Thousands protest in Ukraine, defying court ban

2014-01-19 16:55
(Sergei Supinsky, AFP)

(Sergei Supinsky, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kiev - Up to 100 000 Ukrainians massed in the capital Kiev on Sunday in defiance of sweeping new laws aimed at stamping out anti-government protests.

The rally, the biggest this year in a cycle of pro-Europe protests convulsing the former Soviet republic for the past two months, was spurred by the legislation rushed through parliament last week and which the opposition says will lead to a police state.

Significantly raising the stakes in the confrontation with President Viktor Yanukovich, opposition leaders announced a plan to gather people's signatures expressing no confidence in his leadership and that of parliament.

Denouncing as unconstitutional last Thursday's hurried vote in parliament by Yanukovich's supporters, they called for moves to set up a parallel structure of power - including a people's assembly and a new constitution.

"Yanukovich and his henchmen want to steal our country. Ukraine is united as never before in its struggle against those in power today, in its determination not to allow a dictatorship," declared boxer-turned politician Vitaly Klitschko, the strongest potential challenger for the presidency.

Though setting up an alternative power structure may not be realistic, Sunday's turn-out suggested it could also be difficult for the authorities to try to solve the crisis by use of force despite the court ban and the new laws.

Another opposition leader, far-right-nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok, dismissed the laws as unconstitutional as he spoke from the tribune on Kiev's main Independence Square.

"So we have a right not to carry them out and we will sabotage them," he said.

Yanukovich triggered the pro-Europe rallies when he did an about-turn last November and ditched a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer economic ties with Ukraine's former Soviet overlord, Russia.

This brought tens of thousands of people on to the streets and protesters set up a permanent encampment on Independence Square. Though numbers have dwindled since, several hundred people remain camped out there or are occupying buildings such as City Hall.

The court ban on protests published on 15 January and last Thursday's legislation aimed at prohibiting all form of public protests inflamed tensions again.

The laws - denounced by the United States and other Western governments as anti-democratic - would ban any unauthorised installation of tents, stages or use of loud-speakers in public places.

They banned, under pain of heavy jail sentences, participation in "mass disorder", banned the wearing of face-masks or protective helmets and outlawed dissemination of "extremist" or libellous information about the country's leaders.

As well as showing the opposition's enduring support, Sunday's protests further enshrined Independence Square as the platform from which Yanukovich's foes will campaign against him ahead of a February 2015 election.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Amazing solar inventions!

Solar power is lighting up the world, and not just on rooftops anymore.



Prince George the green prince?
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly


There is a tendency to get too caught up in group dynamics and high expectations and ideals, that your own personal needs more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.