic and cultural split between the Ukrainian-speaking west, where support for the EU had been strong, and the predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, from which Yanukovych himself hails.

The stage-managed look of the meeting led to accusations that the attendees had been paid to show up, a practice not uncommon in Ukraine, where the average monthly salary is around $400. No one was willing to speak to a Reuters journalist.

“No one can tell us what to do. We will build our own Europe in Ukraine. Are we worse than Europe?” Artyom Silchenko, a student, told a state television channel.

Despite the proximity of the two demonstrations, there were no reports of violence between protesters. But local media said five journalists had been beaten up b
'sportsmen', code for thugs enforcing the government's will on the street.
       
Yanukovych denies using any such tactics.
       
Some on Independence Square took heart from the fact that Yanukovych said he was only suspending plans to sign the trade deal, not canceling them altogether.
       
“I'm an optimist, we are located right next to Europe, and we have elections in two years' time,” said Roman Dashchaksky, 27. “Sooner or later, integration is inevitable.”

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: A. G. H. from: Ukraine
November 29, 2013 1:42 PM
I told you - this is happening... but VOA soft peddled it... let me tell you again - this is not going to get better...!!! we want complete separation from the depravity of the Mafia State. Russia is decaying faster than Iran. We feel stifled here, we want to get away from Russia. we only wish we could rely on the US... but the US seems to be under some foreign Islamic occupation - betraying all their friends and cuddling their enemies... so we must do this on our own... and if Putin think he can bring tanks into Kiev... well, let him try.

In Response

by: Bruno
December 03, 2013 12:49 AM
Sounds like you would just love living in the European Union go then rich boy go to Greece and stay there for 28 months and then come tell me how it was for ya.

In Response

by: Andrew Bain
November 30, 2013 3:15 AM
Obama has sacrificed Ukraine on behalf of his misguided Iranian policy - giving up Kiev to Putin in exchange for Russia's not intervening as the US stumbles over itself in the Middle East. And VOA is proving itself nothing but a waste of tax money as it fully supports this misdirection by soft-peddling the story: every other news outlet has already reported on this morning's violence while VOA appears to be still waiting for guidance how to spin this.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid