Ukraine’s Unity Day brought thousands of people onto the streets of Kiev.
Alongside the nationalists’ colourful displays – including a huge yellow flag – many had come to protest against the government, accusing it of being in the Kremlin’s pocket and of stifling the opposition.
The crowds heard former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko call on the divided opposition to unite.
“There is no such thing as Ukrainians from Donetsk and Lviv, or Ukrainians from Crimea,” she said. “You should forget such words. There are Ukrainians who today, from this square, are setting a target to change the rules and the way of life with which we’re not satisfied.”
Tymoshenko has criticised President Yanukovich over his efforts to build closer ties with Moscow.
The Ukrainian leader’s stance towards the opposition and the media since coming to power last February has caused alarm in the west. Several ministers from the previous government face criminal charges.
While hundreds of young people formed a human chain across a bridge over the Dnieper River to symbolise Ukraine’s unification, the opposition’s task is to unite for next year’s parliamentary elections.