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Police move to dampen protest turnout

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May 11, 2010, 3:30 p.m. | Politics — by Peter Byrne

Supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko greet her during a rally in the capital Kyiv, Ukraine on May 11. Thousands protested in the morning against what they call President Viktor Yanukovych's "traitorous regime" in the latest of a series of protests that have flared up since the recent deal to extend Russia's lease on a naval base in Ukraine. (AP)

Thousands of demonstrators on May 11 picketed parliament in opposing rallies led by the pro-presidential Party of Regions and the oppositional National Salvation Committee, a group of civic activists, intellectuals and political leaders on the outs with the Viktor Yanukovych administration. Presidential critics said they could have attracted more demonstrators had police not interfered with public transportation to stop people from coming to Kyiv.

Guarded by hundreds helmeted Berkut riot troops, about 2,000 Party of Regions supporters barricaded themselves along Hrushevskogo Street, while organizers of the National Salvation Committee, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, delivered speeches to their supporters in front of Maryinskiy Palace.

About 1,000 police officers placed large cast iron fences between the feuding groups and patrolled the park to maintain order and keep them apart. No incidents were reported at the rallies, which were cut short due to the weather.

“We are forcing pro-presidential deputies to vote for a measure to report what agreements Yanukovych plans to sign with Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev. I thank you for this victory.”

- Yulia Tymoshenko, opposition leader.

The rain started to pour on Tymoshenko as she started to castigate Yanukovych and his team for selling out the country to Russia. She thanked supporters for braving the inclement weather and called on all patriotic political leaders to join a nationwide protest movement.

“We are forcing pro-presidential deputies to vote for a measure to report what agreements Yanukovych plans to sign with Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev. I thank you for this victory,” Tymoshenko said. Medvedev is scheduled to arrive in Kyiv on May 17.

Tymoshenko said the opposition is seeking national support for holding early parliamentary elections, which are presently scheduled for September 2012. Tymoshenko was joined by ultra-nationalist Oleg Tiahnybok, leader of the Svoboda Party, Soviet-era dissident Levko Lukyanenko and former Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk.

Mykola Tomenko, parliament deputy speaker and a member of Tymoshenko’s eponymous bloc (BYuT), said opposition rallies would get bigger and louder in the coming weeks and month. “We have to work systemically in villages and regions and grow the movement,” Tomenko said. “Everyone must do their part.”

Many opposition protesters were outraged by the size of the police presence; officers surrounded the demonstrators. People said they are treated like criminals and recalled the last time they saw that amount of police was during rallies to protest ex-President Leonid Kuchma in 2001.



Ukrainian opposition protesters sing the Ukrainian national anthem during a rally in front of the parliament in the capital Kyiv on May 11. Thousands protest in Ukraine against what they call President Viktor Yanukovych's "traitorous regime" in the latest of a series of protests that have flared up since the recent deal to extend Russia's lease on a naval base in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
“We booked couple of buses to take people to Kyiv, but later some drivers declined and explained they got a call from police with the treats to take away their license if they take our booking.”

- Mykola Andrushko, deputy head of Tymoshenko’s Vinnytsia party organization.


People who arrived from different parts of Ukraine to protest said many of their friends and colleagues couldn’t make it to the capital.

“We booked couple of buses to take people to Kyiv, but later some drivers declined and explained they got a call from police with the treats to take away their license if they take our booking,” Mykola Andrushko, deputy head of Tymoshenko’s Vinnytsia party organization said. “Some drivers still did it. One bus was stopped in Vinnytsia four times. Police asked for different documents and just was keeping us waiting for hours. One driver’s license was taken away without any explanation. This is outrageous.”

Evgeniya Hrushenko, a student from Vinnytsia, said when she came to the railway station with friends to buy tickets to Kyiv, the ticket counters suddenly closed. “They said they got the order from the station’s police to close. A friend of mine bought a bus ticket, but several buses routes destined to Kyiv were suddenly cancelled due to ‘technical reasons’,” Hrushenko said.

