August 24th was Ukraine's Independence Day, and though many citizens marked this signficant day with fireworks and festivals, others protested the imprisonment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
In Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovych participated in a ceremony dedicated to Ukraine’s unity, while some of the nation’s biggest stars performed at Independence Square, the site of the 2004 Orange Revolution. Authorities had planned to stage an elaborate military parade, but settled for more low-key celebrations to save the nation $20 million.
President Viktor Yanukovych also posted a message on his website today, emphasizing the need for a strong economy.
"Ukraine will become truly independent only with the strong economy,” he wrote. “Ukrainians will be on firm ground in the world only if their rights are really protected.”
While thousands of Ukrainian citizens attended unity celebrations, thousands of opposition activists took to the streets to protest the imprisonment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko, who was jailed earlier this month for contempt of court, is currently on trial for alleged abuse of office. Defying orders from a Kiev court, Yulia’s supporters gathered in central Kiev with the intention of marching through city streets. However, police were able to contain the group.