Sunday, December 8, 2013

Protests for December 8 , 2013 - Ukraine pro - EU Rally and Thailand opposition to the present Prime Minister in focus......


Protesters topple Lenin monument in Kiev, smash to pieces with hammers (PHOTOS)

Published time: December 08, 2013 20:42
Edited time: December 09, 2013 12:23
People surround a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin, which was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Stoyan Nenov)
People surround a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin, which was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, December 8, 2013. (Reuters / Stoyan Nenov)
Masked anti-government protesters toppled the monument to Vladimir Lenin in Kiev on Sunday pulling him down with steel ropes, and smashing the granite figure with sledgehammers. A huge crowd queued to get a piece of the statue.
Follow RT's LIVE UPDATES on protests in Kiev.
A group of protesters singing the national hymn of Ukraine then hoisted the national flag on the vacant pedestal, as the passing cars were honking in support of the act and jubilant cries were heard from the crowd.
The activists shouted “[President Viktor] Yanukovich, you’ll be next!” while lighting flares and throwing smoke bombs next to the monument, Ukrainian media reported. Security forces were absent from the scene at Shevchenko Boulevard.
Local clerics also came to the scene “to smash Lenin,” RT’s Lida Vasilevskaya reported from the scene.

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Реванш - церковь Ленин

Hundreds of thousands protest government in Ukraine

December 8, 2013 10:45AM ET
Several hundred thousand protesters rally in Kiev to denounce the president's decision to turn away from Europe
European Union

Ukraine protest rally Kiev

Pro-European Union protesters shout slogans during a rally in Kiev's Independence Square in Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.
Ivan Sekretarev/AP Photo
Ukraine's opposition leaders told hundreds of thousands of pro-Europe protesters at a rally on Sunday to pressure President Viktor Yanukovich to sack his own government and drop plans for closer ties with Russia.
The protesters, gathered on Kiev's Independence Square, are furious with the Yanukovich government for its decision to ditch a landmark pact with the European Union in favor of a trade deal with Moscow, Ukraine's Soviet-era overlord.
Sunday's rally escalates a weeks-long confrontation between authorities and protesters that has raised fears of political and economic instability in the former Soviet republic of 46 million people.
"This is a decisive moment when all Ukrainians have gathered here because they do not want to live in a country where corruption rules and where there is no justice," said world heavyweight boxing champion-turned-opposition-politician Vitaly Klitschko.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's security service opened a criminal probe on Sunday into alleged attempts by individual politicians to seize state power. The investigation has been opened "into the illegal actions by certain politicians aimed at the seizure of state power," a Ukrainian Security Service spokeswoman told AFP. The politicians were not named, but the probe appears to target opposition figures who have repeatedly called on Yanukovich to quit.
The opposition accuses Yanukovich, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, of preparing to take Ukraine into a Moscow-led customs union, which they see as an attempt to recreate the Soviet Union.
"We are on a razor's edge between a final plunge into cruel dictatorship and a return home to the European community," jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said in an emotional message to the crowd read out by her daughter Yevgenia.
"There is a significantly greater chance of ending up in a medieval dictatorship; the choice is in your hands," said Tymoshenko, Yanukovich's main rival, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence for abuse of office in a case condemned by many in the West as politically motivated.
Tymoshenko, whose fiery rhetoric galvanized protesters in the 2004-05 Orange Revolution that denied Yanukovich the presidency then, appealed to the protesters not to give in or even negotiate with Yanukovich's "gang."
Far-right nationalist leader Oleh Tyahnybok asked the crowd "Do we want to go under the yoke of Moscow?" to which they bellowed "No!" When he asked "Do we want to return to Europe?" they yelled "Yes!"
A group of protesters later moved toward the government building, less than a mile away, and began to erect tents and barricades, apparently with the aim of stopping normal government activity next week.
Independence Square has been transformed into a makeshift village of tents, festooned with Ukrainian blue and yellow flags, EU flags and opposition banners, beneath a large television screen.
In a gesture sure to annoy Yanukovich, protesters hoisted a huge portrait of Tymoshenko onto a New Year Tree, festooned with anti-government placards, that towers over the square.
The Moscow and Kiev governments have both denied that Putin and Yanukovich discussed thecustoms union in their talks on Friday in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, but further bilateral talks are planned for Dec. 17.
Yanukovich and Putin, who regards Ukraine as strategically vital to Moscow's own interests, are widely believed to have struck a bargain whereby Ukraine obtains cheaper Russian gas and possibly credits in exchange for backing away from the EU.
Klitschko, who appears to be emerging as a possible leader-in-waiting, told protesters they would achieve their aim, though he stressed the need to stay peaceful.
Last weekend, riot police beat protesters and journalists, triggering EU condemnation and swelling the protesters' ranks.
"We do not want to be kept quiet by a policeman's truncheon," Klitschko told Sunday's crowd.
He demanded the release of political prisoners, punishment of those responsible for last weekend's police crackdown, the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov's government and early presidential and parliamentary elections.
Those camped out on Independence Square have been swelled by huge numbers coming in from Ukrainian-speaking areas of western and central Ukraine, where opposition politicians enjoy strong support.
A Tymoshenko ally, former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko, appealed to people in Russian-speaking areas of the east — the bedrock of Yanukovich's power — to turn out and join the protests. "We are the same people as you are, except that they stole from you earlier," he said.
Police have threatened to eject protesters occupying public buildings including Kiev's City Hall, which is a stone's throw from the makeshift barricades limiting access to the hub of the protest movement on Independence Square.
But on Sunday it remained the organizational headquarters of the protests, where volunteers were signing up be on security duty or offer legal aid to demonstrators should the protests turn sour.
"The current authorities have been completely discredited by their actions and the police brutality. What unites everyone here is a desire to see a change of government. We need new elections," Sviatislav Zaporozhit, 26, who works in retail in Kiev, told Reuters.
"I don't want to go back to what my parents lived under the Soviet Union. ... When I am old, I want to live like people in Europe. I want to live in a normal country."

