A pro-Russian, anti-war rally was held in front of Kyiv city hall on Wednesday (28 January), Mayor Vitaly Klitschko faced the protestors and told them not to let themselves be manipulated by hostile propaganda.
The protest was held in the centre of Kyiv, close to the Maidan square, with some 500 people raising identical industrial-made banners appealing for “peace” and “justice”.
Asked by EurActiv what the rally was for, young people said they were fed up with the government of Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, which had been a failure since it took office after the dramatic events of February 2014.
Asked if they had also protested during the dramatic Euromaidan civil unrest, which led to the departure of former president Viktor Yanukovich from the country, the demonstrators expressed disgust for this period, which they called violent and dangerous.
More elderly citizens said they life had become very difficult since Vitaly Klitschko, a former boxing world champion, one of the iconic figures of Euromaidan and now mayor of Kyiv, took over his new job. In particular, they blamed him for higher public transport costs in the capital.
But a more important demand appeared to be that the authorities should drop a plan to mobilise an additional 104,000 soldiers this year for the “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine.
The protest took place without any incident, and the Ukrainian police present did not show any sign of nervousness. Some press reports mentioned a plan of the protestors to block the capital’s key boulevard in front of city hall, but traffic remained unimpeded.
Klitschko largely defused the tension by speaking with the demonstrators. His main message was that he was aware of the citizens’ concerns, but that they should not let themselves fall prey to disinformation.