Ukraine opposition rally keeps pressure on country's president
By Alissa de Carbonnel and Pavel Polityuk, ReutersKIEV--Ukraine's opposition leaders urged hundreds of thousands of pro-Europe protesters at a rally on Sunday to keep up pressure on President Viktor Yanukovich to sack his government and drop plans for closer ties with Russia.
December 9, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
The protesters, gathered on Kiev's Independence Square, are furious with the Yanukovich government for its decision to ditch a landmark pact with the European Union in favor of a trade deal with Moscow, Ukraine's Soviet-era overlord.
Sunday's rally marks a further escalation in a weeks-long confrontation between authorities and protesters that has raised fears for political and economic stability in the former Soviet republic of 46 million people.
“This is a decisive moment when all Ukrainians have gathered here because they do not want to live in a country where corruption rules and where there is no justice,” said world heavyweight boxing champion-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko.
The opposition accuses Yanukovich, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, of preparing to take Ukraine into a Moscow-led customs union, which they see as an attempt to recreate the Soviet Union.
“We are on a razor's edge between a final plunge into cruel dictatorship and a return home to the European community,” jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said in an emotional message to the crowd read out by her daughter Yevgenia.