Huge crowds gather for pro-EU rally in Ukrainian capital

Ukraine’s protesters are out on what could become the biggest rally since 2004 and the Orange Revolution. Organizers have dubbed the anti-government, pro-EU event “The March of Millions” in the hope it can attract as many as 1 million participants.
Follow RT's LIVE UPDATES on protests in Kiev.
Nearly 50,000 protesters have gathered on Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan) and in nearby streets, according to police estimates. However, the opposition has claimed nearly 1 million people are taking part in the rally, and has called on a group of 30,000 demonstrators to move from Maidain toward the government buildings and “set up camp there.”
The demonstrators are protesting the Ukrainian leadership’s decision to withdraw from the EU association agreement last month. Opposition leaders demand that the current government steps down and are calling for immediate elections.
An aerial view shows Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square crowded by supporters of EU integration during a rally in central Kiev, December 8, 2013 (Reuters / Stoyan Nenov)
An aerial view shows Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square crowded by supporters of EU integration during a rally in central Kiev, December 8, 2013 (Reuters / Stoyan Nenov)
Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of office, has called on the pro-EU rally participants not to negotiate with the government.
Don’t give up, don’t take a single step back, don’t have negotiations with the authorities,” Tymoshenko said in a statement, which was read out to the rally participants by her daughter Yevgenia. “Our goal is Yanukoych’s immediate removal from his presidential office.”
Several thousand supporters of the ruling Party of Regions have meanwhile gathered for a pro-government rally in Kiev’s Mariinsky Park, near the parliament (Verkhovna Rada). The organizers of the demonstration, called under the slogan, “Let’s create Europe in Ukraine,” claim it has attracted 15,000 participants.
An aerial view shows Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square crowded by supporters of EU integration during a rally in central Kiev, December 8, 2013 (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)
An aerial view shows Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square crowded by supporters of EU integration during a rally in central Kiev, December 8, 2013 (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)
The pro-government rally organizers are calling for the peaceful resolution of the political crisis, and they condemn the opposition for what they see as an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country and to split Ukrainian society.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich paid a short official visit to Russia for brief talks in Sochi with Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. The two presidents discussed "trade and economic cooperation... and preparation for the future treaty on strategic partnership," according to the Ukrainian president’s office.
Later, Russian and Ukrainian officials said that the presidents didn't speak about Kiev joining the Moscow-led Customs Union. Earlier, media had reported the contrary.
On Saturday, a delegation of members of the European Parliament arrived in Ukraine to meet with opposition leaders and address the crowd in the streets of Kiev, spurring on the protest.
Russia accused Western nations of aggressively interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation by supporting the protests.
“Excuse me, but taking part in such actions is called simply interference in internal affairs,” Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said about the visit this week by German FM Guido Westerwelle to protests in Kiev.
“I wonder how our German partners would feel if, for instance, the Russian Foreign Minister just went to some gathering that was violating German regulations. I doubt they would take it as a friendly step,”Medvedev said.
The participation of EU politicians in Ukrainian rallies is a gesture of despair, argues Moscow-based political analyst Dmitry Babich.
Since 2008, when the program of eastern partnership was launched, the EU has spent 2.5 billion euro on it,” Babich told RT. “And what was the result? This money, instead of being spent on the unemployed in Spain, the poor people in Greece, it was spent on telling Ukrainians how nice the EU is and how bad Russia is. This is why now the EU is desperately trying to make a semblance of activity.”
A week ago, several hundred thousand people took to the streets, angered over the violent police crackdown on anti-government protesters who occupied Kiev’s Independence Square the day before.


