At 4:00 a.m., soldiers of the Berkut special police unit smashed up the tent camp set up by participants of the Ukraine Arise! protest action;> some people were severely beaten and some were arrested. PRAVDA.Ru reported yesterday that communist and socialist parties and Julia Timoshenko’s coalition launched the protest action Ukraine Arise! Before the demonstration started in Kiev’s European Square, the leader of the largest parliament faction and ex-prime minister of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, and his followers joined the protesters. It should be noted, his personal ratings are the highest among Ukrainian politicians. It is perfectly clear that his participation in the protest in Kiev made the demonstration interesting to majority of Ukrainians.
According to the head of the foreign economic relations department in the Kiev city administration, Mikhail Pozhivanov, 50,000 people gathered on European Square. According to information provided by the opposition, 127,000 people took part in the protest action, while the police says the the figure is 15,000 people.
Participants of the demonstration produced a number of documents. A resolution demanding the immediate resignation of President Kuchma is the main document among them. The resolution says that the president is to resign and extraordinary presidential elections are to be held in Ukraine. Participants of the demonstation said that “the social, political, and economic status of the country demonstrates a policy of genocide of the Ukrainian people.” The document also mentions: “Corruption, gangsterism of oligarchic clans and top officials, an economic crisis flourishing in the country, and freedom of speech being strictly limited in Ukraine.” The authors of the document believe that the parliament should determine the date of extraordinary presidential elections, make up a majority of the political powers that won the 2002 parliamentary elections, and create an effective government. In addition, participants of the demonstration called upon the parliamentary leadership to call an extraordinary session to discuss the situation in the country. The resolution was signed by Viktor Yushchenko, Pyotr Simonenko, Alexander Moroz, and Julia Timoshenko. The protesters made up two columns and headed from European Square to the Supreme Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers and the presidential administration. According to the opposition’s press-service, in the evening, about 30,000 people gathered in Bankovaya Street, where the presidential administration is situated. A group of people’s deputies went inside the building of the presidential administration; it was planned that the deputies would stay in the building until President Kuchma returns from an economic summit in Austria. However, the parliamentarians returned very quickly. Head of the presidential administration Viktor Medvedchuk addressed the protesters at about 7:00 p.m.; he said he had already informed the president about events in the country. Journalists asked him whether the president was told about the details of the resolution passed at the meeting. However, Medvedchuk said that the deputies wanted to give the resolution to the president personally. He stressed that, although the opposition had a constitutional right to organize protest actions of this kind, they can't break the law. The head of the presidential administration didn’t specify any details.
Yesterday evening, protesters blocked Grushevsky, Shelkovichnaya, Institutskaya, and Luteranskaya streets, which join the presidential administration with the Supreme Rada and Cabinet of Ministers. The demonstrators set up about 130 tents right on the trafficway. This was a rather striking picture. I was in the area after 9:00 p.m. It was written on practically every tent from where the protesters traveled to Kiev. The people looked cheerful: they believed that nobody would leave the tent camp until president Kuchma resigns and new presidential elections called. Such were the beliefs of the people before they settled for the night. A group of people in uniforms and plain clothes gathered near the building of the Cabinet of Ministers. Late in the evening, when I returned from the camp set up by the demonstrators, the protest action was televised on all channels. A commentator from STB channel said that the police registered no disturbances during the protest in Kiev. It was said that the police were highly tolerant.
Later, the TV channel showed a brief interview with Ukraine’s prime minister, Anatoly Kinakh, who commented on the events on September 16. “According to official data, 24,700 people took part in the protest action, not 200,000 as organizers stated. Therefore, nothing extraordinary has happened.” That was quite obvious lie, because a report from Lvov was televised right before the interview. It was reported that ten thousand people took part in the action; however, the opposition still insisted there were 20,000 protesters. In the evening, Radio Liberty in Ukraine ran a live interview with the head of the Kharkov city administration, Yeugeny Kushnarev. He said that, according to police statements, five thousand people gathered for a protest action on Svobody Square in Lvov. Therefore, the information concerning the number of protesters given by the Ukrainian prime minister differs from the exact number of protesters in Lvov and Kiev. What was the exact number of protesters on European Square in Kiev? The government is evidently trying to hush up the scandalous situation. Early in the morning, I received a telephone call from member of the Socialist party political council, Ukrainian deputy Alexander Baranovsky. He told me the following:
“At 4:00 a.m. (remember that Hitler attacked the USSR the same time in 1941), people in uniform and masks attacked the protesters who were sleeping quietly in the tent camp with rubber batons. The people were beaten regardless of their sex and social position, and dozens of people in uniform gathered in the camp. The battle was very severe; the protesters were beaten on their heads. One of the protesters was a legless man who stayed in his tent, but the attackers beat him as well. I can’t even say for sure whether he is alive or not. The people who attacked the camp were extremely cruel. Some people were simply dragged away from the camp, and we don’t know where they are now. Leaders of the opposition Alexander Moroz, Pyotr Simonenko, Julia Timoshenko, and other people’s deputies spent the night in the opposition camp. They tried to stop the raging policemen, but in vain. I have never seen such cruelty.” People from the opposition were seriously injured, and some are still missing. It is not ruled out that they were arrested.
In the morning, the Ukrainian television channel 1+1 reported that officers of the court had come to the camp to execute a court decision on the liquidation of the tent camp in the central part of the city. And when the opposition refused to leave, the police had to use force. A general said that twenty people were arrested for resisting the police, nothing more.
It is strange that the court decision was passed by a court in charge of other part of the city and not by the one in charge of the area where the camp had been set up. Therefore, the opposition has a chance to use the slaughter to discredit the government and Ukrainian power structures. It will be used to demonstrate that Kuchma’s regime is very much like a bloody dictatorship. Alexander Gorobets PRAVDA.Ru Kiev Ukraine
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/09/17/47146.html
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