Socialist Worker

New protest law fails to clear streets in Ukraine

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2387

Protests have been taking place in Ukraine since December last year

Protests have been taking place in Ukraine since December last year (Pic: Ivan Bandura)

There were pitched battles between police and protesters in Ukraine after 100,000 people took to the streets in defiance of a court ban last Sunday.

President Viktor Yanukovich appealed for compromise as he battled to reassert his authority.One opposition leader, Vitali Klitschko, also called for calm and entered into talks with the government.

But broader talks didn’t take place at the start of this week as the protests continued.

The latest escalation of the protests came in response to new legislation restricting demonstrations.

The government rushed through laws on Thursday of last week criminalising virtually all protests in the capital Kiev. 

Attending demonstrations now carries a risk of up to 15 years in prison.

The new law also bans anyone collecting information on judges and politicians. 

The current crisis began at the end of last year when the government rejected a deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia. 

One wing of Ukraine’s elite wants to tilt towards the West. Others, including the president, look to Russia. 

This is part of what is leading to a stalemate. And there are signs that some on both sides of that divide want to calm things down a little.

Both the Russians and the West are fearful of the protesters developing precisely the type of independent demands that could transform Ukraine.


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Tue 21 Jan 2014, 17:01 GMT
Issue No. 2387
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