World Champion Boxer Champions Ukraine Opposition

Protesters align behind Vitali Klitschko after government ditches deal to strengthen ties with EU.
3:00 | 12/02/13

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Transcript for World Champion Boxer Champions Ukraine Opposition
This is a special room. I'm Dan -- -- -- New York with a CBC news digital special report at the crossroads of Europe and Asia country divided in Ukraine today hundreds of thousands of protesters are continuing their rallies. Fighting police setting up barricades as they're pro western demonstrations. Some led by heavyweight boxing champ the Vitaly Klitschko demanding the president sign a trade deal with the European Union. And turn away from Russia. So with more from Kia here's BBC's Steve Rosenberg. And Kiev today they would displaying. Protestors took to the streets to paralyze that government. They set up road blocks of rubbish bins to stop officials getting to work. At government headquarters new tool was left on daunted. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Protester is continuing to occupy -- -- square. That the bonding closer links with Europe -- that the Russian. Thousands of people spent the nineteen. And this is what the professors spend all night doing building barricades they took huge pieces of wood pink sheets of metal. A -- but the aura around him to stop the police moving -- to the square. -- today that would violent clashes between riot police and protestors. More than hundred people who reject. The opposition is demanding that president Yanukovych who -- the president has remained strangely quiet. But these demonstrators -- we. They're not surprised. That had nothing that I promote whenever people take to the streets helped president runs -- -- -- says. -- -- -- Not everyone in this country once -- links with the European Union. But these people believed that -- -- future -- east to the west and he plead their precedent the holding them back from Europe. Steve Rosenberg BBC news -- yet. To from one story I want to bring in -- idea who is joining us now from Moscow Kara thanks for being with us today. It seems a bit like a Cold War mindset east. Vs west still very much alive in Ukraine explained the economic divide that's going -- Yet there is -- -- of the Cold War mentality there but it's really between Europe. And Russia both -- seeing -- very much as a fight for its sphere of influence events in Eastern Europe in these former Soviet republics. -- in Ukraine it's actually very interesting half of the country the eastern half. Is ethnically Russian -- speak Russian their more aligned with that with with Russia. The western half some of those town used to be part of Poland the -- Roman Catholics and salute and in some of -- -- -- not. Russian orthodox it's a very much with Russia there's -- divine. Between -- I think you're seeing it play out here once -- want to side with your union the other more comfortable with Russia. So what in fact would -- deal with the EU. Have done for Ukraine and why it affected the president walk away from that. Right well the European Union was offering a trade deal with with for -- it would have been very lucrative one for them but it -- been something. They could -- a little while for them to see the economic relief Ukraine is suffering from -- -- economic problems right now. The president's reelection in 2015. Experts say is I was on that on trying to get reelected and with the Russians were offering with something that could give him more economically. Immediately. Just as important the questions were also all -- so severe penalties economic penalties sanctions over his head. We don't know exactly what they were booked one good example was just over the summer the -- stopped importing. Rush thank you crede hit these that was their biggest market was Russia for this candies. There's a huge economic blow to -- when they did that. And so the danger for Ukraine was that if they walked away from Russia it would have more economic problems the Russians could cut off gas and that would -- them even harder in the short term. So -- let me ask you this and because president Yanukovych is is kept a very close -- obviously with Russia. But what are what is prudent and other Russian leaders offering him is it more of an insensitive or more of the possibility of a threat then in trying to diminish any kind of ties with an EU. Well the Russia's UEU can't forget see these things and -- like you said Cold War terms that you really do see it. In -- way of spheres of influence in the old -- That sense they really did not want to see you create drift away towards Europe. It was the same with decay of Moldova which they had the Russians put sanctions on their wind industry. Try to get them to not sign -- trade deal they've -- and it did ended up signing that deal. But ukrainians that Ukraine was the big prize for the Russians they really did not want to see you create. Go towards. The European Union so in the past what Russia's -- pressure Ukrainian leaders is cut off -- to to the country there. The sole exporter -- or the majority exporter gas through Ukraine. So they hold a lot of leverage. And -- that was one thing that we're led to understand. -- one thing that they were threatening. So that would explain obviously the significance for the relationship to Ukraine but what about going the other way then what does Russia have to gain by maintaining that kind of close relationship. Well right now when Russell looks around its borders it sees. American allies to the south in Georgia for example when it looks to the east -- -- The European Union which is gone and added members it like Lithuania Estonia Latvia Romania Bulgaria all. All countries that were either parts of the Soviet or or or or aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And so they see this encroachment on what they still considered to be their sphere of influence and they don't wanna see -- increase. Ukraine is the biggest prize out there they don't want see that happen. What about we have seen this in these protests -- heavyweight boxing champ Vitaly Klitschko spotted on some of the front lines some things that some of these demonstrations. What is -- his role in all of this and it -- yet political aspirations. -- he is he still holds the belt for for a little while longer -- he's still has defended one more time I think before he says he's gonna retire. He is 888 lawmaker he's in the parliament. But he has. Has announced just a short while ago few few weeks ago in fact that he would like to run for president 2000 fifteens and he does have bigger political aspirations. And he has been front and center all these protests leading some of the demonstrations he's not the only one there are other leaders there. But he certainly put its name out there is somebody who is not afraid to challenge this president. Given what has been happening -- the intensity of the situation growing -- there have been some comparisons that have been made. To Ukraine's orange -- revolution. Back in 2004. And that was when Yanukovych was thrown out of office. I think cosmetic similarities or -- is actually history repeating. Yet it's actually very similar in a certain sense does for the state people. A lot of the same people -- those they get those western ukrainians the ones who are not traditionally aligned with Russia who out on the streets at that time. It is dead at that time there was a a -- -- -- -- fraudulent election that they were trying to recall that a coach -- on and so. It's a little different methods because they were trying to change they were try to rejected -- -- that it does happen they wanted to know and do what -- succeeded. In this case it's not exactly the -- because this new election right now what they do want they want Yanukovych to step down which is an even bigger step for him to take. But he get a salute those -- -- the people the ones who -- the rise towards Europe that are out of the streets. Aren't and as we shall wait to see how of that situation we'll continue to unfold in the coming days as those demonstrations continue care Roddy and Moscow -- back to -- time -- your insight we certainly appreciate that. We do have a complete report here on For -- -- -- -- New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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