On Friday 12th April the 'Arise Ukraine!' demonstration in Kharkiv organised by the three main Ukrainian opposition parties was seriously impeded by last-minute local court orders banning the demonstration, and by dozens upon dozens of public transport vehicles parked nose to tail to block the rally's passage through city streets. Numerous road works and associated traffic diversions were mysteriously commissioned by the city's authorities and sprung up overnight around the city centre. Kharkiv was practically paralysed for the entire day as a result.
On Saturday 18th April the 'Arise Ukraine' demonstration in Kyiv was also seriously impeded. Many participants were prevented from travelling to the capital. They were denied tickets for public transport, their vehicles stopped, people were thrown of trains, private bus companies pressurised, etc. etc.
Party of Regions organised an anti-fascist counter-demonstration on this Saturday. A gang of known thugs assaulted journalists whilst police special forces impassively looked on. A provocatively decorated military armoured vehicle was permitted to drive along blocked-off streets escorted by traffic police into opposition demonstrators.
The three main opposition parties, all of whom are well represented in parliament, have every constitutional right to stage peaceful public meetings without harassment or hindrance.
The ruling authorities are making great efforts to scupper such meetings. The use of organised thugs whose actions are all but ignored by law enforcement agencies is truly disturbing.
There are no grounds to believe that the ruling authorities will in any way change their attitude to their political opponents and such discriminatory anti-opposition campaigns, and probably much worse, will reoccur in the run-up to the 2015 presidential elections.
European countries pondering whether to go ahead with November's scheduled signing of the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement will take note and will not be impressed by the ruling authorities' ridiculously over-the-top response to not particularly impressive opposition demonstrations.