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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs