A decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovuch to scrap negotiations on a free-trade pact with the European Union and instead turn his attentions to closer ties with Russia sparked protests in Kiev and across much of Europe. The treaty had been under negotiation for several years and was to be signed at a November 28–29 summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Some 100 000 people protested in Kiev, the largest demonstration since the Orange Revolution in 2004. Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, head of the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” party, was among the protest leaders. “Our task is to sign the agreement with the EU,” Yatsenyuk told a rally in European Square today, near Independence Square, according to news agency Bloomberg. “We want to go to Europe. This is our future.”
In Prague, the protests were much smaller. The main protest was in Old Town Square until noon, the expiration time of the group’s permit. A protester who gave is name as Sergiy held a sign saying: “Putin’s Hands off Ukraine.” Other signs in the crowd had phrases such as “Ukraine is part of Europe” and “Europe help! Yanukovich wants to sell our country.”
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(Photo: Eva Rotar/The Prague Post)