Ukraine (MNN) — About a million protesters took to the streets yesterday in Ukraine, as protests continue against President Viktor Yanukovich.
Last week Yanukovich refused to sign an agreement allowing free trade with the European Union, but rather signed a similar agreement with Russia.
That resulted in peaceful protests, but that changed quickly after the Duma passed a resolution making it illegal to protest in the square so they could decorate for Christmas. Police went it an beat the protesters who remained.
EFCA Reach Global’s Amy Richey works in Ukraine. “This shifted everything in Ukraine from being a protest about not signing the EU agreement to, ‘we have a government who is abusing its power and who are beating members of our society.”
Richey says the violence has triggered an avalanche of unrest. “We’ve seen reports, and pictures, and twitter feeds, of well over 700,000 in the streets of the old area of Kiev that are just standing up and saying, ‘this is not the Ukraine that we want to live in.”
The number or protesters have climbed steadily since last week. The government has more or less given in to the protesters at the landmark plaza in Kiev. According to reports, thousands of people demonstrated at the Cabinet Ministry demanding the government step down.
Richey says many Christians are concerned about the country’s alignment with Russia. “If Ukraine becomes more and more aligned with Russia, their laws will mirror many of Russia’s laws as well. They have some very ridged promises when it comes to what they can and cannot do religiously in their country.”
Meanwhile, Parliamentary leaders have been meeting to talk about the country’s future. Because of the decisions the president’s support is fracturing. Some are even suggesting a coup is possible. Yanukovich faced a similar situation in 2004 during the Orange Revolution which ultimately ousted Yanukovich from power.
According to Richey, they could see even more violence ahead. “President Yanukovich is scheduled to go to Moscow and sign the trade agreement with Moscow, so it will be interesting to see how his actions and his decisions regarding that will determine how Ukrainians will respond.”
Ultimately, Richey is asking you to pray. “We want peaceful resolutions. We want the Gospel to be openly talked about in Ukraine. We don’t want people to be threatened. We don’t want people’s health and livelihood to be threatened because of their beliefs and because of taking a stand for the Gospel.”