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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/21/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Protests turn to bloodshed over fate of former Soviet Bloc country

What began as peaceful protests in November has spiraled out of control in Ukraine, a former Soviet Bloc country. The increasing violence there is being seen by the international community as a clash of East versus West, a power battle between Russian President Vladimir Putin's controlling Kremlin and an expanding European Union. While political leaders met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to turn the tide, the president insisted that police were not armed and "all measures to stop bloodshed and confrontation are being taken."

Protestors here also demand the resignation of Yanukovych, and elections to establish a new government, one that they hope will not unleash lethal force on its own people.

Protestors here also demand the resignation of Yanukovych, and elections to establish a new government, one that they hope will not unleash lethal force on its own people.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/21/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Ukraine, violence, unrests, protests, President Viktor Yanukovych


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Analysts say that the upheaval here has been long in coming. While parts of Ukraine, mostly in its western cities are in open revolt against Yanukovych's government, many in the mostly Russian-speaking east favor strong ties with Russia.

Protests began after Yanukovych spurned a historic trade and political deal with the E.U. in favor of a Ł9bn financial bailout from the Kremlin. Many Ukrainians saw this as a fight for basic freedoms.

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Opposition leaders have called for the reinstatement of the country's 2004 constitution, to strip the president of sweeping powers. They also demand early elections, currently scheduled for 2015.

Protestors here also demand the resignation of Yanukovych, and elections to establish a new government, one that they hope will not unleash lethal force on its own people.

There are some signs that Yanukovych's grip on power may be slipping. Volodymyr Makeyenko, the chief of Kiev's city administration and a former Yanukovych loyalist, said that he was leaving the ruling Party of Regions. "We must be guided only by the interests of the people. This is our only chance to save people's lives," he said. Serhiy Tyhipko, another influential party member, said both Yanukovych and opposition leaders had "completely lost control of the situation".
 
In the meantime, there have been dozens killed, hundreds injured and scores of police officers taken hostage by protesters.

Ukrainian authorities said that more than 75 had been killed in the clashes this week.

Some anti-government protesters have come to the Maidan wielding clubs, axes and guns to face off against the country's feared elite police units known as the "Berkut."

Other protestors, such as students, the young professionals, the "babushkas" or grandmothers, who had begun their protests peacefully in November are now gathering rocks to use as ammunition for the men at the towering barricades that defend the protest camp.

A group of six elderly women worked under the cover of a bus stop to prepare Molotov cocktails. "This is extremism," one of the women said on the condition of anonymity. "Our president has driven us to this. No more cooking in the kitchen for us. Now we make these."

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