Supporters of President Viktor Yanukovych wave flags of Ukraine and the pro-presidential Party of Regions during a mass rally in Kyiv.
Two special trains were sent from Zaporizhzhia city to Kyiv on Dec. 13 and 14 carrying people for week-end rallies in support of President Viktor Yanukovych, known as the AntiMaidan to counter the EuroMaidan demonstrations under way since Nov. 21 to dislodge the government.
But on Dec. 16, one of these trains slapped stickers on the windows demanding Yanukovych’s resignation, which were borrowed from the rival EuroMaidan demonstrations.
The people in the train didn’t change their political aspirations, if they had any. They were in protest of the organizers of the pro-Yanukovych event, who they say cheated them out of some of the money they were promised for coming to Kyiv. Some were even smashing windows of the train, Comments.ua web-site reported.
The same story occurred with Kherson participants of AntiMaidan, who complained they were promised Hr 150 in daily allowance and Hr 25 additionally for every hour of standing. But in fact they were paid only Hr 150 instead of Hr 500-800 expected, Kyiv Post sources said.
Artur Madatian, who was traveling to Kyiv to participate in the pro-European rally, said he saw hundreds of employees of state-owned companies and institutions as well as athletically built young men crowding by the special train leaving for Kyiv. Some of them complained him that they were forced to go and support Yanukovych under a threat of losing their jobs at a state plant.
Journalist Tetiana Honcharenko published on her Facebook page a list of 27 special trains from Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odesa, Sevastopol and Kharkiv hired by organizers of pro-Yanukovych rally.
Ukrzaliznytsia refused to disclose to the Kyiv Post how the ruling party could hire entire trains, casting doubts about use of so called administrative recourse, popular term in Ukraine that means government pressure.
“Any person can hire special carriage or train in any direction. Who ordered and when – this is a commercial secret,” said an official of Ukrzaliznytsia press service who only identified himself as Serhiy. “To find out exact costs you should address directly to railroad.” He added that tickets for these rail journeys were not sold in ticket offices.
Moreover, Party of Region organized dozens of buses to carry people from northern and central-Ukrainian regions. Participants of pro-government rally in Mariyinsky Park often admitted that they were brought to Kyiv by special buses or trains. They were denied for attribution being paid, but privately one woman told the Kyiv Post that her daily salary at rally was some Hr 300 for showing up to counter the pro-European crowd.
Economichna Pravda web-site estimated that even without administrative resource a rally of 10,000 people cost for its organizers some $500,000 per 24 hours. By Kyiv post estimations there were about this number of people on Dec. 15 in Mariyinsky Park.
But Oleg Kalashnikov, former lawmaker of Party of Regions and one of organizers of pro-government rally, refuted the estimated costs by Ekonomichna Pravda and called them “informational provocations.”
Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org