Protest Rallies To Rock Kiev On Saturday

KIEV, Ukraine -- Thousands of protesters from across Ukraine led by three opposition parties are expected to descend on Kiev for a rally on Saturday and may clash with pro-government demonstrators.

Arseniy Yatseniuk

The rally is supposed to be a culmination of a two-month protest campaign that has been aimed at energizing voters throughout Ukraine.

It is intended to show the strength of the opposition ahead of presidential election in March 2015.

The opposition parties are expected to pledge to work closely in order to defeat President Viktor Yanukovych and his party, and may announce names of single candidates running for upcoming elections.

But the long-planned rally was suddenly changed on Thursday and may now include a march of thousands of protesters to the administration of Yanukovych and the government’s offices.

This may lead to a confrontation with thousands of demonstrators that are called by the ruling Regions Party for an “anti-fascist march” on the same day.

“They told us that Khreshchatyk street will be closed,” Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of the Batkivshchyna party, said.

“That’s why we filed the second application and we will go via the great circle – the Cabinet of Ministers, Parliament and the Presidential Administration, and then St. Sophia Square.”

The demonstrators, mostly government and government-funded school and hospital workers and students, are expected to be transported to the march from across Ukraine.

Yatseniuk said if the two crowds appear to face each other, the opposition will try to convince them to join the protest rally against the government.

“We really want to see these people,” Yatseniuk said.

“Those will be government workers, teachers and doctors that are forced to go for the march. Those are wonderful Ukrainians that I believe will join our march.”

Olena Bondarenko, a member of the ruling Regions Party, slammed the plan.

“This is a provocation intended to intersect with our rally and make some destructive and immoral actions,” Bondarenko said.

“We will make sure how to ensure the safety of participants in the anti-fascist march.”

Volodymyr Horkovenko, a Kiev resident who plans to join the protest rally, said he hopes the opposition groups will present a clear plan how to defeat Yanukovych and will nominate a single candidate at the rally.

“They promised to do this. Now, it’s time to deliver on the promise,” Horkovenko said.

“No one said this is going to be easy, but the people are waiting for this.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal