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Ukrainians Take Anger Over Trade Into The Streets



Those are protestors who converged on the capital city of Ukraine today. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered for a massive anti-government protest. It's part of a struggle over whether the country will align itself with Europe or with its former Soviet partner Russia.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Kiev.


COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: That chant has become the slogan and war cry of protesters here in the Maidan, the central square of Kiev. It goes: Glory to Ukraine, followed by the response: to heroes, glory. I'm standing in the midst of a sea of people, filling this vast square that holds a monument to Ukraine's independence. In front of me, the air is filled with waving flags - the blue-and-yellow flags of Ukraine, the blue-and-gold starred flags of the EU, and the banners of the various opposition parties. There's a central stage here where speakers and performers are firing up this huge crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: That's the daughter of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, reading a statement from her mother, the president's bitter political rival who's now in prison on what the opposition says were trumped-up charges. The statement says President Yanukovych has decided to join the club of dictators. People at the protest seem to agree.

This is Kostyantyn Yakovchuk-Besarab, a 31-year-old director at an outsourcing company.

KOSTYANTYN YAKOVCHUK-BESARAB: Such number of people here is the proof that Ukraine is pro-European country, even though our government officials don't think this.

FLINTOFF: Protesters fear that government officials are cutting a secret deal that would align Ukraine more tightly with its former Soviet partner, Russia. They say that could trigger even bigger protests than Ukraine is seeing now.

RATH: That's NPR's Corey Flintoff, reporting from Kiev's central square.

Earlier today, in another part of the city, right-wing nationalists pulled down a statue of Communist icon Vladimir Lenin. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.