Thai PM dissolves parliament, calls for new elections

December 8, 2013 10:00AM ET Updated December 9, 2013 5:30AM ET
Opposition remains defiant, says protests will continue as Bangkok braces for possible violence


Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra calls for snap elections to try to defuse the kingdom's political crisis at police headquarters in Bangkok on Dec. 9, 2013.
STR/AFP/Getty Images
Desperate to defuse Thailand's deepening political crisis, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday said she is dissolving the lower house of Parliament and called for early elections. But the moves did nothing to stem a growing tide of more than 150,000 protesters vowing to overthrow her in one of the nation's largest demonstrations in years.
"After listening to opinions from all sides, I have decided to request a royal decree to dissolve Parliament," said Yingluck, her voice shaking as she spoke in a nationally televised address Monday morning that broke into regular programming. "There will be new elections according to the democratic system."
Yingluck's ruling party won the last vote two years ago in a landslide, and is likely to come out victorious in any new ballot.
Government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said the Cabinet had proposed a new vote be held Feb. 2. The date must be approved by the Election Commission, and electoral officials will meet with the government in the next few days to discuss it, said Jinthong Intarasri, a spokeswoman for commission.
Yingluck said she will remain in a caretaker capacity until a new premier is named.
Thailand has been plagued by major bouts of upheaval since Yingluck's brother Thaksin, a former premier, was toppled in a 2006 army coup that laid bare a deeper conflict between the elite and the educated middle-class against his power base in the countryside, which benefited from populist policies designed to win over the rural poor.
An attempt by Yingluck's party last month to pass a bill through Parliament that would have granted amnesty to Thaksin and others triggered the latest round of unrest.
Protesters are pushing for a non-elected "people's council" to replace Yingluck's democratically elected government.

Thailand opposition quits parliament

December 8, 2013 10:00AM ET
Democrat party leaders call for 'people's council' instead of immediate elections as demonstrations loom


