Thousands Denounce Ukraine President

KIEV, Ukraine -- Thousands of supporters of Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko massed in downtown Kiev Saturday to denounce her arch rival, President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of being a Russian stooge, AFP reports.

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during a rally marking Unity Day in Kiev, January 22, 2011. Ukraine celebrates the 92nd anniversary since the western and eastern parts of the country were unified to create a single state.

Some 6,000 protesters gathered in St Sophie square, answering a call by several opposition parties to mark the 92nd anniversary of the reunification of east and west Ukraine, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

Many carried banners calling for the dismissal of both Yanukovych and his Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.

Tymoshenko herself asked the crowds: "Are you ready to take to the streets?" before being greeted by resounding cries of "Yes".

"Those who are in power take their orders from the Kremlin," Dmytro Pavlytchko, a well-known poet, told the gathering.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, is deeply divided between the largely nationalist west and the traditionally pro-Russian east, from where Yanukovych hails.

The president, who came to power after elections in February last year, has been frequently accused by his detractors of being too close to Moscow and of persecuting his political opponents.

The protests passed off peacefully after an earlier warning by the interior minister against any use of violence.

Source: FOCUS News