Violence broke out during demonstrations against President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on March 9. A crowd estimated at around 8,000 used Taras Shevchenko Day, a day celebrating the life of Ukraine’s great national poet, to call for the president’s resignation. Several thousand riot police confronted the demonstrators, and clashes broke out that were suppressed with teargas, truncheons and 200 arrests.
The movement to oust the president, who has failed to refute allegations of complicity in a journalist’s murder, is united only in its opposition to Kuchma. The socialists want to abandon presidential rule in favor of a parliamentary republic. The right wing calls for a “national revolution” that it does not define. The communists, once the most significant opposition, are waffling. They did not participate in the March 9 protests.