MOSCOW, November 24 (RIA Novosti) – Pro- and anti-European integration demonstrators have begun assembling in the Ukrainian capital Kiev Sunday, in reaction to the government’s decision earlier this week to suspend a landmark trade deal with Brussels and turn to Russia instead.
Several thousand pro-Europe protesters from the Svodoba (Freedom) party, the Fatherland party and Udar party had gathered in Kiev’s downtown Shevchenko Boulevard and Independence Square by midday according to the newsru.ua website.
According to banners they carried, the protesters had traveled from across the country to attend the event.
An anti-integration meeting is being shown on the country’s main television channel.
No trouble has been reported at any of the demonstrations so far, the authorities said.
The Ukrainian government announced on November 21 it was no longer planning to sign long-discussed trade and association agreements with the European Union slated for November 28, because of the damage it would do with trade with Russia.
The EU blamed unprecedented Russian pressure on Kiev for the Ukrainian decision, but Moscow denied any strong-arm tactics.
Earlier this year, Moscow suspended imports of some Ukrainian goods and warned that preferential trade agreements with Ukraine would end if it signed the EU deals.