Huge Ukraine Rally Over EU Agreement Delay

KIEV, Ukraine -- An estimated 100,000 people in the Ukrainian capital Kiev are protesting against the government's move to delay an association deal with the EU under pressure from Russia.

The BBC's David Stern reports: "Protesters want a second Orange Revolution".

The protest is said to be the largest since the 2004 Orange Revolution, which overturned a rigged presidential poll.

Police fired tear gas as protesters tried to break through a cordon around government buildings. 

A pro-government rally a few miles away attracted about 10,000 people.

Kiev police said they had fired tear gas after protesters threw a smoke grenade at officers in an attempt to break into the Cabinet of Ministers building.

Police estimated the crowd at about 50,000, but BBC reporters there said a vast crowd thronged central Kiev and 100,000 was a better estimate.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal last week, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow.

Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the EU of blackmailing Ukraine to sign the deal during a summit in Lithuania next week.

People arrived at the rally, on European Square, with families and children, many holding banners with slogans like "I want to live in Europe" or "Ukraine is part of Europe".

"We want to be together with Europe," Volodymyr Mnikh, a 62-year-old retired chemist, told the Associated Press news agency.

"We want our children to have a future and not to be pressured by Russia." 

Opposition leaders also joined the protests.

Several rallies in Kiev and other cities have been held over the last few days, but Sunday's has been the largest so far.

World heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who leads the Udar movement, addressed the rally in Kiev saying Ukrainians would not tolerate what President Yanukovich had done to the country's prospects for integrating with the EU.

"We will fight in order for the association agreement to be signed," he said.

Gas disputes 

On Friday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the decision not to sign the deal was motivated solely by economics and was "tactical".

He said it did not alter Ukraine's overall development strategy.

The Ukrainian government says it is now looking into setting up a joint commission to promote ties between Ukraine, Russia and the EU.

Ukraine depends on imports of Russian gas, but recently the supplier, Gazprom, complained that Ukraine had fallen behind in payments.

Pipelines transiting Ukraine pump Russian gas to many EU member states.

In 2009 Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in a dispute about prices, causing fuel shortages across Europe in the middle of winter.

Russia has a customs union with two other former Soviet republics - Belarus and Kazakhstan - and has been urging Ukraine to join it.

A free trade agreement with the EU would mean Ukraine adopting different trade rules.

Kiev's decision on Thursday prompted EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele to cancel a trip to Ukraine.

It had been planned for the run-up to the key "Eastern Partnership" summit between the EU and several ex-Soviet states, which will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 28 and 29 November.

Source: BBC News


Igor Skakovsky said…
Ukraine must not rush either direction, and choose traditional partners and European values to benefit both sides. Like in the good marriage, no one is perfect and all must have respect for each other and if necessary to compromise without harming its own people.
People of Ukraine please go home and take care of your families. Ukraine is working on becoming a part of Europe. It must take some time for excepted laws to show the results. AA agreement could be singed or not singed it makes no different at this point. Ukraine can be better or worth in EU or with Russia, in either case Ukraine must negotiate favorable conditions for its industries and as a result for its people. In either case Ukrainian industrial complex and agriculture must be heavily subsidized in order to be adapted to EU standards. It is critical for Ukraine that national industry and agriculture do not get destroyed and in its majority must belong to Ukrainians.
When negotiating with EU, Ukraine must ask for EU to open up its borders for Ukrainian goods only, not for EU products to come to Ukraine, for the sett period of time so, its industries could have a chance for adaptation. Opening of the EU borders could be set up for the selected sector of industry for specified period of time, in stages. After completion of each stage Ukraine will open its borders as well and agreement should move to the next stage.
When negotiating with Russia, Ukraine must protect its independence in the sense that Russian model may not be suitable for Ukraine and it should have an exit strategy in case things will not go right so, Ukraine do not end up as it did with the gas contract. For example each country jointly with Russia should find its one steps of progressing. Many steps and programs which are common for all participants could first be tested in Ukraine to see if they work and then adopted by others. Whatever is being worked out Ukrainian nationals must keep majority of its key industries to them self in order to guaranty that changes will be made for the interest of its businesses and its people, in that order.
Business must be profitable but not barbaric nor harmful for the community, no matter with whom Ukraine will associate. Russia is known to us but, law must restrict barbaric practices of business take over. With EU, law exist for everyone so, same subsidies for the all industries that exist in EU must be applied in Ukraine. It is most important to understand what is best for your people and then for the government and act with those understandings in mind.