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Ukrainians mark two years since Maidan protests

Two years after the protests which toppled a Russian-backed president, Ukrainians have come to Kyiv to remember the victims. They have also expressed discontent with the current situation.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his wife came early on Saturday to pay their respects and light icon lamps for the more than 100 people killed two years ago in the pro-European Union protests.

Saturday marked the anniversary of the bloodiest day of the revolution which ousted pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych. More than 50 people were killed by snipers.

Nationalist demonstrators on Saturday attacked the offices of two Russian banks, throwing rocks at the windows and damaging furniture and equipment.

US Vice President Joe Biden praised the "brave Ukrainians" who had taken part in the protests two years ago, as he held separate talks overnight with Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Biden said he stressed to both that "there is still a great deal of work to be done to honor the legacy of the brave Ukrainians who have given so much in their pursuit of a better future for their country."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault are to travel to Kyiv on Monday as part of a European bid to help ease the political crisis in Ukraine. The two ministers plan to hold meetings with Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the German Foreign Ministry said.

'A third Maidan is possible'

Hundreds of people in Kyiv headed to the city's landmark Independence Square, where the protests had taken place. They laid flowers and shared their grief but also

vented their frustration with the current leadership.

"Of course, we are disappointed with many things, but there is still hope," remarked a woman named Tetyana. "Something is changing - slowly, but it's happening and that is already a victory," she said, draped in a yellow and blue Ukrainian flag.

An elderly man carrying the red and black flag of the Ukrainian nationalist movement was more critical of the current administration.

"If our government does not change its attitude to the situation, we will have to take some radical steps," he said. "A third Maidan is always possible. People realized that they can bring anyone to power and topple them at any time. The people realized they are strong."

Following the fall of the Russian-friendly regime, Russia annexed Crimea and spawned an armed conflict in the east. More than 9,000 people have been killed and 20,000 injured since the crisis erupted in April 2014, according to the United Nations.

rs/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)

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