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April 24, 2014
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Ukrainians hold mass protest against Yanukovich's EU U-turn

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians shouting "Down with the Gang!" rallied against President Viktor Yanukovich's U-turn on Europe and some used a building excavator to try to break through police lines at his headquarters.

The rally, by far the biggest seen in the Ukrainian capital since the Orange Revolution nine years ago, came a day after a police crackdown on protesters that inflamed demonstrators further after Yanukovich's policy switch.

Last month Yanukovich - after months of pressure from former Soviet master Russia - backpedalled from signing a landmark deal on closer relations with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

To try to defuse tensions before today's rally, Yanukovich issued a statement saying he would do everything in his power to speed up Ukrainian moves toward the EU.

In a sea of blue and gold, the colours of both the EU and Ukrainian flags, protesters swept into Kiev's Independence Square to hear heavyweight boxer-turned-opposition politician Vitaly Klitschko call for Yanukovich to resign.

"They stole the dream. If this government does not want to fulfil the will of the people, then there will be no such government, there will be no such president. There will be a new government and a new president," he said to cheers.

Far-right nationalist Oleh Tyahniboh, another opposition leader, called for a national strike. "From this day, we are starting a strike," he declared.

"I want my children to live in a country where they don't beat young people," said protester Andrey, 33, the manager of a large company, who declined to give his surname for fear of reprisals against him.

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Tags:  EU  Ukraine  Yanukovich  


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