Thirty years ago, on April 10, 2001, thousands of participants demonstrated for the dismissal of President Leonid Kuchma and a “power system change” in Ukraine. The event was organized by the Forum for National Salvation, under the slogan “For Ukraine Without Kuchma and Oligarchs.”
In a statement, the protesters called for the Kuchma regime “to stop hounding Prime Minister [Viktor] Yushchenko and making attempts to remove him from the post of Cabinet head.” The statement also urged an objective investigation into the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and the immediate dismissal of Procurator General Mykhailo Potebenko, Tax Administration Chairman Mykola Azarov, and National Security and Defense Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk.
More than 1,000 students demonstrated in Kyiv on April 9 in front of the presidential administration building in Kyiv, demanding that President Kuchma swear on the Constitution of Ukraine that he did not give orders to kill Mr. Gongadze or Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil, as well as other politicians and journalists. Mr. Kuchma, later that day, rejected the demands of the students. “That would be a farce, and the president will not participate in a farce,” Mr. Kuchma said.
On April 10, a rally in Odesa to mark the anniversary of the city’s liberation from Nazi occupation during the second world war attracted between 10,000 to 15,000 people, many holding pro-Kuchma placards that read: “Our future is in unity of the president and the people,” “Odesa residents are grateful to President Kuchma for his care and assistance,” and “Odesa is our city, Kuchma is our president.”
President Kuchma spoke at the rally and, later that day, he told journalists that a no-confidence referendum on the president that was proposed by the opposition would not be legally binding. Mr. Kuchma also criticized the “pressure” placed on Ukraine following the proposal by the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to exclude Ukraine from the Council of Europe over human rights violations.
Source: “Rally in Kyiv demands Kuchma’s ouster… while Odesa residents side with Kuchma,” (RFE/RL), The Ukrainian Weekly, April 15, 2001.