Ukraine Protests Spread to Other Major Cities
The protests in Ukraine are spreading to other major cities. The capitol of Kiev has been home to major protests for two months after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a trade deal with the European Union in favor of one with Russia.
Activists stormed into regional governor Oleh Salo’s office in Lviv and forced him to sign resignation papers. Salo is now saying he signed it under duress and the resignation is invalid.
Another group of activists smashed their way into the governor’s office in Rivne and shouted, “Down with the gang!” Opposition refers to the president’s government as the gang. There are reports of riots in Zhytomyr, Vinnytsya, Khmelnytskiy, and Ivano-Frankivsk.
People have been protesting peacefully since late November when Yanukovych decided to deal with Russia, but things turned for the worse when he and parliament rushed through harsh anti-demonstration laws on January 15. Opposition leaders, including boxer-turned politician Vitaly Klitschko, pleaded with the protesters not to turn violent, but they could not be stopped.
The Ukrainian government is also targeting the country’s Greek Catholic church. The Church joined the protests to make sure there are no human rights violations. They set up remote tents where people could pray, confess, and baptize their children. Culture Minister Leonid Novokhatko cited Article 21, which says religious services must be performed in a church. However, due to the backlash, Yanukovych quickly backtracked his minister and said many of those laws should be overturned so people can pray where they wish.
Two protesters died from bullet wounds on January 22. There are reports of as many as five people dead during the latest protests.