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Thousands in Kyiv demand resignation of Zelenskyy and his office’s chief.

On the evening of December 1, central Kyiv was full of protests organized by the Capitulation Resistance Movement and the Demokratychna Sokyra political party. The organizers claimed the mass protests gathered 7,000 participants. Demands included the impeachment of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the resignation of the head of the Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, and his deputies Ruslan Demchenko and Oleg Tatarov. Organizers of the event believe the officials need to be fired due to accusations of their alleged disruption of Ukraine’s sting operation to lure and arrest dozens of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner PMC a year ago, many of whom fought against Ukraine in the ongoing war in the eastern regions. Zelenskyy and Yermak reject these accusations.

The rally was named “Protect Ukraine — stop the coup.” It hints at Zelenskyy’s statement during his 26 November press marathon, where he alleged a coup with the participation of oligarch Rinat Akhmetov was planned for 1 December. Activists say are not planning any coup but rather to stop Kremlin agents in offices who are allegedly responsible for the failure of several of Ukraine’s intelligence operations, including the failed Wagner operation. The protest was also timed to the anniversary of the events of 1 December 2013, when mass protests flooded central Kyiv in response to a harsh police crackdown on Euromaidan protesters during the previous night.

The activists say they are neither sponsored by Russia nor by oligarch Akhmetov, as Zelenskyy claimed. The coordinator of the rally is the non-partisan Capitulation Resistance Movement while participants are dozens of organizations and political parties, both parliamentary and not parliamentary, including former President Poroshenko’s European Solidarity, Voice, and Democratic Axe.

Beginning of the anti-presidential rally in Kyiv on 1 December 2021. Photo: Twitter/ rok_org_ua

Now, before the protests, the police partially closed the government quarter, restricting the access by car and inspecting the personal belongings of participants at some entry points.

Police blocking one of the approaches to the rally’s venue. Kyiv, 1 December 2021. Photo: Facebook / Олександр Рудоманов

At the time of the beginning of the rally, 19:00, about 2,000 people gathered in front of the Independence Stele on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) and vul. Khreshchatyk, and more participants arrived in the next two hours.

Rally in Kyiv, 1 December 2021. Photo: Twitter / rok_org_ua

The organizers had set up a stage and the sound equipment on the Maidan for participants to deliver their remarks.

Protesters at the rally in Kyiv on 1 December 2021. Photo: Suspilne

Representatives of Democratychna Sokyra carrying posters “Yermak to Siberia” (Yermak was the last name of the Russian conqueror of Siberia), and “You’ll be jailed soon.” Photo: Dmytro Larin/Ukrainska Pravda

Protesters with posters reading “Moles are blind, the people aren’t” and “The reason for separation is treason.” Photo: Dmytro Larin / Ukrainska Pravda.

Participants of the rally in Kyiv on 1 December 2021. Photo: Suspilne

At 21:00, the protesters marched to Bankova Street, where the President’s Office is located, and tossed coins towards the building chanting calls to resign the president and his entourage.

Protesters near President’s Office. Kyiv, 1 December 2021. Photo: Ukrainform

The participants explained to an Ukrainska Pravda correspondent that hurling the coins was meant to help Yermak and Zelenskyy “raise funds for tickets to Rostov,” the Russian city to where fugitive President Yanukovych had fled back in 2014.

Coins on the pavement near the presidential office. Photo: Suspilne

According to the organizers of the action, the coins were also a metaphorical response to Zelenskyy’s accusations that a “paid coup d’etat” was planned in Ukraine on 1 December. Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his “press marathon” that he had information about preparations for a coup attempt in Ukraine on 1-2 December.

Protesters near President’s office. The caption for Zelenskyy’s portrait reads, “Not funny” implying his comedic past. Kyiv, 1 December 2021. Photo: Suspilne

Then the participants headed towards the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament).

Column of protesters marching towards President’s office. Photo: Twitter / rok_org_ua

The Capitulation Resistance Movement said that the rally kicked off the process of forming the United Opposition Coordinating Council. Also, they launched a termless campaign for Zelensky’s resignation.

The rally ended at about 22:00. Some protesters marched to Hrushevskoho Street, the place of the months-long confrontation between Euromaidan protesters and government police forces in late 2013 – early 2014.

Protesters walking along Hrushevskoho. Photo: Twitter / rok_org_ua

During the protest actions in Kyiv, the police didn’t record any violations of law and order.

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