Over 1,000 protesters led by the Ukrainian army’s Donbass Battalion fighters gathered for a rally in central Kiev on Sunday. The demonstrators are demanding that President Petro Poroshenko end the ceasefire and impose martial law.
The Sunday rally was organized by Donbass Battalion Commander Semyon Semenchenko, who told the pro-Kiev protesters on his Facebook page to gather near the presidential administration building. Some Azov Battalion fighters also reportedly took part in the demonstration.
A Donbass Battalion representative read out a petition to President Poroshenko on behalf of Ukrainians, with a demand to “stop the truce, impose a martial law in the country, provide the military with necessary armaments and measures to destroy terrorists and request the EU and the USA to impose a third round of sanctions against Russia.”
Following the demonstration, the protesters marched to the infamous Maidan (Independence Square), the traditional place for political rallies and the symbolic location of the recent armed coup against President Yanukovich’s government.
The protesters held a “people’s assembly,” during which they warned Poroshenko that “this Sunday campaign may be the last peaceful one,” Itar-Tass reported.
The demonstrators called on the newly-elected president to “listen to the real holder of power, the Ukrainian people.”
They added that if the president didn’t “hear [their] demands,” they would “consider him a traitor of the country” and “he will share the same fate as [ousted President Viktor] Yanukovich.”
Talking to the gathered demonstrators, Semenchenko said that the Ukrainian military units fighting in the east are in a dire situation, as the money allocated by the government does not reach the army.
“The Finance Ministry still allocates money to support businesses that are in separatists’ control,” he said, referring to anti-government protesters in the eastern part of the country. “There are many traitors in governmental agencies.”
“Europe won’t help us,” he shouted to the crowd. “We should establish order ourselves. We can stop the aggressors’ invasion.”
A protest for peace
At the same time, in the eastern part of the country, residents of the city of Lugansk gathered to rally for peace, urging the Kiev authorities to “stop military actions and the crackdown” against Ukrainian civilians.
Authorities of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic made speeches in front of several hundred people.
Last week, Poroshenko presented a peace plan for the resolution of the conflict which outlined 15 steps – including a unilateral ceasefire on the part of Kiev’s military, which launched a punitive operation in the country’s southeast from June 20 to June 27.
On Monday, Donetsk self-defense forces joined the ceasefire, and on Friday the truce was expended until June 30 at 10 p.m. local time (18:00 GMT). Poroshenko declared that after the ceasefire ends, those militiamen who failed to lay down their weapons in eastern Ukraine “will be destroyed.”
The Ukrainian army is set for “tough actions” after the end of the truce, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov reiterated on Friday.
However, there have been a number of reports concerning breaches of ceasefire from both sides. In the latest incidents, Ukrainian forces shelled residential parts of Slavyansk for nearly an hour on Sunday, killing up to five people, the press service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said, as cited by Itar-Tass. In another incident, shells were launched over the Russia-Ukraine border into Russia on Saturday, with one severely damaging a border crossing checkpoint in Rostov region.
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