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Ukraine: Demonstrators defy ban to stage mass rally

Ukraine: Demonstrators defy ban to stage mass rally
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Defying a ban on city centre protests, tens of thousands of Ukrainians are rallying in Kyiv, to denounce the decision to reject an EU deal.

Undeterred by the court order and beatings meted out to demonstrators on Saturday, they streamed back towards Independence Square.

Boxing champion turned opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko spoke for many.

“The authorities cannot and do not want to hear the people,” he said. “The authorities that use the police to beat people and not to protect them, should step down – the government, the parliament and the President.”

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko,has warned that police will respond if there is what he called ‘mass disturbances’.

But as demonstrators reappropriated Independence Square, officers disappeared.

In a bid to defuse tensions ahead of the rally, President Viktor Yanukovich, who rejected the European deal in favour of closer ties with Russia, said he would do all he could to speed up Ukraine’s moves toward the EU.