Opposition supporters from Ivano-Frankivsk who bought train tickets to Kyiv and came to the station were asked to produce their passports by the police. “They checked people’s registration and were letting in trains only those who were registered as living in Kyiv. Others were not allowed to board the train. Hundreds of opposition supports from Ivano-Frankisvk couldn’t make it to Kyiv,” two elderly men from Ivano-Frankivsk said. The men declined to give their names.

Opposition supporters from Kyryvj Rih were faced the same difficulties. Accoding Tymoshenko officials from Kryvyi Rih, two of their buses with supporters were stopped just outside Kryvyi Rih and turned back.

“I took a bus from Irpin this morning and it was stopped near Kyiv. The police were asking people where they were going, and then they made us pull over and sit in the bus for almost an hour. It is exactly like Kuchma times are back. I never though it can all repeat again,” said Halyna Stupak of Kirovohrad Oblast.


Ukrainian opposition and pro-presidential lawmakers fight against each other during ratification of the Black Sea Fleet deal with Russia, in parliament in Kyiv on April 27. Ukraine's parliament has voted to extend Russia's lease of a Crimean naval port for the Black Sea Fleet in a chaotic session during which eggs and smoke bombs were thrown. The countries' presidents agreed last week to extend the Russian navy's use of the Sevastopol port for another 25 years after the old lease expires in 2017.(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Even people who did not intend to join the protest and just happened to travel to Kyiv today were declined entrance to the capital.

“I am coming from Vinnytsia by a usual bus. Just outside Kyiv, the bus was stopped by the police and we were told we have to wait for couple of hours until we can enter. Police gave us no reason,” said one of the Vinnytsia-Kyiv bus passengers by phone. “Where we stand, there are tens of buses mostly from western Ukrainian cities, like Lviv, Chernivtsi, Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr. They all stand beside the road with passengers.”

Volodymyr Dmytrenko, deputy head of the press service for the Kyiv police department, said the extraordinary number of militiament patrolling the event was a precautionary measure. "We just wanted to make sure that if something happened, we would be able to respond quickly and efficiently," he said. His office was unable to provide details about the reported arrest of four members of Tyanibok's Svaboda Party. Sidor Kizin, a lawyer for Svaboda, said the men were detained on European Square following the rally by plainclothes police.

Dmytrenko said he knew nothing about reported attempts to prevent demonstrators from arriving in Kyiv. "That is not our responsibility, but the job of police in the regions." he said.

As protesters rallied outside, some 243 pro-presidential deputies registered for the parliament session and elected Communist Party leader Adam Martyniuk to replace Oleksandr Lavrynovych as first deputy Rada speaker. Lavrynovych left the post in March to become justice minister.

Kyiv Post staff writer Peter Byrne can be reached at byrne@kyivpost.com and Svitlana Tuchynska can be reached at tuchynska@kyivpost.com
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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 3:54 p.m.    

According to the reports on the net at most two thousand took part in this anti government demonstration. And as one man's Ultra Nationalist is another mans Neo-Nazis there can have been no ideological unity even among that very small number. Its an old story but lets tell it again. Tymoshenko's support has drained down to the dregs. The worlds leaders from Berlin,Paris and Washington embrace Yanukovych. The fat lady has sung. The contest is over.

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 4:10 p.m.    

The worlds leaders from Berlin, Paris and Washington embrace Yanukovych? By offering him nothing? It does not matter what &quot;the world&quot; wants, Ukraine is not a UN-mandate state like Kosovo.

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 5:58 p.m.    

Tried protesting outside the Parliament building in the UK recently? You can't even get near it.

To hold a rally with this number of people would require &quot;permission&quot; there as well.

As for freedom of the press, well it seems to have been reported in every media outlet in Ukraine.

That says something doesn't it?

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 4:10 p.m.    

the point is not tymoshenko

the point is people who do not like current government are free to protest peacefully. and the government denies them that right

it also denies fredom of press

that says something, isnt it?

