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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
KYIV/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Thousands of Ukrainians have demonstrated against a government decision to suspend preparations for a trade pact with the European Union. The protests come as the country also commemorates a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of people.
Braving freezing rain, the protesters marched through the streets of the capital Kyiv, angry at the Ukrainian government’s decision to cancel a long-planned Association Agreement with the European Union. Instead, the government wants to strengthen ties with neighboring Russia.
The protesters gathered at the capital’s famed Independence Square, the same site where Ukraine’s pro-Western Orange Revolution began nearly nine years ago. Similar rallies have been held in other cities across Ukraine.
If it’s up to boxer-turned-opposition-leader Vitali Klitschko, much bigger demonstrations will be organized this weekend. “Our main task is to get united because we are united by the desire to live in a better country”, he told reporters. “What do we have to do? Every one of us has to bring 20, 40, 100 people here. And then, if there are a lot of us, we can go and demand.”
He and jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians to fill the streets until November 24th, the ninth anniversary of the Orange Revolution.
The opposition says Ukraine should look westwards, more than 20 years after it declared independence from the Soviet Union.
However, the government claims that Ukraine should take into account the effects of trade with Russia, which opposes the agreement.
The opposition demonstrations come a time when Ukraine remembers that 80 years ago millions died in a famine that many label a genocide, under the regime of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Between 1932 and 1933 Soviet authorities seized Ukrainian farms and crops as part of Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization.
Those caught having food, or stealing even a tiny bit of grain, were harshly punished or executed. Historians say as many as 10 million people may have died in the man-made famine, which is known as the Holodomor in Ukraine.
(BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key news developments impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals from especially, but not limited to, (ex)Communist nations and other autocratically ruled states).
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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