Huge Crowds Gather for 10th Weekly Anti-Govt Rally in Central Kiev
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Thousands of people have gathered on central Kiev's Independence Square for the 10th consecutive weekend, in an anti-government demonstration called by the opposition.
There are conflicting reports on the number of people who turned out for the demonstration. Police estimated that 6,000 protesters attended the rally. Other sources’ estimations vary from 20,000 to 70,000 people, the biggest figure reported by the AFP.
There have been reports of a throng at the metro stations close to Independence Square (Maidan).
The mass assembly, held for the 10th Sunday in a row since anti-government protests began in November, started at 12:00pm (10:00GMT) local time with traditional prayers. Religious leaders called on the people of Ukraine to “learn how to forgive and to pray for those injured and imprisoned.”
After that opposition leaders took the stage on Independence Square, where protesters have been camping out for months now.
They reiterated their demands for the government and President Viktor Yanukovich to step down, RT reported.
Protests in Ukraine started in November 2013, when the government put integration with the EU on hold. Mass demonstrations have since then, on multiple occasions, turned into violent clashes between the opposition and the rally participants.
The opposition has demanded the government’s resignation and that the process of integration with Europe be resumed.
The most violent protests gripped Ukraine in mid-January after Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed controversial anti-protest laws that imposed strict punishments for violators. Following the violent riots, the Ukrainian Parliament canceled the legislation during a special session.