Ukrainian Rally Draws Massive Anti-Government Crowd


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Even after violent confrontations with police this past week, Ukrainian anti-government protesters have shown they will not be deterred. Well over 200,000 disgruntled citizens packed into Independence Square in Kiev. They marched through ultra cold temperatures in a bid to make clear their dissatisfaction with the current administration.

Protests began on November 21st when current president, Viktor Yanukovych, made the startling decision to abandon talks with the European Union and instead embrace closer ties with Russia. This move is in stark contrast to the direction that the citizens in central and western Ukraine were anticipating. This part of the country enjoys a stronger connection to European neighbors than the eastern rural half. In eastern Ukraine, Yanukovych's actions have been highly approved.

Overall, the country seemed to have finally thawed out after a lengthy period of frigid Russian control. Some now fear this is a move by Yanukovych to push Ukraine towards helping to revive the Soviet Union.

The increasing size and scope of the Ukranian protests looked to be forcing Yanukovych's hand. This week it was announced that Ukraine would be renewing talks with the European Union. However, this did not pan out.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule tweeted that the trade talks would be halted:

It's likely the lack of clear commitment Fule is referring to has to do with the upcoming meeting between Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin in Moscow. A pact with Russia would mean for many protesters a widening gulf between the struggling Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

Anti-government protesters have vowed to stage a major rally at the same time as the meeting in Russia. They hope their voices are enough to convince the president to not sign any agreements with Putin.

Image: Reuters Youtube