Ukraine protestors call for nationwide strike

Ukraine (MNN) — About a million protestors took to the streets yesterday in Ukraine, as protests continue against President Viktor Yanukovich. Last week Yanukovich refused to sign an agreement allowing free trade with the European Union, but rather signed a similar agreement with Russia.

That resulted in peaceful protests, but that changed quickly after the Duma passed a resolution making it illegal to protest in the square so they could decorate for Christmas. Police went in and beat the protestors who remained.

Amy Richey with
EFCA Reach Global works in Ukraine. “This shifted everything in Ukraine from being a protest about not signing the EU agreement, to ‘we have a government who is abusing its power and who are beating members of our society.'”

Richey says the violence has triggered an avalanche of unrest. “We’ve seen reports and pictures and twitter feeds of well over 700,000 in the streets of the old area of Kiev that are just standing up and saying, ‘This is not the Ukraine that we want to live in.'”

The number or protestors have climbed steadily since last week. The government has more or less given in to the protestors at the landmark plaza in Kiev. According to reports, thousands of people demonstrated at the Cabinet Ministry demanding the government step down.

Richey says many Christians are concerned about the country’s alignment with Russia. “If Ukraine becomes more and more aligned with Russia, their laws will mirror many of Russia’s laws as well. They have some very rigid promises when it comes to what they can and cannot do religiously in their country.”

Meanwhile, Parliamentary leaders have been meeting to talk about the country’s future. Because of the decisions the president’s support is fracturing. Some are even suggesting a coup is possible. Yanukovich faced a similar situation in 2004 during the Orange Revolution which ultimately ousted Yanukovich from power.

According to Richey, they could see even more violence ahead. “President Yanukovich is scheduled to go to Moscow and sign the trade agreement with Moscow, so it will be interesting to see how his actions and his decisions regarding that will determine how Ukrainians will respond.”

Ultimately, Richey is asking you to pray. “We want peaceful resolutions. We want the Gospel to be openly talked about in Ukraine. We don’t want people to be threatened. We don’t want people’s health and livelihood to be threatened because of their beliefs and because of taking a stand for the Gospel.”