Protesters keep warm in the bitter Ukrainian

Ukrainian students and academics at the University of Cambridge are involved in ongoing protests in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Yesterday it was announced that President Yanukovych was taking sick leave for an indefinite period, while the amnesty deal offered by the government has not suppressed protest.
Dmytro Natalukha, an undergraduate student at Fitzwilliam, played an important role in the start of the protests at the end of November.

He said: “When it all started nobody could ever imagine what a peaceful protest can turn to.”

President Yanukovych had halted plans to sign an EU trade and reform agreement, which quashed hopes that the country would eventually join the European Union. Natalukha explained: “We have been waiting for this day for so long, all of us felt an incredible rising in hopes and expectations and all of a sudden the President Yanukovich spoiled it all.”

Everyone wanted him to sign the Agreement or to resign, and in order to show this to him the people went out [to protest].”

A letter of international support was organised by the Cambridge University Ukrainian Society, and signed by 800 international notables. Natalukha then read this letter to a gathering of 10,000 protesters in Kiev.

The letter was also included in a protest leaflet designed to encourage protesters with evidence of international solidarity.

Concern has also been expressed by academics at the University. Dr Clare Griffin, a fellow in early modern Russian history, said: “The escalating violence of the Ukrainian government against the citizens of Ukraine has horrified everyone, especially those of us with personal and academic links to the region.”

Dr Rory Finnin of the Slavonic Studies Faculty, who specialises in Ukrainian studies, added: “Ukraine is the largest country within the European continent, but it is badly known and poorly understood in Great Britain. Cambridge needs to lead the way in changing this status quo, especially today, when the country is engulfed in revolution”.

The Cambridge Ukrainian Society has also produced a protest video which has received almost 56,000 views since it was uploaded to YouTube. They translated the song Do You Hear The People Sing? from Les Miserables, and performed and recorded it with local Ukrainians.

A candlelit vigil was held on King’s Parade last Friday to mark the deaths of six people in recent clashes. Naumenko described it as a “grim reminder” of current events in Ukraine.

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