Growing political unrest in Ukraine turns violentcomment (0)
January 30, 2014
As Ukraine is in the midst of domestic turmoil and disorder, a Baptist and former member of the country’s Parliament, Pavel Unguryan, is asking for prayer.
Unguryan, who served in Parliament from 2008 to 2012, said, “Today, as never before, Ukraine desperately needs prayer. In light of recent events, we realize that only Almighty God can reconcile the conflicting parties and stop the violence and bloodshed in the country.”
Protests in Ukraine started November 2013 after President Viktor Yanukovich pulled out of signing a free trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer economic ties with Russia. The unrest has grown in recent weeks and turned violent Jan. 19 when protestors in the capital of Kiev clashed with riot police. Thousands stormed the regional administration headquarters in Rivne in western Ukraine.
Unguryan said five people were killed and more than 500 protestors injured. Other reports put the death toll at three and injuries at approximately 150.
Unguryan accused the authorities of “ignoring the demands of hundreds of thousands” of protestors, which led “the enraged people [to take] matters into their own hands.”
He reported that “after a large-scale gathering at Kiev’s Independence Square (on Jan. 19) a group of protesters tried to break through the line of police forces to the building of Ukraine’s Parliament to require the cancellation of a number of laws adopted Jan. 16, which severely restrict the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens.”
Unguryan, a Baptist youth leader in Ukraine who is a member of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Council and Commission on Ministry, said, “This confrontation resulted in a conflict which … ignited the anger of protesters. In response the law enforcement officers used … stun grenades, teargas, water cannons and traumatic weapons. The protesters ‘armed’ themselves with catapults and started hurling stones, tiles, and firebombs at the police. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed the city.”
Kiev was in virtual lockdown. Business establishments closed and residents were advised by the government to stay off the streets.
Ukraine is a former Soviet republic that regained its independence in 1991, after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It has one of the largest Baptist bodies in Europe. The All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, a member organization of the BWA, has more than 121,000 members in more than 2,300 churches.