Several thousand anti-government protesters rallied in Kyiv’s Independence Square on Tuesday afternoon. They’re upset about the Ukrainian parliament’s earlier rejection of a motion to hold a government confidence vote.
Tensions have remained high since President Viktor Yanukovych pulled Ukraine away from an EU trade deal which would have brought greater integration with Europe.
In freezing conditions, opposition leaders gave passionate speeches.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the opposition party Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) said: “Parliament did not vote for the resignation of the disgraceful Ukrainian government, the most disgraceful one in Ukrainian history. Shame on Azarov!”
His speech was followed by chants of “together till the end” from the crowd.
Vitali Klitschko, leader of the opposition party Udar (Punch) said: “Each of us will fight, and each of us will be the winner. Our entire country will be the winner.”
After the speeches, the crowd moved to the presidential palace. That’s where we’ve seen some of the most intense violence and clashes between police and protesters.
The crowd is angry with the government but furious about the heavy police reaction to the demonstrations. The protesters initially wanted to change the government’s mind over the EU trade deal. Now they want a change of government.
Meanwhile, Yanukovych is out of the country. He left Ukraine on a scheduled state visit to China on Tuesday leaving behind a country in turmoil. So far, he has shown no signs of stepping down.