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Ukraine protesters urge army neutrality

As talks continue, protesters rally outside Ministry of Defence calling for the armed forces not to intervene.

Last updated: 05 Feb 2014 12:06
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Protesters said the army had given an oath to protect Ukrianians [Al Jazeera/Tamila Varshalomidze]

Kiev - Ukraine’s anti-government protesters have gathered at the country’s Ministry of Defence in Kiev, calling on the army not to intervene as the opposition and the ruling party seek a solution through talks with the president, mediated by EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton.

The demonstrators, organised by a nationalist opposition party Svoboda, sang Ukraine’s anthem at the Ministry on Wednesday and urged the military through loudspeakers “to hear the people and not to go against them.”

“They gave an oath to protect the people of Ukraine, but there were talks going on recently, saying that the army should stand by the riot police and the government,” Nikalai Lynich, a demonstrator, told Al Jazeera as he marched from the Ministry to the Independence Square, where anti-government protesters have been camped behind the barricades for more than two months.

“If the military uses force against the protesters, the whole public will go against them,” he added.

Another protester Ivan Klyop insisted he was convinced “the army will, at the end, stand with us.”

Parliamentary debate

The second parliament session in a row since President Viktor Yanukovich returned to work from a sick leave ended without any progress on Wednesday.

Vladimir Ribak, the parliament speaker, postponed a debate on possible constitutional changes that could bring the country out of the crisis until the following day.

One of the main three opposition leaders, Arseny Yatsenuk, urged Ribak to invite the president to participate in the discussions “so that Ukrainians feel that their state has a law and order, that we have a president and not a dictator, that we have a parliament and not some button-pushers.”

He suggested the parliament to work every day until the decisions were made that would bring the country out of the crisis.

Yatsenuk was one of the opposition leaders who met Catherine Ashton on Tuesday in a bid to mediate a political solution to the anti-government unrest.

Ashton was due to hold a similar meeting with Yanukovich on Wednesday but the interference of foreign partners is not welcomed by all in Ukraine.

A number of demonstrators, organised by a group Borotba [the Fight] - were due to gather outside the embassy of the United States in Kiev on Wednesday.

The group will form a shape of a banana, protesting “against imperialistic politics of the US, European union and Russia.”

The activists said in a statement published on their website that they “want to show that Ukraine is not a “banana republic” like former Latin American colonies of the US, that have been ruled by ambassadors from Washington in an informal way.”

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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