BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Monday, 16 September, 2002, 20:46 GMT 21:46 UK
Ukraine opposition leads street protests
Protesters in Kiev (AFP)
The opposition has vowed to continue its campaign
Thousands of opposition supporters across Ukraine have staged mass rallies demanding the resignation of the country's president, Leonid Kuchma, who is accused of corruption and misrule.


Today is a great day for Ukraine. Thousands of people came here to show they do not want to remain slaves

Yulia Tymoshenko, opposition leader
In the capital, Kiev, about 15,000 people took to the streets, in one of the biggest protests since Ukraine's independence in 1991.

The protests marked the second anniversary of the disappearance of journalist Georgy Gongadze, whose headless corpse was subsequently found in a forest near Kiev - a killing the opposition blames on President Kuchma.

Mr Kuchma rejects all the charges, and instead accuses his critics of trying to undermine what he calls his course of reforming the country before he steps down in 2004.

United in protest

Yellow and blue Ukrainian flags flew next to the red banners of the Communists - an indication, says the BBC's Ray Furlong in Kiev, of the breadth of opposition.

Georgy Gongadze
The Gongadze case rocked Ukraine in 2001

Protesters marched down to Kiev's Europe Square, shouting "Shame! Shame! Kuchma out!" and defying a ban on demonstrations in the city centre.

"Today is a great day for Ukraine. Thousands of people came here to show they do not want to remain slaves," Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the opposition leaders, told the crowd.

Demonstrators also accused the president's administration of censorship, a charge Mr Kuchma has repeatedly denied.

Nevertheless, in what our correspondent said was a strange coincidence, all Ukraine's TV channels went off air several hours before the demonstration in Kiev.

The official reason was that they were undergoing maintenance, and they later resumed broadcasting.

Tens of thousands of people also held rallies in Lviv, Donetsk and other Ukraine's cities.

Weakened opposition

President Kuchma was not in Ukraine, as he was attending an economic forum in Salzburg.

Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma
Kuchma denies any involvement to the killing of Gongadze

Experts doubt the demonstrations will force his resignation, pointing out that Mr Kuchma survived what many said was the biggest political scandal since Ukraine's independence.

The scandal - dubbed Kuchmagate - was triggered by leaked tape recordings in which he was allegedly heard calling for Mr Gongadze to be got rid of.

Experts also say opposition is somewhat weakened by the ambiguous position of its most popular figure, Viktor Yuschenko, who joined the protests, but also called for dialogue with the president.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Ukraine analyst Stephen Dalziel
"Mr Kuchma calling for something to be done about Mr Gongadze"
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes