Ukraine: 'This situation has touched each of us'

Protests Kiev November 2013 Image copyright Igor Krekhivskyi
Image caption Crowds gather at the beginnings of the protests in Kiev, November 2013

Since November last year people in Ukraine have taken to the streets in protests.

They began when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a long-awaited trade deal with the EU in favour of strengthening ties with Russia.

To date, at least five people have been killed and a number of government buildings across the country have been occupied.

The political impact is increasing. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet have resigned. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is holding talks in Kiev with the president and opposition leaders, while parliament is debating how to respond to the protests.

Meanwhile hundreds of people remain on the streets of the capital, Kiev, with many still congregating at the epicentre of the protests on the city's Independence Square (Maidan).

BBC News has spoken with individuals in different cities throughout Ukraine, to hear their view of events.

Vadym, Kremenchuk

The atmosphere in Kremenchuk is rather quiet. As Kremenchuk is an industrial town, the majority of citizens did not, and still do not, support the idea of an EU-Ukraine free trade deal.

But after violent beatings of peaceful demonstrators on 30 November and the laws of 16 January, attitudes towards the government and the president changed.

Image copyright Solomiya Rozhko
Image caption Crowds protest in the city of Lviv in December 2013

People discuss the current situation in offices at work, in the streets, on bus stations and cafes. Many act like nothing is happening in the country, either because they are not interested or just indifferent to Ukraine's future.

Last week there was an attempt to occupy the local city hall, but the mayor spoke to the protesters and managed to calm them down, promising to support and protect those who had been arrested by police.

Our local deputies issued a letter to the president requesting early parliament and presidential elections as well as strict disapproval of police violence and cancellation of the laws adopted on 16 January. This decision has been very well accepted by people.

A lot of people go to Kiev on weekends or provide the activists on Maidan with clothes, food, money et cetera. One local businessmen sent a full container of fruit. Every day there is a bus full of "humanitarian supplies" leaving for Kiev.

Many of my friends go there constantly and say that people there are very peaceful and kind but there are "very active demonstrators" who take part in all those clashes, believing they are required to protect the demonstrations from violent police.

Believe me, the police are very aggressive not only in Kiev during clashes but also in everyday life across the country, which is one of the main reasons why people now fight back.

Kremenchuk citizens want all the violence to end as soon as possible because this situation has touched each of us.

Some have friends on Maidan, some have friends or relatives among those policemen, some have businesses which suffer from the demonstrators, but all our citizens wish a peaceful end to the story via political decisions and compromise from the government and President Yanukovych.

'Roman', Lviv, protesting in Kiev

Does this mean it is over. No not at all.

Image copyright Alex Panchenko
Image caption Troops gather in Independence Square, Kiev, in December 2013

We need fresh elections in parliament and after that we need a new president.

But even then it is not over. The problem here is the level of corruption throughout society.

We do not want to join the EU and to take your EU benefits and jobs.

We are not ready to join the EU either.

What we want is to renew the association agreement and to get IMF/World Bank funding to help us.

In 1991 we were as poor as Poland. Now we have fallen 10 years behind their living standards.

About 1% of the population monopolises all the wealth. But there are 46 million of us Ukrainians and the average wage is less than 200 euros [£165; $275] a month.

No-one wants to invest here, because they can't be sure of getting their money back because everything is so corrupt. That means there are very few jobs here.

I took part in the Orange Revolution in 2004 and again in these protests now.

I have been to Kiev twice to protest this time and Lviv where I live is the first place outside of Kiev where protesters took control of a government building.

Ukraine has been under the control of others for the past 300 years. We are only just now learning what it means to be independent, but it won't happen smoothly or overnight.

Dmitriy, Odessa

Image copyright Pam York
Image caption January protests in Independence Square, Kiev

I'm an ordinary citizen and have lived in Odessa in the south of Ukraine all my life.

A lot of people living here are very upset by news coming from our capital and other regions day by day.

The population of Odessa consists of а lot of nationalities, and mostly local people are not interested in politics and do not participate in rallies throughout the country - both in 2004 and in 2014.

Personally, I don't mind peaceful protests, however people living in more or less a stable country would not like to even think about a coup d'etat initiated by radicals with extremely right-wing views on life!

Do you still remember Adolf Hitler? Most people in my county have not forgotten more than 20 million victims in World War Two.

Unfortunately, we have no other choice than to affirm that radical groups used people's dissatisfaction with the Ukraine authorities as a base for their unfriendly actions.

The radicals will never accept any reasonable compromise between a government and opposition. They will pull out all the stops to push the situation in the country towards destabilisation.

[Some of the protest groups], consisting of football fans and ultra-nationalists, are anarchist organisations and planning revolution even in Brussels or any other place in Europe.

I dare say, nobody wants a second Syria or Egypt in the centre of Europe as well.

War and unrest are not the way to democracy, and people in Europe should realise that a new Hitler can be born in Ukraine now, that Nazism already is coming back to the world.