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Thousands Protest in Ukraine's Capital

Anti-government protesters attend a rally at Independence Square in Kyiv Jan. 12, 2014.Anti-government protesters attend a rally at Independence Square in Kyiv Jan. 12, 2014.
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Anti-government protesters attend a rally at Independence Square in Kyiv Jan. 12, 2014.
Anti-government protesters attend a rally at Independence Square in Kyiv Jan. 12, 2014.
VOA News
Thousands of Ukrainian activists gathered in the capital, Kyiv, in continuation of last year's massive protest movement against the government's decision to forego closer ties with the European Union in favor of increased cooperation with Russia.
 
Sunday's rally brought an estimated 50,000 to Independence Square and came just days after police clashed with protesters injuring dozens and leaving opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko badly hurt.
 
During the demonstration opposition leader and former boxing champion, Vitaly Klitschko, urged Ukrainians to continue with street demonstrations and called for a nationwide strike.
 
Another opposition leader, Arseny Yatsenyuk, called on the West to impose sanctions on top Ukrainian officials.
 
"We have our key request to our Western partners; it is time to act.  The time for talks is over. The first to be sanctioned by the West is the Interior Minister [Vitaly] Zakharchenko and all of this gang that gave an order to beat people.  And that is our message top the West,'' said Yatsenyuk.
 
Anti-government protesters have filled the streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed positions and refused to sign a trade deal with the European Union, opting instead for stronger ties with Russia.  Since then, Moscow has promised to buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt and cut the price of Russian gas to Ukraine to strengthen the country’s struggling economy.

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