Europe

Ukraine's far-right Svoboda party hold torch-lit Kiev march

  • 1 January 2014
  • From the section Europe

Thousands of supporters of a far-right party in Ukraine have held a torch-lit procession through the capital, Kiev.

The marchers from the Svoboda or Freedom Party were marking the birthday of a World War Two-era partisan leader.

The marchers shouted "Glory to Ukraine!" and "Death to the enemies!" as they marched through Kiev.

Svoboda has been a key participant in recent protests against President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to cancel a deal with the EU.

Pro-EU activists had been staging regular protests in Kiev, demanding new presidential and parliamentary elections, but so far their demands have been unmet.

The BBC's David Stern in Kiev says some people believe Svoboda's involvement in the protests contributes to Ukraine's political divide, as their base of support is mainly in the country's west, while voters in the east and south view them as extremists.

The man whose birth the march commemorated, Stepan Bandera, is also a controversial figure, our correspondent adds.

In western Ukraine, many revere him as a national hero, while in Russia and eastern Ukraine some accuse him of having co-operated with the Nazis.

Some of those marching on Wednesday did so in the uniform of a Ukrainian division of the German army in World War Two, AP reports.

Image caption Nationalists also held a march in the western city of Lviv
Image caption The marchers were commemorating Stepan Bandera's 105th birthday
Image caption Svoboda has been a prominent part of anti-government demonstrations