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 3:12 a.m.    

Yes, please try protesting outside the European Parliament building in Brussels, in the Capital of Europe!

You can't even get near it.

To hold a rally with this number of people would require &quot;permission&quot; there as well.

And there is no freedom of press in Belgium!

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 9:04 a.m.    

Hi Guest,

What are you talking about? The European Parliament is in Strasbourg and there are regular protests and demonstrations.

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 10:48 p.m.    

I guess that you did not read the article before writing your propaganda. The Ukrainian people were prevented from coming by yanukovych's KGB friends!

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 6:04 p.m.    

Oh dear. I saw who she shared a platform with today. How can she ever say she is the one to unite Ukraine when sharing a platform with Svaboda.

Last year she would not have touched them with a 10 foot pole.

Be careful Yulia, whilst it may not be to late to save your career in 2012, chosing your alies more carefully would be wise if you intend to campaign on unity in the future.

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 6:17 p.m.    

On 27th &quot;reports&quot; were 3,000-5,000 people gathered for mass protest in front of Rada, when, in fact, 40,000-45,000 people were there.

&quot;Ukrainian News&quot; belongs to Party of Regions, Interfax is a Putin's news outlet.

There were not &quot;2 thousand supporters&quot; of Yanukovych - there were a few hundred hired individuals, most of them - Russian passport holders.

It's Party of Regions &quot;trademark&quot; - at President elections they brought from Russia into Ukraine thousands of people, those &quot;voters&quot; filled every hospital, treatment center, clinic all over Ukraine to amass &quot;majority of votes&quot;.

Party of Regions blocked transportation all over the country, so people from different regions couldn't attend the mass protest. Trains have been cancelled, busses were stopped from departing, the roads were blocked by &quot;law enforces&quot; so the cars couldn't pass. That takes care of &quot;freedom of transportation&quot;.

In Kiev Party of Regions gathered thousands of special forces, every street leading to Parliament has buses full of armed people sitting there. Special forces were brought from Moscow ahead of rally.

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 6:31 p.m.    

Yes its a conspiracy. Just a moment though it was a conspiracy the election before last. That didn't stop the Agents of Orange rousing the people. In spite of all the police or other state agents could do the people rushed to defend the Orange Liberators (at least that's what the Agents of Orange said afterward). So what's Changed?

The orange counters say its 40,000 at least but it should be 400,000 or 4,000,000(just keep multiplying by ten until the number is considered impressive). And what ever count you use it comes up short of the numbers that can justify or produce regime change. And so history says farewell to the pipsqueak Agents of Orange

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 3:08 a.m.    

It is like you are talking about Brussels, chaos in the Capital of Europe!

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 10:11 p.m.    

only 2000 pro American yulia supporters showed up.Are you going to say the western media is owned by the Kremlin to Nazi boys. ?

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 11:27 p.m.    

Protesters from Kharkiv prevented from leaving their city:

http://maidan.org.ua/static/newsvostok/1273521050.html

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 11:28 p.m.    

Buses from Poltava oblast to Kyiv - canceled:

http://kp.ua/daily/080510/226757/

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 11:31 p.m.    

Traffic cops &quot;recommend&quot; bus companies stay away from Kyiv on protest days:

http://www.unian.net/ukr/news/news-376160.html

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 11:32 p.m.    

Bus companies cancel contracts with protesters:

http://www.unian.net/ukr/news/news-376150.html

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Anonymous May 11, 2010, 11:40 p.m.    

Traffic police block roads from Chernihiv to Kyiv:

http://www.unian.net/ukr/news/news-376353.html

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 1:34 a.m.    

Did you people that voted for yanukovich forget that he did the same thing in 2004. In 2005 he assaulted the minister of transportation because some people got on trains to go to Kyiv.

The kremlin rules Ukraine again. Shame on Kyiv. &quot;VSTYD I HANNBA&quot;

The Soviet Encyclopedia of 1930 proudly wrote that the passport system was &quot;a repressive invention of the police state, absent in Soviet law&quot;. But this was not to last for long.

