[QODLink]
Europe

Rival protesters clash in Ukraine

Backers of President Yanukovich scuffle with opposition supporters calling for jailed ex-PM Tymoshenko to be freed.

Last Modified: 18 May 2013 16:37
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Supporters and opponents of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich have scuffled as both sides held thousands-strong rallies in the capital, Kiev, police and local media have said.

A dozen young men hurled stones and plastic water bottles at opposition supporters and were then pushed away by police in riot gear, television footage showed on Saturday.

Anti-Yanukovich protesters also fought back and at one point some of them tried to drag the crew from a military vehicle that carried messages mocking opposition leaders, pictures showed.

Police said several people had been injured in the fighting a block a way from a main opposition rally.

Vitali Klitschko, the Ukrainian world boxing champion and one of the leaders of Ukrainian opposition, led 15,000 protesters through the streets of Kiev on Saturday calling for an end to corruption and demanding the immediate release of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

'Freedom for Yulia'

The demonstrators chanted "Freedom for Yulia" and waved the flags of the three main parties opposed to Tymoshenko's rival Yanukovich - pro-Western Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), liberal UDAR (Punch) and far-right Svoboda.
 
Opposition leader Klitschko said Ukraine's hopes of joining EU depends on Tymoshenko's freedom [AFP]
Yanukovich's Party of the Regions, in turn, held its own rally nearby to condemn what it called the rise of "neo-fascism" in Ukraine, a stab at Svoboda party and its opposition allies.

Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution protests that derailed Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 on charges of abuse of office in a case her supporters the West have called politically motivated.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in April that Tymoshenko's August 2011 detention was unlawful.

The European Union has indicated that Tymoshenko's continued imprisonment would make it impossible to sign landmark association and free trade deals with Ukraine tentatively planned for November.

Klitschko, whose UDAR party has joined Tymoshenko's opposition group in parliament, said that Ukraine's hopes of joining the European Union  would remain a dream unless Tymoshenko was released.

"How can this happen if we still have political prisoners?" he said.

358

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.