Anti-government protesters sing during a rally in central Independence Square in Kiev . REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili
Emotional crowds on Kiev's Independence Square rounded on
opposition leaders after they signed an agreement with
President Viktor Yanukovich to end a protracted crisis, and
said they would not wait any longer for him to go.
Passions ran high as the coffin of a victim from Thursday's
violence, when dozens were killed during anti-government
protests, was borne through the crowd to the stage on the
square, apparently catching opposition leaders off guard.
Despite the deal signed by Yanukovich and the opposition,
many on the square were in no mood to call off the protests
which erupted in November after the president abandoned a
trade pact with the European Union and turned instead towards
After another open coffin was held aloft by the crowd, a
protester wearing battle-fatigues leapt up to the microphone
and triggered roars of approval as he declared: "By tomorrow
we want him (Yanukovich) out!"
Referring to the three opposition leaders, including
boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, who were standing
behind him, the man said: "My comrade was shot and our
leaders shake the hand of a murderer. It's a disgrace."
"We have given you politicians a chance to become ministers
in the future, even the president, but you don't want to
fulfil our one demand - that this criminal leave office."
"We, simple people, are telling the politicians behind our
back, that there is no way Yanukovich will be president for
the whole year. He has to be gone by 10 a.m. tomorrow."
"If it is not announced by 10 tomorrow that Yanukovich is
gone, we're going to attack with weapons," he said.
Earlier Klitschko drew cat-calls and derisive whistling from
the crowd when he had praised as "very important" their
political achievements during the day.
Klitschko and his fellow opposition leaders, Arseny Yatsenyuk
and nationalist Oleh Tyanibok, earlier signed an EU-brokered
deal with Yanukovich in which Yanukovich made important
concessions after two and a half months of confrontation on
the streets of Kiev.
These included early elections, formation of an interim
government and a return to an earlier constitution which will
mean him giving up key powers, including control over the
make-up of the government.
Klitschko later apologised for shaking Yanukovich's hand,
taking the microphone and telling the crowd: "If I offended
anyone, I ask their forgiveness."
But many among the protesters were firm in their rejection of
"I'm going to fight until the death," said Vasily Stefinyuk,
a 50-year-old veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
from the northeastern city of Kharkiv.
"We've been betrayed," he said. "We're not here because of
Klitschko or Yatsenyuk, we're here to get rid of Yanukovich."
Another man, 35-year-old Volodymir from the western city of
Lviv near the Polish border, said: "We won't follow Klitschko
and the rest of them. They shook hands with a gangster and
danced with the devil."