By DEEPTI HAJELA
NEW YORK (AP) -- The news of conflict and bloodshed in another part
of the world hit close to home for Ukrainians living in the United
States and Canada, as they worried about what would come next for their
Late reports Wednesday of a truce between President Viktor Yanukovych
and protest leaders were met with caution, amid tears and anger.
"I wish that Yanukovych and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin would
hang in the Maidan," said Chrystyna Pevny of Queens, referring to the
protesters' camp in Kiev's Independence Square.
"I think that even that is too good for them," the 80-year-old said
as she left the Ukrainian Museum on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
The cautionary fears appeared to have been borne out when the truce
collapsed hours later, with fierce clashes erupting between protesters
and police. The two sides in Ukraine are fighting over whether the
nation of 46 million will have closer ties to the West or to Russia.
The protests began in late November after Yanukovych turned away from
a long-anticipated deal for closer ties with the European Union. After
Yanukovych shelved the agreement with the EU, Russia announced a $15
billion bailout for economically battered Ukraine.
The United States raised the prospect of joining partners in Europe
to impose sanctions against Ukraine, and the European Union called a
meeting of its 28 member countries on Thursday.
Later Wednesday, Yanukovych and leaders of the protests agreed halt
the violence and to hold talks on ending the bloodshed. But as the
foreign ministers of three European countries met with Yanukovych, after
their meeting with the opposition leaders, clashes broke out again
Thursday. Neither side appeared willing to compromise.
Yaakov Dov Bleich, who is the chief rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine but
splits his time between there and New York City, reacted cautiously. He
noted the enormity of clashes between government forces and protesters
this week that have left 28 people dead and 287 hospitalized. Protesters
say the number is actually much higher.
"I think it's going to be very hard to rebuild trust between people and the president," Bleich said.