kiev / AFP
Ukrainians on Saturday sombrely marked the second anniversary of the bloody revolution that ousted Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych, as a fresh political crisis left many disillusioned with the current leadership.
President Petro Poroshenko and his wife came early in the morning to light icon lamps at a memorial cross for the more than 100 people killed in the pro-European Union protests.
Hundreds of Kiev residents headed to the city’s landmark Independence Square where the protests took place to lay flowers and candles and share grief as well as indignation at the dragging political chaos. “Of course, we are disappointed with many things, but there is still hope”, said Tetyana, a small woman in glasses with the yellow and blue Ukrainian flag draped over her shoulders. She stood in front of a portrait of young man, one of the “Heavenly Hundred” activists killed in the uprising, holding a candle and wiping away tears.
“Something is changing — slowly, but it’s happening and that is already a victory”, she said.
An elderly man who gave his name as Viktor waved the red and black flag of the Ukrainian nationalist movement and carried three red carnations to lay at the memorial.
“If our government does not change its attitude to the situation, we will have to take some radical steps”, he said. “A Third Maidan is always possible. People realized that they can bring anyone to power and topple them at any time. The people realized they are strong.”
US Vice President Joe Biden praised the “brave Ukrainians” who took part in the protests as he held talks overnight separately with Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
He said he stressed to both that “there is still a great deal of work to be done to honor the legacy of the brave Ukrainians who have given so much in their pursuit of a better future for their country”.
Biden spoke to the leaders following a failed attempt on Tuesday by the parliament to oust the government over its perceived failure to tackle corruption.
With the pro-Western ruling coalition on the verge of collapse, Biden urged the politicians “to unite and rebuild popular trust around a strong governing coalition” and to “accelerate Ukraine’s efforts to fight corruption”.
The fall of the pro-Kremlin regime was followed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict in the east that has already killed more than 9,000 people.
The standard of living in Ukraine has fallen dramatically as the currency has plunged and many feel their hopes have been betrayed.
Reforms are stalling while a growing number of corruption scandals to many seems only too reminiscent of the rule of Yanukovych and his cronies.
More than 250 alleged perpetrators of the Maidan murders are facing criminal proceedings, but so far the courts have not reached any landmark verdicts.