Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Monday in Odessa the US and Ukraine began their "Sea Breeze 2007" joint exercises, the most extensive exercises this year to be carried out on Ukrainian territory. The beginning of the exercises was marred by clashes between law enforcement and opponents of Ukraine's increasingly close relationship with NATO.

Kommersant reports after the ceremonial opening and press conference, the officers who had spoken, were met at the exit of the building by a demonstration organized by representatives of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU), who shouted slogans such as "We don't need NATO" and "NATO, get lost" and carried signs denouncing the North Atlantic alliance.

The Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine is a left-wing party that supports integration with Russia and Belarus as an alternative to the EU.

Nationalist forces of a not progressive bent were also on hand to protest. These included the Black Sea Cossacks and members of the social organization United Fatherland.

Hundreds of supporters of the PSPU who had set up tents in the town of Odessa refused to obey a court order to take them down and resisted v when the police came to clear them away. A scuffle ensued between the protesters and the police. PSPU leader Natalia Vitrenko promised to employ "bolder methods of struggle" if "the authorities attempt to ban events directed against the NATO exercises."

Also taking part in the protests were members of the Ukrainian Communist party including the party's leader Pyotr Simonenko. "These exercises will bring nothing useful for Ukraine," said Simoneko confidently at the picket.

The following is in from Itar-Tass.

Ukraine-NATO exercises draw protests

ODESSA, July 11 (Itar-Tass) - The Odessa region’s administrators and chiefs of the NATO information and documentation center discussed Ukraine’ s integration in NATO at a roundtable meeting in the regional administration on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, several hundreds of supporters of the Progressive Socialist Party picketed the building of the regional administration with posters “Hands away from Ukraine”, chanting: “We will not let NATO lead the Ukrainian people to slaughter!”

The protests against the conduction of NATO-Ukraine exercises Sea Breeze-2007 in have been continuing for the sixth day.

Main rallies moved to the Chabanka Range located 25 kilometers from Odessa.

The protesters set up a tent compound at which over 1,500 citizens of Lugansk, Sevastopol, Lvov, Poltava, Odessa, Kharkov, Simferopol and Kiev are staying.

Organizers expect more supporters to come from all regions of Ukraine.

Opponents of the exercises suspended their protest actions for two daysi in Odessa, because the Ukrainian football supercup is held, drawing great crowds of fans from Donetsk and Kiev, the chief of the anti-NATO committee, Valery Kaurov said.

However, the protests of a still larger scale will resume on Thursday, he said.

Members of the public organization Oko also take part in pickets near a sea terminal in Odessa.

The organization’s press secretary Anatoly Petrov said provocateurs were constantly sent to the protesters.

“They tried to provoke a fight with the protesters, but nothing came of it. The picketers are law-abiding people and will not take provocations,” he said.

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