Ukrainian Christian leader calls for urgent 'prayer and fasting' as anti-government protests 'spread' into Russia-influenced east


Date:  2014-01-26

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

KIEV, UKRAINE (ANS) -- A Ukrainian Christian leader has called for urgent "prayer and fasting" as anti-government protests are spreading further outside Kiev, with reports of unrest in the east, north and south.

The opposition has vowed to continue the protests until President Yanukovych
agrees to early elections
(Photo: Reuters)

According to the BBC, activists besieged government buildings and in some cities clashed with riot police. In the capital, protesters took over the justice ministry.

The fresh unrest comes after opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk rejected President Viktor Yanukovych's offer to appoint him prime minister. He said key demands must be met, including new elections.

As well as his offer to Mr. Yatsenyuk, he suggested another opposition figure, former boxer Vitali Klitschko, take the post of deputy prime minister following talks on Saturday.

Pastor Vyacheslav Nesteruk

Now the Slavic Gospel Association (, has forwarded to the ASSIST News Service, an urgent appeal that has been issued by Pastor Vyacheslav Nesteruk, President of the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, in which he said, "Beloved in the Lord brothers and sisters! Due to the recent tragic events in our country, we call on all churches and pastors to assume spiritual responsibility for the situation in Ukraine, and to join the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in urgent prayer and fasting.

"As Christians and citizens, let's unite in fervent and unceasing prayer for the end of hatred and violence.

"We urge individual pastors to determine days of fasting and prayer in your churches, as well as daily intercession, making known to . . . God your desires with prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6), standing in the gap for our nation with united hearts."

He also asked for prayer for:

* An end to this violent conflict.
* The government and all political forces. Ask the Lord to give them wisdom and the fear of God, that they will make the right decisions to overcome the political crisis peacefully.
* For the Ukrainian people to repent and search for God, so that in these difficult times Ukrainians will turn to God and seek for His blessings.

Pastor Nesteruk added, "We believe that Ukraine will come out of this conflict, and that God will send a new blessing for our country. We believe that freedom and justice will be affirmed in our society, and that faith in God and Christian values will be an integral part of the lives of our nation."

He concluded his appeal by quoting the following verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Editor's Note from SGA: Pastor Nesteruk was joined in making this call to prayer by fellow UECB leaders and pastors Igor Bandura, Valery Antonyuk, and Nikolai Kasprov.

On Sunday, thousands turned up to pay respects to Mikhail Zhiznevsky, 25, who died of gunshot wounds last week

The BBC's David Stern, in Kiev, says the opposition - confident in its position - appears to have taken Mr Yanukovych's offer of concessions as a sign of weakness, and is forging ahead with the campaign to unseat him.

The demonstrations began in November after Ukraine decided not to sign an accord on more co-operation with the EU.

Instead, the government opted to deepen ties with neighboring Russia.

People's assemblies

The BBC reported that on Friday protesters seized several government buildings in cities outside Kiev, particularly in the west, which has traditionally favored closer ties with Europe, including in the cities of Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lutsk and Lviv.

On Saturday the protests spread to cities further east, including Vinnytsya, south-west of Kiev.

There were multiple reports of 'athletic' men wearing yellow armbands, believed to be supporters of the far right, appearing at the popular protests - here watching anti-government protesters in Dnipropetrovsk on Sunday
(Photo: Reuters)

It stated that reports now suggest unrest is spreading further into the country's east, which has traditionally had closer ties with Russia and is Mr Yanukovych's support base:

* In the north-eastern city of Sumy, protesters occupied the city's council building and an MP for the opposition Fatherland party has assumed the leadership of the council, reports Ukraine's Unian news agency
* Several thousand protesters tried to storm the state regional administration building in south-eastern Zaporizhzhya, with police using tear gas and smoke grenades against the crowd and eventually dispersing them, reports said
* Some 2,000 people gathered for a people's assembly in Cherkasy, south-east of Kiev, said Unian. More than 40 people were reportedly detained there after a protest.
* Activists in Chernihiv, north of Kiev, set up barricades outside a regional administration building which they attempted to storm on Saturday, Unian reported
* In Dnipropetrovsk, eastern Ukraine, there were clashes as protesters descended on the regional administration buildings; 14 protesters were arrested, said Interfax-Ukraine news agency
* Protesters in Odessa, to the south, also gathered at the regional office
* In the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, a group of young men armed with baseball bats attacked anti-government protesters who had gathered for a rally, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

"In total, municipal buildings have reportedly been seized by protesters in up to 10 cities outside Kiev - unrest on a scale which commentators say is unprecedented in post-Soviet Ukraine," added the BBC report.

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