Ukraine court frees protesters held after Kiev clashes

December 13, 2013 | By | Reply More

Dec 13, – A Ukrainian court has freed nine people arrested during clashes between pro-EU protesters and riot police, a key demand of the protest movement.

hromedia Ukraine court frees protesters held after Kiev clashes eu crisis2The nine were arrested during a violent crackdown on 30 November to drive protesters away from the presidential administration in the capital Kiev. Amid the international outrage, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “disgust” at the use of force.

Protest leaders have joined talks with President Viktor Yanukovych.

Hundreds of demonstrators remain camped out in freezing temperatures on Kiev’s Independence Square, their numbers swelling each evening as thousands of others join them.

The protests erupted last month after President Yanukovych pulled out of an association agreement with Brussels, which would have been a crucial step towards the former Soviet republic’s integration into the EU.

His government continues to give conflicting signals over whether it will press ahead with the agreement after all.

Last man freed

The last of the nine detainees was released on Friday although the criminal cases against them continue.

Yehor Previr, 27, was ordered to remain under partial house arrest.

He had been sentenced earlier to two months in custody on the charge of organising mass riots, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years, Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper reports.

Other detainees released earlier were also placed under restrictions or fined.

Speaking before they joined a “round table” with Mr Yanukovych, the three main leaders of the protest movement – opposition politicians Vitaly Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and far-right leader Oleh Tyahnybok – addressed the crowd on Independence Square.

“We will pass on to him your demands,” Mr Yatsenyuk told the crowd, flanked by the two others. “We will fight for our general victory.”

Rinat Akhmetov, the richest among Ukraine’s powerful tycoons and usually seen as an ally of Mr Yanukovych, has added his voice to the calls for negotiations and condemned the use of force.

“The fact that peaceful people took to the streets for peaceful demonstrations means that Ukraine is a free, democratic country,” he said in a statement.

“Ukraine will not turn off this road. This is very good.”

On Thursday, First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov said in Brussels that Ukraine would “soon sign” the pact but on Friday, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov again warned about its negative impact on the economy.


Protests have gripped Kiev and other cities in western and central Ukraine but President Yanukovych retains support in the east and south.

There is widespread frustration with Ukraine’s economic malaise and failure to root out cronyism and corruption.

Closer ties with the EU could make the economy more open and transparent, meeting EU standards on competition, regulation and investor protection. Many Ukrainian protesters want their country to catch up with East European neighbours who have joined the EU.

But the EU partnership requires far-reaching reforms – unlike the customs union being advocated by Russia.

The government and its supporters fear that economic liberalisation would put at risk many enterprises reliant on trade with Russia. Moscow has already put economic pressure on Ukraine, with customs delays and a ban on Ukrainian chocolates, and could escalate such measures.

Ukraine relies on imports of Russian gas – and heavy energy-intensive industries in eastern Ukraine are especially anxious to keep the gas price down. Some 75% of Ukraine’s engineering exports go to Russia.

In an indication of the continuing uncertainty in Kiev, there has been a sharp fall in corporate restaurant bookings for the traditional New Year holiday period, the Ukrainian news agency Liga reports.

About a third of bookings have been cancelled, according to one catering

Press coordinator for HRO media – Norberto Lluch, contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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