More anti-language law protesters in Kyiv

16.07.2012 |

On Saturday 14 July a young woman hunger striker – Olha Dovhanyuk from Ivano-Frankivsk  was taken from the Ukrainsky Dim protest against the contentious language bill supposedly passed on 3 July. She was the third to be taken ill as a result of her hunger strike, however three new people have joined the protest.

26-year-old Olha Nezhyvenko explained that the physical state of two of the protesters deteriorated, while the problems for the third person were of a psychological nature.

Olha Nezhyvenko came to Kyiv when she was 14 and is presently doing postgraduate studies at the Kyiv-Mohyla University. She says that she has always found it frustrating that even Ukrainian speakers will switch to Russian, however says that the Ukrainian language is steadily becoming more widespread. She believes that the Kivalov and Kolesnichenko language bill will again narrow the spheres of use of the Ukrainian language, and for that reason is taking part in the protest. As well as Ukrainian and Russian, she speaks English and has a fair knowledge of French and German.

“I understand that a hunger strike is an extreme step. Yet perhaps in that way society will pay attention to the fact that a new attempt is being made to turn the State language into one that is secondary. We are therefore demanding that it is revoked”.

Two doctors, one from Ivano-Frankivsk , the other from the Kyiv region are spending their holiday outside Ukrainsky Dim in Kyiv looking after the hunger strikers.

There are also older protesters, for example, Andriy Didenko who explains that he spent 8 years in prison although he had committed no crime. He understood in prison that cases where people are put inside on trumped up charges is a systemic phenomenon in Ukraine, and became a defender of human rights. He is presented in charge of the anti-torture project for the Kharkiv Human Rights Group.

Lawyer Oleh Veremiyenko has been on hunger strike since 10 July and says that people are coming from all over the country to show their support.

“One will bring blankets, another – umbrellas, water, books, or homemade placards, etc. We generally feel incredible, huge support.”

The Berkut riot police are nowhere to be seen, however the police are on duty. They’ve moved the protesters from the entrance to Ukrainsky Dim through special ribbons.

Around the building there are private cars which are stopping other cars driving up to the protest.  According to one of the MPs Oles Doniy who is supporting the protesters, the cars have been put there by the police. As reported, the police had stopped the Last Barricade bus with sound equipment driving up to the building. Doniy says that a few days ago, when there was a very heavy rainfall, they managed to trick the police and get the bus in.

On Saturday even the protesters were treated to a personal concert from the Homin Choir directed by Leopold Yashchenko.

From a report by Yury Lukanov here

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