Last year, on January 5, 2014, more than 10,000 people gathered on Kyiv’s Independence Square in the first major opposition protest rally for the year, part of the Euro-Maidan movement. Opposition leaders urged supporters to continue the protests after Christmas according to the Julian calendar. The number of protesters had declined following a gas deal between Presidents Viktor Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin on December 17, 2013, that reduced the price Ukraine was paying for Russian gas imports by one-third.
Many of the protesters had camped out since late November 2013 on Independence Square, where they had erected makeshift baracades. The Yanukovych administration threatened the protesters with prosecution for blocking administrative buildings and automobile traffic, and causing damage to property.
Meanwhile, government-hired thugs were accused of attacking investigative journalist Tetiana Chornovol on the morning of December 25, 2013, that sparked protesters to demand the resignation of Internal Affairs Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko. Condemnation of the attack came from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.
In response to the destabilized situation for the government authorities, Party of Regions National Deputy Oleg Tsariov, a Ukrainophobe, introduced a list of 36 foreigners, mostly Georgians – including former Georigian President Mikheil Saakashvili – but also several Westerners, to be barred from entering Ukraine. The list appeared later in December in a government-sponsored newspaper, Kommersant Ukraine, and included U.S. citizens, NGO members and scholars who were suspected of “consulting with the opposition to destabilize the situation in the country.”
Source: “Thousands at opposition rally,” RFE/RL, The Ukrainian Weekly, January 12, 2014.