New Anti-Corruption Measures Ease Tempers in Kiev

Life//Being There

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Tensions mounted in Kiev on Thursday (14th August) as a rally protesting entrenched corruption, organised by Automaidan, repeatedly threatened to spill over into yet more scenes of unrest.

The rally began shortly after 8am (local time) when a series of cars Automaidan flag blocked off the street causing severe delays to Kiev’s morning traffic.

Outside Kiev’s parliament building Crowds waving Ukrainian flags as well as the red and black nationalist bicolour packed the square, chanting “Putin Huylo” (an untranslatable insult) along with a number of other slogans to vent their anger at entrenched government corruption. Chants were accompanied by crowds shaking bottles filled with coins as activists banged loudly on oil drums.

Originally a vehicle-based activist group who set up blockades of major roads as part of the Euromaidan protests that called for the resignation of Viktor Yanukovych, Automaidan have since grown into one of the most active campaign groups and have organised numerous large scale rallies fighting to end corruption and foster closer ties with the European Union.

Behind massed lines of police and militia, MPs convened in Ukraine’s parliament to vote on a series of measures to cleanse government of its most corrupt elements. Judges and other actors who wielded power in ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime were among those removed from office with the passing of today’s vote, which was received by loud applause from demonstrators massed outside.

Throughout the day, anger had been mounting and on several occasions threatened to reach a flashpoint as MPs passing through the square were shoved and heckled by protestors and police pushed forward to protect them from the crowd. By lunch time, masked men bearing nationalist flags appeared from nearby Mariinski Park laden with pallets of bricks as well as eggs and kerosene intended to set light to a barricade of tyres outside the Verkhovna Rada’s (Parliament) main entrance.

But the elation that followed the passing of the anti-corruption laws eased tensions somewhat and no such flashpoints occurred.

Since the eight-month old Euromaidan protest camp in Kiev’s Independence Square, often referred to as the Maidan, was forcibly cleared earlier this week, new tents have begun to emerge outside Ukraine’s parliament in what is already being referred to as the “3rd Maidan”. Activists camped there vow to keep applying pressure on Kiev’s government using nonviolent means until significant moves to end corruption and human rights abuses by Ukraine’s government.

Image © Maximilian Clarke 

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