KIEV (Reuters) – A few thousand Ukrainians rallied on Wednesday to demand a change of political leadership in a demonstration that coincided with the third anniversary of the ousting of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich amid mass street protests.
The rally was organized by three right-wing parties who accuse the government of being too weak and conciliatory in the face of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its support for pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.
The crowd chanted “Glory to Ukraine!” and carried banners with slogans such as “The government should fight (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, not Ukrainians.”
Kiev resident Vasyl Volskiy said he was taking part in the demonstration because he believed the authorities had failed to deliver on promises to reform the economy.
“There has been no improvement, it has even become worse compared to what it used to be. The army still has no resources, just like before. People have become three times poorer and the authorities are not doing anything,” he said.
None of the three groups behind the rally – the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, the far-right Right Sector and the newly formed National Corps party founded by members of the Azov battalion – are currently represented in parliament.
Yanukovich has lived in exile in Russia since fleeing Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2014. His successor, Petro Poroshenko, has tried to move Ukraine towards the European Union but the country is still dogged by poverty and corruption, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine remains unresolved.
Ukrainians are also now concerned that U.S. President Donald Trump may roll back sanctions imposed on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Margaryta Chornokondratenko; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Gareth Jones)