Protests for Tymoshenko on Ukraine Independence Day (VIDEO)

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Aug. 24, 2011, 6:44 p.m. | Ukraine — by Associated Press

An opposition activist gives a flower to police officers as they block a march marking the 20th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union and protest the arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as Ukrainian riot police officers block in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011.
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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Over 5,000 opposition activists rallied Wednesday on the 20th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, protesting the arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and demanding early elections. Demonstrators, many of them clad in traditional Ukrainian white embroidered shirts, attempted to march on the president's office, but were held back by police in riot gear who flooded the city's center.

Tymoshenko's abuse-of-office trial and arrest earlier this month on charges of contempt of court have galvanized Ukraine's notoriously fragmented opposition.

Wednesday's rally attracted a broad spectrum of government critics opposed to pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych's government and a trial they see as selective prosecution meant to bar Tymoshenko from upcoming elections.

Tymoshenko issued an appeal from jail, urging unity among the opposition. She vowed that current authorities will be prosecuted for what she called the crimes they are committing today.

Five years from now, "real, and not political, prisoners will be in jail; today we know their names," she said in a letter posted on her website.

"Happy holiday, my dear ones! This is our holiday! We will prevail, we will win! I promise!" she wrote.

She was arrested Aug. 5 on charges of contempt of court as part of a trial in which she stands accused of violating official procedures when signing a natural gas import contract with Russian in 2009.

Tymoshenko denies all the charges, and the United States and European Union have condemned the arrest and trial as politically motivated.

Yanukovych says the criminal cases against Tymoshenko and a number of her senior allies are part of a government effort to fight corruption.

Tymoshenko's arrest has threatened the prospects of Ukraine's integration with Europe, but Yanukovych maintained Wednesday that Ukraine was on a pro-Western course.

"Our history is inseparably linked with modern Europe," Yanukovych said in a statement on his website. "For centuries the best sons and daughters of Ukraine have dreamt of an independent country which is based on freedom, humanity and democracy. And their dreams have come true."

Ukrainian lawmakers declared the Soviet republic independent on Aug. 24, 1991, days after a failed hard-line Communist coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Ukraine's voters overwhelmingly approved the decision in referendum that December, and it became independent later that month when Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous Aug. 24, 2011, 6:55 p.m.    

Yanukovych's history is inseparably linked with the modern mafia.

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Anonymous Aug. 24, 2011, 7:24 p.m.    

many of them clad in traditional Ukrainian white embroidered shirts

Read more:

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Anonymous Aug. 24, 2011, 8:30 p.m.    

The promise to Yanuk and his mafia gangster that they will face justice, real justice and there names are well known from the top to the bottom. Tymoshenko words should be well understood by the criminals in charge and there is a very good possibility there will be no place to run, not even Russia. The criminal cases will not be political but proven cases of abuse, fraud, and corruption by the &quot;Party of Rats&quot;. Herman will not be able to dig a deep enough hole to avoid prosecution as well. What goes around will come around. What's so terrible, is Yanuk has involved his own family members into the corrupt world of the Party of Regions and now they may face criminal hearings as well. The regime may think that such an event may not happen but they should think twice. The members of the mafia control government may want to separate themselves from the Yanuk. This man is determined to put the opposition into prison no matter at what cost and the world is looking. He will not be able to seek intervention from the international community nor support because of his criminal acts towards the opposition. The presiding judge in the court case will be right along with the others, facing true justice in a true court.

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Anonymous Aug. 25, 2011, 12:46 a.m.    

Two decades and Ukraine is not a democracy. The main obstacle being the President. former President Viktor Yushchenko opposed Ukraine becoming a full parliamentary democracy which would have seen power removed from the office of the President. Yushchenko's term of office was a complete disappointment with what few positives there were being overshadowed by negativity, division and betrayal.

Viktor Yanukovych when Prime Minister advocated democratic reform but son after wining the Office of the President sought to consolidate power and reverse the democratic reforms that were made in 2005.

Ukraine will never be a free independent democratic state as long as it is beholden and subjected to presidential authority. If Ukraine want to be free it needs to adopt European values and European models of parliamentary governance as recommended by PACE and the Venice Commission.

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Anonymous Aug. 25, 2011, 3:31 a.m.    

LUSTRATION is the answer....then a decision as to what form of government is best.

There is no point in changing the system if the same unreformable

and unsavoury characters are still in place.

Disqualify this mafia from the reigns of power....then all forms of government will work.

LUSTRATION worked in the BALTIC countries and in the CZECH Republic. They are lite years ahead of Ukraine in effeciency and

honesty of governance.

Ukraine could learn from them big time!

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