Ukraine protesters: ‘We want our country to have EU values, not a dictatorship’

The Independent speaks to three demonstrators to find out why they are taking to the streets

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych proposed an amnesty on Friday for all those facing criminal charges over the wave of anti-government protests that have hit the country over the last three weeks, after its withdrawal from a political pact with the European Union.

The move appears to have done little to placate opposition leaders, and with another demonstration set for Sunday which could see hundreds of thousands of people again on the streets, three demonstrators explain why they are there.

Yuri, 34, is a tax lawyer working for an international law firm in Kiev

I’ve been going to Independence Square almost every day since the President refused to sign the Association Agreement, after the journalist Mustafa Nayem posted on Facebook saying he was going to demonstrate and why.

I went because the President has told people for three or four years that he would sign the agreement, and then refused to do it without consulting anyone.

On 30 November, police beat up students on the square. Now I’m standing there for my rights, and the rights of my children. If we will not go there now, we should forget about democracy, about any rights not in line with the desires of our President.

Sophia, 23, is from Kiev and works in the events industry

I first went to Independence Square on 22 November, the day after the government announced they wouldn’t sign the agreement.

It was pretty clear for me that meant they would sign an agreement with Russia, which would be like going back to the Soviet Union. It would mean an end to human rights and freedom of expression. But at least in the Soviet Union there were still some morals and ethics, and people were educated in science and culture.

These guys who are the government of Ukraine are not educated, they are ignorant criminals. They don’t care about people’s education.

I want Ukraine to sign an agreement with the EU. I want the government and this President to leave.

Lubomyra, 63, is a doctor. She returned to Kiev from her home in Germany to support the protesters

When I heard about the government decision not to sign the EU agreement, I knew I had to return to do something for my country. I was afraid for the students protesting all night on Independence Square, and wanted to help them. I worked in the medical tent, but also preparing hot tea and food for the protesters.

On 30 November the students were singing the national anthem and I was in the medical tent. We were surrounded by riot police in helmets and balaclavas. At first students were chanting “police are with the people”, but then police attacked.

I ran to some of the students on the floor, and stood in  front of them with my arms spread out. One of the officers ran towards me and broke my arm. We took refuge in St Michael’s monastery. After the attack, police came to my home and questioned me. I want Ukraine to have European values, freedom of speech and other human rights. Not this dictatorship.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery assistants required across Cambridgeshire

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

SEN 1:1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week