Thursday, May 29, 2014

At Kiev’s Maidan, Klitschko says protesters should leave

By Michael Birnbaum, Wash Post, Published: May 28

KIEV, Ukraine — Behind the reefs of old tires and cobblestones that protected Ukraine’s protest movement against the now-disbanded riot police, those still camped in the city’s Independence Square face some fundamental questions: Is their revolution over? And is it time to go home?

Days after elections swept into office two politicians who stood with protesters at the barricades during protests this winter, one of those leaders, Kiev mayor-in-waiting Vitali Klitschko, has called on protesters to go home and for the city to return to normal. Now those who toppled pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych in February are split about their next step, debating where their movement is headed after the landslide victory of chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko, a longtime politician who supported the protesters but is still a face many of them distrust.

Candles still flicker at rain-sodden makeshift shrines that honor the more than 100 people who died here in February. Dust has turned to mud, then baked to clay, on sidewalks that were stripped of their paving stones to defend against Yanukovych’s security forces. And a thriving tent city is still home to hundreds of people who are a mostly tough crowd that has nowhere else to go. Many of the original protesters have long since returned to their jobs and their families.

“The barricades have fulfilled their function, and they must be dismantled,” Klitschko told reporters in Kiev this week. “Kiev must gradually return to everyday life and concentrate its efforts in that direction, while we are doing reforms, so that they are made as quickly as possible.”

(More here.)

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