Nine years after Ukraine’s pro-Western Orange Revolution, up to 100,000 people have staged Kiev’s biggest protest ever since.
Marching in defence of a European future for their country, they denounced the government’s U turn over EU integration.
Dismayed at the decision to abandon an association deal with the EU just days before it was due to be signed, one demonstrator told euronews: “Today, it is no longer about policy, or any individual political party. It’s about our values. There are not only political flags here but many Ukrainian flags and EU flags as well.”
There were ugly scenes as riot police held back some demonstrators who tried to force their way into government buildings.
Under pressure from Moscow, President Viktor Yanukovich has chosen to revive ties with Russia rather than turning to the West.
Jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko had urged people to take to the streets in protest and her daughter Evgeniya addressed the crowd.
“I think that it is just the beginning of this revolution that will take us to Europe and we only have five days and we believe that if people will stay here and fight with politicians together, we are able to make sure that the power and government of Ukraine signs,” she told euronews.
Sergio Cantone, our correspondent in the Ukrainian capital, said authorities there had not expected such a reaction from the public.