News / Europe

US, EU Condemn Crackdown on Ukraine Protesters

Ukrainian riot police storm pro-European Union activists on Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec 11, 2013.
Ukrainian riot police storm pro-European Union activists on Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec 11, 2013.
James Brooke
“Go to Russia, Go to Russia,” chanted protesters as three buses loaded with Ukrainian riot police slowly retreated from their unsuccessful attack on pro-European protesters occupying Kyiv’s City Hall.

Riot police and protesters played push and pull Wednesday over the heart of Ukraine’s capital.  Under the cover of darkness and helped by Arctic temperatures, riot police broke down barricades and reclaimed about 20 percent of the Maidan, the protesters’ camp.

Protester Oleg recounts how the police failed to take the opposition’s command center and shut down the sound stage: “They tried to break into the building, but they failed because actually the people stay there, and they stop.”

  • Pro-European Union activists shout as they listen to Ukranian opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok, during a rally in the Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • People pass by a barricade erected by pro-European integration protesters in central Kyiv, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union musicians perform in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • People pick up food inside the Kyiv City Council building which is occupied by pro-European integration protesters, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists warm themselves near a bonfire and guard barricades on the main street Khreschatyk in Kyiv, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Interior Ministry personnel block a street in central Kyiv, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters warm themselves by a fire in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Tents and belongings of pro-European integration protesters are seen near Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Riot police pull pro-European Union activists out from their camp in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters standing behind barricades confront a line of riot police approaching at Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters line up in front of riot police in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Riot police leave a bus after protesters threw a smoke bomb, outside City Hall in Kyiv, Dec. 11, 2013.

The police generally did not use their clubs, but 30 people were injured.

Within hours, strong reaction came from the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued this statement: "The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv's Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity.”

In Kyiv, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met with President Viktor Yanukovych and then spoke to reporters:

"I made it absolutely clear to him that what happened last night, what has been happening in security terms here, is absolutely impermissible in a European state, in a democratic state."

Clear meaning

For Ukrainians who do not understand English, Nuland’s body language sent a clear message.  One moment she was on national TV standing unsmiling next to Ukraine’s president.  The next moment, she was walking, smiling, through the protest camp, handing out bread and crackers to protesters and riot police.

Nuland and European Union envoy Catherine Ashton have spent a total of six hours in separate meetings with President Yanukovych, pressing him to find a political solution.

At the end of Wednesday, President Yanukovych invited the opposition to join the government in a round table dialogue to seek a peaceful solution.

From jail, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko urged the West to take even tougher steps.

She appealed in a statement: "Stop the authoritarian regime in Ukraine with financial and visa sanctions and international anti-corruption investigations. Otherwise, a cemetery of freedom will be built in Ukraine. Act!"
Increasingly, Ukraine’s president is starting to look isolated.

Two of Ukraine’s major churches, the Greek-Catholic and the Ukrainian Orthodox, condemned the latest police attacks on the protesters' encampment.  As riot police gathered, protesters were summoned from sleep, not only by mobile telephone and social network messages, but by church bells ringing insistently in Kyiv’s pre-dawn darkness.

By daylight, the protest square was once again filled with defiant people, three weeks after the protest started.

A Kiev construction company director, Vladimir, was there, his red motorcycle helmet contrasting with the falling snow.

“We are going to be more and more, and the government should start thinking about that,” he said, between sips of hot tea from a plastic cup.
Further weakening Ukraine’s president, television stations owned by once-loyal oligarchs are giving increasingly evenhanded coverage to the protests.

At the same time, supporters from the president’s heartland, eastern Ukraine, have failed to materialize in the capital.  In contrast, pro-European demonstrators have proved willing to drive halfway across the nation to demonstrate.

As international condemnation mounted Wednesday, an order was given.  Suddenly, the riot police fell back.

As soon as they withdrew, protesters started rebuilding a wooden barricade, one that police had cut with chainsaws only hours earlier.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
December 11, 2013 9:21 PM
Comrade, if VOA does not publish your comments we will boycott VOA!!!


by: Babushka from: Ukraine
December 11, 2013 3:39 PM
to all of you guys who care about us in Ukraine... thank you for your support. but as i said to you earlier, VOA does not publish our comments because we criticize Obama silence... still, I will try again, We are not giving up to brutality here. many of you do not understand that Ukraine is essentially split between the East and the West... yes, the East are majority Russian who were brought here through the instigation of Moscow to influence the demographic balance. Just like the Arabs in Israel. you probably know that the term "Palestinians" is a manufactured term... they are some sort of different Arabs... they are really Jordanian Arabs in search of work in Israel... and that is exactly what has been happening here in Ukraine... the East are mainly Russians who come here through Russian Government incentives... the real Ukrainians are concentrated in the West of Ukraine. and we want freedom from the corruption and decay of the brutality of the Putin Regime...

In Response

by: Roman from: Minsk(Belarus)
December 12, 2013 2:04 AM
OMG. Ukrainians who write at foreign sites are vеry specific. They tend to write about how Russians are bad, to whine about big costs on Russian gas for them, big dues at the border with Russia. They wants to join the EU, but they don't have suitable level of economic development for that and how all another from post-Soviet countries don't. You lied about some facts:

-Ukrainians have stated settling in some part of East Ukraine since 16 century. Russian have started doing the same since 18c. And that's not idea of Moscow to change demographic proportion there.

-Crimea and some of next situated territories was annexed from Crimean Khanate by Russia in 1783. It was transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev (Ukrainian leader of the USSR). That's the reason of majority of Russians in this part of the Ukraine.

For readers I can say that It's not Russia's fault that the Ukraine doesn't have suitable level of economic development to enter the EU. Yes, Russia have increased dues on goods from the Ukraine to stop this process. But if the Ukraine have high level of goods, why doesn't it sell at another market to avoid depending of Russia.

In Response

by: Guest from: USA
December 11, 2013 8:42 PM
I respectfully disagree. East and West in the Ukraine have their differences, and corruption exists in both parts, but Ukraine is not split. It is a whole state, like Canada. It would be a shame if the EU and US support for the opposition were to result in destabilizing that country or railroading them into an unprofitable economic agreement. Free will of the people should and will be expressed, in due time when the next elections come. Could you imagine barricades in front of the White House because the Congress accepted Obamacare and some folks disagreed? Absolutely not. Anyone within a several miles radius with anything resembling a material for a barricade would be arrested, and would be shot if deemed attacking the police. People in the USA simply wait for the next elections. I believe the current powers-that-be in the Ukraine could order shots to be fired, but instead ordered the police to let it slide as eventually they hope to stay in charge after joining the EU, just on the better economic terms.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid