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

Multimedia Ferguson, Missouri Streets Calm After Days of Violence

Police official says authorities responded to fewer incidents, noting there were no shootings, Molotov cocktails or fires More

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

For Chanthy Sok, rap infused with Cambodian melodies is a way to pay respect to the survivors of the victims of Khmer Rouge genocide More

Study: Our Life with Neanderthals Was No Brief Affair

Scientists discover thousands of years of overlap between modern humans and their shorter, stockier cousins 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid