Over 100,000 Rally in Kiev over EU Agreement Delay

World | November 24, 2013, Sunday // 21:04|  views

Protesters clashed with police outside the Cabinet of Ministers building. Photo by BBC

More than 100,000 people in the Ukrainian capital Kiev have protested against the government's move to delay an association deal with the EU under pressure from Russia.

The protest is said to be the largest since the 2004 Orange Revolution, which overturned a rigged presidential poll.

Police fired tear gas as protesters tried to break through a cordon around government buildings.

A pro-government rally a few miles away attracted about 10,000 people.

Kiev police said they had fired tear gas after protesters threw a smoke grenade at officers in an attempt to break into the Cabinet of Ministers building.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal last week, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the EU of blackmailing Ukraine to sign the deal during a summit in Lithuania next week.

People arrived at the rally, on European Square, with families and children, many holding banners with slogans like "I want to live in Europe" or "Ukraine is part of Europe".

"We want to be together with Europe," Volodymyr Mnikh, a 62-year-old retired chemist, told the Associated Press news agency.

"We want our children to have a future and not to be pressured by Russia."

Opposition leaders also joined the protests.

Several rallies in Kiev and other cities have been held over the last few days, but Sunday's has been the largest so far.

World heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who leads the Udar movement, addressed the rally in Kiev saying Ukrainians would not tolerate what President Yanukovich had done to the country's prospects for integrating with the EU.

"We will fight in order for the association agreement to be signed," he said.

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Tags: protest, police, tear gas, trade, natural gas, South stream, Nord Stream, European Union, EU, Russia, Ukraine, Kiev


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