Svoboda Readies Protest For Putin Visit

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian nationalist Svoboda party said Tuesday it will launch a protest action aimed against Russian President Vladimir Putin during his expected visit to Ukraine later this week.

Russian President Putin (R) with Russian Orthodox  Patriarch Kirill.

Putin is expected to join Russian Orthodox Christian Church Patriarch Kirill as both have been invited to celebrate the 1,025th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity to Kiev, then the capital of the ancient Slavic state known as the Kievan Rus.

Andriy Illienko, a lawmaker from the Svoboda party, said the protest will also aim against alleged attempts by the Russian leaders to take Ukraine closer to the Russian sphere of influence.

The protest will be a “traditional event” for the party, Illienko told Interfax-Ukraine.

“We carry it for many years. This event is usually a time when Ukraine gets the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski got egged during a visit to Ukraine to a memorial dedicated to Poles killed by Ukrainian insurgents in 1943.

Svoboda said it had nothing to do with the incident.

Putin’s visit comes as Russia has been preparing to launch trade restrictions against Ukraine after Kiev had rejected closer integration with the Moscow-led trade bloc, known as the Customs Union.

A recent meeting between Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev failed to solve many trade issues, including high Russian natural gas prices.

Svoboda will seek official permission from the authorities for the protest action that they will organize in areas as close as possible to Putin and Kirill.

"It is unlikely that we would get right under their noses,” Illienko said.

“I think our courts will make sure that all sorts of restrictive decisions are approved.” 

The Kiev police on Tuesday announced changes in traffic patterns and closures of main roads in downtown Kiev, including Khreshchatyk Street, during the weekend when most of the celebrations are due to take place.

"Due to such restrictions the authorities ask motorists to treat temporary difficulties with understanding and to plan a route in advance of their travel within the city in those days," the police said in a statement.

Source: Ukrainian Journal