KIEV : Some 40,000 people on Sunday rallied at the latest protest in Ukraine against the government’s rejection of a pact with the European Union, a turnout that was down sharply on previous weeks.
The rally on Independence Square in the capital Kiev was the fifth in a series of regular Sunday protests against the U-turn by the government in November, when it decided not to sign the Association Agreement for closer ties with the EU.
But all the previous rallies had attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters. The turnout at the latest rally was the lowest since the Sunday protests began on November 24. The protest movement has so far been at a loss as to how to respond to a controversial deal clinched by President Viktor in Moscow this week for billions of dollars in Russian help to bail out Ukraine’s ailing economy.
One of the chief opposition leaders, the world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, told those gathered Sunday that the protests would continue.
“We are going to fight and we are not going to go anywhere from here,” he said.
“We demand not only the resignation of the government but snap presidential elections,” he added.
The protesters have occupied Independence Square - known in Kiev as the Maidan - since late November and erected barricades to prevent security forces from entering the area.
Several police attempts to shift the protest camp ended in failure and provoked outrage inside and outside Ukraine over the use of force against peaceful protesters.