STRASBOURG, April 07. /ITAR-TASS/. About 50 people on Monday staged rallies near the walls of the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg where the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) gathered for its spring session. One group of protesters was against Russia’s reunification with Crimea, another - was protesting against the revival of fascism in Ukraine and the Kiev authorities’ attempts to reduce to silence those who disagree with their politics.
The number of participants in each of the rallies was roughly equal. The protest actions were held literally several metres from each other. Policemen were closely watching the events: five police vehicles were sent to the Council of Europe building, instead of the usual two patrol squads.
The demonstrators hung the relevant banners on the parking lot fencing near the Palace of Europe. Those concerned over Russia’s actions were holding the EU and Ukrainian flags with a slogan, reading: “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Glory to Heroes!” Strange as it may seem, the opponents of the revival of fascism were also waving Ukrainian flags, but without any slogans on them. They were handing out leaflets which, in their view, listed 15 instances of violation of human rights by the current authorities in Kiev. The accusations included “the overthrow of the democratically elected Ukrainian president,” “extortion and terror against citizens in the southeast of Ukraine,” “the introduction of censorship and biased, one-sided coverage of the situation by Ukrainian media,” “hostage taking, arbitrary detention by the new regime of unarmed opposition members and people’s leaders from the southeast of Ukraine,” “inability of the new regime in Kiev to sign an agreement on association and free trade with the EU.”
“We are trying to present here an alternative point of view, explain that what is happening in Ukraine it’s the revival of fascism, an attempt to set Europe against Russia. It is being done at the instigation of the United States. American political analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book “The Grand Chessboard” wrote that Ukraine must become a buffer between Russia and Europe in order to control the supply of energy resources. “So, today we see these events unfolding,” Viktor Anoshchenko, an activist from Donetsk, told ITAR-TASS. “We believe that European values and freedom of speech are trampled upon, Russian TV channels are switched off. The people are being brainwashed.” Residents of Paris and Brussels took part in the rally together with Ukrainians.
Yekaterina from Strasbourg - the other rally participant, told ITAR-TASS that they were protesting against the “seizure of Crimea by the Russian Federation, against the threat of Russian attack on Ukraine’s eastern regions and support sanctions against Russia” in the PACE. “We want them to adopt a decision on stripping (Russia’s delegation) of the right to vote,” she emphasised. She failed to answer how this could help Ukraine overcome the crisis, but added that “some action should still be taken” by Europe.
Speaking of the real assistance of PACE to Ukraine, Yekaterina stated that the protesters “ask it to send a monitoring mission” to the country’s presidential election, planned for late May, and also “ask to help investigate the crimes that had been committed in the Maidan (Kiev’s central Independence Square) during the confrontation period.”