Ukraine Protests Continue: At Least Two Protestors Slain


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Reports indicate that turmoil is amplifying in Ukraine as protests stretch beyond its capital.

On Friday, protestors in cities near Kiev surrounded government buildings, confronting authorities. The demonstrations, which began in November, were initially spurred after Ukraine opted out from signing an accord on more cooperation with the EU, and instead decided to strengthen its relationship with Russia.

The discord came to a head last week and devolved into violence on the heels of new anti-protest laws. Sunday there were reports that demonstrators launched firebombs into the Ukrainian House building and set off fireworks while police were inside.

Authorities retaliated with tear gas.

President Viktor Yanukovych recently made proposals to the opposition, when he extended to their leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the position of Prime Minister, suggesting Valai Klitschko (former boxer) also take the post of deputy prime minister. Yatsenyuk, a former foreign minister, rejected the offer, insisting that key demands must be met, including new elections, and that talks will continue.

While the concession itself is considered a coup, the opposition aspires to a full coup d’etat and is proceeding as such.

Despite the uncertainty about whether President Yanukovych even means to honor the proposals he has offered, the move is regardless viewed as a weakness on his part and fuel for the opposition to move forward. However, it is surmised that Yanukovych has a method to his madness as well; by prolonging negotiations with the opposition and centering attention and time onto Yatsenyuk potentially being appointed the position of prime minister, the energy of the protest movement could slowly deflate should with the redirected the focus.

As the most recent Kiev incident illustrates, however, there’s no absence of passion in the protests, presently.

In half the country, demonstrators have fervently pressed on past Kiev in all directions. Protesters have occupied the council building in Sumy, been exposed to tear gas and smoke grenades by police in Zaporizhzhya, were arrested and driven out of the regional state and administration building in Cherkasy, and erected barricades outside a Chernihiv regional administration building.

Following the 100 protester occupation on Saturday at the headquarters of the energy ministry in Kiev, Minister Eduard Stavitskiy has said the country's nuclear energy facilities are on high alert.

However, the consequences were direr for some demonstrators.

Last week, 25 year-old Mikhail Zhiznevsky was one of at least two activists killed. In Kiev, thousands of his fellow protesters carried his coffin though the streets while loudly praising him with the chant “hero!

During his weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Francis said, “I am close to Ukraine in prayer, in particular to those who have lost their lives in recent days and to their families,” expressing a hope for “constructive dialogue between the institutions and civil society,” and adding that "the spirit of peace and a search for the common good should be in the hearts of all.”

He then had two peace doves released... and this happened:

Image via Youtube