Demonstrators in Kiev demand Zielinsky not to bow to pressure from Moscow

 Five thousand protesters demanded Sunday in Kiev Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky not to bow to pressure from Moscow on the eve of his meeting with Vladimir Putin as part of a summit on the Ukrainian conflict in Paris.

The demonstrators, in particular, responded to the invitation of the party of former President Petro Poroshenko, and gathered in the center of the Ukrainian capital under the slogan "Red Lines of Zilinsky".

Activists in the far-right Svoboda party also took part in the demonstration, and protesters held placards reading "No to surrender" and "Russian gas - a rope around the neck."

Porushenko said during the move, "Our position is very simple, it is our common position: Do not believe Putin after all the damage he has caused to Ukraine. And our second position is firm advice: Do not fear Putin."

Later, about 2,000 protesters went to the presidential office to continue their movement.

"I am afraid of the results of the (summit). I am not waiting for a good thing from our president because he is a weak person (...) I am afraid to sell the interests of the state," Anna Nelitska, 47, who came from the Zaporizhia region (southeast), told AFP.

"In exchange for the cheap gas that Russia can offer, Zelinsky may make concessions in the Donbas case and its status," retired Oleksandr Zubchenko, 61, said.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has become independent of the Moscow Church, declared Sunday a prayer day "for a just peace and the victory of our people and our state."

On Friday, Zielinski justified his meeting with the Russian president, stressing that the "only thing" he fears is the lack of results. "What am I afraid of? I'm the president of a free country," he said on a televised program. "I will not sell our country to anyone. The truth is on our side."

On Sunday, his spokesperson, Yulia Mendel, considered that "exaggerated expectations" from this summit might lead to a "feeling of frustration", denouncing the "suspicions and fear that drive people to demonstrate against an imaginary surrender."

Zelinsky and Putin will meet on Monday in Paris in their first meeting thanks to French-German mediation to revive peace negotiations on eastern Ukraine, as the war between Kiev and pro-Moscow separatists resulted in more than 13,000 dead more than five years ago.

The West and Ukraine accuse Moscow of financing and arming the separatists, which it denies. This summit is very much expected after three years of the stalled high-level negotiations.

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