Former Thai Prime Minister and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (center) addresses a news conference at the Democrat Party headquarters in Bangkok on Sunday.
Thailand's main opposition party resigned from parliament on Sunday to protest what it called "the illegitimacy" of a government with which it can no longer work, deepening the country's latest political crisis one day before new street demonstrations that many fear could turn violent.
The minority Democrats who resigned are closely aligned with anti-government protesters who have staged the country's biggest rallies in years.   
The demonstrations began last month and are aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose democratically elected government came to power in a landslide vote in 2011 that observers said was free and fair.
Instead of having immediate elections, the protesters are demanding a non-elected people's council lead the country instead.
Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut told The Associated Press his party could not work in the legislature anymore because the body is "no longer accepted by the people."
The Democrats have not won an election since 1992, and some of their leaders appear to have given up on electoral politics because they have not been able to win.  
Thailand has been plagued by political turmoil since Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a former premier, was toppled in a 2006 military coup.
In broad terms, the confrontation pits the Thai elite and the educated middle-class against Thaksin's power base in the countryside, which benefited from populist policies designed to win over the rural poor.  
Democrat leader and former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva said Yingluck's government has been "illegitimate" ever since her ruling party tried to ram through an amnesty bill that critics allege was mainly designed to bring back Thaksin from exile.
Thaksin lives in Dubai to avoid a jail sentence for a corruption conviction he says was politically motivated.  
"The solution to our current problems needs to start with the showing of responsibility," Abhisit said.
"The prime minister has never showed any responsibility or conscience."
Abhisit also criticized Yingluck's Pheu Thai party for trying to amend a clause in the constitution that would have transformed the Senate into a fully elected body. Currently about half its members are selected by a panel of judges and heads of independent state agencies.
The Constitutional Court sharply scolded Yingluck's party for the move.
The Democrats held 153 of the 500 seats in the lower house, according to the latest figures on their website.

Thai PM agrees to early elections referendum as protest leader prepares ‘final blow’ to topple govt

Published time: December 08, 2013 12:58

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (AFP Photo / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (AFP Photo / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)
Thailand’s prime minister has announced that early elections demanded by the opposition will be held if a majority of people vote for them in a national referendum. Opposition MPs claim they’re ready to resign en masse immediately.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra appeared on national TV with a proposal to dismiss the House of Representatives and call early elections within 60 days as required by the constitution – if the people vote for elections first.
“I would like to confirm once again that I am not clinging to my position. I am willing to dissolve the House or resign if I am convinced that it would really be a way out to solve the problems and enable the country to go forward. That is to say, the decision must be truly made by the majority of the people,” said Shinawatra, who became prime minister in 2011.
Her address aired on Thai television after Shinawatra, 46, held consultations with members of the government.
She warned that in case the opposition does not like the proposal, or would not agree with the results of the democratic elections, the crisis would only be prolong as it was in 2006, when political chaos in the country ended up with a military coup.
Shinawatra said the opposition’s demands for her ouster were unprecedented and possibly illegal.
“To have a government without an election is a big issue which can affect the image and confidence of the country. If this proposal is to be put into practice, the people should be asked whether it is acceptable to them. Therefore, a public referendum is required and this method is allowed by the constitution,” the PM announced, stressing that the government would consider protesters’ proposals on Monday December 9, to find a way out of the political deadlock.
“I’m willing to listen to proposals from the protesters. I’m not addicted to this title,” Shinawatra said. "I'm ready to resign and dissolve parliament if that is what majority of the Thai people want.”
“Today, nobody is a loser. All of us, including the nation, are winners," she said.
In the meantime, anti-government protests in the Thai capital continue as the leaders of the opposition People's Democratic Reform Committee are calling on the PM to resign.
Thai anti government protesters dance as they rally at Government Complex in Bangkok on December 8, 2013 (AFP Photo / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)
Thai anti government protesters dance as they rally at Government Complex in Bangkok on December 8, 2013 (AFP Photo / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

The protesters who for weeks have been occupying the center of Bangkok and clashing with police are calling Yingluck Shinawatra a puppet of her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, and are rallying in an effort to oust her.
The leader of the anti-government protesters, former Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban, has called on opposition activists to converge on Bangkok on Monday to carry out the “final blow” against the government, with a mass rally near Government House to force Yingluck Shinawatra from power.
The government is getting ready for the demonstration, enforcing the security of key governmental facilities in Bangkok with hundreds of police officers.
On Saturday, National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut warned the public that the Internal Security Act enables the government to impose a curfew and set up police roadblocks if demonstrators become violent.
The ongoing protests in Thailand are only the latest chapter in nearly a decade of bitter political rivalry between the Bangkok-based establishment and supporters of the self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He fled the country in 2008, but remained an influential figure in the country’s political life.
Over the last several years, Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire and former telecommunications tycoon, and now his sister Yingluck have gained large electoral support from people in Thailand’s countryside for their populist policies.