As police watched warily, far-right and nationalist groups protested yesterday in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, expressing anger at President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his long-awaited peace plan for eastern Ukraine. Zelenskiy paid homage yesterday to Ukrainians killed in the five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists, holding a moment of silence at a Kyiv monument.
About 100 people gathered yesterday morning in front of the president’s administration, waving banners protesting Zelenskiy’s tentative agreement to hold local elections in eastern Ukraine and his commitment to pull back heavy weaponry near separatist-held areas. Critics call the accord a “capitulation” to Russia and fear it will lead to Russia having the upper hand in deciding the future for the conflict-torn region.
Ties between Ukraine and Russia deteriorated after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine says Russia then engineered quasi-separatist uprisings, which later escalated into a full-scale conflict. Russia denies doing so.
Ukraine, Russia and the separatists signed an accord earlier this month to pull back heavy weaponry and to hold an election in the area at a later date. The pullback has not occurred because of shelling from both sides and threats from Ukrainian hardliners to hamper the disengagement. Zelenskiy, a comedian who rose to the presidency this year on promises to end the conflict, is sticking to the accord, insisting that it is the only way for his country to move forward.