6:00am Saturday 22nd February 2014
By Liam Thorp
BOLTON’S Ukrainian community is calling for the removal of the country’s president after dozens were killed during violent clashes between police and protestors this week.
The town has a Ukrainian stronghold of about 100, who regularly meet at the Ukrainian Club in Castle Street.
Last night, the community in Bolton was feeling “worried and upset” about the latest clashes.
Ukraine’s health ministry has reported that 77 people have been killed since Tuesday but opposition medics said that 100 protestors were killed on Thursday alone, the bloodiest day of the conflict so far.
Protests in the country’s capital Kiev first erupted in November when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a potential trade and association deal with the EU in favour of forming closer links with Russia.
Demonstrations in Kiev’s Independence Square began peacefully but have continued to edge towards violence, with a sudden escalation taking place on Tuesday.
Yesterday, President Yanukovych announced an early presidential election — which has been accepted by opposition leaders.
He has also announced plans for a national unity government and to reduce the power of the president.
But Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn of the Bolton branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain said the only answer was for Mr Yanukovych to leave.
He added: “He has created a culture of corruption and nepotism in the Ukraine and the violence has come out of that.
“Me and my wife have been tearful watching what is going on and the only endgame is if this desperate man leaves his post.
“But I fear he will hang on to power for as long as possible. It is appalling what is going on and some of the images we have seen are truly shocking — the people have suffered enough.”
Mr Tymchyshyn, who lives in the Haulgh area of Bolton, and whose father moved to England from the Ukraine in 1948, has written to MPs and the Prime Minister David Cameron asking for their help.
He was pleased to hear that Bolton North East MP David Crausby had visited the country prior to the recent outbreak of violence.
Mr Crausby was part of a NATO parliamentary assembly who met with politicians and inspected hospital facilities in the country.
He said: “Before the visit I was very concerned that Ukraine could be on the verge of a civil war, now that we are seeing violence and deaths on the streets we must hope and pray that this situation can be resolved before it gets that far.”
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