KIEV, Dec. 4 -- Nine years after the Orange Revolution stormed Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of protesters have again rallied in Kiev, demanding the ouster of the current administration.
Local experts, noting hundreds have set up camps around Independence Square in the heart of the capital, see no quick fix to the crisis for the government.
FAINT ECONOMY A TIMEBOMB, EU DEAL THE FUSE
Ukraine's economy has faltered this year, with the World Bank cutting the growth forecast to zero and warning of further deterioration and a potential debt default in the coming years.
Meanwhile, the marathon two-year negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout has been, as President Viktor Yanukovych said last week, fruitless.@ The suspended association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union (EU) also added an unaffordable cost to the East European country's export-oriented economy, with Russia tightening its trade privileges with the Customs Union.
"From the economic point of view, integration with the Customs Union will bring more benefits to Ukraine than that with the EU," Denis Denisov, head of the Ukrainian branch of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Institute, told Xinhua.
"If Ukraine joins the Russia-led bloc, it will get around 10 billion U.S. dollars in savings and gains within the next five years," he said.
Acknowledging that Kiev's political roadmap, the European integration course, was unlikely to change dramatically after the protests, Denisov said the EU had actually not promised anything Ukrainians were longing for.
"The increase of salaries or pensions is just none of the business of, nor an obligation for, the EU," he said.
Yet, Yuriy Lutsenko, former Ukrainian interior minister, believes integration with the EU will not hurt, but improve Ukraine's economy.
"Today's economy, which relies on steel and chemicals exports heavily depends on the Russian market, but an export-oriented economy can not ensure adequate social standards in Ukraine," Lutsenko said.
"We want to build a new economy, which needs start-ups, new technologies, innovation and service market development," the opposition leader said.
Noting that around 80 percent of Ukrainian citizens under 30 support European integration according to their surveys, Lutsenko said he had no doubt Ukraine would sign the association deal with the EU and finally becomes an EU member.
PROTESTS MAY END, GRASSROOTS' CALLS TO MAINTAIN
The government, led by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, survived a non-confidence vote Tuesday in parliament, and analysts say protesters are unlikely to stage another "revolution" resembling that of 2004, when ex-president Viktor Yushchenko and ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko took power.
"The Tuesday vote shows that the majority of lawmakers support the government, and the authorities can keep the situation under control," Denisov said.
However, he said the outcome of the two-week-long protests was "unpredictable."
"It is not a secret that many people were promised payment for participating in the protests. If they don't have the money, they would not come to central Kiev again," he said, warning there could be provocations that led to bloodshed.
Valeriy Chalyi, deputy general director of think tank the Razukov Center, said "the demonstrations have acquired some radical shade. But I doubt there will be a revolution."
He hopes the rallies will end with a compromise between the authorities, the demonstrators and civil society.
"The deadline for the compromise is 2015, when a presidential election will be held in Ukraine," Chalyi said.
Meanwhile, the expert expressed his concern the government could not control all the actions of the security forces and the latter may arbitrarily use force.
Both Yanukovych and Azarov have urged the police not to resort to force against protesters, while insisting on resolute action against provocateurs.
The experts have agreed the government must respond seriously to appeals of various classes. But, before that, it has to survive.