On December 27, 1932 the USSR Central Executive Committee and Sovnarkom issued a decree About establishment of the Unified Passport System within the USSR and the Obligatory Propiska of Passports. The declared purposes were the improvement of population bookkeeping in various urban settlements and &quot;the removal of persons not engaged in industrial or other socially-useful work from towns and cleansing of towns from hiding kulaks, criminals and other antisocial elements. &quot;Hiding kulaks&quot; was an indication at fugitive peasants who tried to run away from the collectivization. &quot;Removal&quot; usually resulted in some form of forced labour {PRONOUNCED – GENOCIDE OF THE UKRAINIANS IN THE GULAGS}.

On 22 January 1933 a Directive of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR was issued, according to which all the borders between Ukraine and the Kuban and the rest of the regions of the USSR were closed to peasants. This Directive bears witness to the fact that at that time, famine existed only on the territories inhabited by a Ukrainian population (the Ukrainian SSR and the Northern Caucasus), since in the neighboring republics there was no such shortage of food;
By other decrees of 13 September 1932 and 17 March 1933, the peasants were also tied to the land and were forbidden to leave the collective farms if they did not have a contract approved by the collective farm administration;

The 14 Dec1932 decree and Stalin’s instructions to Postyshev “were not only to break all resistance to the gathering of the harvest, but to obliterate everything resembling the stressing of a distinctive Ukrainian nationality.”

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 8:39 a.m.    

By the end of 1932 Ukraine and the Kuban had become a killing field for the starving collective and independent farmers. To escape the coming doom, many farmers tried to flee to Belarus or the RSFSR, where food was more readily available. Stalin decided to stop this mass flight and on 22 January 1933, he sent around a secret directive forbidding farmers to leave Ukraine and the North Caucasus for other regions of the USSR.

Orders were given to the railways and water transportation agencies to stop selling tickets to farmers from these regions, and to the OGPU and local administrations on both sides of the administrative borders to arrest all peasants migrating from these regions and, after punishing the most dangerous, to send the others back to their places of residence. A quarter of a million farmers were thus intercepted. These measures was clearly aimed at the Ukrainian group.

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 8:13 a.m.    

Can someone answer this question?

It is obvious Yanuk and his cronies were prepared in cities (Vinnytsia, Lviv, Ivano-Fr, etc) to stop, stall, and disrupt people from going to Kiev, ; by bus/trains...........

Was there not patriotic Ukrainians in the police forces,at the railway stations, to inform opposition organizers , that transportation of people to Kyiv was going to be halted. And hire buses/ drivers to make sure protestors make it Kyiv.

If Yanuk can do this, why could not the opposition (Yulia) make sure that people did arrive in Kyiv..???

Hopefully, at the next protest,,,,,,this situation will not repeat itself.

Bless Ukraine

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 12:10 p.m.    

First, check the facts. This article comes from a highly politicised news outlet. Kyiv Post became the Fox News of Ukraizne.

The people i work with are perfectly happy with the new president and his decisions. Who put Ukraine on its knees? Tymo and her gang. She left the country bankrupt with lots of money not accounted for.

Time to dig in the books.

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Anonymous May 13, 2010, 12:17 a.m.    

You must be KGB to even think that the KGB has a RIGHT to decide where and when Ukrainians are allowed to go.

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 8:19 a.m.    

What is this......police check passports &quot;inside&quot; the country.

This is blatant communism tactics.

Shutting train ticket wickets.......stopping busses.

Who are these police,,,,,,are they Ukr or Russian. Where/how do they get these orders.

Shameful

Bless Ukraine

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Anonymous May 12, 2010, 8:45 a.m.    

Famous quotation from the Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Chekist Day party at the FSB headquarters in

December 1999 was: “I want to report to you that the mission of the group of FSB officers sent undercover

to work at the government is being accomplished successfully.”

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