Pro-government protestors clash with opponents in Ukraine

2014-02-09 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) A tense calm has returned to the streets of Ukraine's capital Kyiv's following clashes between pro and anti-government demonstrators. It comes at a time when protesters are remembering those who died in more than two months of unrest.

Amid tensions, some 90 wooden crosses can now be seen on the barricades in central Kyiv, were anti-government protesters have demanded the resignation of the president.

They say the crosses symbolize those who died or disappeared since they began their actions in November.

Priests of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and other denominations have also been praying with protesters amid concerns of new clashes with riot police in which several people died.

Yet there is growing pressure on anti-government demonstrators to abandon their barricades.

THOUSANDS CONFRONT

On Saturday, some 2,000 pro‐government supporters confronted the protesters.

Carrying shields and batons they arrived at the barricade at Independence Square, known locally as Maidan, blocking traffic on the city’s main avenue.

But anti-government protesters, who are camped out in the square, have vowed to continue their demonstrations until their political demands are met.

“At some point we will rise up, and Ukraine has already risen up, but there are no significant results so far," admitted a protester.

MOSCOW RULE

However, he added, "We hope the authorities will understand that we are fed up with being under the Moscow yoke.”

He and other protesters are upset that President Viktor Yanukovich has refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union.

The Ukrainian leader opted instead for closer ties with Russia, in exchange for a 15-billion dollar aid package and a reduction of prices for Russian natural gas.

Yanukovich is believed to have spoken about this issue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, where Russia hosts the 50-billion dollar Winter Olympics.

Listen to Stefan Bos’ report: