Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Besieged UN peacekeepers battle Islamists in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • EU leaders meet in Brussels to seek a response to Russia

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • Lesotho army seizes police HQ, jams radio stations

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' against IS militants in Syria

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

Europe

Ukraine opposition seeks million-strong rally in Kiev

© AFP

Video by Gulliver CRAGG , Jonathan WALSH

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-08

Ukraine’s opposition on Sunday hopes to draw at least one million people to a Kiev rally to protest against a government decision to reject a historic EU trade deal and seek closer ties with old master Russia.

Ukrainian supporters of Western integration on Sunday hope to draw at least one million people to a Kiev rally to protest against the authorities' decision to spurn a historic EU agreement and seek closer ties with old master Russia.

President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to drop political and free trade agreements with the EU in favour of tighter Russian ties and a crackdown on an opposition rally plunged the ex-Soviet nation into its worst political crisis in a decade.

Special report: Ukraine nationalists on recruitment drive

The president incensed the opposition and its supporters further by discussing the signing of a strategic partnership treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday.

Opposition leaders said Saturday that they would not sit down for talks with Yanukovich unless he dismissed the government, released arrested protesters and punished riot police officers for crushing an opposition rally last week.

"This is an ultimatum of the Ukrainian people and not just the opposition," said Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party.

Largest rallies seen since the Orange Revolution

The protests in Ukraine have raged for over two weeks after the government abruptly announced it was halting the work on the agreements with the European Union.

Last Sunday, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Kiev and pro-EU western Ukraine in the largest demonstrations since the pro-democracy Orange Revolution in 2004 forced the annulment of fraud-tainted elections initially claimed by Yanukovich.

The rally in Kiev descended into unprecedented clashes with riot police in which hundreds were injured.

Boxing champion turned opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said a million should take to the streets of Kiev on Sunday.

"Our future depends on you," the pugilist said.

Yanukovych, who faces an election in 2015, has promised a thorough investigation into the use of force against the protesters but has not said whether he is ready to sit down for talks with the opposition.

In a sign of mounting pressure, he postponed a trip to Malta planned for next week.

Putin has slammed the protests, saying they looked more "like a pogrom than a revolution."

In contrast, the West has urged the Ukrainian authorities to heed the demands of the protest movement.

Protesters have seized control of Kiev's iconic Independence Square, setting up a tent city amid barricades and blockading several public buildings.

In a sign of further tensions, the authorities said Saturday they had deployed riot police outside the offices of the public broadcaster.

Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko, in a statement early Sunday, called on protesters to respect the law and said police were ready to cooperate.

Protest could spur on Ukraine’s economic crisis

Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said during a visit to Kiev on Saturday that the bloc may introduce travel bans against those responsible for the use of violence against the protesters.

"Aggression should be punished," he told reporters.

"If this does not happen, if they are not punished, then all those who are responsible for the work of law enforcement agencies in that situation will not have an opportunity to come to the EU."

Jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who had hoped to walk out of prison as a result of the EU deal, has called on the West to impose sanctions against Yanukovich and his family including his son Olexander, one of the country's richest men.

Economists have said the protests risk exacerbating an already serious economic crisis and causing a crash in the value of its currency.

The Ukrainian government rejected the pact with the EU, citing Russian threats of sanctions and the EU's failure to deliver financial support.

Analysts believe Russia offered Ukraine cheaper natural gas and billions of dollars in aid in exchange for joining a Moscow-led customs union.

The Economist's senior editor Edward Lucas, citing sources, tweeted that during the Friday talks Yanukovich had promised Putin to join the customs union by 2015 in return for aid.

Both Ukrainian and Russian authorities said no deal was signed in Sochi.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

Date created : 2013-12-08

  • UKRAINE

    Ukraine government says it will not rule out early polls

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Ukraine opposition seeks confidence vote amid protests

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Ukraine’s political boxer defuses Kiev standoff

    Read more

COMMENT(S)