More than 50,000 demonstrators are holding a rally in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, calling for the government to step down. The protesters' anger has been fueled by the recent beating of a pro-European reporter.
The crowd of demonstrators gathered in Ukraine's Independence Square on Sunday in a continuation of weeks of protests at the government's apparent move away from Europe toward its former Soviet master, Russia.
The number of people at the protests has dwindled from the hundreds of thousands who attended some of the earlier rallies.
However, Sunday's protest has been given fresh impetus by Tuesday's brutal beating of journalist Tetyana Chornovil, a prominent figure in the pro-EU protests who has exposed the lavish lifestyles of the country's ruling elite.
The opposition blames Ukraine's authorities for the assault, while police investigators have enraged government critics by alleging that suspects had links to opposition figures.
Protesters on Sunday planned to drive dozens of cars toward the Mezhygirya residence of President Yanukovych, which Chornovil accused the Ukrainian leader of illegally "privatizing" in one of her exposes.
"We have three key demands: to free the innocent (protesters arrested by the police), to jail the bandits and to dismiss the government," opposition leader Arsenij Yatsenyuk said in a statement.
The weekly pro-EU demonstrations have been losing steam since Yanukovych signed a 11-billion-euro ($15-billion) bailout deal with Moscow on December 17 that among other things saw a sharp reduction in the price Ukraine pays for vital natural gas imports.
The deal was a further step away from the Association Agreement with the European Union that Ukraine came close to signing before Yanukovych backed out of in November, sparking the protests.
The EU has said that it is in principle willing to resume talks with Ukraine on the deal.
tj/jlw (AFP, AP)
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