Both Pro-EU Rallies, Ukrainian Govt Unwavering in Kiev

World | November 27, 2013, Wednesday // 11:55|  views

Ukranian university students in Kiev are urging President Viktor Yanukovych to sign the association agreement with the EU. Photo EPA/BGNES

Over three thousand Ukrainian university students have rallied in downtown Kiev Tuesday evening against their government's surprising decision to freeze the EU integration bid.

The students are urging President Viktor Yanukovych to change his decision and sign the association agreement with the EU.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal last week, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

Several rallies in Kiev have been held over the last few days. Rallies have been reported also in the Black sea city of Odessa, in Lvov and other cities.

Outraged Ukrainians say they do not want their country to become Russian province again, and pledge to not give up the rallies until they receive assurances about the European future of their country.

Demonstrators remain on Maydan square, guarded by riot police. Clashes have been reported, some leading to injuries.

The Ukrainian opposition, led by Former heavyweight boxing champion, Vitali Klitschko, who chairs the opposition Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party (UDAR - Smash), has urged pro-EU protesters to not give up.

The other opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in prison, announced she was beginning an indefinite hunger strike.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov called for three-party negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, and the EU, and stated that the issue about EU integration could be put on the table at the summit in the spring. He admitted Kiev was now focusing on rebuilding its relations with Russia.

The signing of the association agreement had been set for November 29 in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where several other ex-Soviet states will forge closer ties with the EU.

Yanukovych announced he would take part in the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

"I do not have a final agenda yet, but my participation has been confirmed," said he.

In a joint statement the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said the door to the EU is still open for Ukraine and the association agreement was on the table.

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Tags: university students, President of the European Commission, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, hunger strike, EU, Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, Oleh Tyahnybok, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, opposition, Association Agreement, President Viktor Yanukovych, UDAR, Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party, Vitali Klitschko, heavyweight boxing champion, Mykola Azarov, Kiev, Ukraine, EU, European Union, protest, clashes, riot police, Jose Manuel Barroso


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