Rival rallies reflect the great divide in Ukraine

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Rival rallies reflect the great divide in Ukraine

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Rival rallies have been attended by thousands in Ukraine reflecting the deep divisions within the country.

In the Crimean city of Simferopol statues of national poet Taras Shevchenko and that of Lenin symbolised the pro-unity and pro-Russia divide.

Elsewhere in the eastern city of Donetsk, home to many Russian speakers and also that of deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, people called for independence from Kyiv .

Pro-Russian demonstrations in Donetsk were among the first to erupt last week just as Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian citizens.

In Kyiv organisers of a well attended rally to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Taras Shevchenko had hoped it would pull the country together.

Members of Ukraine’s newly formed government were joined by former Russian oil tycoon and Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The message while defiant against the Kremlin was also that Ukraine was one family and must remain so.