Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Ukraine Over Pro-Russian Agreements

Hundreds of thousands protested in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev against a perceived turn away from the European Union and towards Russia after the Ukrainian Government of Viktor Yanukovich ended trade negotiations with the EU and abruptly signed a new agreement with the Russian Government under Vladimir Putin. This signals the intention of the Ukrainian Government to develop closer ties with Russia as opposed to the European Union.

As Reuters reprots:

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians shouting “Down with the Gang!” rallied on Sunday against President Viktor Yanukovich’s U-turn on Europe and some used a building excavator to try to break through police lines at his headquarters… Last month Yanukovich – after months of pressure from former Soviet master Russia – backpedalled from signing a landmark deal on closer relations with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

In a sea of blue and gold, the colours of both the EU and Ukrainian flags, protesters swept into Kiev’s Independence Square to hear heavyweight boxer-turned-opposition politician Vitaly Klitschko call for Yanukovich to resign.

“They stole the dream. If this government does not want to fulfil the will of the people, then there will be no such government, there will be no such president. There will be a new government and a new president,” he said to cheers.

These tensions have long bubbled beneath the surface. Ukraine was a Russian Satellite state for nearly a century (and just another Russian province, at some times). Even post-Soviet era, the Ukrainian Government is often perceived as subservient to the will of it’s much larger and more powerful neighbor. In fact, a common nickname for Ukrainians amongst Pan-Slavic Russians is Mалорyсский… “Little Russians”. However, many ethnic Ukrainians do not identify as Slavic, and rather identify more closely with ethnic Poles and Germans more so than Slavic Russians. This is partially why this is a problem for many Ukrainians; they more closely identify with Europeans on a cultural and ethnic level, and a perceived turn back towards Moscow dashes the hopes of many who hoped to become more closely integrated with the European community that they more closely identify with.

 

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