Ukraine’s opposition supporters rally outside parliament

Ukraine’s opposition supporters rally outside parliament

PanARMENIAN.Net - Thousands of supporters of Ukraine's re-energized opposition movement rallied outside parliament on Tuesday, April 2 to press for early elections for the mayor of Kiev in the biggest such action against President Viktor Yanukovich this year, Reuters said.

A crowd led by the three main opposition leaders marched from the center of the capital to parliament, holding aloft banners calling for the release of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and denouncing Yanukovich's policies.

The protesters' direct target was Olexander Popov, appointed by Yanukovich as head of Kiev city's administration and now effectively mayor of the capital.

The ruling Party of the Regions is pushing for the Kiev mayoral election to be delayed for two years until after the 2015 presidential election, in which Yanukovich is expected to run for a second term.

The last mayor, who left office in mid-2012, was effectively replaced by Popov and opposition leaders are pushing for a vote in early June.

Banners read "Popov as mayor means Kiev dies" and "Do not let Yanukovich steal elections from the people of Kiev" in a show of strength by the opposition which performed well in a parliamentary election in October.

The demonstration came as Ukraine's leaders hesitate between forging closer ties with the European Union or aligning themselves more closely with former Soviet master Russia.

The European Union warned Yanukovich in February that a free trade deal could be jeopardized if Ukraine did not show progress towards political reform by May.

For the EU, the deal is conditional on improved human rights and ending the practice of "selective justice" - meaning the jailing of political opponents such as former prime minister Tymoshenko, Yanukovich's arch rival who is serving a seven-year jail sentence for abuse of office.

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