Editor’s Note: When events warrant, the Kyiv Post will provide continuing coverage of the protests in Kyiv and other cities following the government’s decision on Nov. 21 to stop European Union integration by rejecting an association agreement. The epicenter of the EuroMaidan movement is on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). The events can be followed on Twitter using hashtags #euromaidan and #євромайдан or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EuroMaydan.
2:40 p.m. With the main part of the rally over with the singing of the national anthem, the crowd thins out as AutoMaidan activists make their way in a car caravan to go to President Viktor Yanukovych’s luxury Mezhyhirya estate outside Kyiv. However, Kyiv Post staff photographer Kostyantyn Chernichkin — riding in the convoy — reports that three trucks and three police cars have blocked the road to the president’s house, preventing protesters from getting close. Today’s event marks the eighth consecutive week of Sunday rallies since EuroMaidan began on Nov. 21 in opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych’s abandonment of closer ties with the European Union.
2:30 p.m. It’s the second rally for Halyna Trots, a 61-year-old pensioner from Vinnytsya. She reacts emotionally to every word from the stage, chanting “Bandits out!” She said she likes to listen to Tyahnybok as he often cites Shevchenko from stage. She applauds after every speech and said “it’s literally a great time for Ukraine.”
2:20 p.m. The official part of the rally is over, the speakers have left and singer Taras Petrinenko performs on the stage.
2:15 p.m. According to opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk of imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party, ex-Foreign Minster Borys Tarasiuk will go to America on Jan. 15 to represent Ukraine at the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing of the U.S. Senate. The political crisis in Ukraine is the subject.
2:10 p.m. Opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk announced the opposition’s list of short-term and long-term demands for the government. It is as follows:
– parliament should form an investigative comission to investigate police violence;
– elimination of riot police formations;
– review of the budget law;
– adoption of a law freeing protesters from criminal responsibility;
– freedom for political prisoners, especially for ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Yatseniuk called on Maidan protesters to support beaten activists, including journalist Tetyana Chornovol and ex-Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who are both hospitalized now.
2 p.m. Oleh Tiahnybok, leader of the nationalist Svoboda Party, thanked all the EuroMaidan supporters, including Pope Francis, who said in a letter to the head of Ukrainian Catholic Church that he prayed for the Ukrainian people.
“Looks like in this year of horse (2014, according to the Eastern calendar, is a year of horse) they (government officials) want to ride us. But the whole world has witnessed how bad they are in riding,” said Tiahnybok. “Hey, people of Ukraine! Maybe it’s time to kick them with a hoof?”
1:50 p.m. Speaking from the stage, UDAR party leader Vitali Klitschko said he saw a lot of people coming to the square with children and saw it as a good sign. “We hope to make our future here.” Klitschko called on people to talk to their relatives, neighbors and friends and to explain EuroMaidan to them.
1:35 p.m. Member of parliament Iryna Lutsenko talks about the beating of her husband Yuriy Lutsenko. The former interior minister was beaten by riot police during clashes on Jan. 10 following the court ruling in the case of “Vasylkiv terrorists,” accused of planning to blow up Lenin monument. “He was a minister who would never throw his people against the nation, but he was brutally beaten when trying to prevent such a crime,” said Lutsenko’s wife.
1:30 p.m. While many Ukrainians use Twitter to follow EuroMaidan rally and inform others about it, hundreds of meaningless spam messages using EuroMaidan hashtags appear on Twitter, making it hard to follow the events with #євромайдан hashtag.
1:20 p.m. “Every year the magazines make rankings of most influential people, and this year not the oligarchs, president and not even opposition leaders are on top of the list, but the man of Maidan,” said independent lawmaker and businessman Petro Poroshenko, addressing the crowd on Maidan.
Poroshenko got a warm welcome from the protesters on the square. According to Poroshenko, European politicians he met in Brussels say they don’t want to deal with today’s Ukrainian authorities.
“The blood of our children and women at Maidan, blood of Ukrainian journalists on Bankova Street and blood of (Yuriy) Lutsenko and other Ukrainians at Peremohy Avenue will lead these criminals to prison,” said Poroshenko, referring to the protesters’ clashes with riot police on Jan. 10.
1:10 p.m. Singer and EuroMaidan leader Ruslana Lyzhychko spoke of EuroMaidan plans. “We prepare a big march to Mezhyhirya. (President Viktor) Yanukovych must feel us. He won’t hear us. But he will feel us,” she said. At the end of her speech, Lyzhychko got a flower passed to her by someone from the crowd and immediately threw it to the people standing next to the stage. The singer also called all the professional unions of Ukraine to strike.
12:55 p.m. AutoMaidan activist Sergiy Poyarkov gave an emotional speech from the stage on the Independence Square.
“They (government) didn’t expect us to put up such fight. Real patriot is not the one who shouts he is a patriot, but the one who is really doing something,” Poyarkov said. “Yanukovych made a mistake. He thought he rules little people. I don’t see a single little person standing here, only real big people. You are the basis we (activists) need. Don’t give up.”
“The fact that Berkut police officers took off their masks (during clashes of Jan. 10) is our little victory,” said another Automaidan activist Dmitriy Bulatov.
12:30 p.m. The eighth weekly Sunday rally kicked off at 12 p.m. on Independence Square in Kyiv. Some 10,000 people came to the rally. The event started with an address by priests and a prayer for EuroMaidan. Iryna Lutsenko, singer Ruslana Lyzhychko, politicians and opposition leaders Olexander Turchynov, Oleh Tyahnybok, Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatseniuk, Petro Poroshenko stand on the stage along with EuroMaidan activists.