Live Blog: Ukraine Rallies Continue
Pro-government and antigovernment demonstrators are holding competing rallies in Kyiv today.
December 15, 2013
Massive Crowds Attend Opposition Rally In Kyiv
-- For the third Sunday in a row, the opposition held a massive rally on Kyiv's Independence Square (the Maidan), which protesters have occupied since December 1. Some 200,000 people attended.
---- The government also organized an "anti-Maidan" rally for supporters of President Viktor Yanukovych and the current government. An estimated 15,000 people gathered -- many of them bused in from eastern regions.
-- EU Commissionar for Enlargement Stefan Fule has said negotiations with Ukraine have been put on hold. He said the Ukrainian government's arguments "have no grounds in reality." A spokesman for Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, however, said Ukraine would continue holding talks on the EU deal.
-- U.S. Senator John McCain spoke to protesters on Independence Square, promising "The free world is with you, America is with you, and I am with you."
-- Glenn Kates
Some have voiced concern that McCain's speech on Independence Square will give ammo to those -- particularly among Russian media -- who talk of a nefarious "western hand" in the Ukrainian protest movement.
Below, "The New York Times" Moscow correspondent, reporting from Kyiv.
McCain appearing today on CNN.
On Russian President Vladimir Putin, McCain says, "This was the beginning of Russia, was right here in Kyiv, so Putin views it as the most highly important and he has put pressure on Ukrainians -- the price of energy, different kinds of activities, and the word is very clear that he has made various threats. Whether he would carry those through or not I don't know."
RFE/RL spoke by telephone to Peter Stano, the spokesman for Fuele.
Stano said "there is more and more discrepancy or there is a growing gap between the deeds and words of the Ukrainian President."
"[Stefan Fuele] told [Ukrainian] Deputy Prime Minister [Serhiy] Arbuzov when he was in Brussels last Thursday and (December 12) and also in their subsequent conversations later that the continuation of our work is conditioned with clear commitment of Ukraine to sign the Association Agreement. Since there was no response to this [from Ukraine] the work and the discussions are being put on hold."
Earlier today, Fuele tweeted
that negotations with Ukraine for an Association Agreement were being put on hold.
A Ukrainian journalist says she found this paper instructing on slogans for the pro-government rally.
Here they are:
1) Yanukovych - President!
2) Fascism - won't happen!
3) Hands off Ukraine!
4) Crimea for Stability! Crimea for the President!
5) Ukraine is not Maidan!
6) No to the Orange Coup!
Via our Ukrainian Serivce:
Earlier today, the opposition created a resolution on Independence Square that "strongly warns and prohibibits" the president from signing a Customs Union agreement with Russia.
Yanukovych is scheduled to hold talks in Moscow on December 17 with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Our Ukrainian Service has been providing live feeds from the pro-government and antigovernment rallies today. Here are some quotes from demonstrators at the pro-government rally:
A woman from Luhansk, in Ukraine's east, speaking in Russian:
"I came here to support my president, Viktor Yanukovych. I'm from Luhansk. Luhansk has always supported and will support Yanukovych. Although the orange ones want to have it their way -- [the region of] Donbass will never let them. Donetsk, Luhansk -- we [all from there] have supported Yanukovych and will continue supporting Yanukovych."
A man, speaking in Russian:
"Just like our president has said -- I want Ukraine to join Europe but not on its knees as Klitschko and all those around him want. I wish Ukraine to join Europe standing tall -- just like Ukraine can."
Some 200,000 protesters today.
Interfax reports that Vitali Lukyanenko, spokesman for Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, says Kyiv intends to continue talks with the EU on an Association Agreement despite the rebuke from Fuele.
"The Ukrainian government intends to continue talks with the EU on the implementation of the Association Agreement and is working in this direction," he told Interfax.