Nuns and football: Euro 2012 is platform for protest

Euro 2012 has not stopped political life in Ukraine. Far from it. Instead, football is providing the perfect platform to air a range of local and national grievances in the former Soviet state.

The day after Germany's 1-0 victory over Portugal in the city, it was the turn of a group of nuns and purists of the Ukrainian language to take to the streets to demonstrate.

On the corner of Rynok square, where the city hall is situated, some 30 women in black habits turn up singing "Halleluja!", followed some 200 other people under the midday sun.

Some hold banners denouncing the city authorities for "discrimination" for wanting to "destroy" the holy sisters' chapel.

The nuns' order belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church (UOGCC), which has some 2,000 followers, according to one of the faithful who has turned up to hear one of its priests speak.

"The sisters reconstructed the roof of their chapel but the city authorities have said that they haven't put in all the required documents," said one of their spokesmen, Viktor Pecheniuk.

"We've spoken a lot with the mayor but he doesn't like us," the 22-year-old told AFP.

A senior official close to mayor Andriy Sadovyy, who asked not to be named, said: "They're protesting. They're free to do so and no one wants them destroyed

"They took over this building by force and its ownership is claimed by another religious order. It's just a conflict of interest."

In front of the city hall, another of the faithful, Alla Posina, 37, outlines the UOGCC's demands: the fight against drugs, euthanasia and "freemasons who run everything and support gays" as well as "European laws favourable to homosexuals".

The congregation made a single tour of the building's perimeter then disappeared.

They were soon replaced by an even bigger crowd.

Flags belonging to political parties flutter in the wind. Among them is one belonging to the opposition union, part of the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc -- named after the former prime minister who is currently in jail for abuse of power and corruption.

Her supporters claim the case against her was politically motivated. A number of European leaders agree and have vowed to boycott Euro 2012 matches in Ukraine as a protest.

There is also a banner in English reading "Russification: genocide of Ukraine" and showing a picture of a young woman with a traditional Ukrainian hairstyle but with her face behind barbed wire.

These people are protesting against a parliamentary bill, proposed by supporters of Kremlin ally President Viktor Yanukovich, widening the rights for the official use of Russian, which is spoken in his heartland of eastern Ukraine.

The opposition believes that if such a bill becomes law, it would make Russian the official second language behind Ukrainian.

In a sign of the bill's sensitivity, a fight broke out between several dozen deputies in the well of parliament itself when it was presented May 24. Some of those involved in the fight ended up in hospital.

In front of Lviv city hall on Sunday afternoon, speakers including Irina Farion, a lawmaker from Svobodam, urged the crowd to "protect the national language, which is the most important thing in Ukraine".

"The mayor thinks that we shouldn't use language to divide but to construct the country," the senior municipal government official said. "Now, this law is dividing the country.

"People in the east and the west are different for historical reasons but we have to learn to respect one another. You come across these things in other countries, like Canada, Belgium or Spain where linguistic questions are still key issues."


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US affirms 'ironclad' promise to defend Philippines
    US affirms 'ironclad' promise to defend Philippines

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington's pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains "ironclad" and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief "reaffirmed" the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

  • Philippine, Vietnam troops play sports on disputed island
    Philippine, Vietnam troops play sports on disputed island

    Filipino and Vietnamese troops played football and tug-of-war on a disputed South China Sea island on Wednesday, officials said, closing ranks as their rival China ramps up construction of artificial islands. The games took place on Philippine-held Northeast Cay, just 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) from Southwest Cay which is controlled by Vietnam, where a similar contest was held last year. "It was a navy-to-navy confidence-building engagement," Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, the Philippine …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

  • Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute
    Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute

    The Philippines should consider backchannel diplomacy to prevent its territorial dispute with China from deteriorating further, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said yesterday. There are a lot of Filipino businessmen with businesses in China and they have friends and connections there. Let’s utilize that, ask them to talk to their friends on how we can resolve this matter peacefully,” Marcos said. …

  • Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims
    Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims

    Japan and the Philippines are set to bolster security ties when President Benigno Aquino visits Tokyo next week, the latest move by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to beef up cooperation with Southeast Asian nations facing China’s growing naval ambitions. The two sides will likely agree to start talks on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology and to discuss a possible pact on the status of Japanese military personnel visiting the Philippines to facilitate joint training and …

  • Phl, Vietnam troops play soccer on disputed isle
    Phl, Vietnam troops play soccer on disputed isle

    Vietnamese and Philippine troops played soccer and sang karaoke on a South China Sea island yesterday in a sign of the growing security ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most at odds with Beijing over the contested waterway. Cooperation has blossomed between Hanoi and Manila since they shelved decades of enmity over their competing claims in the Spratly archipelago to try to counter China, whose creation of artificial islands in the region will allow it to project power deep into …

  • Noy swears in 50 newly appointed AFP officers
    Noy swears in 50 newly appointed AFP officers

    President Aquino administered yesterday the oath taking of 50 newly appointed generals and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a simple ceremony at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options