Ukraine wants to be fully-fledged European country, not backward European province – PM
Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told this to a crowd of some 250,000 people assembled in Kiev's Europe Square Saturday at a rally in support of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Explaining the leadership's thinking in rejecting a free trade deal with the EU, he said that if signed this deal would quickly drive Ukraine to ruin.
"Do you want to recognize same-sex marriage as a precondition for visa-free travel to Europe?", Mr Azarov asked. The answer was a roaring "no", accompanied by emotional expressions of disapproval including whistles.
"Are you willing to be fingerprinted for biometric passports?", the Prime Minister went on. The response was in a similar vein.
Ukraine not prepared to legalize same-sex marriages, as demanded by EU - Azarov
To conclude a visa-free travel agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, Ukraine needs to legalize same-sex marriages and adopt legislation on equal rights of sexual minorities, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said.
"The opposition leaders are telling fables when they say that we only have to sign the [association] agreement [with the EU] to start traveling to Europe visa-free the next day. Nothing of the sort. We have yet to comply with a whole set of preconditions: we have to legalize same-sex marriages, we have to adopt legislation on equality of sexual minorities, and so on," Azarov said at a pro-government rally on European Square in Kiev on Saturday.
Ukrainians are not prepared for this, and the church is also against such steps, Azarov said.
Ukraine is also not prepared for introducing biometric passports, he said.
Ukrainian PM Azarov invites policymakers to talks, urges demonstrators to go home
Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov has invited policymakers to sit at the negotiating table to settle the ongoing political crisis and urged demonstrators to go home.
"Ukraine doesn't need barricades, they are weakening the country. It needs to be understood that we have common goals and objectives, and debatable issues should be resolved at the negotiating table. It is wrong to put people off their work and families," Azarov said at a rally of supporters of the Ukrainian government in Kiev on Saturday.
Azarov suggested also that, apart from the rally being held on Independence Square in Kiev, there are no similar demonstrations anywhere else in Ukraine, and most of Ukrainians are living normal lives.
Ukraine's ruling Party of Regions on Saturday is launching what may prove the largest-ever demonstration in support of President Viktor Yanukovych, the government and their policies. The demonstration is to last two days. The organizers have promised it may become open-ended. The rally will gather in European Square, next to Independence Square, the usual site of protests by the opposition.
On Friday the ruling party urged its supporters to come and demonstrate.
"The decision follows numerous requests from rank-and-file members of the Party of Regions," parliament member Andrei Pinchuk said. According to the legislator the Party of Regions faction lately was rained with messages expressing people's concern of the current developments in the country and expressing the wish to take part in an open-ended rally in support of the authorities aimed at preserving civil peace and accord in Ukraine."
Many local activists of the Party of Regions left for Kiev on Friday. The largest groups are expected from the areas of Donetsk, Lugansk and Dnepropetrovsk. "There are students, factory workers, coalminers and retirees," the rally's coordination centre has said.
Groups of supporters of the current authorities have been gathering in a park in Kiev since December 3. A crowd of 20,000 is present there permanently. On Saturday and Sunday it may grow ten-fold to 200,000, so the rally will be held in European Square.
Reinforced police patrols have been moved to the area. European Square is just 200 meters away from the tent camp of the Opposition's supporters in Independence Square.
Participants in a "people's assembly" the Opposition has called on December 14 will begin to gather in Independence Square on Saturday morning.
After Friday's round-table meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych, held in a bid to settle the political crisis, the leader of the UDAR party, heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, said the dialogue between the authorities and the opposition had failed and the "people's assembly" would be held as expected.
"Only if we take to the streets, shall we be able to put pressures on the current authorities to make them respect people's interests. There is no other way," Klitschko said.
President Yanukovych has called on the people of Ukraine for calm and for ending the standoff.
"I am urging all of our people now protesting in the squares to calm down and to end the confrontation. Confrontations have never resulted in anything good," he said.
Yanukovych asked the people to give the politicians, the authorities and the opposition to find a way out of this situation together.
Voice of Russia, TASS, Interfax