Hundreds rally in Ukraine against fuel price hike

Author : Olena Holubeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

April 18, about one and a half thousand motorists gathered near the Cabinet and protested against the increase in fuel prices in the interests of oligarch Kolomoisky and the oligarch-controlled Ukrtatnafta
14:20, 20 April 2018

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April 18, about one and a half thousand motorists gathered near the Cabinet and protested against the increase in fuel prices in the interests of Igor Kolomoisky and the oligarch-controlled Ukrtatnafta. The meeting was organized by the public organization "AvtoEuroSyla" and joined by the Public Movement of Auto-Owners and veterans.

Related: Fuel procurement scandal: Who is who and what does it have to do with Poroshenko

On the eve of the rally, the leader of the public organization "AvtoEuroSyla" Oleg Yaroshevych wrote on Facebook that on April 18 the Interdepartmental Commission for International Trade will consider the application of Ukrtatnafta company about introducing quotas for fuel imports to Ukraine. As we wrote earlier, experts apprehended this initiative. The head of the consulting group A-95 Serhiy Kuyun is sure that the implementation of the initiative of the only private working oil refinery in Ukraine will lead to the establishment of his monopoly. According to his calculations, the increase in gasoline prices, in this case, will be at least USD 0,15per liter during periods of peak demand. The increase in fuel prices was predicted by the "Oil and Gas Association of Ukraine" (OGAU). The Association called on the participants of the Interdepartmental Commission on International Trade to reject the demand of Ukrainian Ukrtatnafta refinery to limit imports of petroleum products by introducing quotas. The initiative was not supported by the state "UkrGasVydobuvannya", which owns the second operating refinery in Ukraine.

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To prevent a decision that could lead to a rise in the price for fuel, members of NGOs began to gather near the walls of the Cabinet. About 500 cars with flags gathered on the other side of the road. They stretched a large banner with photos of Prime Minister Groysman and businessman Ihor Kolomoisky: "Groysman’s Cabinet and the oligarch Kolomoisky want to increase fuel prices by 40%."

Another stretch with pictures of Groysman and Kolomoisky was installed in front of the concrete blocks separating the Cabinet building from the street: "The underdogs will pay for it".

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On both sides of the stage was a fragment of Ilya Repin's painting "Cossacks of Saporog Are Drafting a Manifesto". Half of the image was covered with a picture of a huge fig. "Take your change out of that! Say no to fuel price increase" wrote the organizers.

Related: Ukraine’s Air Forces to deliver fuel to Danish station in Greenland

Representatives of the territorial branches of "AutoEuroSyla" spoke from the stage. They stated that limiting the import of imported fuel to Ukraine would lead to an inevitable rise in prices for food products; they also said about the lack of reforms, expressed dissatisfaction with the government and the state of Ukrainian roads. Between the performances, there were songs by Ukrainian singers, in particular, Okean Elzy.

As Yaroshevych said to, representatives of "AutoEuroSyla" from 23 regions took part in the rally. According to him, these were mainly representatives from Vinnytsya, Fastiv, Bila Tserkva, Boryspil, and Brovary. Members of the organization from other regions were ready to join the rally at any time, Yaroshevych assured: "Our community is large: about 200 thousand members have joined our organization, and they were just waiting for the demand to block the borders, highways, refueling complexes etc. "

The meeting was also attended by people with the symbols of the Public Movement of powered vehicle owners, flags of (Ukraine’s far-right organization, - Ed.) "Right Sector" and military men with stripes of volunteer battalions.

112 Agency

During the meeting of the Cabinet, the protesters shouted insulting speeches addressed to PM Groysman and oligarch Kolomoisky, signaled their horns to "support the decision to cancel the increase in fuel prices." By the way, the deafening sound of the horns of several hundred cars lasted almost ten minutes. A few dozen people on the opposite side of the street from the Cabinet of Ministers fired fire-fighters.

Related: Ukraine fuel costs soar: When will gasoline and diesel prices fall?

During the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Groysman said that the Cabinet "will not make decisions that could lead to higher prices for petroleum products."

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Soon after Groisman's statement, a man and a woman appeared, presenting themselves as representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. The protesters surrounded them with a tight ring. Yaroshevych demanded from them to provide public information about the meeting, dealing with the appeal of Ukrtatnafta. Officials initially did not want to give a definite answer to the question, but eventually admitted that the meeting had been postponed.

By 14:00 the rally participants began to leave.

"Now the consideration of the appeal of the Kremenchug refinery will be transparent, as it should follow the law. Kolomoisky wants to do something, and the government supports him – this does not work that way. The monitoring council will be formed; it will include representatives of the public. This body would control the consideration of this initiative, as well as other initiatives of strategic importance," the leader of AvtoEuroSyla told.

112 Agency

According to him, the prime minister promised not to make decisions that could lead to increase in the fuel prices. Yaroshevych said that the Association members decided to temporarily abandon the planned pickets of "Ukrtatnafta" gas station, as they managed to achieve certain successes. But he also added that "AvtoEuroSyla" is ready to return to active action at any time.

112 Agency

Yaroshevych assured the journalists that the authorities make concessions to the activists for some reasons: "We have insider documents, which we keep in secret so that they do not take advantage of them. Do you think that they have so easily agreed not to raise the issue? We have some documents that confirm that this is a special behind-the-scenes game, in which the authorities are ready to play today." Yaroshevych promised to publish these documents until the end of the week. "It is good that the authorities have changed their minds and made it so that the matter does not reach radical measures," he said.

Related: Gasoline and diesel fuel getting more expensive: No price reduction yet

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