Thousands of students and anti-Russian activists gathered outside Ukraine’s parliament Tuesday for its first full session since the new president was sworn in.
While Ukraine’s revolution was supposed to have ended with February’s ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, some demonstrators say those violent confrontations were just the beginning of this Eastern European nation’s broader transformation.
The May election of Europe-friendly Petro Poroshenko, they say, was the first step in a campaign to replace the current parliament, which they call corrupt.
“We have a new president, but it is not only about him,” said Mikhail, a protesters who gave only his first name. “There are no changes. They are not making any decisions.”
Irina Shlyahtychenko, who was among the protesters that ousted Yanukovich, says her demands are still unmet.
“Yanukovych is gone, but in the courts and other administrations, we still have his lap-dogs,” she said.
But university student Oleg Mykychuk says the nation has enough to think about right now without having an election.
“We are against the Parliament dissolution,” he said. “This is not a very good time for this. Because of the war, the country is not united, so not everyone will be able to vote.
Parliamentarian and Radical Party leader Oleg Lyashko, who challenged Poroshenko for the presidency, says voters should have a chance to re-elect him. He is critical of some of his colleagues.
“Today, when Ukrainian soldiers are getting killed, these chair-warmers want a vacation,” he said. “They should be kicked in the [bottom] and dragged to Slovyansk. Let them dig foxholes in Slovyansk for a vacation.”
Ukraine remains at war since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula earlier this year. Kyiv officials accuse Moscow of supporting violent separatists who have seized several major towns, including Slovyansk and Donetsk.
Parts of central Kyiv still look like a war zone, with burned out cars and makeshift tents in the city’s main square.
But the city is trying to return things to normal and have put municipal workers to the task of replacing the paving stones that protesters tore up to make barricades.
But it may be some time before Ukraine is put back together.
(Photo of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, by Jurij Skoblenko via flickr.com)