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3 Apr, 2008 11:57

Ukraine’s anti-NATO supporters rejoice

Protesters in Kiev are going ahead with their planned anti-NATO demonstrations, turning them into celebrations instead. It follows NATO’s rejection of the government’s application to join the Western military alliance.

Around 2,000 people have taken to the streets to celebrate. The Party of the Regions has organised a concert in the centre of Kiev, inviting singers from Russia to take part.

Similar events have been planned across eastern Ukraine, the stronghold of the anti-NATO lobby. They see relations with Russia as more important than a union with NATO.

The bid to join NATO has been a divisive issue in the country for some time. Opinion polls conducted in Ukraine over the last 15 years consistently show that more than half of the population is against joining the alliance - almost 62% of Ukrainians voted against NATO membership.

Even a government-sponsored ‘information’ campaign has failed to win over the public. Despite these figures, Ukraine’s government continues to push for membership.