Thousands of opponents of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych have rallied in Kyiv, reviving their protest movement after a Christmas and New Year lull.
The show of strength follows clashes with police on Friday in which Yuriy Lutsenko, an opposition leader and ex-minister, was badly hurt.
Fellow activists are calling for international targeted sanctions as a response.
Boxing champion-turned politician Vitaly Klitschko told euronews that Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Prime Minister and President should ultimately be held to account for the actions of the police.
“On this basis, we demand personal sanctions for people who have violated human rights,” he said.
Lutsenko’s wife Iryna accused Ukraine’s authorities of hiding behind the security forces and using them as a punitive machine to beat people up.
“The conclusion is the following,” she said.
“Although the prosecutor’s office has formally opened an investigation, of course Yanukovych will not surrender his hit men.”
Street protests first erupted in November following the President’s decision to abandon a free trade deal with
Europe in favour of closer cooperation with Russia.
Lutsenko suffered head injuries in clashes near a courthouse where Ukrainian nationalists were on trial.
Amid indignation over Friday night’s violence, the protest movement in Independence Square has gathered new momentum after the Christmas pause, according to Sergio Cantone, our correspondent in Kyiv.
“Now is the time for the opposition to find a new political strategy and maybe they can get a little help from the international community,” he said.
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