photography and multimedia journalism association
Tension in Kiev
Author: Rashah McChesney Blog / 30 August, 2014 / Age: 3 yrs

As civil unrest continues in Ukraine - protests in Kiev have highlighted tension between the government and citizens who want to see more done to support military action against separatists in the east of the country.

Two days of rallies near and in the city center drew thousands to the Presidential Administration building and to the General Staff army building close by as protestors demanded action from the government.

The second day of rallying drew more than 1,000 people to Povitroflotsky Avenue - in front of an army building where they stood for hours, shouting their demands and  pleading with government officials to rescue volunteer battalions of soldiers rumored to be ill-equipped and out-gunned while fighting with pro-Russia militant groups in several towns to the east.

Despite the chill and intermittent rain, the crowd chanted and took turns sharing their stories on microphone connected to a speaker in the trunk of a car parked near the entrance of the building.

The crowd started small, clustered on the sidewalks and in front of the gates of the building at 10 a.m., but a steady stream of people caused it to grow large enough to spill into the street and eventually they began to block traffic.

Nearby police and military watched - but did not intervene as cars, busses and motorcycles were turned away from a nearby intersection and told to find another route. Though, when one man tried to push his van through the crowd - police moved in and forced him to turn around. He gestured rudely at the crowd before speeding away.

Other drivers sat and watched the events unfold - a row of large yellow metro busses parked along the sidewalk - the drivers sat smoking and watching the crowd. While no private vehicles or city busses were allowed through the blockade, each time an emergency vehicle appeared the crowd separated to let it pass.

The group was as mixed as their ideas for how the government should respond to the threat of separatists and Russian incursion on Ukrainian territory.

One woman held a sign accusing the government of treason for sending volunteer battalions into war without the proper weaponry. She stood next to a man carrying the Ukrainian flag and another holding the flag for a new political party, the Democratic Alliance. But each, answered the popular "Slava Ukrayini" greeting with "Heroyam Slava" or Glory to Ukraine, Glory to heroes.

At times, the differences in ideology broke the unified crowd and small groups of arguments were quickly broken up by protest organizers and people in the crowd.

Eventually, several hundred people marched down the avenue, with a police escort, and made their way to the Presidential Administration building to present their demands to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Meanwhile violence has escalated sharply in recent days and Kiev's security and defense council announced Friday that 10 soldiers had been killed and 30 wounded during a 24-hour period.

Nearly 2,600 combatants and civilians have been killed in the conflictsince mid-April, U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic told journalists Friday as he presented a report from a U.N. monitoring mission.

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