Protests in Ukraine over policy towards Russia
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Around 2,000 opposition supporters held a protest in central Kiev on Tuesday to condemn Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's pursuit of closer ties with Russia. The demonstration at the parliament was called for by Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and head of the country’s biggest opposition party.
Watched over by around 1,000 police, protestors waved Ukrainian flags outside the country’s parliament and shouted slogans such as “Yanuckovych, stop selling Ukraine.” Counter-demonstrations held by Yanukovych’s party also took place by the parliament building.
The opposition demonstration follows the controversial decision three weeks ago to extend the lease on a Russian naval base on Ukraine's Black Sea coast for at least 25 more years. In return, Ukraine will receive cheaper natural gas.
Yanukovych said the deal would save the country billions of dollars and help it recover from the economic crisis. Critics, however, see it as the sale of its national interests to its Soviet-era ruler.
In parliament last month, lawmakers from opposition parties threw eggs and fought with Yanukovych’s supporters as the agreement was ratified. On Wednesday, the government is to outline further agreements it hopes to sign with Russia.
Yanukovych was elected as president in February and replaced the staunchly pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko.
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