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Comments on the Recent Demonstrations in Kyiv

On September 16, 2002 the demonstrations organized by various political opposition forces: communist and socialist parties, block of Y.Tymoshenko, as well as "Our Ukraine" headed by V.Yushchenko, took place in Kyiv and some other cities of the country. According to the official estimations there were 53,000 participants across Ukraine, including 15,000 in the capital.

Overall the demonstrations were held peacefully and no major incidents were registered, yet they involved blocking of the streets in downtown Kyiv by protesters who camped in tents near the government's buildings, including Presidential Administration.

On September 17 the tents were removed by the police pursuant to the ruling of the court, which prohibited unauthorized actions in downtown Kyiv. Fifty-four protesters were detained.

During the demonstrations the police acted according to Ukrainian legislation and avoided use of force.

Speaking about the events of September 16, President Leonid Kuchma in his interview to the Austrian newspaper "Standard" stressed, "The peaceful demonstration is an advantage for us. When people marching in the streets and complain about their troubles, it is understandable. However, it takes place against the background of the substantial economic improvements, rising of salaries and pensions. The main question for me is why the ex-prime-minister, former speaker of the parliament and ex-vice-prime-minister bring their representatives to the streets, while being themselves responsible for the previous conditions. Recently they were in office when the situation in the country was worse."

The events of September 16-17 demonstrated that the right to peaceful demonstrations and expression of disagreement with the legitimate government is respected in Ukraine. The President and the Government believe that the further discussion between different political forces should take place in civilized manner, with respect to the Constitution and Ukrainian law, and all contradiction would be solved in a way to avoid damage to the interest of the people.

For additional information, please contact:
Yurii Nykytiuk, Press Secretary at the Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400

2002 09 20