What is happening in Ukraine and Venezuela?

Ukraine Protests

Protesters want nothing less than President Viktor Yanukovych's resignation.

The protests broke out after President Yanukovych's government rejected a far-reaching accord with the European Union in November 2013 in favour of stronger ties with Russia. Thousands of people, outraged that a long-standing aspiration for integration with Europe had been ditched overnight, poured into central Kiev for peaceful protests. They have occupied Independence Square, known as Maidan, ever since.

Several developments - including police attacks on student protesters, severe new anti-protest laws, and the abduction and beating of opposition activists - caused the demonstrations to spread and intensify. For many people, they were less about Europe than about getting rid of a president who they believed was clinging to power and serving the interests of his own close circle and Moscow.


A wave of anti-government demonstrations - the largest in a decade - has been sweeping through Venezuela since early February.

The protests began in early February in the western states of Tachira and Merida when students demanded increased security after a female student alleged she was the victim of an attempted rape. Venezuela has the fifth highest murder rate in the world. Insecurity and crime are rife in many urban centres.

They also complained about record inflation (official figures suggest yearly inflation in December 2013 stood at 56.2%) and shortages of basic food items.

The protests in Tachira turned violent, triggering the arrest of several students, which in turn led to demonstrations in Caracas calling for their release.

The protests in Caracas started on 12 February and quickly turned deadly when three people were shot by gunmen following a largely peaceful march that same day. There have been many demonstrations since then, varying in size from small gatherings to large rallies.  

Students were the first to take to the streets. Unlike many Latin American countries, Venezuela's student movement is largely conservative in its outlook.

When the protests spread to Caracas, the students were joined by hardliners from within the umbrella opposition group Table for Democratic Unity (MUD). Leopoldo Lopez, a former mayor and political maverick, and Maria Corina Machado, an MP, are the main political figures in the movement.