Ukrainian Baptist appeals for prayer

Pavel Unguryan, a Baptist who was a Member of Parliament in Ukraine from 2008-2012, is appealing for prayer for his country that is now in the midst of domestic turmoil.

"Today, as never before, Ukraine desperately needs prayer," Unguryan said. "In light of recent events, we realize that only Almighty God can reconcile the conflicting parties and stop the violence and bloodshed in the country."

Protests in Ukraine started last November after President Viktor Yanukovich pulled out of signing a free trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer economic ties with Russia. The unrest has grown in recent weeks and turned violent on January 19 when protestors in the capital Kiev clashed with riot police. Thousands stormed the regional administration headquarters in Rivne in western Ukraine.

Unguryan said five persons were killed and more than 500 protestors injured. Other reports put the death toll at three and injuries at approximately 150.

Unguryan accused the authorities of "ignoring the demands of hundreds of thousands" of protestors, which led "the enraged people [to take] matters into their own hands."

He reported that on January 19, "after a large-scale gathering at Kiev's Independence Square a group of protesters tried to break through the line of police forces to the building of Ukraine's Parliament to require the cancellation of a number of laws adopted on January 16, which severely restrict the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens."

Unguryan, a Baptist youth leader in Ukraine who is a member of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Council and Commission on Ministry, said "this confrontation resulted in a conflict which like a spark ignited the anger of protesters. In response the law enforcement officers used against protesters stun grenades, teargas, water cannons and traumatic weapons. The protesters 'armed' themselves with catapults and started hurling stones, tiles, and fire bombs at the police. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed the city."

Kiev was in virtual lockdown. Business establishments closed and residents were advised by the government to stay off the streets.

"We kindly ask you once again to join us in prayer and fasting for a peaceful solution of the situation in Ukraine," Unguryan requested.

Ukraine is a former Soviet republic that regained its independence in 1991, after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It has one of the largest Baptist bodies in Europe. The All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, a member organization of the BWA, has more than 121,000 members in more than 2,300 churches.

Baptist World AllianceĀ®
Ā© January 24, 2014