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Few People Expected to Take Part in Protests Against Ukraine President

Ukraine's political opposition is trying to force President Kuchma's resignation and early presidential elections. The opposition has called for a public demonstration of support, but people on the street still have questions.

A stroll through central Kiev reveals not a single poster or public address system calling for mass public action.

There is similar silence across official television, radio, and print media. But some information can be found on the computer web sites of Ukrainian opposition political parties.

Despite the information gap, a majority of people sampled in the streets knows about planned opposition protests. But few said they plan to take part. Most said they see no reason to come out into the streets, other than to go to work.

One young Ukrainian businessman, with a family of three, said one should work, not agitate, to institute change. He also said he believes the only people who will come out to protest will be politicians struggling for power, elderly pensioners, and "provacateurs."

Another middle-aged Ukrainian man shared similar views, expressing a preference for parliamentary change to "revolutionary-style" street protests.

At the same time, he admitted voting for opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, whose party initiated the demand for early presidential elections. He also said he might participate, if the demonstration ends up being staged in the center of town.

The government of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma Friday banned political activity downtown, but said the protest could be staged at an airfield on the outskirts of Kiev. The opposition rejected that notion and vowed a so-called "Rise Up" rally would be held in the heart of the capital.

The protests are to coincide with the two-year anniversary of the disappearance and alleged murder of opposition journalist Georgy Gongadze.

Allegations that President Kuchma was involved in the reporter's demise sparked Ukraine's biggest political scandal in a decade and drew thousands of people into the streets. The president denies the accusations and it remains to be seen whether public sentiment will be strong enough two years later to coax people back into the streets in significant numbers.