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Ukraine

Ukrainian protesters gather at home of Yanukovych

Thousands of people have demonstrated in Ukraine outside the home of President Viktor Yanukovych. Numbers were down on previous days, although protesters were given fresh impetus by an assault on a popular journalist.

Some 5,000 protesters on Sunday made their way to Yanukovych's home some 15 kilometers (10 miles) outside the capital Kyiv, travelling by bicycle, cars and minibuses.

The demonstrators carried a coffin, which they said symbolized the end of Yanukovych's political career.

"Down with Yanukovych!" was among the chants that were heard, with authorities also urged to find and punish the attackers of a prominent activist and journalist who they say was hurt by attackers acting on behalf of the government.

Organizers have promised that protests outside the residence - which activists say is a symbol of corruption - will become a regular feature of their campaign.

The leader of the opposition UDAR (Punch) party, boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, denounced the "corruption" of the elite in front of the crowds. "The authorities should not think that they can hide behind fences and not hear the people. They see how many of us there are and we do not have fear," said Klitschko.

A seperate rally in the center of the capital, drew between 20,000 and 50,000 people. It was opened with speeches by spiritual leaders, including Christian priests, a rabbi and a mufti, who called for national unity and more democracy.

Journalists' assault angers citizens

Demonstrators first took to the streets in late November protesting the country's rapprochement with Russia at the expense of improved ties with the EU.

The number of people at the protests had since dwindled from the estimated 200,000 who attended some of the earlier rallies.

However, Sunday's protest was given some 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.

Chornovil was pulled from her car and beaten so badly that she has been hospitalized.

The opposition blames Ukraine's authorities for the assault, while police investigators have enraged government critics by alleging that suspects had links to political opponents.

rc/ccp (AP, AFP, Reuters)

DW.DE