Originally published at 10:52
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KIEV, November 25 (RIA Novosti) — Tens of thousands of Ukrainians rallied throughout the country on Monday in protest at a government decision to indefinitely postpone the signing of pivotal agreements with the European Union.
In the morning, police used tear gas and batons to disperse a crowd around the government headquarters after numerous protesters hurled rocks and tried to tear off officers’ helmets.
Media reports said that up to 100,000 people had gathered in the capital, Kiev, in rallies that lasted throughout the weekend in the largest demonstrations since the 2004-2005 Orange Revolution, which was sparked by anger over a rigged presidential election.
Heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko joined the protesters.
Some demonstrators erected barricades on Kiev’s European Square for what one organizer said would be an “indefinite” protest.
The Ukrainian government, facing mounting pressure from Russia, decided last week to put off the signing of long-discussed association and free-trade agreements with the EU. The signing would have taken place this week.
The government said it would instead seek closer cooperation with Russia and the Moscow-led Customs Union, which includes Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The presidents of the European Commission and the European Council said Monday in a joint statement that the offer to sign the agreements was “still on the table.”
They described the would-be deal as “the most ambitious the European Union has ever offered.”
Some 18,000 and 12,000 people also rallied on Monday in the western cities of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, media reports said. Hundreds of students gathered in protest in the western city of Ternopil, Russian state television reported.
The rallies died down by the evening, however. In the capital, only a few dozen protesters hunkered down in three tent camps — on the European and Independence squares and outside the Cabinet building, the English-language Kyiv Post newspaper reported.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told Russia’s Channel One that his government was not afraid of the protests and that it would check whether demonstrators were being illegally funded.
He said the 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in aid that the EU had offered to Ukraine to upgrade its industries for the would-be free-trade zone would be nothing more than “helping a beggar.”
The Ukrainian premier also dismissed as rumors allegations by the opposition that Russia promised Kiev to pay $20 billion in compensation for not signing the EU deal, Ukrainian television channel ICTV reported.
The EU has blamed unprecedented Russian pressure for Kiev’s decision to suspend the deals, but Moscow has denied any strong-arm tactics and in turn accused the EU of coercing Ukraine to sign.
Earlier this year, Moscow suspended imports of some Ukrainian goods and warned that preferential trade agreements with Ukraine would end if it signed the EU deals.
Corrects first name of Klitschko, which previously given as Vitali, the brother who leads the opposition Udar party.
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- jgThe EU is not Europe11:59, 25/11/2013"Hundreds of pro-European integration demonstrators...."
Pro-EU. Anyone resident on the continent of Europe is European, which includes Ukraine and half of Russia. Nobody needs permission from some idiots in Brussels to be European and being anti-EU doesn't make someone anti-European or a fascist, as some EU politicians like to suggest.
It is worth noting that neither Cyprus nor Turkey are in Europe.
I find it strange that people in Ukraine who spend so much time complaining of Russian dominance over their country during the era of the Soviet Union are so keen to see their country dominated by another undemocratic group, whose leaders also have Communist backgrounds (e.g. Barroso, the EU President)
- BlizzardEuropean view on Ukraine12:51, 25/11/2013I am pure European and living in EU since it was established 1974. So far it was reasonably good idea of having Central European countries somehow economically tied together, as this is the pot where brewed world biggest disasters, and it was economic disputes that were driving all these horrible wars. Having that in mind our leaders decided to put that to an end and start with co-operation rather then with competition.
EU become secured market for the European biggest and richest markets where no economic or political barriers would become unsurpassable obstacle in internal trading. So far so good, but as soon as EU started with expansions trouble begin to brew. Every newcomer since is expecting to get all their internal political, economical and financial problems solved by other well established and well off members.
Unfortunately they did not get the hidden idea which is lurking behind the flags and pamphlets of unity and equality. They are just cheap new market fuel that will fuel our old members economy and growth. Not a single newcomer has made any significant gain or development since their entry. Discrepancy between developed and newcomers in in reality only increasing, not diminishing as proclaimed before joining EU.
Ukraine is for EU of extreme importance. Our industrial giants will get special allowances, tax relief which will be actually no tax what so ever, They will get free infrastructure, cheap workforce, and Ukrainian government will secure them favourable loans through their banking system. Basically they will come empty handed and make pure profit and once crisis hits the country they will just give it up all and walk away leaving country in even deeper recession.
Look at Germany how it become even richer during the huge EU crisis. It is the only state that made profit out of this situation, and the profit it was. It is even bigger than China made it so far with the fastest growing industry in the world, not to mention the size which is at least 6x bigger than German.
I cannot believe that in Ukraine there are so blinded young people who believe that EU wants them, or that EU will help them. What I see behind all this protests is a hope that they will have free access to EU well paid jobs. That is such illusion that it hurts. On what merits they believe that they will get the jobs as we in EU have permanent employment problems. We do not need any profession more. Former Eastern Europe provided us with skilled labour (plumbers, welders, mechanics, manual workers, and so on). Now we are in situation where extreme right parties are on the rise and all are playing on the same tune of employment and unemployment. EU has way too much working force of all imaginable profiles and educations. EU needs to regroup, to kick out a bunch of poor and crime riddled countries as they are anchor in common development.
Do Ukrainian young really believe that they would benefit from EU or that they would contribute to EU? EU has no need for farmland as our production is in hyper mode and is producing so cheap and in a massive quantity products that we have to give away for free as aid to poorest countries. Europe is already old and tiered and exhausted club of disillusioned countries full of bickering and disputes. Now even in EU is dawning to some of them that there is not a real future.
Ukraine should in reality seek reunion with Russia together with all other former USSR countries and seek to establish a new confederation based primarily on economical co-operation. Russia has al natural resources Western world would need in any shape and form. Russia together with former USSR republics has enough intellectual potential to fuel their economy with new innovations and secure fast development. Mistrust from the past should be put aside. None of old culprits is on a power any more. Each country should maintain total political independence until the economic goals are achieved and future secured.
- mythoslightTo be or not...18:57, 25/11/2013..to be. Either sovereign Ukrainians with unconditional equal rights and benefits under the CSTO sky OR "Untermenschen" (sub-humans), chess-pawns owned by the white neo-liberal €Urofag Borg-collective and the "right" to experience mass-poverty, sexual perversions and misery, a one-way ticket with €USSR-Titanic to the eternal depth´s of depravity. To the majority of Ukrainians,not bought and paid for, not a tough choice..
- Mikhail1228Idiots20:05, 25/11/2013These protesting idiots in Ukraine really don't get it. They have no clue what life is like for regular people and business in the EU. I have friends in Greece that tell me about austerity. Ukraine is being used by the US in a spheres of interest battle against Russia. Hence why Ukraine's joining the EU is so important. Politicians in the US don't really give two shits about Ukrainian people, its all about weakening Russia that's important. Divide and conquer as they say. Ukraine will be the big loser if they ever decide to join the EU.