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Ukraine Opposition Stages 2nd Day of Protests in Kiev - 2002-09-17

Ukraine's political opposition has staged another day of protests Tuesday in a bid to oust the country's president and force early elections.

For the second day in a row, leaders of the major Ukrainian opposition parties drew a large crowd to Kiev's Independence Square.

Opposition leaders appealed to the crowd to turn out on the square every evening from now on, until President Leonid Kuchma resigns and new elections are held.

Unlike on Monday, when police moved on the demonstrators to clear out a camp they had set up outside the presidential administration building, police made no attempt to break up Tuesday's protests.

One of the opposition leaders, Viktor Yushenko of the Our Ukraine Bloc, said the authorities' use of force Monday was shameful and proves President Kuchma's administration is out of touch with the people's desires. He called on the government to enter into political negotiations with the opposition.

The Our Ukraine Bloc also issued a statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of about 50 protesters detained during the police action against the opposition.

The Bloc further urged that the Rada (parliament) be called into emergency session to debate the country's political situation.

The two days of protests have drawn tens of thousands of Ukrainians out into the streets. They are the largest demonstrations the country has witnessed since it gained independence 11 years ago.